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Jenny Monroe talks to Audrey Moore, counsellor

AUDREY Moore has just started a business offering counselling services. She lives in Lisburn and has two grown up sons.

Audrey spent a lot of time in London where she worked as a PA for a publishing firm. During her time there, a friend developed cancer and died. Audrey says that it was this experience which made her realise she wanted to become a counsellor. After doing basic courses in counselling, including person centred counselling, Audrey completed a diploma in higher Education the University of Ulster and still attends refresher counselling courses. She has also completed programmes in drug awareness and suicide prevention which led her to applying to the Go For It programme with Lisburn Enterprise Centre and setting up her own business which she hopes will be a benefit to people in the local community.

I get up about 7am and take my dog for a dander. My first patient usually isn't until 10.30am. I go to the client's home for a private session which lasts one hour and is totally confidential. I can also book a room somewhere like in the Bridge Community Centre if the person prefers.

As I am only starting up in business I am open to referrals and new clients so recently I've been busy building up my profile and networking to establish myself in the area. When I meet the client the first thing that happens is what I call 'meeting, seating and greeting'. As well as weekdays I will work over the weekend if someone request this. I make the client feel as comfortable as I can with open body language and sensitivity. Normally I spend 50 minutes letting them explore their story - it's not an advice session, its helping them reach their own conclusions and solutions. It is very important for me to listen to them - its a warm emphatic service. Being able to listen carefully is essential in my role as a counsellor and also it is important that as a counsellor I begin to build up trust. Towards the end of the session I let the person wind down before they leave. Often the client wants to comeback for follow up sessions so I will make the necessary arrangements with them. Once the session has ended I will write up my notes and prepare for the next person. The maximum people I can see per week is about 20 to prevent a burn out.

I have to meet with my supervisor once a month - any good counsellor has to be checked on to make sure they have a good attitude and are not emotionally involved and are using best practice. I'm a member of the British Association of counsellors and psychotherapists and I adhere to it's guidelines as well as regularly looking up rules and ethics and going on refresher courses. I think it is important that I am open to new personal developments and training courses to keep myself up to-date. Self care is important to me as a counsellor so I go to a Weightwatchers class and I like to swim and walk in my free time. I'm a very sociable person and I love being out and about and I enjoy being a member of Lisburn City Elim. I find my job very rewarding and I hope my business does grow so I can be of service to the community. Having worked in administration for so long it is great not being caught up in it again and only doing my own paper work. I would like to eventually become a life coach so when people finish with my counselling services I can move on to being their life coach.

I definitely believe that changing your thinking affects behaviour. As a man thinks so is he sums it up nicely.

Ulster Star