When Vicki Hegarty graduated with a Bachelor of Counselling from BTI in 2007, she started working as the resident counsellor at St Peters House in Tauranga. Five years on she is still there and is a valued member of the team, working alongside fellow BTI graduate, Jill Skelton. St Peters House Director, Andrew Tomlinson, says, “Vicky and Jill, as BTI graduates, both work really well here as part of the team. They are both professionally capable and competent in what they do, and they are both also extremely well motivated by their compassion for people which is great to work alongside.”
St Peters House is a Christian, charitable organisation, which offers a variety of free services to the people of Tauranga, including parenting courses, food parcels, personal development groups, debt management and personal counselling services – and the list is by no means exhaustive.
The counselling service offered by St Peters House is free to the Tauranga community and referrals come to Vicky from many different avenues. Despite the variety of backgrounds that her clients come from, Vicky says mostly have similar reasons for seeking counselling. “Common issues and challenges clients face, are grief and loss and depression - but often historical or current trauma or abuse can be linked to depression –so usually when someone presents for depression there are wider issues that will come forward and usually people want to deal with those issues.”
Vicky finds her work rewarding, and loves to see the positive changes that occur with her clients. She says, “What motivates me is when as a result of the counselling process, people are strengthened – and you can see that they are freer and strengthened to go for the goals that they have come with in counselling and that’s really rewarding to see that happen.”
Vicky is very mindful that trust needs to be built in her client relationship in order for her clients to feel safe enough to share their personal challenges. “I really try to have a non-judgmental approach,” Vicky shares. “I mean you learn that in the BTI stuff, you really do, but I think you really have to find that genuinely in yourself…and have worked through some of your own stuff, to be able to connect to that and realise ‘gosh, life can be hard sometimes.’ I think people sense that and as you build a relationship of trust, people feel safe.”
Vicky has positive memories of her time at BTI, and has felt well set-up for the real world of working as a counsellor. “The values sat with me, and I had the same Christian worldview so it just all sort of fitted together for me. I really appreciated being in that wholesome environment and having a place to be able to learn in that environment. I felt well prepared through BTI for counselling, because of the professional counselling models we learnt really well, and they translated well in the workplace – that was really important.”