Julia Philips, a writer, shares what she learnt as a rape crisis counsellor. She explains entering the first training session and feeling completely overwhelmed as she was surrounded by a family therapist, nurses, sex educators and public defenders who were also volunteering to be counsellors. Philips remembers thinking how underqualified she felt for the role being surrounded by people who devoted their entire lives to helping victims.
However, after five years she realised that it is not about qualifications. To be a good crisis counsellor is about social awareness.
Here’s a list of what Philips believe constitutes a good trauma counsellor:
- To calm the crisis, they restore security. Counsellors give the victim all the control. For example asking permission before entering their room, and waiting to be told to leave.
- Anyone can experience a violent encounter, there is no set image of a victim, or set way that they will respond. By making assumptions, and not listening to the victim, prevents the counsellor from giving the victim the individual specific attention and support they need.
- Just being present helps someone heal. Nothing needs to be said. Many victims will be able to tell of how alone they felt during abuse. People don’t like to talk about it, but victims of abuse are often deserted by family and friends. Therefore being present, is sometimes enough.
- Your best isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than nothing. Counsellors won’t have all the answers or get it right all the time. Some support is always better than nothing at all.
Read the full article here.