Well it's been a full year since I started up in private practice as St Andrews Counselling & Psychotherapy!
I must say I have really enjoyed this journey and learnt so much since I finished training in 2012.
I have continued to work in the Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, Dundee where I started in my clinical placement 3 and a half years ago. I love the work with female survivors of rape, and childhood sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Their tenacity, bravery and courage in seeking help, sometimes after 20 or 30 years, having told no one else, continues to inspire and challenge me. Often the women use alcohol or drugs to cope with what's happened to them and many have severe and enduring mental health difficulties and personality disorders. As a learner with such a steep learning curve the women have been so patient and understanding. I have used the good advice of my supervisor many times " Don't interrupt, keep quiet, if you don't know what to say". As I have become more experienced I have become more comfortable using silence and allowing the client space and time to let their thoughts and feelings emerge.
Private practice has been quite a contrast to WRASAC! Most of the work has been short term, focussed and intensive in a different way. Most clients so far have had relationship difficulties and struggled to understand why their relationship has ended or run into problems. Often they have had little support from their family and friends, or have exhausted this support and looked for a professional to support them to come to terms with what's happened or looked to change some aspect of how they are in relationship. I do love this work and get such a lot of satisfaction in helping the clients to reach their goals and feel better. I have been fortunate to get plenty of very positive feedback.
I have found using the CORE, evaluation and outcome measurement system invaluable in assessing clients emotional, physical and psychological well being. The CORE also assesses the level of risk for self-harm and suicide. A short questionnaire is given prior to each session and the results examined to see where therapy needs to be focussed. The clients scores are charted weekly and the therapist and client together can see progress accelerating, slowing or plateauing. I find this so useful as sometimes from session to session or over the course of weeks its often difficult to get a feel for how therapy is going and whether the client is responding and which areas need more attention than others. CORE means true partnership working between therapist and client.
I feel I have developed good skills in being able to help clients with recovery from trauma (PTSD), relationship and communication problems, and severe and enduring mental health disorders ( Borderline Personality Disorders, Severe Depression and Anxiety, Functional Disorders, Substance Misuse etc).
I am really looking forward to 2014 in developing my private practice further, continuing my voluntary therapy role in WRASAC and my advanced training course.