Working as a counsellor with The Sara Lee Trust is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Meeting people when they are at their most vulnerable, anxious, and uncertain allows you to have an honest connection about what really matters in life. When someone is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, like cancer, everything changes. All the assumptions about life are thrown out and they have to face a new reality – a new ‘normal’. We all feel illness is something that will happen to others, that somehow, we will ‘slip through the net’, but it can, and it does happen to us. And that’s when having the support of a counsellor can be important. Being able to listen attentively, without judgement, is a vital part of counselling and it is an honour to be trusted with another human’s fear, uncertainty, and awareness that sometimes we have no control over what happens.
I’ve been working as a counsellor with The Sara Lee Trust for almost five years and I have had the privilege of supporting hundreds of wonderful people as they lived through their experience of illness. Some were sad, anger or numb. Others were positive and jolly, but those were just states of mind. They were all going through the same range of feelings, and no two people respond to the difficulties of life in the same way. As I counsellor we don’t ask people to hide their fears or their anger; we don’t tell them to be positive. Rather, we meet them where they are, and we support them to live a life that is right for them.
Carl Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic approach to counselling said:
“It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried”
When we accept that we know ourselves best, we are open to support and willing to let others see our real selves, vulnerability, and all. That’s when change can happen and when, despite the pain and difficulty of illness, we can allow ourselves to change. And that’s why I continue to do this work – because it’s about reality and meaning, without which, what do we have?