My experience dealing with a wide range of people and working in a range of environments, has I believe enabled me to develop a good therapeutic alliance (or professional working relationship) with the many and various people with whom I’ve worked as a Psychologist. Combined with my “love of learning”, my “benevolent curiosity”, well over half a century of life experience and my ongoing professional development and regular professional supervision I feel I can work productively with a wide range of clients.
I sometimes say that my transition from being a teenage factory worker (cutting out shirts in a clothing factory) later working for about a decade in Centrelink, then co-facilitating Domestic violence and a separate AOD group in a Prison Farm setting, to becoming a registered Psychologist, with a postgraduate diploma in counselling in private practice has been a "long and winding road".
It also relates to what I refer to as my "benevolent curiosity" about how an individual (or couple) came to be where they are now (sitting with me in a counselling office seeking to resolve some sort of concern).
It could be said that my journey on this "long and winding road" started towards the end of my time in the “Rag Trade”, when due to a combination of factors, including my shirtcutting experience and skills becoming redundant due to the introduction of new technology, I started studying (mainly part time) for what became a Bachelor of Psychology.
The decision to study Psychology came about due to another aspect of my life and related volunteer experience, that started to evolve in my early 20’s. Namely that I came to recognise and accept that I am a Gay man.
Although my “coming out” experience could have been easier, it could also have been worse. As a result I became involved (in 1981) as a volunteer with an organisation that has over the years “Morphed” into Living Proud, which provides volunteer peer-based telephone and online counselling for LGBTI people. The idea being that if I could make it easier for other LGBTI people on their own journey to self-acceptance, by being at the other end of a phone line, then I would. I’ve been volunteering there ever since and was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the organisation, some years ago.
After hours appointment came about from my experience with (mainly male) clients trying to get to late afternoon (4pm) bookings, then getting held up at work, or in traffic, then arriving late and in a state not really suitable for a relaxed therapeutic consultation. Clients would also ask about the availability of evening or weekend appointments.
As a result, I started work two days a week in the afternoon (instead of the morning) and work through to the evening. I still only have five appointments a day, but they start at 1pm instead. (I also offer Saturday morning appointments, for the same sorts of reasons.) Because I am using up my evening or Saturday morning to see clients, I feel it is fair and reasonable that I charge a little extra for these after hours appointments. (The Medicare rebate is the same - currently $84.80.)
Overall I'd say my combination of tertiary training in both Psychology and counselling, life experience, "benevolent curiosity", working with a wide range of people as both clients and (over the years) co-workers, in a range of settings assists me to develop a good working relationship with a range of clients, aged from their late teens through to their ninety's.