A day in the life of counsellor Ine
I start the day with a cup of coffee while reading my emails. Incoming emails can roughly be classified into newsletters (seminars, updates from network partners …), internal emails (registration of new client appointments), emails from professionals (answers from network partners to questions related to client cases) and direct emails from clients. The inbox remains open for the rest of the day to follow-up on incoming messages.
I check my agenda for the day and send a short text message to clients visiting later that day to remind them of the appointment in order to avoid no shows (which are common to the target group). I quickly check status updates by the clients on Facebook as they may give me information that could be useful during the sessions or for follow-up. Then I open Messenger to see if there are any messages from clients. On an average day about 8 chat sessions are active.
Then I start preparing my sessions for that day (on average 3 per day): checking the client background, steps taken, things discussed et cetera.
If I have some time left before the first client arrives, I open my follow-up document with a to-do list of information I have to look up for clients and professionals I have to call to give feedback on sessions or to ask for information needed. I work through this document until the first client arrives.
Each client session takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Between the sessions I register necessary information (based on my own notes and/or a fill-in form to take these personal notes) in the database system. I try to register all information as soon as possible after the session, when everything is still fresh in my memory. All collected information, agreements made and steps taken during sessions are written down in the registration system. Even the names of persons clients have been talking about, such as counsellors from other organisations or important persons in the personal network, are registered in order to remember the whole communication line with clients and, more importantly, to avoid they have to say things twice. Messages from WhatsApp, SMS or Messenger and emails are also copy-pasted in the data system. It is important to register all this information as it creates a sense of trust with our clients. Each counsellor has about 30-40 clients that are followed up that way. For more complex client cases, informal consultation takes places between the counsellors in order to discuss the case and exchange point of views and expertise.
One of the most annoying aspects of the working day is the business in the office. Quite a lot of people work in the same room and many phone calls are being made, which can be very disturbing. The fact that we're constantly multitasking also makes it difficult to concentrate. Especially when a client or someone from the professional network calls, I have to drop all other work to listen to that person.
Besides client sessions I regularly provide information sessions, about the service or about the educational system, to other professionals or directly to the clients from partner organisations. Even though this is a time-consuming activity, on top of an already packed working schedule, these activities are very valuable for building and strengthening our network and for reaching out to potential clients.