Since the pandemic, the work-life of Debbie, a Counsellor working as part of the Fegans Children’s Counselling service provided by Spurgeons, has changed drastically. She now begins her vital work supporting children with their mental health from her laptop on the kitchen table. In this blog Debbie provides an insight into the world of remote counselling.
”I begin my working day by logging into my laptop at the kitchen table. How different my working day is now. When I first began work at Fegans, I would be attending our centre in Tunbridge Wells and see all my clients face to face there.
”Now I work from home and see my clients online via Zoom. The only clients I see face to face now are at a boy’s secondary school in Tonbridge, where I go once a week.
”As I log in to my laptop, the first thing I will do is to send virtual appointment links to my clients for their counselling sessions that day. Next, I will check my emails. My e-mails are mostly from other counsellors informing me of clients who have not attended or who they have finished working with. I make a note of the cancelled and did not attend clients and then proceed to reply to the emails.
”I log into Zoom at 9.30 to begin my first counselling session of the day. I was a little apprehensive when I first began counselling work online, but nowadays I feel very comfortable working this way and actually this way of working works well for me and my clients. They don’t have to travel to our centre and the counselling itself is just as effective through the screen. My first client had had a very difficult week and cried a lot in our session today. This can feel tough as a counsellor when you empathise and feel the pain emanating from the client. After the session, I make myself a coffee and take a few minutes in my garden taking some deep breaths to ‘shake off’ the emotions from the last client before my next one.
”I tend to work back-to-back with clients and take a brief 10 minutes in-between sessions. Now I work from home, it feels more important than ever to walk away from my laptop and take a 5-minute breather.
”I do miss seeing colleagues at our workspace. It used to be a very busy hub with so many people there. Now, I try and go in once a week, just to catch up with anyone who is working from there.
”After my lunch break, I begin my assessment calls. I make phone calls to clients who have sent in a referral form for counselling. I check the details with them and then record a brief synopsis of their reasons for wanting counselling. We then discuss whether they would like their counselling face-to-face or online. Today, I have an hour spare between my assessment calls, so I log in to check my online counselling waiting list. I am responsible for allocating clients on this waiting list to counsellors who work online.
”Today there are quite a few clients on our waiting list. We have some clients that have been referred to us under a specific funded scheme. I begin to make some calls and allocate some of these clients. I quite enjoy doing this. It feels very satisfying to book clients in for counselling. Parents are usually so relieved that their child is about to begin counselling with us. We discuss payment and a brief run down on how their counselling will work.
”For the last part of my day, I will check my emails for any enquiries from Dad.Info. This is a forum for parents where we advertise our counselling service. I call one of the numbers on an enquiry and discuss our counselling service with them. The client decides that they would like to have counselling with us, so I complete an online referral for them and allocate one of my counselling slots to them.
”I also answer questions from parents on this forum. A colleague has sent me a question to answer for my ‘Ask Debbie’ advice column. I complete this and send it back to be published on the forum.
”Finally, a quick call to one of my team members for a ‘catch up’ and then to log off my laptop for the day.
About Fegans Children’s Counselling Services
Fegans counsellors work one to one with children in our centres, online and in primary and secondary schools throughout the South East.
We also provide parenting support for families with significant challenges such as supporting those with additional needs. We deliver much of this work through five town-wide family hubs in partnership with schools and our own preschool family hubs.
To learn more about our Schools Counselling services click here.