Esha Johnson is not only Skool Girl’s expert Agony Aunt (Dear Aunty Esha), but a Counsellor, Poet, Author and Workshop Facilitator.
What do general tasks in your career as a Counsellor consist of on a daily basis?
In my previous role at Barnardos, it all depended on whether I had a new client or a referral. If I have a referral I make a phone call to let them know that they have been referred and if they want to be counselled I will write to them with a date to come into the office. Then I have to do an initial assessment when they come and see whether they meet the criteria for counselling. Then from this I make arrangements for their first appointment. Counselling sessions are generally a one to one talk depending on the issues the individual has. My clients range from children to adults, if I am working with a child it can be observation through play therapy, with teenagers it can be more creative sessions and with adults it’s generally a one to one conversation. The main priority above all these tasks is to create a trusting and non-judgmental relationship with my clients.
Why did you decide to become involved in Counselling?
I have worked with children all my life from working as a Nursery Assistant (my first job) to an Assistant Nurse at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for 11 years. I then trained as a Play Therapist and worked as a hospital Play Specialist / Therapist for another three years. I then went onto work for local authority social services as a family support worker. I realised that there were a lot of parents and carers out there who just needed a little bit more than the support of social services. I asked my manager at the time if I could go and do a counselling course to give me a better understanding and to help the service users more, then it all spiralled on from here.
.When did you make a start on your career?
I left my job in social services as a family support worker. I had completed my counselling course. I wanted to pursue counselling so I applied to the Foster Care Associates (FCA) to work as a Play Therapist for MereWood Therapy Centre for three years. The centre closed down, which led me to work for Barnrados in 2001, I stayed for 14 years and became a Senior Sexual Abuse Counsellor and was one of the only Counsellors who specialised in working with tiny children through to adults.
“I love seeing my clients leave my services feeling empowered and feeling like they can make it. This is very rewarding.”
What is the process of becoming a Counsellor?
I did a counselling skills course, this can be about a year or so depending on where you go. At the time I did mine, you could do this at a creditable college, but a lot has changed so today’s equivalent would be done at a University or specialist centre. In 2004, I completed a Diploma which took two years, this needs to be accredited. I also did my accreditation withBACP so I am both an accredited and registered counsellor. You need some form of reputable qualification to go into counselling.
Who has helped you during your journey?
I had a good senior manager at Barnardos and she enabled myself and the other counsellors. Whatever courses we needed to go on she encouraged us and really pushed us, which brought the best out of us because we had the resources we needed to further ourselves in our careers.
What have you learnt during your experience?
I have learned to listen more and have learned a lot of patience. I have also learned that everyone is so different and not to judge people. One of the biggest things I have learned is that what seems trivial to me is something big and painful for somebody else and that’s something everyone has got to learn. You also learn that your clients know what is best for them and they have a right to be listened to and have their voice heard. I love seeing my clients leave my services feeling empowered and feeling like they can make it. This is very rewarding.
What advice can you offer to aspiring Counsellors?
If you are going into counselling, go into it for the right reasons. You are dealing with people’s lives so its important that you are a good counsellor. Its not the kind of job you should have if you only want to make a name for yourself, you need to have the desire to help people and want to make a difference. It’s a rewarding job seeing other people move forward and knowing that you have been a part of that journey.