There were two really key moments in my life that led me to train to become a counsellor.
The first time was fairly early on in my career when a very popular member of my team began to suffer from depression and was having suicidal thoughts. I worked with the HR team at the time and we provided internal support via regular meetings with the individual and also by ensuring that they received professional support from a therapist and support team.
Sadly, despite all the support that was provided, after some bad news the individual received, they felt that they couldn’t cope with it at the time and sadly they decided and succeeded in taking their own life.
The death happened over a weekend and whilst covering a shift on a Sunday, inevitably the rumours started that the individual had committed suicide, with no senior support or HR team available at the time, I made a decision to bring my team back into the office, (we worked in a warehouse spread across 3 old mills and comprising of approx. 12 different floors) and briefed them of the possibility of their colleague’s death. I had to repeat the information on the following Monday for every member of the team but this time I was confirming their death.
The next few months were difficult times in supporting his colleagues and ensuring they had the emotional support they needed at that sad time.
It also impacted me in terms of the constant thoughts of what if?
What if I had done something differently?
What if I had added in another 1-1 on Friday could I have changed things could I have made a difference?
It took many months for me to come to terms with what had happened and acknowledge that I/the business had done what we could to support in providing professional aid and working with them supporting them in the workplace.
Even though I came to accept what had happened it was always something I reflected on when other individuals in my life both professionally or personally talked to me about how they were feeling.
Several years later and I was working for a different company in a progressively senior role and having noticed a change in the behaviour of one member of the team. I asked them if they were they ok. They opened up and talked to me about their personal issues and struggles with depression. They were having suicidal thoughts and struggling to cope with things like getting out of bed, coming to work, doing anything really.
They had had several absences because of this but had been unable to tell their manager the real reason for the absences so had reported stomach upsets each time and they were now been managed for their absence which was just adding to their feelings of what’s the point?
I spoke to him and supported him as best I could, referring him to our Healthcare provider for professional support and ensuring he got it quickly, provided a space where he could come and talk to me and offload what was going on for him and gave him space to share his feelings and emotions. I was always conscious that I felt out of my depth and worried I would say or do the wrong thing.
I spoke to the HR team and was given advice which to me felt wrong and likely to push the individual over the edge. Luckily, I was in a position senior enough to be able to acknowledge their advice but respectively ignore it and do what I felt would be more helpful.
On this occasion my decision was right and over time with the support of both the Healthcare team and the support in work he recovered and started to move forward again and have fortunately not felt that low or depressed since.
At the time the second incident happened it brought back all the memories of my early management experience of one of my team committing suicide and throughout all my conversations it was in the back of my mind.
A Career in Counselling
It was at this point I spotted an advert for a 10-week evening course called ‘An Introduction to Counselling’ which I decided to enrol on to help me understand what I should be doing or saying in situations like the ones I had experienced.
The course was really good, informative and useful but, despite this, in the end, I had learnt a lot but was conscious of the fact there was so much more that I didn’t know or understand and it left me feeling I needed to know more.
I signed up for a 12-month Certificate in Counselling and that led on to several more years of training before I became a fully qualified counsellor.
Collectively and in tandem with the other skills I trained as a coach, and NLP master practitioner and trainer and since I have continued to develop both my counselling and coaching skills with continuous professional development learning new skills and keeping up to date with changes in the industries.
It wasn’t an easy journey through my training, as throughout it, I had to face up to some of my own issues and demons but the process helped me understand what a client can go through, the feelings of vulnerability, the fear of judgement, feeling out of control etc and made me more determined to succeed on this path and be able to help others in a professional way utilising all I had learnt.
I used my qualifications by undertaking voluntary work initially alongside utilising the skills in my career in logistics but found that more and more the part of my role I enjoyed most was supporting individuals to develop and grow or just understand themselves and what made them feel/behave the way they do.
Based on this I made the decision several years ago to set up my own business and focus on coaching and counselling working both with businesses and individuals to provide a vitally needed service.
How do you envisage your career progression and what were your defining or life-changing moments?
If you would like to know more about my services and how I can help, please contact me either via the website www.balancecounsellingandcoaching.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07794143171.