Monday, 28 July 2014

Telephone Counselling Two Years On – a Reflection

It’s been nearly two years since I began my work as a counsellor with Missing People. During this time, I have talked to many people who are living with the day to day impact of someone missing in their lives. The counselling role cannot take away the feelings and experiences that are being faced; it involves walking beside the person you are working with when they are struggling. I offer a supportive, respectful space to talk, to tell your experience and your perspective without feeling judged or pressured.  

We all lead busy lives and there is never enough time to be heard and listened to, the counselling time is for you to have space to be understood and heard. You don’t have to look after the counsellor, or think about their feelings, or pretend you are okay. Family and friends also offer support, but the missing experience impacts on everyone, and others are also going through their own distress, so it can seem like a burden to call on others.

Sessions are on the telephone; it can feel strange not seeing the person you are sharing experiences with. On the other hand it can be liberating not having some one sitting opposite you, and trust gradually builds up over a number of calls. We don’t always talk about the missing experience and I don’t set the agenda for what we talk about. It’s entirely up to the person I am working with. We might talk about financial worries, a son or daughter’s school experience, the pressure of work, health, conflict in the family or fears about the future. We might talk about memories of the past or stay with what happened yesterday, nothing is out of bounds.

Sometimes things feel stuck and hopeless. There may be moments where there is a little crack of light, only to be diminished again. At other times we may laugh together.  Sometimes we talk about ways to cope, which may feel like common sense. When we are facing distress everything can go out the window, so a reminder to eat and get enough sleep and put yourself on the list to be looked after as well as everyone else can be important.

You may need different things at different times during the missing experience. I am aware that for some people, this issue is all consuming, especially at the time of the search. The everyday demands of life, such as work children and finances can, at times, feel pointless or a distraction. At times, the structure of normal life can help, as it can provide a sense of continuity and normality, but it can also be too much, with the demand being more than one can take. At this time counselling can offer a space to lean on and remind oneself of the tiny steps that help you get through one small moment in each day.

I bring myself to the telephone counselling sessions, I don’t hide behind my role or try and make things better. I don’t give advice or expect that there will be a resolution. What counselling sessions offer is time for you, it’s not an indulgence, and it’s not selfish, it’s self-care and self-care can help. 


I do hope that I can continue to make a tiny difference to peoples lives at Missing People.  

Penned by Ann
Telephone Counsellor.

Around 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit www.missingpeople.org.uk.

Call or txt the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.