Lifeline's 'The Accidental Counsellor' course is being trialled at Coffs Harbour.
Lifeline's 'The Accidental Counsellor' course is being trialled at Coffs Harbour. Janine Watson

Busy police thrown a lifeline

POLICE are often the first on scene in times of crisis and distress, and the Coffs Harbour context poses added challenges.

"Limited resources and a lot of demand can burn police out. Particularly up here on the coast we have a high level of burn out because we're not resourced as well as other areas," explained Brett Henderson-Smith from the Police Association.

To help manage this stress and improve officer's ability to assist people in times of crisis a trial workshop was conducted at the Coffs Harbour Police Station on Monday. The Lifeline workshop titled The Accidental Counsellor is designed to improve participants' abilities to listen and respond.

"We've identified the need for this and Lifeline was able to assist in giving officers the skills to better deal with people under pressure and also help fellow workmates who are under pressure. It's about de-escalating a situation," Mr Brett Henderson explained.

As Lifeline Accidental Counsellor presenter explains, the course is not designed to turn participants into formalised counsellors but it expands on a person's ability to listen and respond.

"In this workshop we ask participants to reflect on personal values and beliefs and how they influence interactions with clients. How you respond will create an impact on the person in need of support and often determine the outcome of your interactions."

The one-day trial workshop was a collaborative initiative between the NSW Police Force, the Police Association and Lifeline Coffs Harbour.

The 12 participants included civilian staff as well as police officers.

If other members of the public are interested in attending an Accidental Counsellor workshop contact the Lifeline office on 6651 4093.