As a member of BACP it's important to be aware of what's stated in the Ethical Framework and how I incorporate this into my work as a counsellor - adhering to the points stated at all times. One such point is 91, 'Care of self as a practitioner: we will take responsibility for our own wellbeing as essential to sustaining good practice with our clients'.
This includes 'monitoring and maintaining our own psychological and physical health, particularly that we're sufficiently resilient and resourceful to undertake our work in ways that satisfy professional standards'. So, as a counsellor working in private practice, how do I do this?
It’s not always easy, I'll admit that. Like everyone else, things sometimes slide and healthy habits take hard work. The winter lockdown was tough. I was on furlough for a long time from my other role, unrelated to counselling. How do we monitor psychological and physical health? For me, that means being aware of how I’m reacting to things and noticing when I’m beginning to feel a little more stressed. When that happens, it’s time to schedule a me day! A me day includes things like a long walk (weather permitting), crafting, gardening or just watching some favourite films. It’s about recharging the emotional battery before it gets too low.
The same goes for physical health. Yes, you can notice when your clothes start getting tighter, you’re feeling more tired or your skin looks a bit dull. Your moods, emotions and how you respond to situations are also all linked to physical health. When it’s time for that me day it’s also time to take a look at what I’ve put into my body and how much I’ve been moving around each day. When we start feeling a bit under the weather we can start eating more easy meals and less of the meals that take more preparation and fresh ingredients.
Being aware of this means I find I can keep on top of my health and if I do feel something isn’t quite right, I act on it quickly. I also tend to give myself a little talking to and remind myself why making time for me and eating healthily is important. Those early nights and short daily walks help to keep me mentally and physically healthy.
All of this adds up to help keep me resilient and manage what comes my way. I recognise when I may need to refer a client across to a colleague because they might have more knowledge of a specific subject matter than me. It helps me work in a way that fulfils my obligations to work within the Ethical Framework at all times.
Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions
The full Ethical Framework with additional resources, videos and FAQs. All members commit to complying with the Ethical Framework as part of their terms and conditions of membership.
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Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.