The Volunteer Counsellors at Carrs Lane Counselling Centre are supervised and managed within CLCC Ltd and work within the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Ethical Framework. Most of our counsellors are qualified but some are in training and work to the same high standards as qualified counsellors.

We have a diverse group of counsellors from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. At Carrs Lane we believe it is important that counsellors of our service are representative of the city of Birmingham.  Although we do not offer Faith based counselling, our counsellors come from all walks of life and some may be of Faith, others not.

We are often asked “What kind of people choose to work as a volunteer counsellor at Carrs Lane Counselling Centre?” To help answer this question we provide below, indicative testimonials supplied by those who have worked, or may currently be working, as volunteer counsellors at the Counselling Centre.

In 2008 I moved from Europe to the UK and a few years later, I started to study psychology. After being awarded with a BSc Psychology, I started a MSc in integrative counselling and psychotherapy. As part of my course, I am required to work with clients on a one to one basis. After researching various available counselling placements, I decided to take the place that was offered to me at Carrs Lane. For me it was important that the centre is a member of the BACP which ensures a safe environment for clients by adhering to their strong ethical framework. Another reason for me to volunteer for Carrs Lane was that the recruitment process was very thorough. The introduction training was a good preparation for working with the clients. Throughout the year, I have the opportunity to attend specialist training days, which aids my development and practice. 

Clinical Supervision is a big part in our work and I feel always supported by my supervisor. Supervision is always engaging and I can discuss my practice and share my experiences within our supervision group.

Over the years, Carrs Lane became sort of my second home. I am always looking forward seeing the team at the centre. Our manager is very supportive and I like that we can engage in informative discussions during the day.

This all helps me enormously when it comes to working with the clients. I feel privileged being able to be with the clients and that they share their experiences with me and let me into their world. I also like the individual differences each client brings with them. This allows me to work creatively and by using different methods, based on the client’s experience, it can help the client to achieve their goals. 

 I’m a 40 year old, white, female, middle class counselling volunteer and placement student at Carrs Lane Counselling centre. Regarding my education, I have a BSc in Biomedical Science and am currently working towards a MSc award in Integrative Psychotherapy in Birmingham. Prior to coming to counselling and psychotherapy, my background was firstly within the sciences and then within health, the sales, recruitment and care industries. I came to Carrs Lane in January 2015 after completing Levels 1-3 in counselling theory and practice as the beginning of my journey to retrain as a Psychotherapist. I was attracted to Carrs Lane as a service after hearing of its strong long-standing reputation within the city of providing counselling services to a wide range of clients, it’s robust training programme and the centre’s ongoing professional accreditation with the BACP. 

I joined in the interests of gaining some professional experience prior to beginning my core therapy training. I enjoyed the training programme immensely and was well supported in my development from senior experienced practitioners and trainers in essential areas of client presentations as well as key counselling skills and competencies. The training was a successful blend of theory and skills work followed by a supervisor- supported probation period prior to becoming a full volunteer. 

My experience of clinical supervision has also been very positive. This support, at no additional cost to the volunteer as well as being a professional requirement, is invaluable learning and development time as a group with peers. Both clinical supervisors that I have had, as well as the groups that I have been part of have been both constructive and supportive in my professional development and my growing clinical expertise in working with clients. The centre fosters a supportive environment for growth and values its counselling volunteers. Regularly held CPD sessions and quarterly forums enable me to grow as a practitioner and be abreast of the developments of the centre and within the profession. My experience as a counsellor with each client is different, I have benefitted from being assigned appropriate clients swiftly and have felt hugely privileged to work with each and every one.

I am from the Caribbean and I first found out about Carrs Lane Counselling Centre back in the 90s after my Grandfather passed away.  I was working as a midwife at the time and one night found myself crying on the journey home from work after the delivery of a stillborn baby in the afternoon. This was about 6 months after my grandfather’s funeral. I had one session with a volunteer Counsellor and was able to get on with my life. Carrs Lane Counselling Centre was recommended at the time because it was the only one my co-workers knew with a good reputation and was affordable. I liked it because of the central location and its easy accessible to my bus route into the City Centre. Also it was kinda reassuring and comforting that it was linked to a church.  

My experience sparked an interest in counselling and I completed a diploma in 2000, which enabled me to offer a better and more compassionate service to high risk pregnant women and families with pregnancy losses and stillbirths.  

I had an accident a few years ago and was badly affected by it, so finding a suitable placement was difficult when I enrolled for a higher level counselling qualification and needed a placement. I created a checklist and visited potential placements and only Carrs Lane Counselling Centre was disable accessible with accessible toilets on the same level and a place for counsellors to have a break on the same level and able to support me and accommodate for my special needs requirement.  

