By Lara Shannon, Community Engagement Coordinator
Barbara Pickering has been volunteering as a counsellor at our Eastside Family Centre for two and a half years. She enjoys connecting with people, being part of a team and the many opportunities for learning she receives while volunteering. The work she does in the single session counselling with families in crisis is invaluable to us.
Read on for our Q & A with Barbara!
How long have you been volunteering with Wood’s Homes?
I began volunteering at Eastside Family Centre in September of 2013.
Can you talk about what attracted you to volunteering at Eastside?
I am currently a PhD student and spend a lot of time on my own doing research. I had a strong desire to connect with people and give back to the community. Also, my research is connected to social justice and community and volunteering with Eastside helps me stay engaged with my own learning.
What motivates you to continue volunteering with Eastside?
Team work, support, learning and collaboration to name a few. The group consultation with each client is an excellent way to learn, there is always someone in the room who can really connect with the client’s situation.
Can you walk me through a “typical” day for you at Wood’s Homes?
When a client arrives at Eastside they fill out a form describing their level of distress, age, whether they are an individual, family or couple. I have a fair amount of experience in providing family therapy so I am often given families to meet with. I usually talk to the client (individual, couple, or family) for about 40 minutes about what brings them in and what they are hoping to achieve. Next, I meet with other therapists that are on site and we consult about possible solutions. I then go back to the family offering solutions.
What do you think Eastside does well?
There are many benefits to this single session collaborative approach for example the solidarity of the therapists and the ability to keep a pulse on the trends in the troubles people are facing. Eastside exemplifies the “Never Turn Anyone Away” part of Wood’s Homes’ mission.
What do you think could be done better?
I think the therapists at Eastside are quite good about working with clients from diverse backgrounds, however I don’t think it’s an explicit part of training or an articulated ideal and maybe that could be expanded.
Are there any issues around children and youth you’d like to see Wood’s Homes pursue?
Research and programming around kids whose parents have been incarcerated. There is no explicit discourse around this experience for children and perhaps a mentoring program could be a good idea.
Can you talk about a key memory or success story that stands out for you?
A young mother came into the clinic very worried that she had postpartum depression. She asked “is there something wrong with me?” We were able to determine that a diagnosis of post partum depression was not a given – yes she was dealing with some very tough issues but she left knowing that she likely had the tools and ability to make it through.
What is your biggest wish for Eastside?
My biggest wish for Eastside is for the program to open an additional location. There will be a lot more demand for crisis services as the repercussions of the economic downturn continue to deepen. It would be so helpful for our Calgary community to have access to another clinic in the South, especially for those who do not have easy access to transportation.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!
Wood’s Homes is a nationally accredited mental health centre – proudly helping communities for over 100 years. Learn more at woodshomes.ca.