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A day in the life - Frances

Frances Carleton is a counsellor and eco-psychotherapist based on Ngunnawal County in Holder and Weston, ACT. She is a sex and trauma therapist in her sex positive private practice, The Secret Keeper, and a wildlife worker and volunteer specialist in her charity WildTalk. Dealing with as much trauma as she does with her clients, she is an accredited EMDR practitioner. She also use eco-psychotherapy (working outside in nature), EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and Narrative therapy. On top of all that she’s also a clinical supervisor that run groups and travels NSW providing support to rural practitioners. She is also currently helping two students through their placements.


8.30 - 9am: I’ve never been a morning person so running my own practice has allowed me to get into my natural rhythm. I have a house full of animals, so my first interactions of the day are very one sided. Fe (dog) will look at me like I’m mad for getting up, Michael (guinea pig named after the Father of Narrative therapy, Michael White) will greet me with squeaks of enthusiasm upon hearing the fridge open. Bella the rabbit with thump a morning greeting that ensures her morning carrot. Dexter the central carpet python will look at me from under his heated rock. I’ll usually spend 10 to 15 minutes catching up on the daily news sitting outside on the deck while I drink my coffee and listening to the birds.

After a shower and breakfast I’ll leave for the office around 10am.

10.30: on Mondays and Wednesday I don’t see clients. These are my admin days that I use to do the myriad of tasks required to run a thriving practice. I also run a charity, so there’s a little added pressure. Admin tasks include: books, bills, PR, blog posts, invoicing, website updates, writing resources, conference abstracts or presentations.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are my client days, so I’ll send out the daily appointment reminders and then make any calls required, reach out to clients in distress (wildlife carers) and any number of any tasks that never seems to run out.

Weekly I go to quilting or do some quilting at home. This is important for my self-care. I also use the mornings to attend any appointments I may have, such as remedial massage for my hip.

12.30ish Lunch: I’m a sucker for a Zambero (I love that they donate a burrito for every one purchased), so once a week I treat myself to a Deliveroo or I’ll take myself off for an Eggs Benedict. Writing reviews for this particular breakfast food in a irreverent fashion is a self-care, so I’m always on the lookout for places I haven’t been. I see lunch as my main meal for the day, so I tend to go all out.

1.30pm: first client of the day. Clients may be supervision clients, wildlife workers or volunteers, or sexual health clients. As a trauma specialist the content of some sessions can be extremely heavy. As such I see my own clinical supervisor every three weeks.

2.30pm: return any enquiry calls and emails.

3pm: second client of the day

4pm: afternoon snack. Sometimes a banana, but often chocolate.

4.30pm: Third client of the day

5.30pm: go through Facebook and comment appropriately on groups/pages talking about devastating animal losses. I’ll often also call carers that have had a rough week. These reach out call often result in them registering to receive counselling from a WildTalk therapist.

6pm: final client of the day

7pm: end for the day. Close up the Red Room, plump the pillows, empty the bins, water the plants, check the email, upload and file my notes for the day.

My two practices are very much merged so I’ll often see clients from both practices on the same day. I don’t have any trouble switching between the two types of clients, because they are essentially the same. Just the source of the distress is different, but very specific in both cases. It does mean that having specialist knowledge in both areas is important.

7.45pm – midnight: Three or four times a week I’ll go for a long walk in the woods with Fe after dark. She doesn’t like other dogs much, so it’s perfect for both of us as I like to listen to the night noises and spot the night time creatures and she get to avoid being bothered by bigger dogs and completely immerse herself in the smells, she’s a Chihuahua.

Tea/dinner is often just something light like some soup and bread.

I often spend an hour of two reading research papers on the latest developments. Sadly there isn’t a lot written about the impacts of wildlife caring on wildlife carers so I also spend a lot of my ‘free’ time helping change that, including presenting at conferences and researching. There’s loads about sex so I just read about that.

I’ll watch something funny or light hearted on telly for a little while before going to bed. When folks make recommendations about TV shows that have a therapeutic theme, I know I won’t be following it. I hear about enough trauma at work. The exception was Lucifer, the therapist in that was so completely inappropriate, it was light relief. Currently I’m re-watching the Marvel Universe and watching Ten Percent.

My bed time routine is a Twining Sleep tea, a trashy novel (loving Lee Child 'Reacher' novels right now), and some classical music, before falling asleep around midnight with my snoring, furry, hot water bottle.

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