A day in the life....
The challenges of a role which is not just a job but a 'way of being'
by Kate Jefferies
Therapeutic Counselling Practitioner
My day as a Therapeutic Counselling Practitioner at Brain Tumour Support often starts at 9am but quite often I have text messages or phone-calls before then. I usually see several clients in a day and will often have support calls and texts in-between.
My appointments vary from face-to-face to telephone. Many of the face-to-face clients attend my practice at my home where they soon relax with a choice of teas, coffee, hot chocolate or cold drinks, looking out at my garden and the wildlife. With children especially I bring a variety of things to my sessions including art therapy, drawing, play dough, games and twiddle muffs. It is a peaceful setting and a good place to reflect. However, I will see clients at the Brain Tumour Support office or as an outreach appointment at the client’s home if appropriate.
I very often attend the charity office because of the need for continuous support for so many as it is not always clients that contact me. It can, for example, be a schoolteacher who is concerned and wanting advice for a young person who is having bereavement counselling with me for the loss of a loved one. GPs, Consultants and Clinical Nurse Specialists also enquire regarding patients’ emotional well-being. I am often asked to write references for clients who are returning to work or university and require a professional letter to explain their emotional health. When this happens it has to be documented to meet professional and ethical standards.
As a counsellor I sometimes have to report incidents that are unpleasant for me as well as other people involved. An example of this, may be when I see behaviour that is unlawful and may put an individual or family in danger. As part of my ethical duty, I have to report these types of incidents to the appropriate people. This can be challenging as the nature of having a brain tumour can produce extreme behavioural changes especially towards the end of life. This can be very upsetting for families and friends, however I am there to listen, understand and suggest ways of managing these difficult times.
I receive new referrals from the Support Line Coordinators most days. I contact the clients and introduce myself, my role and discuss their needs. My day usually ends around 8pm as clients who are at work find evening sessions more helpful. My phone is always with me during the evening and often a client may text or ring for support.
An example is a text message I received from a son during the final days of his father’s life. The text sent to me read “He’s dead, help”. I texted back “Shall I call you?” The son replied “Yes please”.
End-of-life care is extremely important for patients and families. Having the experience, awareness and understanding of when my help is needed is vital to families at this time. This is recognised at Brain Tumour Support and now I visit clients at their homes and make hospice visits when appropriate. Unfortunately, I can only provide this support in the South Gloucestershire area.
For me, counselling and supporting the brain tumour community is
a way of being and I’m proud and privileged to be a part of this