Counsellor Anne-Claire Noat discusses her role and why she has chosen to work in the area of cancer support
Anne-Claire Noat decided to leave Ireland and move to the UK at the end of July 2019. She, like everyone else at that time, could never have imagined what lay ahead as Covid-19 took hold in Europe. The counsellor and psychotherapist was already working for a local cancer support charity in England but the pandemic created a new opportunity for her to come on board as a counsellor with the Irish Cancer Society.
The Society offers free, short-term remote counselling sessions for people affected by cancer and Anne-Claire joined the panel of trained counsellors providing this support.
“It became very busy, and people availed of this service because of Covid-19, when Daffodil Centres and local Cancer Support Centres were not able to open. There are also reasons such as geographical factors where in some cases people live a distance from the centres,” says Anne-Claire, who taught French at university level before training as a counsellor and psychotherapist.
“I’ve chosen to specialise in cancer support because my own family has been very touched by cancer,” she explains.
Irish Cancer Society remote counselling is available to all those affected by a cancer diagnosis, even those who have lost a loved one to cancer. We work with adults, children and teenagers using accredited and qualified counsellors and therapists.
Counselling is not just for those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer, as people may look for support during or after treatment or even further down the line. A cancer experience can affect people quite differently, Anne-Claire notes, and the sessions provide support and a space where a person can be heard. “I’ve seen people who have been traumatised by a cancer that was caught very early or pre-cancer but they are reeling from the trauma. I’ve seen other people with more advanced cancers who were coping a lot better, so it’s a very individual thing. Someone whose outcome is very good may need a lot more support, and that’s ok.”
Burnout can become an issue for carers. “Sometimes my work is about looking at the family dynamics when it’s a family member and helping them devise self-care strategies and learn how to better delegate. It’s about trying to find that balance,” she says.
What she would say to someone who is considering getting counselling but who might feel some hesitancy about reaching out is to give it a try.
“If you feel better because of counselling, you benefit and everyone else benefits.“
The rewarding aspect of her work is when she can help clients find some relief.
“We don’t ‘fix’ people but we hold that space for them and we’re listeners. Counselling is not a magic wand but sometimes people around our client can be quick to try and silver line what cancer patients and carers are going through. They might say ‘at least you were caught early’ or ‘at least you have people around you' and people can feel dismissed. We’re trying not to do that and to meet clients where they are.
“Obviously, I haven’t solved anything but for people to be able to say exactly how it is and to talk about their pain brings a bit of relief in the moment.”
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information