Finding your passion through volunteering

Annette Hopper found her passion for counselling through volunteering and now works in the area full time. Luckily she still finds time to volunteer and give back.

My name is Annette and I am a qualified counsellor/psychotherapist.  This is my story of how I became involved in volunteering.

In 2009 I completed a degree in Arts & Humanities as a mature student. During my studies I became very interested in psychology, well-being and mental health in general.  Because of this, I decided to apply to volunteer as a listener with the Samaritans (a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide). After extensive training I qualified as a listener in 2010 and worked in one of their branches.  The work was challenging but also very rewarding as I spoke and actively listened to many callers in deep distress and I was able to help them emotionally to alleviate some of the pain that they were experiencing at that particular time in their lives. 

Because of my interest in this area, I decided to continue with my studies.  I enrolled in a Counselling and Psychotherapy Diploma course with the IICP, and I completed my Diploma in 2012. I found my initial volunteering experience to be so rewarding, and I wanted to pursue other volunteering opportunities, so during this course I became a trainee counsellor with the Village Counselling Service in Tallaght.

After successfully completing the course I wanted to continue volunteering and I secured a position as a volunteer Psychotherapist with Pieta House, (a centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide).

Although I now work in private practice, I have also maintained my interest in volunteering and I currently volunteer with Target Counselling, which is a low-cost counselling service based in Donaghmede.    

As a counsellor, I am trained to listen, support and counsel people in need. People seek assistance from counselling for a variety of reasons, as they may experience problems and difficulties in their lives that can lead to emotional and psychological issues. I have worked with people with issues relating to bereavement, suicidal tendencies, anxiety and stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, health concerns, low self-esteem amongst others.

Working as a volunteer counsellor is very rewarding as it enables me to explore issues of concern with individuals in a safe and confidential environment, with the support of organisations that are dedicated to helping vulnerable people.  In all of my volunteer roles I have experienced great support both from my colleagues and my supervisor.  The training and care that I received has been first-class I have enjoyed being part of a team of people working for the same cause.  

I believe that by volunteering, I am giving back to society and it has enriched me as a human being and I plan to continue volunteering as long as I am in a position to do so as I feel the rewards far out ways the work involved.

This blog is part of our National Volunteering Week 2016 blog series. Get involved on social media using #NVW2016.

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