Counselling, what’s it like? Interview with Nicole

Our volunteer counsellors Aysha and Nicole both became fully qualified counsellors at the start of the year, completing their Diploma in Integrative Counselling, and we’re sad to say they will soon be leaving us! We want to thank them both so much for their time, dedication and expertise and we have asked them a few questions about their work to mark the occasion. Onwards and upwards! 

How long have you been volunteering as a SATEDA counsellor for? 

I have been a SATEDA Counsellor since May 2019.

What has volunteering for SATEDA taught you? (in general, about domestic abuse, about your profession, about yourself, etc) 

It has taught me about how isolating Domestic Abuse can be, that all relationships that the survivor has can be impacted, from relationships with friends, work colleagues and sadly their children. And that even when the survivor manages to get out of the abusive relationship, not only do they have to build their own self-worth up but also try to re-build relationships with other people. But unfortunately, sometimes those people can assume that now the survivor is out of the relationship that they should be able to get on with life ok. This can be a struggle that other people in the survivor’s life don’t understand: the significant impact that Domestic Abuse can leave on the survivor and that it takes time for them to feel safe again even around people who have not been abusive towards them. This is where I can come in, as their counsellor, letting my clients know they are safe in their relationship with me. Understanding that you can be vulnerable with someone and that there is strength in that is really important for my clients. They can be safe with me showing their feelings and I won’t react angrily or negatively towards them. One of the important lessons I have learnt is that any anger that my clients show, isn’t about me – learning not to take it personally has been a learning curve for me. 

How would you describe the role counselling plays in the healing journey for women who have experienced domestic abuse?

I think the role counselling can take is letting the women experience what it feels like to speak their truth and for it not to be used as a weapon against them. For the women to experience what a safe relationship can feel like with their counsellor and then once they experience what this type of relationship can feel like, they can then look at mirroring that relationship outside the therapy room with other people.

What challenges have you faced in this role?

I think one of the challenges I have faced in this role is understanding that there can be a lot of chaos in the women’s life and this can lead to them not turning up for sessions etc.  I think the reason I went into counselling in the first place was to help people, and sometimes that help has come at the wrong time. The counselling won’t always be helpful to the women if they are not ready for it, and sometimes it just isn’t the right time for them. Counselling can be hard and you are faced with feelings that sometimes you just don’t want to face, and sometimes the women just aren’t ready for that yet, and that’s ok, it has to be their choice. 

What have you been most proud of in this role?

My relationships with the women I have worked with. Their strength in working through those hard feelings and seeing the growth they start to show in their self-worth. I feel honoured that they let me into their world.

What’s next, now that you are fully qualified?

I honestly don’t know, the world is a strange place at the moment, I thought I would be out in the big wide world of employment again once I qualified, having taken a career break after I had my youngest child. But as lots of parents out there are faced with, now home-schooling and having children at home, this has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works. It may be that working privately online is a route I need to look at, something that I never thought in a million years I would be doing, working remotely with clients. But I love what I do, and I now can’t imagine not being able to see clients.

I am also really interested in working with teenagers, so maybe looking at opportunities to counsel the younger generation is something I am looking into, although after this home-schooling, I may change my mind!

Three things you’re grateful for?

My family and my dog! 

The clients that let me into their lives. 

The internet! How would I have survived lockdown without it?! It has kept me in contact with clients, I have been able to video call family and order far too many pairs of pyjamas!