BACP in Therapy Today has a section called Analyse me – the counsellor. This gives counsellors an opportunity to share more about their work and what drives them to be a counsellor. I thought I would share my questions…..
Why did you become a counsellor?
From an early age, I had a passionate desire to help people in Africa. This led me to studying a Masters and working as a Community Water Engineer. I worked for various agencies, such as Oxfam and Medicins Sans Fronteries as a humanitarian aid worker. This took me to amazing places in Africa, East Timor and Kosovo.
Before my first overseas assignment, my world was shattered by experiencing a traumatic family bereavement. I thought I could run away from it all and achieve my dream of being a humanitarian worker. I achieved my dream but at a great cost to me emotionally. I was drained and after a serious car accident (whilst I was on assignment in Nigeria), a close friend recommended I saw a counsellor.
Counselling allowed me to explore my bereavement and how I related to people. The experience of self-reflection and awareness changed and developed me. I began to be conscious of the experiences that communities who I worked with, and how it affected them.Through this, I often took on the role of ‘Aunty Haze’ and became the person that people would talk to. This included both people within the community and my expat counterparts. At that time, there was little support for the wellbeing of both the communities I worked in and for aid workers. I wanted to focus on mental health and therefore came back to the UK in 2002 to commence a counselling Diploma at Sheffield Hallam University.
Where do you work as a counsellor?
Up to November this year, I worked entirely in private practice in Sheffield and online. 30 % of my work is through EAPs and health insurance companies, such as BUPA and Aviva. This is focused on work stress and burnout, anxiety and life changing events such as bereavement, miscarriage, redundancy and divorce.
50 % of my work is from private clients. This includes online clients where my focus is providing counselling for aid workers and expats. My face to face clients consist of clients who experiencing stress and anxiety, bereavement, relationship issues, work related problems and loss. I also work with many couples providing relationship counselling to help them move forward within their relationship.
The other 20% of my work is with supervisees. I provide clinical supervision to both counsellors in private practice and those who work for organisations. This includes supporting supervisees through their BACP accreditation and helping counsellors set up in private practice.
In November this year, I started working one day a week for Sheffield Refugee Council on a pilot project providing therapeutic support for Syrians. It is a delight to be back working with a different communities in conflict. I’m excited about the work and looking forward to the challenges and joys this job will present.
How do you work as a counsellor?
I am an integrative counsellor. I believe the relationship is the most important aspect of the counselling process, and I am always led by the client. Once the relationship has been established and is working, I may use my box of tools to help my clients move forward. More info on my approach can be found here
Why do you think counselling works?
Being in a caring relationship with someone who trusts, doesn’t judge us and believes in us makes us feel safe. Being allowed to talk about ourselves and have someone who listens, reflects and encourages us to explore our experiences helps us feel valued. This in turn helps us feel safe to explore our feelings that we are experiencing and let go of any distorted views of ourselves or others. This leads us to accept ourselves and find a way forward to helping ourselves.
What is your special interest?
Photography. I was introduced to photography as a child I’ve always been known for having a camera on me. I feel hidden behind the camera and through this I can capture emotions and the beauty around me. Photography is my own therapy! You can see my photos at my Instagram account – counsellorhazel
What do you do for self-care?
Baking and cycling are two things I do that distract me and I enjoy doing. These are two activities I will do when I want to take time out. I also enjoy having cups of tea (green, of course) with my friends. More about self-care here
What gives your life meaning?
Without a doubt my husband and children. I’m blessed to have them. They bring joy to my life. The downs in life never feel as bad with them at my side.
I also believe that once I learnt to accept myself and stop worrying about what others thought of me, I began to enjoy my life.
What is your favourite piece of music and why?
Somewhere over the Rainbow. It reminds me of my Dad. I always think of him when I hear it. It is also gives me strength when I feel low to stick to my firm belief that somewhere out there is happiness and success – I just have to give it time and build on my self-belief.
I also love Shostakovich, Jazz suite No. 2. It always makes me feel happy, and it’s a tune I used to dance with my children when they were toddlers.
When will you retire?
At the moment, I am happy with my work. I love the counselling process and all of my clients. I am constantly learning about myself and there is so much more I want to learn! It has taken 3 long years to get my private practice back to a thriving business. I am proud of that, and I wish to keep it going. I’ve a few ideas that I wish to develop in the future, and feel excited where this may lead me. I should probably retire when I feel I have nothing more to learn or to give to my clients.