Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Fun in the Snow and Master Plans

As an Aussie who had never seen snow before coming to the UK, I still get really excited when it snows in London.  Everything looks and feels different as the light bounces off its brilliant whiteness and, with less traffic rushing past, no trains or planes and the muffling effect, the peace and quiet is quite lovely. The sky is a completely different colour; quite strange and yellowy grey, while the air feels cleaner somehow.

As the flakes came down and the view out of my back window transformed into a winter wonderland, I began to itch to get out in it. We set off for a walk, suitably rugged up and, much to Him-at Home’s horror, armed with my camera.  He gets so bored when I photograph everything that takes my fancy, and grumbles away but when I respond with a plaintive “..but I need pics for my blog”, he rolls his eyes and patiently succumbs to my request for a pose.

There were very few people out and about, but those who were seemed in such a lovely festive mood and strangers were even talking to each other – quite something for London! The snow sculptures I enjoyed the most were the random ones that appeared in the street like this one.


This snowy couple was built by children and their parents and seemed so friendly I couldn’t resist shaking hands, or rather sticks.

But this snow dog was my absolute favourite.

I am sure when I wake up tomorrow morning and have to make my way into work with icy roads, and the usual London snow chaos my mood will change somewhat.

I have not really written much about my plans for using my masters qualification and it was my intention to do so in this blog, but I just couldn’t resist writing all that lovely snow first.

…so back to my original topic …

 I have been working so hard this year to rectify my rather depleted bank account that I have had to put post graduate counselling practice on the back burner for a few months to focus on full-time work with the university recruiting team. This work has been a quite a life saver for me. With my beloved sister so ill last year and then losing her so suddenly in November, it was inappropriate to take on counselling work while grieving so intensely myself. I had been working with the uni team part-time for two years and through three summers of clearing and got to know everyone quite well.  Their support through this very difficult time was invaluable and very much appreciated.  Now that I have been able to take time out time to gently ‘just be’, I feel ready to begin the work I trained so hard to learn over the last three years. During my final year of my masters I had a practice placement in the counselling services of a GP practice in a very busy inner city GP practice.  I loved this work and although I am unable to return there due to lack of space, my wonderful supervisor has recommended me to some of her contacts and I am now waiting to hear back about various opportunities.

The challenge with counselling work is that to achieve full accreditation with the most recognised professional bodies, either the BACP or UKCP, you need to take an accredited training course (my masters is accredited by the BACP) and complete a certain number of clinical hours.  After completing the course you then have to acquire an extra 150 clinical hours and apply for full accreditation – a lengthy process requiring writing case studies and reflective pieces. It is very difficult to find paid counselling work unless you have full accreditation and even then, it is very difficult.  So may organisations rely on volunteers working to ‘make up their hours’ or to meet the requirements of their training schools, that they do not need to pay counsellors.  This is fine for those who have another form of income or but a challenge to those who, like me, don’t.  I do not agree with this policy as it really undervalues the profession and prohibits many from joining.

My plan is to work four days per week with the uni team and spend each Monday volunteering in a counselling practice to gain further experience and build up my hours.  I also plan to begin taking a small number of private clients to start building a private practice. Private clinical hours cannot be counted towards accreditation, thus the need to be part of an organisation as well.  This is how many newly qualified counsellors work so that the income from the private practice helps subsidise the voluntary work.

Now that I have completed my studies I can only work on a student contract until the end of January after which I will begin my staff contract, a temporary position for two, maybe three months.  I will be working with the Education Liaison Unit and travelling around London and the UK promoting Higher Education and the University of Greenwich.  I will also be organising school groups touring the campus and giving presentations on various topics.

I have lots of learning to do but the challenge keeping me awake at night more than anything else is my wardrobe situation. After the freedom of wearing pretty much what I liked for three years, I am going to have to look respectable and professional. Sadly, my budget does not extend to employing a personal shopper.

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