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Personal reflections

Personal Reflections of Jackie Adams, on clinical placement 2015-2016

I joined Warwick University Counselling Service in October 2015 on placement for one day a week from my counsellor training at Keele University. I had gained some experience working in HE at another local university and really enjoyed it. Warwick UCS gave me the ideal opportunity to build on that experience by working in larger counselling team at a much bigger university.

I found the team very welcoming and supportive and as my confidence grew, I started to build up a number of client appointments with students. I found that if there was anything I was unsure about, the team were very approachable and quickly able to help me sort things out.

As part of my training, I need to accrue hours towards my qualification and then towards accreditation by the national professional body, BACP. I initially started working with 4 students a day but after Christmas, having completed my qualification hours, I became and Associate Counsellor and increased my appointments to 5 clients a day and so my hours quickly built up.

I have found it very stimulating and challenging to work with the huge variety of issues that students have brought to counselling ranging from personal to academic and often a combination of both. I have been amazed and humbled by some of the challenges students face in their lives. I have equally been impressed by the levels of resilience many students show at this point of significant change in their lives and transition to adulthood. In the spring term, I also began to work with members of staff and this has given me a different perspective, adding to the richness and variety of my experience at Warwick

The work can be emotionally demanding at times and I have learned a lot about how to manage the impact of client material, including the importance of self-care, in order to provide the best service possible to students. I have found the regular meetings with my Supervisor who is also part of the UCS Warwick team, invaluable as part of this process. It has enabled me to learn a great deal more about myself and as a consequence, I have been able to refine my practice and develop my own confidence and resilience.

At first, I found that it took a little while to get used to the ebb and flow of the academic year. I learned quickly that I needed to make sure I stayed in tune with the demands of the academic year and the impact it could have on students. I noticed for example a spike in the level of anxiety experienced by many students around exam time and also when they received their results. Being aware of this meant that I was better able to support them.

As I come to the end of my time at Warwick University Counselling Service, I am sad to be leaving but will do so with very fond memories. I am immensely grateful to have been given the opportunity to work here with such a dedicated and professional team. The highlight for me has been working with the student community and feeling that I can make a positive difference to their well-being while they are at university; it has been a real privilege and has helped to confirm my passion for the work and my ambition to work in HE.

 Personal Reflections of Theresa Lynch, on clinical placement 2014-15

My placement at UCS has been very rewarding. When applying I was really looking forward to having a placement where there were opportunities to meet with and talk to colleagues regularly. Counselling can often be quite an isolating experience and when training, in particular, it is great to feel as though there is support and you can engage with other counsellors.

A great aspect of the placement was to have weekly, in-house supervision. This experience has been very supportive and extremely valuable personally. This provides a great opportunity to discuss and test practice and as the supervisor is in-house, they are fully conversant with the client group and processes and procedures of the service.

To maintain boundaries and to underpin an ordered and structured environment, processes and daily routines are structured. This has been extremely helpful in reinforcing boundaries with clients and really goes towards underpinning the well-being of all staff.

Continued professional development is a key ingredient inherent throughout the service. This was provided through a good induction session and invitations to regular training and development opportunities, as well as peer supervision sessions. You really feel part of the team and valued.

The whole experience has been excellent and I thank all staff at the Service for their support, kindness and professionalism throughout my time at Warwick UCS.

Personal Reflections of Sarah Bailey, on clinical placement 2013-14

"Working in the UCS for the past academic year has provided me with the opportunity to develop in both a professional and personal capacity. I have felt valued and a member of the team here. The department’s focus on providing the counselling service to the University is inspiring, it is this and the support from those who work there that has facilitated my learning and enjoyment of spending my traineeship here.

I have found the work with undergraduates a particularly rewarding area to work with therapeutically. The range of issues and severities which present are representative of the large population that the department serves and supports. This has developed my own professional experience and challenged any preconceptions that I may have had of what might present in a university counselling service.

An aspect of the work at UCS which I have found particularly rewarding to experience as a trainee was the brief short term work. Having not used this model previously it was a new way of working for me yet the challenge was not as great as I had anticipated and it has been great to experience this benefit to the client.

Another aspect of my development over the past year has been through the supervision provided by the department. I can see how this time spent in the supervisory relationship has drawn together the holistic experience of the past academic year and aided a consolidation of all experiences, personal and professional".

Personal Reflections of Ian Farrelly, on clinical placement 2012-13

"As a final year trainee on a Humanistic & Integrative degree, I worked within Warwick UCS. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to form therapeutic relationships with undergraduate students. Within which, I have been exposed to a plethora of issues, not just related to student experiences but a microcosm of the psychological issues faced by people in general.

The nature of the work is short term and professionally this has allowed me to develop. I have gained understanding as to the nuances and rhythm of short term work. Initially it is challenging transition but as a way of working remains meaningful to the client.

I was most impressed at the professionalism of the UCS, the calibre of the staff and their commitment to ethical and effective practice. The UCS represents a considered approach to offering staff/student counselling services that takes quality seriously. It is very person centred in terms of incorporating the feedback of its clients as a direction and focus towards continuous improvement.

Of note has been my enjoyment of and the development gained in the Supervisory relationship. Being held in a knowledgeable and safe pair of hands allowed me to do the same for my clients. I cannot stress enough how much this is a rewarding opportunity."

Personal reflections of Clare Curry, on clinical placement 2010-11

"During my 3rd year as a trainee Humanistic & Integrative Counsellor, I worked as a trainee within Warwick University Counselling Service (UCS).

I have worked with undergraduate students, presenting with issues including: mild to severe anxiety; relationship difficulties, both family and peer group; low self esteem/ confidence and course-related academic issues.

The counselling offered is short term but there is the facility to extend this time if required. My experience up to this point was in long term work, and I found the difference most noticeable in the relational depth I could achieve with my clients at UCS; offering me a different, but no less rewarding way of working.

The UCS is a highly professionally managed department, and I have enjoyed being part of the team here. The support I have received has been excellent, from managing the administration of client paper-work through to the management of client appointments. The appointment system is confidential, and expertly managed by Trudy Haywood; in turn, enabling me to manage my client work accordingly.

The individual supervision I have received has been invaluable both to my personal and professional development, fundamental to keeping my clients safe in my hands.

My placement has represented a highly valuable and rewarding part of my training; which in itself has intensified throughout my final year of training. I have felt part of the counselling team, involved and appreciated. It has given me an insight to how a counselling organisation can run in accordance to the B.A.C.P ethical framework, and I have enjoyed my placement here."