Joanna (“Asia”) Mania recently gained her MSc in Addiction Psychology and Counselling (with Merit) from London South Bank University. Here, she writes about her student placement at Kairos that was an important part of her training.

“Before I started my student placement at Kairos, I worked and volunteered at many different places in England and Poland, where I come from. I worked with the homeless, the elderly and people with learning difficulties. I decided to study addiction psychology and counselling because of my own family history and a personal interest. I did not expect it would bring me the most satisfying experience and change my perspective on life. Foolishly I thought, to be honest, that I had seen it all. I was prepared for the worst. Rock-bottom stories, therefore, were not a shock because I had heard about similar tragedies while working with other vulnerable people.

“However, I was not prepared for the best experiences. Observing positive changes in clients, watching their healing process and growth, was definitely a surprise. Not because I did not completely expect it – I believed in counselling, after all – but because the changes were so sudden and so massive. I was feeling proud of every sign of progress, every tiny step each of the clients was making and here within 12 weeks I could see a total transformation: from aggression to serenity, from apathy to confidence, from destruction to life. Every Friday, I was going to Kairos with joy because I knew the day would bring somebody hope and acceptance.

“I am very grateful to Kairos staff and volunteers for all support I received during the two years of my placement. I am also grateful to all the clients from Kairos who allowed me to observe their process of recovery. It was not always easy to be a group co-facilitator, especially at the beginning when I was lacking experience and skills but, thanks to some difficult lessons, I learnt even more.

“I believe Kairos is a special place thanks to people who form the community. It was great to find out values such as honesty, compassion and empathy – which are important to me but forgotten by many in wider society – are highly valued and practised at Kairos. I am convinced Kairos is not only improving lives of the clients in recovery but it also creates ‘the butterfly effect’, touching lives of so many others.”

  • For information about student placements, see Get Involved.
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