Volunteers at CASSPLUS put their degrees into practice.
Amy-Jane applies her Psychotherapy and Counselling skills
Amy-Jane is studying for a BSc in Psychotherapy and Counselling at Marjon University in Plymouth. By the end of this year, she will I will have a degree in Psychotherapy and Counselling.
Volunteering opens doors
Working as a volunteer inside Plymouth Magistrates’ Court compliments Amy-Jane’s studies. Over the last six months, she’s learnt valuable people skills and grown in confidence. On top of this, she’s learning about boundaries, limitations, strengths, knowing what you can and can’t work with, taking care of yourself, self-awareness and, especially understanding that we’re all so different.
At CASS+, we actively listen so that each person gets tailored support at court and into life beyond.
As part of her degree, Amy-Jane is learning active listening. As a result, she puts this into practice.
By and large, she tries not to think about what she will say next. She listens attentively, responds gently and reflects on what’s being said, retaining the information for later. This approach is an essential building block for helping each client.
At the same time, Amy-Jane can work out the cause of some of their problems and then help to find solutions. Most importantly, she can get them relevant, tailored support at court and into life beyond.
We asked Amy-Jane to share what she’s learnt whilst working inside Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.
Important to be a listening ear
You can’t judge a book by its cover. I try not to think about someone’s background. It’s often a plethora of things that have gone wrong. It’s never just one thing. So many things can be going on and they are often very emotional.
Many of our clients face complicated issues, especially when it comes to compromised cognitive skills; contact with social workers; issues raised by the school; child well-being; mental health; drug or alcohol use; housing; and emotional support.
Sometimes I meet people who have been in Plymouth for three years with 40 different addresses. They just need stable relationships and a safe place to live, to feel they belong here. One thing leads to another. Without a sense of safety, anxiety, stress and depression creep in.
People are at risk as a result of deprivation. I think they could have been helped much more at school, or at least an earlier point in time.
So glad I decided to do this
I’ve learnt so much. I really look forward to coming in. I also protect myself. I always have some quiet time when I get in and I love walking by the sea and reading.
Amy-Jane’s recommended reading
Psycho-dynamic theories have helped me understand how broken attachment can impact a whole life. This is very relevant for many of our clients. Here are just a few of her recommendations:
Life coach, Brené Brown has been a real inspiration, especially her books and Ted talks:
Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, Ebury Publishing, 2021, ISBN: 9781785043772
For more relational depth and practical advice:
William Stewart & Jan Sutton, Learning to Counsel, Little Brown Book Group, 2008, ISBN: 9781472138491
Other books on Amy-Jane’s reading list
Carl R. Rogers, A Way of Being, Houghton Mifflin, 1980
Dave Mearns & Mick Cooper, Working at Relational Depth in Psychotherapy and Counselling, Sage Publications, 2017, ISBN: 9781473977938
Kathryn Geldard & David Geldard, Counselling Skills in Everyday Life, Bloomsbury 2002, ISBN: 9781403903136
Kate Murphy, You’re not Listening, Vintage Publishing, 2021, ISBN: 9781784709402
I volunteered to do this because I really want to help people. Volunteering will enable you enhance your life skills, challenge you, refresh your worldview, build your confidence, and learn to create a supportive environment. Many people don’t have access to the internet. It may seem a small thing to fill out a form for someone, but for that person, it could be life-changing if they are going to get benefits. We can take so much for granted.
What do CASS+ volunteers learn and do?
- How to support others through a crisis, guiding them towards a positive future
- How to find solutions to complicated problems
- Understanding about our legal system
- Broadening horizons by working with people from all backgrounds
- That it really is possible to reduce the risk of re-offending