Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Psychotherapy student, Ari* shares their experience of completing a clinical placement with St Mungo’s Psychotherapy service, LifeWorks

Why did you apply for a placement with St Mungo’s?

This is my first psychotherapy placement but I was intrigued by the opportunity to work with and help clients with complex needs and to support those who may not have the means to refer themselves to local services or community counselling services.

Who are the clients you support?

I support current and previous residents of St Mungo’s and other clients of St Mungo’s support services. Some people have experienced homelessness, others haven’t but have other support needs.

Is your placement remote or in-person?

I started my placement with St. Mungo’s during the pandemic. It was a funny time to start at LifeWorks as they had recently had to change their model from supporting clients in person to working remotely. Now restrictions have lifted, I’m starting to meet client’s in-person at a local hostel. I’m lucky that there is a fantastic hostel located nearby to me as my time is quite limited – it’s a great selling point that there are many hostels ran by St. Mungo’s all over the place, so there’s plenty of options for trainees.

How have you found working in the hostel?

My experience of the hostel has been great! I have a private room for my client sessions, staff are happy for me to reorganise the furniture and as the room is only accessible by staff I know we won’t have any interruptions. It is also reassuring knowing that after our sessions end the hostel staff are there to offer my clients ongoing support.
I love working with my client’s in-person and have found the experience so rewarding.

Have you felt supported during your placement?

My LifeWorks supervisor is so supportive and they make sure I’m comfortable with every client referral I take on. We also have fortnightly clinical supervision which is run in small groups with one or two others and is psychodynamic orienteered. It’s helped my learning having a supervisor who knows the client group very well as I’ve really been able to explore my clients’ issues in depth and get a lot of insight.

Have you had any challenges during your placement?

It can be quite challenging to arrange sessions because of the chaotic nature of the some of the residents’ lives. However, if there was someone who wasn’t turning up repeatedly, my supervisor helped me put boundaries in place so that it wouldn’t go on too long. It didn’t take long for me to build client relationships and I now have three clients who I see regularly.

What do you enjoy most about your St Mungo’s LifeWorks placement?

My placement with St. Mungo’s has allowed me to gain experience with clients with complex needs. I’ve had the same clients since the beginning which is something that I really value about my placement. It’s rare for a placement to be so open-ended so I like that I can work with my supervisor and client to agree when to finish our sessions. Another thing I value is that LifeWorks will support people who are in active addiction. This is unique as a lot of therapy/psychological organisations will only offer help to those who are abstinent.

Would you like to do a clinical placement or gain work experience with St Mungos?

Check out our current volunteering opportunities or get in touch with studentplacements@mungos.org

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