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Snapshot: Clare Voss

Monday, May 31, 2010
I have worked for Carers Tasmania for the past three and a half years and I am now manager of the counselling program. We provide statewide support for carers. Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are aged and frail.

Meeting carers in my new professional role and undertaking MiCBT training with Bruno three years ago was an interesting and synchronous experience. It led to the introduction of MiCBT to our clients at Carers Tasmania shortly thereafter and I am pleased to say this program has become an integral part of our work. Two of our counselling staff are currently facilitating an MiCBT group and we are now in the process of planning our seventh group training program. The assessment process begins next week. In addition, we provide individual training for some of our clients. I have particularly enjoyed co-facilitating the group program. The generosity of spirit that is apparent in each group is truly inspiring.

Our particular client group has responded well to the MiCBT training. This is substantiated by the evidence we have collected following the training, during the review process. Our client group, Carers, often present with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. In many cases their caring roles are ongoing. It is heartening to see not only their quality of life improve, but those of their families and the person they care for and to know that they have the skills to manage the vicissitudes of life.

I have worked in a variety of counselling roles over the past seventeen years since completing my education and training in Melbourne. In my first position, I was fortunate to be employed in an accredited agency which trained people in relationship counselling. Reflective practice was emphasized within that learning environment and I continue to feel grateful for the foundation that it provided in those early stages of my development. There were a number of aspects that enhanced this model of learning. These included fortnightly Professional Development, guest speakers to provide fresh air and stimulation, case presentation and discussion, intra-agency seminars which were conducive to building collaborative relationships. In addition, counsellors were supervised in-house as well as externally, depending on their learning needs at the time. Some of my colleagues sought personal analysis, a course which I also chose to follow.

My intention is not to paint a utopian picture. It was far from that but I want to draw attention to the prevailing sense of openness that I experienced within that learning environment. I believe  this to be fundamental to healthy practice for all concerned. In a number of other roles, I have experienced  reticence towards talking about the work that is conducted in the very private setting of the counselling room, or worse, not even considered necessary.

This leads me back to MiCBT. For me, it is the experiential nature of the model that makes it shine. My personal experience of MiCBT, as well as ongoing supervision and continued practice, have prepared me to undertake the journey with my clients, with confidence and compassion.

I moved to Tasmania from Melbourne eight years ago to live a quieter life. My partner, John, and I had been in a caring role and we were looking for a change. Some time later, other family members joined us, including two adorable grandchildren, only three months old at that time. The quieter life looks vastly different to the one that I imagined ... but feels very rich to live.

Clare Voss, Manager–Counselling, Carers Tasmania clare@carerstas.org