Welcome to my guest post series: A Day In Private Practice. Meet Counsellor, Supervisor & Trainer Kim Billington.
Kim Billington M. Couns, M. Narrative Therapy & B. Ed is a registered supervisor and counsellor in private practice with PACFA: The Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia and ACA. Kim is passionate about training and supervision. Kim supervises students in the Masters of Counselling course at Monash University. Although a narrative therapist in training, Kim’s work is centred on the person in front of her and what works for them.
Committed to passing forward her ever-evolving counselling skills and knowledge, Kim aims to support and inspire counselling practitioners to develop their own unique creative skills and explore new ways to connect with their clients to support healing and identity growth.
A Typical Monday in Private Practice
Every morning of the week the alarm is set for 30 mins before sunrise. The Apple ringtone this month is Frank Sinatra singing a Peggy Lee song, ‘Is that all there is?’
Three twist and stretch exercises and I am into my bathers and heading off for an open water swim. It’s Melbourne, so although August will get down to 10 degrees, it’s now (April) a balmy 18 degrees. I swim for the invigoration, my mental health reset and to keep my joints moving.
Shower on return doesn’t always happen when I’m working online. My headset covers the salty, crumpled hair and I just love the smell of salt on skin. So no shower today.
7:30am – Sitting & Art Therapy
Sitting time in my loungeroom with the sun on my face. Quiet time. Checking in with my breath and coming to stillness is my treat. Play time follows with an art pad and water colour pencils or graphite pencils. Nothing ‘skilled’ here, simply being with the moving tool and feeling like a 5yr old again. One drawing or painting can take many days – an easygoing pastime, like a huge summer holiday jigsaw.
8am – Morning Catchup
Brewing coffee with a touch of turmeric and oat milk gives me a spark and warms me up with a bowl of porridge. Time to upload photos from the weekend with my grandson and check my phone for appointment updates, book sales, supervision enquiries, social media, ABC news app (I don’t have a TV). Any WhatsApp activity with family? My three grown up children bring a great sense of joy.
8:30am – Clinical Supervision
First cab off the rank is clinical supervision. 50 minutes to hear about the thrills, spills, stress and the weariness of the hardworking counsellors in the field. Always a few laughs in there.
9:50am – Deliver Professional Development Training to Counsellors
Logging into zoom for a 3 hour training seminar I’m delivering for The Sydney Centre for Creative Change. 18 counsellors, social workers and teachers expected to come along to learn how to create a ‘Tree of Life’ narrative expressive arts therapy. This particular PD delves deep, although it is ‘strengths based’. The breakout room ‘unpackings’ are profound. I warn everyone ahead to be gentle with themselves. I have other trainings such as Playful Therapy, Hero’s Journey and Zoom whiteboard creative webinars. Such a fun way to give back with the convenience of online delivery.
1:15pm – A Trip to the Post Office
I’m driving in my gorgeous campervan to the post office with three of my books to mail out. Two are for my first book, ‘A Counsellor’s Companion: Creative adventures for child counsellors, parents and teachers’, which is about to be turned into a ‘Lunchtime Learnings’ book series with The Professional Development People. This book for those working with children and families has been a great success, and even achieved the heights of an Amazon #1 bestseller!
1:30pm – Lunch
Yummy lunch at the Black Squirrel café next to the PO and I order ‘Huevos Ranchero’, a Mexican baked egg and bean delight.
2pm – Carer Gateway
A Carer Gateway client is awaiting her first zoom session. We’ve had 3 face to face in consulting rooms I hire at the back of a yoga studio, but today she is recovering from COVID and the RATs are positive still. Carer clients have a few things in common. They are racked with guilt about not being or doing enough, and have compressed anger over the a huge amount they actually do compared to other family members. I call them these amazing ‘golden hearted ones’ (mostly women) who give and give, and collectively seem to forget how to make time to nurture and create healthy boundaries for themselves. They have six free sessions, and Carer Gateway pay me $150 a session. It works for me.
3pm – Monthly Group Supervision
A monthly group supervision hour with counsellors working at a university. We spend the first 15 mins hearing the excitement of one of the group, who became a father the day before April Fool’s Day. He has developed dark patches under his eyes and says he will now attend more closely when his clients speak about not having good sleep! The main case discussed in the group session today included a person who has ‘given up’. Risk assessments were made appropriately, but the stress on the counsellor is visible. This person had not been able to get home to their home country for 3 years, with several family members having died from COVID. The counsellor says they were helped listening to the others feedback around the case, and now has some narrative remembering ideas to bring to their next session. Group supervision breaks the isolation as we learn from each other.
4pm – Preparation Time
Preparation time for this evening’s third of six Narrative Therapy Book Club sessions. The 11 participants are so keen to learn the ropes and their enthusiasm gives me a boost.
5pm – Dinner
Time to get some dinner started, a huge pot of pumpkin soup to last through the week.
6pm – Narrative Therapy Book Club
The 90 minute online Narrative Therapy Book Club starts. There’s a buzz as we get to hear about how participants used their narrative questions from the Temper Tantrum chapter. This month is about loss and dying, and we talk about Michael White’s epic 1980s discovery of ‘Saying Hullo Again.’
7:30pm – Updating Power Diary
Updating my Power Diary: payments and appointments, sending invoices for group and training, sending new Supervision Consent Form to a new supervisee who will get a 30% discount on their first session, using a book purchase offer. Packaging another book to take to PO in the morning. Checking my case notes in my ReMarkable tablet device are complete. This tool has saved hours in case note writing, as I can write during sessions and save.
8:30pm – Glass of Wine & a Chat
An in-person glass of wine and chat with an artist and neighbour about an illustration they are creating for my new ‘Sailboat of Life’ therapeutic tool. Time to talk about politics and the global issues.
9pm – Tomorrow’s Preparation
Getting out my speedo bathers for tomorrow’s swim, and putting the pink yoga mat by the door for tomorrow morning’s 9:30am weekly class. Last glance at phone and checking what’s on tomorrow. Quickly sending a Zoom link to a new client whose appointment I had overlooked.
9:30pm – Stargazing & Bed
Stargazing and moon watching from my balcony, then to bed, perchance to dream and process the rich happenings of my day. In June I’ll be travelling and working remotely from my campervan for 3 months. Having a holiday to look forward to is certainly an antidote to stress and burnout.
Connect with Kim