Access to counselling services is a top priority for us here at Woolpit Clinics. We work with a wide range of therapists here that provide a combination of child, young people, and adult therapy options and for the past 18 months, we have been able to offer reduced price sessions thanks to facilitating work placement opportunities to student counsellors. In this article, we review our own experience of this service and ask the students and clients what they think too.
The following questions were put to Emma Harvey Lawrence – partner and general manager of Woolpit Clinics:
Why did you start the affordable counselling service?
Emma Harvey Lawrence
I always felt we could offer something like the affordable counselling service we have now. However, it’s about who you know sometimes, and it wasn’t until I was approached by one of the students currently on placement back in 2021 that I felt there could be a chance of creating something here. I met with the programme leader at the time and with a bit of preparation, it was possible to set up interviews with students that had received their statement of readiness to practice and a supervisor in place. Three of those students are now at the stage of nearly completing their degree with their 100 hours achieved and ready to practice independently which I find really inspiring and I’m grateful to have witnessed their progress. It is as much about the growth and development of the student as it is for the client.
Do you feel this service is benefiting residents of Suffolk?
We have received positive feedback from clients, and I have no doubt that those who have worked with a student counsellor, have been able to reflect and speak about their experiences in a way that has helped them. So yes, I do feel this is of benefit and of course, for those that find the typical fees for private counselling inaccessible it is has been of great benefit to reduce the sense of financial stress. We try to ensure we see as many people as possible but of course, in some cases this is not a suitable pathway but even then, we are diligent to suggest other services within or outside our clinic to be sure we are providing the best possible advice.
Have the students benefited from the service?
From my perspective, I have seen their confidence grow exponentially and they work independently alongside our qualified therapists, so that suggests good things. However, it’s probably best to ask them…
The following questions were put to students fulfilling their counselling work placement at Woolpit Clinics:
What have you enjoyed or found useful during your placement?
It has been beneficial to work with clients directly. We liaise with them prior to their first session and remain their primary contact, just as it would be expected in private practice. The autonomy this provides is empowering and has helped me to establish professional boundaries and manage my time effectively. The facilities are purposefully designed for therapeutic practice, and I feel this has a positive impact on client experiences as well as my own as a student counsellor. Booking appointments is made easy with an online booking system, and the clients and I love the room available to us. The communication and support delivered by the team within Woolpit Clinics has been exceptional. I have always felt welcome, encouraged and listened to.
I have enjoyed the calm, relaxing, and professional environment of the clinic during my placement. The high level of support and communication within the clinic has been really useful to me. I also appreciate the opportunity to meet with therapists from the clinic and outside agencies and keep up to date about local services. Being part of a team within the clinic while also having the freedom and flexibility of working independently has been a great experience for me.
My experience of Woolpit clinics has been an all-round positive one, I began my counselling placement with them in 2021 for the affordable counselling initiative and have never looked back. If I had to summarise my favourite elements it would be the environment that has been created at Woolpit clinics, inclusive, warm, and welcoming. I have felt supported throughout my placement experience and have been enabled to maintain my autonomy and independence as a practitioner in training.
One thing placement has offered that will help with once qualified?
Besides offering a space to safely practice and establish my way of working with clients, there is the opportunity to continue working at the clinic once I graduate. This is something I am keen to do, as they offer support in starting up my practice and flexible agreements so that I can build my practice at a pace that suits my commitments.
Woolpit clinics has given me the opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills in a professional environment. The experience has helped me develop my communication skills and confidence, making my transition from university into work less stressful.
There are many aspects of my experience with Woolpit clinics that I will take forward with me post qualification. I have gained many hours of client experience which is unmeasurable and will continue to inform my experience throughout my development as a practitioner, but if I had to pick one that feels pertinent at this stage I would say, the confidence I have gained from working in an environment that is nurturing and supportive of my growth, trusting in my abilities and supporting my autonomy.
This is what their clients have to say about the Affordable Counselling Service at Woolpit Clinics:
“I have found everything at Woolpit Clinics positive and helpful. It seemed a daunting thought to revisit certain experiences, and I had always questioned whether I would ever feel differently about my feelings. I was initially encouraged by family members to seek professional support and did so reluctantly. However, the journey that my counsellor and I have been on has been a positive process. It has always felt like a safe and non-judgmental space for me to talk openly and is something I can reliably trust when times have felt hopeless. For the first time that I can remember, I do not feel depressed, I do occasionally have days when I struggle with my anxiety, but it does not overwhelm me as it did before. Knowing that sessions are open-ended and not limited has been an asset, and I look forward to the continuing support available in exploring the new person within me. I strongly encourage anyone who may feel apprehensive about counselling to give it a go!”.
“If it had not been for the affordable counselling service offered, I would not have been able to afford the privilege of having counselling.”
“I was able to share and explore a very difficult time, in a safe place. Being able to explore things, not really knowing how I feel about certain things to be honest. I was in a confused and desperate place and talked about things out loud I had never talked about before. I talked about things I may have gone my whole life never really dealing with.Tracy was excellent, kind, patient, helped me make sense of things, in my muddled mind. Helping me move (in my head) from a place of being a victim, to being a survivor. Changing someone’s mindset, is a powerful skill. And it is a skill Tracy definitely has. Thank you all, for making therapy accessible for me. I was buried under a lot of experiences, not knowing how to process them. Thank you does not seem, enough. Thank you for helping me to start to repair and heal”.
Woolpit Clinics offers an affordable counselling service to Suffolk residents (ages 16 and above) and has done so now, for over 18 months. The service provides counselling support for just £25 per session and there is no limit placed on the number of sessions a client receives. Students from the West Suffolk College’s University Studies Group enrolled on the BA Hons Integrative Counselling degree programme must complete a minimum of 100 hours one to one client work, to achieve their regulatory body membership with the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists. This is achieved via work placement opportunities such as ours and provides a lifeline to those in need of counselling in a safe and non-judgmental environment. If you would like to find out more, please email email@example.com, call 01359 408011 (to leave a message where someone will call you back) or visit our dedicated affordable counselling page.