VOLUNTEER Lifeline counsellor Linda DeBolt has become the first person in Australia to finish a new course designed to help children who have been affected by sexual abuse.
Ms DeBolt, of Whian Whian, said she decided to do the Bravehearts online practitioner workshop to make a difference in the community.
The course aims to meet the growing demand on child counselling services.
It has been funded by the Federal Government and developed by leading psychologists after 16 years of research.
Ms DeBolt said it was an amazing course and that she was looking forward to using her new skills to help kids in need.
"I found it to be very comprehensive and very evidence-based," she said.
"The course explains the effect of trauma and the effect on neurobiology; it also talks about approaches to counselling and how to help people.
"Then there's legal issues and sexual development. It was really worthwhile.
"I think it's a good way for practitioners to familiarise themselves with techniques that can be used to help kids in these situations.
"Doing the course doesn't make you an expert. I am not an expert; you can't just do a course and expect that.
"But it has given me a foundation to support my skills."
As well as volunteering for Lifeline, Ms DeBolt works as the administration manager at Modanville Public School and is studying for a Masters of Counselling at the University of New England.
She said it was encouraging to learn more about the work of Bravehearts, which runs the course.
"They are amazing," she said.
"I hope more people support this organisation and the work they are doing."
Bravehearts - a national child protection organisation - says the pressure on its counselling services has increased by 300% since the Federal Government's Royal Commission into child abuse.
For more information, visit bravehearts.org.au.