The NHS counselling placement we offer at The Awareness Centre is as demanding as it is rewarding. Trainee therapists who volunteer with us learn what it’s like to practise from an NHS surgery in Lambeth, working short-term with clients from diverse backgrounds and with a wide variety of presentations.
While on NHS counselling placement with us, therapists learn how to handle NHS paperwork, how to use the IAPTus diary system, and how to understand patient measures of depression and anxiety. All the while being supported by a team leader and clinical supervisor.
To offer insight into what the experience of an NHS counselling placement is really like, we asked two of our volunteer therapists to share their stories…
Denise Sims is in the fourth year of her MSc in Transactional Analysis at Metanoia.
I knew the NHS counselling placement would be challenging, as the scope of issues and the people who come through the door can vary so widely. Some people bring quite severe issues, and you need strong boundaries to hold these clients for 6 to 12 sessions because many don’t even know what therapy is. Often there can also be some psycho-education involved.
If you are intending to go into that field and work for an organisation after you’ve qualified, then you can’t beat doing an NHS placement. You don’t get this learning in your training, and it’s real on-the-job experience. The training here is spot on, especially when working with the NHS/IAPT systems. You have to be organised with paperwork and data input, but the rewards you get for doing that are over and beyond what you put in.
I had an excellent experience with two different supervisors. Everyone has something positive to say about the supervision offered at The Awareness Centre, as it is such a high standard. Other placement supervision doesn’t come near it.
Doing an NHS placement is different from working for a charity or other organisation, where you might have a few clients here or there. The way the model is set up just works: within the NHS you’re pretty much guaranteed three or four clients every week. Fundamentally the whole process is robust, what with the training and supervision and admin support. The structure is very impressive.
Hadyn Forde has completed his diploma in integrative psychosynthesis counselling at Re-vision and is working towards BACP accreditation.
What interested me about the NHS counselling placement was the chance to discover what it’s like to work in a short-term, focused way. I worked at a surgery on Saturday mornings and saw three clients back to back.
There was a lot of support from the team leader and the clinical supervisor. A big part for me was sharing knowledge and experiences in group supervision – receiving peer support and being held by the supervisor as well.
It was a great learning curve in terms of the questionnaires the NHS used to record people’ s emotional states. I could use them as a map to explore the patient’s issues, and it gave an extra focus to the work because it was just 6 sessions. It gave me some element of job satisfaction when I could see the patient scores coming down as the sessions progressed. You can see that something was working and there was an impact from the work we were doing.
For my own development as a practitioner, doing 6 or 12 sessions adds a focus to the work. It helps to remind ourselves why we are here and to keep us on track.
If you’re thinking of taking on an NHS counselling placement, keep an open attitude to the work and expect to be pleasantly challenged. You have clients from all walks of life, and that’s the exciting thing about it: people can present with any issue. The surprising thing is that we can make a difference to people’s lives in 6 sessions. Big changes can happen in a short space of time.
If you’re interested in an NHS counselling placement with The Awareness Centre, you can apply online today. Call 020 8673 4545 for more information.