Ellie has been working in the Community Services Sector for 15 years. She currently works as a Counsellor for a large Non-Government Organisation in Adelaide three days per week and works in her own practice at other times. Ellie has particular experience and passion for supporting women, the young and less young, to (re)claim their lives from: food, eating and body struggles; trauma and illness experiences; life transitions; and feelings of wanting more but not knowing how.
Ellie believes that recovery, (re)claiming our lives from struggle, and living an emergent life is absolutely possible … for everyone. She has seen others do it and she has done it herself.
Ellie Hodges, Counsellor, Large NGO in Adelaide.
Brief description of your role:
The team that I work on supports young people (12-25) who are at-risk of homelessness and/or their families. Counselling is focused on sexual abuse experiences or family conflict.
So… what do you actually do?
Days are mostly made up of hour long counselling sessions and writing up notes. I have a maximum of five sessions a day. In addition to sessions and direct support of young people and/or their families I also have to fit in: monthly team meetings; case conferences and liaising with other services; practice supervision; training; and reading to keep my skills and local knowledge up to date.
How did you get to your position of being a Counsellor?
I have a B Arts with majors in Psychology and Sociology as well as a Diploma in Counselling & Groupwork. I also have a rich and diverse training record that value adds to these formal qualifications and is more targeted to the work that I do around trauma and working with young people and families.
When I was at university I started volunteering with Camp Quality and also as a Telephone Counsellor with Lifeline. I was keen to be giving back to the community but also developing skills that would help me in my chosen career. Whilst still studying I started working full-time as a Youth Worker and have held a number of positions along the way to get where I am.
Have you always wanted to work in this industry?
In high school I always knew that I wanted to be in a job in the helping professions it was just a matter of working out what that meant exactly for me. For a short time I considered teaching or working with animals but by the time I started University my path was clear.
What do you love about your role?
Having people talk to me when they are going through tough times is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. Due to the specialised areas that I work in I hear so many stories of strength and overcoming despite life circumstances that continue to encourage and inspire me.
I really love working in the community sector too because of the flexibility in work conditions and appreciation for all that I am as a worker and as a person.
In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
I have only been in my current role since returning to work from maternity leave in January. Along with the counselling work I have also written an 80-page facilitator’s manual called Starting the Conversation: Talking with Young People about Mental Health and Wellness. It is based on a project that my organisation ran over the last 12 months and details a four session program that Teachers and other professionals can run in schools with Year 8 or 9 students.
Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
I have been really fortunate in my career to have been well supported in each role that I have had and to be given space to take on additional projects that allow me to be creative and extend myself. Love this moments come when a project is complete, when the people I am working with reach their own milestones, when I feel I am ‘in the zone’ and when I get to do fun things in the name of work. And they come frequently.
What would be the least favorite aspect of your role?
Surprising to a lot of people is the level of paperwork that goes along with my position. I really believe in accountability and reporting to our funding bodies but typing up my notes and additional information is my least favourite part of the work and what I procrastinate over the most.
Any advice for anyone aspiring to be a Counsellor?
To anyone wanting to be a counsellor I would say start using the skills now and don’t be dismayed if you don’t walk into a counselling position immediately. You can start in youth worker, case management or other related roles and move into more counselling focused positions over time. It is also important to be really clear in yourself about your values around this work, how you want to be as a counsellor and which issues are of most interest to you. This will help you to know the environments that are a good match for you as well as the areas of focus that are important.
Thank you Ellie – Love this post and the insight into your career journey. To get to know Ellie better, head over to An Emergent Life