Someone to listen in a confidential, non-judgmental place can go a long way towards sorting out life’s challenges.
The Family Resource Centre Community Support Volunteer Program trains volunteers to offer free, short-term counseling on life issues.
The volunteers, who are of all ages and backgrounds, have one thing in common — they want to use their natural ability to be good listeners to help others.
“I admit I was interested in the program for personal reasons at first because my family and friends tend to come to me for support and I thought I could use these resources to help them as well,” said volunteer Gloria Dupont, who took the training last year and has been seeing clients.
“The training was more in-depth than I thought it would be but everything was so well-presented and so interesting. I learned that being a good listener isn’t enough, you have to actually hear what is being said and what is not being said. I learned how to help people find their own path in their situations.”
The training includes personal growth, communication skills, empathetic listening and responding and goal setting and problem solving.
“One of the most interesting things was doing a genogram about your place in your own family and how that makes a difference to your personality. There was a lot of bonding in the class and we helped each other find the best in each other. I liked the wide range of ages of the people in the class,” said Dupont.
When the volunteers start seeing clients on their own, they have access to professional counsellors on working with issues with the clients.
“We have a mentoring program and people coming to the counsellors with complex issues are pre-screened and will see one of the centre’s professional counsellors,” said Karen Swales, Community Support Volunteer Program coordinator.
Dupont said the training left her feeling well-prepared to see clients.
“We meet with clients at the centre at a time that is convenient for both of us and it’s a comfortable atmosphere. You realize how much courage it takes for a client to come in and be willing to work in problem solving,” she said.
“To me, it’s just helping one person at a time and there’s a lot of satisfaction in that. I would tell potential volunteers that if they have a real interest and willing to give of themselves to help someone else they would find a lot of satisfaction in doing this.”
For more information about applications and interviews for the training session, which starts Oct. 1, contact Swales at 250-545-3390 (ext. 215), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Application forms are also available at the Family Resource Centre at The People Place and online at their Web site at www.vernonfrc.ca.