When ‘not’ being important really matters

Karen Evans describes her 'life-changing career'

In her first term as a student counsellor, Karen Evans had a chance meeting with a nurse she once worked with at a care home.

Karen’s change in career from healthcare assistant was no surprise to her ex-colleague. She reminded Karen about the personal statement she’d written describing her desire to give care home residents an opportunity to talk about their lives and emotions, especially when they were suffering from grief and loss. The benefits of talking to a trained professional helped Karen through difficult life experiences of her own.

This left a lasting impression which inspired her as she practised her listening skills with fellow students during her PersonCentred Counselling Course. Karen clearly remembers when she first felt the powerful and physical sensation of connecting with a client during one of her initial placements.

‘We’d been talking about little things for 20 minutes when my client began to open up. I felt an overwhelming feeling of empathy. The connection and trust we built gave them the confidence to talk about feelings and emotions.’

Counsellors are often the first people to witness a person’s intense grief and they are trained to support people through emotional difficulties and assist them in reaching their own resolutions or developing strategies to address their concerns. Karen’s years of training have all been worthwhile. For the past two-and-a-half years she’s been enabling people to help themselves through bereavement counselling at St Michael’s.

‘It’s been a life-changing career which has left me with a deep sense of appreciation for life. My job is to use empathy to understand the pain people feel. Talking openly to someone like me, who at the outset is not important in that person’s life, provides them with a safe space, and that can help bring emotions to the surface. When people talk about how they feel it enables them to understand where the seeds of their feelings and thoughts come from.’

Throughout the counselling process, Karen sees a remarkable change in the wellbeing and happiness of her clients. ‘When I shake hands to say goodbye it’s a beautiful feeling to know they have worked through their feelings. It’s like they are six inches taller.’ Like Karen, all Hospice staff feel passionate about providing people with the best possible care and this person-centred approach is at the heart of St Michael’s.

To find out more about joining the Hospice care team, or the services they provide visit st-michaels-hospice.org.uk or call 01432 851 000.