MindOut have been a fundamental part of my growth as a counsellor, because I joined them right at the start of my training, just as they were opening the counselling service.
The first thing to say on a personal level was – and this was mind-blowing to me – MindOut actually wanted me to join them, because of my queer identity. This whole time being gay was the reason people had pushed me aside, harassed me, tokenised me. But now my identity was the reason a group of people wanted me, because I could draw on the experiences I share with other queer people to work in a really empathic way. That’s what makes MindOut special, not just for the people who come for support but the people who work there: you are wanted because of who you are.
As a trainee I always felt safe and supported at MindOut. I was never introduced to a client I didn’t feel ready to work with, which is incredibly important for respecting clients’ needs, but also for trainee counsellors because it respects where they’re at in their development. And I think MindOut are able to do that because they get to know each client AND each counsellor as a person.
MindOut also give the counsellors a rare amount of creative freedom. Of course we all work closely within MindOut’s values and in a way that’s deeply LGBTQ affirmative. But MindOut never enforced how I work in terms of my therapeutic approach (humanistic, psychodynamic, etc.) which has been key in allowing me to discover what kind of therapist I am.
I’ve now qualified but I continue volunteering for several reasons:
- Life as a private counsellor can be quite solitary, and so it’s a rare treat to continue being part of a group who really “mind out” for each other.
- I volunteer there because they help me develop professionally through amazing training and supervision.
- I volunteer there because their administration is incredibly efficient, which is important for me because it means I can really focus on being with clients.
- I volunteer there because many of the clients who come to the counselling service are going through a really high level of suffering and so I know MindOut’s work is incredibly important for the community.
- And I volunteer there for me, because when I find a space where my identity is celebrated, I want to hold onto that because it’s healing for me too. So thank you MindOut for all your support for the counsellors.