The group were the first cohort of trainees to be recruited to the placements at Trinity, enabling them to gain valuable experience in providing psychological support around grief and loss.
The trainees each have an average case load of three patients. On a weekly basis they spend two to three hours with patients, with additional time spent on documentation.
All the clients seen by the trainees are first assessed and screened by a senior member of the patient and family support team.
Letizia Perna-Forrest, head of patient and family support at the hospice, said: “Working with grief and loss on a daily basis can at times be a challenge, but the skills I believe our trainees gain through this work are innumerable. This experience enables counsellors to develop experience and self-awareness that a classroom discussion could never achieve.”
All trainees were in an advanced stage of training with a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) accredited programme and had previous experience of counselling.
Once recruited, the volunteers underwent a comprehensive organisational and department induction.
Along with access to informal support from the hospice team, group clinical supervision was also arranged by the hospice to provide additional support and maximise their learning experience.
On a monthly basis, the group meet for three hours with their clinical supervisor, senior counsellor Mark Craven, for formal reflection and case discussions. The trainees report that these sessions have been a fantastic learning experience that has supported and improved their placement.
The trainees also have the opportunity to participate in the hospice’s monthly Schwartz Centre Rounds and quarterly training for patient and family support volunteers.
Over the year, the first cohort of trainee counsellors have supported twenty-two bereaved friends and relatives.
Three of the trainees are planning to stay on for a further year of placement, with a new trainee due to join to hospice soon, along with an art therapy trainee who will also complete a placement at the hospice over the 2016-2017 academic year.
Chris Millwater, a trainee psychotherapist who completed the placement at Trinity, said: “I feel I have learned a lot, not only about grief and bereavement related to hospice work, but in relation to dealing with loss in general. It has been a privilege to work with the clients and I have felt so supported by every person that I have come into contact with at Trinity.”