Volunteer counsellor with the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Nicky Fitzwilliam, swapped her life as a project manager with an international company out of a desire to help children and young people.
And now, during national Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), she and the Trust are celebrating after she has been awarded accreditation from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
It’s a hard slog to get to that pinnacle of achievement as it takes four years of study mixed with post qualifying practice.
Nicky studied for her counselling diploma at Doncaster College, as part of which she was required to find 100 hours of practice.
She completed her diploma and qualified to practice in 2014. However, Nicky’s sights were set on becoming accredited, which would require another two years of practice. So she has stayed on at the Trust, under the guidance of Counselling Co-ordinator Roger Middleton. She submitted her application for her accreditation to the BACP at the end of last year and has just been awarded it.
Both she and Roger are over the moon, with Roger explaining that other than himself, Nicky is the first counsellor to gain the standard within the Trust.
“BACP Accreditation is a widely valued quality status for practitioners and is designed to recognise the achievements of the highest standards of knowledge, experience and development. So, while Nicky is gaining invaluable practice experience with us at the Trust, we are gaining a top quality practitioner – and her work is having a massive impact on our service,” he said.
Nicky, who has also completed a child counselling diploma to allow her to work with children under 12, has been gaining yet more experience, working with a seven year old child through the Trust, while Roger has been working with the child’s brother.
“Without Nicky’s level of expertise, we would not be able to help that family in the same way – and we are making such a difference to their lives, which is gratifying,” he said.
Similarly, the pair also offer counselling at local schools when there has been an unexpected child death which, Nicky says, requires all her skills of detachment learnt through her training.
“You have to be able to come away and not be traumatised by what you have to deal with, otherwise you would not be capable of being effective as a counsellor,” she said.
“I get fantastic support from Roger, who goes above and beyond with his staff. It can be quite daunting when you are in that room and it’s just you and the person you are trying to help. Their life is in your hands. It can be very lonely at times and you can be dealing with some difficult situations, like domestic violence, or past abuse. But I know that Roger is there at any time to talk things through with and to help me distance myself from things.”
Nicky says she is very happy to be with the Trust. The volunteering opportunity has allowed her to qualify and change her career. It now gives her the flexibility to run her own holistic therapy and counselling business.
“I worked for ten years in the food industry after getting my degree in Food Marketing Science - finishing up as project manager for the whole of Cadbury Schweppes - but when I had my children I decided I wanted to change career. I wanted to work with children and young people – and I don’t regret that decision for a minute,” she says.
“I love counselling. I love seeing that change when you help someone. You just can’t put a value on that.”
For details of a range of volunteering opportunities at the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust contact 01302 734100 or take a look at this website www.doncasterchildrenstrust.co.uk
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