When I started my counselling training, I really wanted to make a difference to people’s lives. I realise now how clichéd that sounds, but it was true. To me, the act of making a difference meant fixing people who had experienced personal difficulties in their lives… putting the magic plaster over the infected wound and reassuring them that it would get better soon.

But if my course and the pandemic combined has taught me anything during my training, it is this... that no counselling in its purest form can ever succeed through doing alone … and no magic plaster in the world can ever substitute sitting unreservedly with someone else’s pain.

Undergoing my training in the middle of a pandemic was never planned when I began training in Sept 2019. Indeed coronavirus has thrown some curveballs into my training, including disruptions to my placement. However, on a much deeper level, it has provided me with some incredibly unique experiences - all of which have helped to shape me during this formative stage of my career. Yes, there has been a lot more cleaning (I now have a bag just for PPE) and there have been times when it has felt like I’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. But I believe that this pandemic has also provided me with the grit and resilience to persevere and work hard at my craft. After all, if we are able to work through a pandemic, surely, we are able to endure anything...?

Since last September, I have been working as an Outreach Bereavement Counsellor; serving schools as a parachute-service on a weekly basis. Unlike an onsite counsellor, this role allows me to travel to my school each week, to check in with my clients, whilst balancing part time work and online lectures. I will be the first to admit that it has been far from easy achieving this work/study balance, with coronavirus presenting an additional complication. However, the satisfaction that comes with seeing clients progress; week on week, has been incredibly energising and has really helped me to power through; even when I feel as though I might not have all the answers.

In session, developing a swan-like persona has also helped. For me, this means exhibiting serenity and calmness on the surface whilst “kicking hard” internally to formulate my next steps – a process which has really helped me to achieve harmonious balance between doing (mentally) and being (in the room with my client). Using the swan metaphor has also reminded me that I too need rest and reflection in order to make sure that I am at my very best for my clients.

As the pandemic continues, I am not shy of the challenges which may lie ahead for me and my clients on our journey together. And whilst there is no magic sticking plaster to cover up what is happening at the moment, I rest assured that being present with my clients is the best way that I can grow as a professional - remaining invested in their world, no matter how painful their experiences may be.