The centre’s three month training programme was very useful for me to gain more knowledge and confidence as a Person-Centred counsellor.  The support during the three month probation was very beneficial in building confidence with client work in the new setting.  

The diversity of clients I see at the centre makes it very interesting. Not just the cultural diversity but also the many reasons they seek support.  

I really like the CPDs which help with acquiring new learning on topics that I haven’t yet covered at University, for example Couples Counselling, Suicide and Supervisor training.

I am female and I’m mixed race [Irish/Jamaican].  My faith is driven by Buddhism.  I have varied qualifications however counselling specific qualifications have been obtained through Maple Leaf Counselling Centre where I obtained CPCAB Level 4 in Integrative Counselling.  Supported by CLCC, I successfully completed this course in 2019.  As part of that two year course, I had to find a placement that suited my needs and I was selective in finding my ideal choice.  I had heard of CLCC and was keen to explore this option due to its reputation.  In doing so I attended an interview and the more I learnt about the centre the more motivated I was to get a placement.  This was for various reasons that included its location [as it is city centred based making it more accessible to the public] and it is focussed on helping people and for this reason barriers that could prevent people for receiving a counselling service are largely removed such as finances, etc.  For this reason, clients are appreciative of the centre’s ethos and are willing to give the desired contributions.  This philosophy sits well with my Buddhist faith.   From a professional perspective, I also appreciated CLCC having BACP accredited status and I also felt a sense of pride when this was achieved as I appreciated the efforts it took for the centre manager to achieve this outcome.  Working for a centre with this status makes me feel more supported in my role as a Counsellor at the CLCC.

As a student, I recall conversations with my peers who had other placements and we would share our experiences and in doing so I would feel lucky that CLCC were supporting my learning in the counselling profession in the way that they did.  I knew some students at other placements who were given clients straight away but I benefitted from an excellent course delivered through CLCC that provided a beneficial reinforcement of what I was learning on my course and this envied some of my peers.  On top of that I received [and continue to receive] quality group monthly supervision sessions and can access quality CPD on a regular basis.  I also benefitted from taking sabbatical leave at a time when it was needed and I felt supported with my return.  CLCC took time to ensure that I was ready to return and fully commit to my clients for which I was grateful for.

I feel honoured to be working with clients at CLCC for two main reasons.  First of all as  a volunteer, I feel that I am making a social value contribution which again sits well with my Buddhist principles and secondly I am enriched as a practitioner as I get to work with clients from varied backgrounds with a wide range of presenting issues due to how accessible the service is.  I see CLCC as a centre that really makes a difference and for that I am incredibly proud to be part of such a professionally run counselling centre.

 I am a white British female and for the last 24 years I have worked with both families and individuals in educative, mentoring and helping roles.  The sense of fulfilment I gain from supporting others along with the experience of my personal therapy eliciting positive change inspired me to formally train to become a counsellor.  When considering a clinical placement as part of this process I was aware of Carrs Lane centre’s longstanding and effective provision of a low cost and accessible counselling service within the local community.  It was this ethos, as well as the centres commitment to BACP accreditation and continued professional development of its associates that led me to apply for the role of a trainee volunteer counsellor. 

As with acquiring any new skill developing my clinical practice has been rewarding but at times felt ambiguous or difficult, it is during these times of challenge that I have always felt fully supported and encouraged by the centre’s counsellors, in-house supervisors and the management team.  During my time within the service I have felt assured that all Carrs Lane partners go above and beyond to ensure the highest professional standards and level of care for both clients and it’s volunteers alike and this is why I continue to volunteer. 

Now qualified as an Integrative Counsellor (FD) (MBACP) I offer an approach which combines several theoretical models to enable a flexibility in the way I work and tailor the therapy to best address the client’s specific needs.  In line with the centres ethics and client centred underpinning clients can expect the provision of a confidential, non-judgemental and safe space, where they are able explore and gain insight around current difficulties, sense of ‘self’ or come to terms with past events which impact the present.  Often, the clients I meet have never experienced the therapeutic process before, or existing problems have felt unresolved by previously briefer interventions. I find the centres availability for longer-term work complementary to my approach as it affords the time and space that some clients may require for insight into deeper emotional issues. 

I have previously supported the centres clients in working with issues such as, loss and bereavement, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and substance misuse, sexuality, relationships and family dynamics.  Working with such a broad range of clients within an inner city service has offered insight into complex and varying life challenges that I myself may not have experienced.  As a result, I have come to respect my own and other’s differences and above all work to ensure that all client’s uniqueness and therapeutic needs are valued above everything else.