Accidental Counsellor

Many people find it difficult to engage with a family member, friend or colleague who is going through a crisis due to mental health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol or other issues.

This comprehensive program will give participants the confidence and the skills necessary to support someone in their moment of need, and to be able to refer them to the most appropriate support.
The workshop focuses on the basic skills required to support an individual experiencing, or affected by, domestic violence, substance abuse, anger, suicide or other mental health concerns.


Is this training for you:

Whether your main interactions are with colleagues or students, family or friends, it is likely that you will come across others who are struggling with one of the many challenges that people face in life. One in 5 Australians each year will be diagnosed with a mental illness and the statistics surrounding domestic and family violence are such that this issue is may be viewed as a national emergency. No matter what is at the heart of another person’s struggles, often we are at a loss as to know how to respond and how to engage with that person in a way that is compassionate and appropriate, respectful and empowering, without violating boundaries and potentially creating additional stress. This training is aimed at Raising Awareness, Reducing Stigma and Increasing Safety.


Accidental Counselling Skills/Learning Outcomes:

You will learn how to Recognise when another person is in crisis, how to Respond in an appropriate, compassionate and empowering way and how to Refer for ongoing support. You will NOT be expected to be a counsellor, but instead will be equipped with:

  • a model within which to respond,
  • a unique “CPR for Difficult Conversations”, a framework which assists you to navigate through heightened, emotion-driven conversations with the aim of de-escalating and moving forward in a positive and empowering way, and
  • the ability to protect yourself, as best as possible, against vicarious stress and trauma by self debriefing and practicing essential self-care techniques.


  • causes of crisis – will include: mental illness, traumatic event, suicide, stress and other significant challenges which the you might encounter
  • boundaries – as you are neither encouraged nor expected to be counsellors, but simply to engage with the person who is struggling in an effective, ethical and empathic way and refer to appropriate support, and
  • self care –  essential self-care, to ensure that you are aware of your own stress and well-being and of the steps to take to mitigate the risk of being impacted by the trauma of others.


Who should attend?

Recommended for all university staff who; find themselves as ‘a counsellor by chance’ including: People managers and leaders, student facing staff. Human resources staff.

Cutty Felton - CEO of Accidental Counsellor Pty Ltd.

Cutty Felton is CEO of Accidental Counsellor Pty Ltd. She delivers various skills-based courses, both face-to-face and via remote delivery, to workplace, industry and community groups, large and small, across Australia. Courses that focus on assisting those in vulnerable circumstances include ‘Accidental Counsellor’, ‘De-Escalating the Agitated Caller’, ‘Customers in Crisis – Recognise, Respond, Refer’, ‘DFV Aware’, ‘Dare to Ask’ and various other skills based courses tailored to meet the needs of her clients.

By profession, Cutty is a qualified Solicitor and practised for approximately ten years. Over time, however, she felt the need to contribute more directly to the community. In 2013 she joined Lifeline, initially as a trained volunteer Telephone Crisis Supporter (TCS) on Lifeline’s 13 11 14 service, and subsequently as a trainer, heading up Corporate and Community training for Lifeline h2h for 4 years.

Cutty developed and produced her own highly acclaimed version of Accidental Counsellor, including a unique ‘5 E’s framework’ for difficult conversations, as well as various workshops focussing on responding to those in vulnerable circumstances.

Cutty’s overarching goal is to raise awareness, reduce stigma and increase safety around issues impacting communities, such as Domestic Violence, Mental Illness and Suicide. She is a firm believer that awareness should be underpinned by skills, and the training conducted is specifically aimed at equipping participants with the ability to respond to someone in crisis in a way that is appropriate, compassionate, respectful and empowering, whilst always being within clearly defined boundaries. All courses given are tailored specifically to the individual needs of the organisation/group.

The universal applicability of the Recognise, Respond and Refer model Cutty delivers in her training has seen her present to an extraordinarily diverse range of clients, including:

CBA, Westpac, IAG, CGU, Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) NSW
The MFAA, Hollard Insurance, Mortgage Choice
Evolution Mining, Weir Minerals
Australian Catholic University; UNSW, USQ, school, church and local councils
White Ribbon, Youth Off the Streets, Mentoring Men, Oz Harvest, Youth Project
DHL Australia, Airservices Australia, RMS, Clubs NSW, Amway, Metcash
Australian Taxation Office, Ombudsman South Australia, ServiceNSW
In collaboration with SOCAP: Victorian Ombudsman, State Insurance Regulatory Authority, Queensland Office of
Fair Trading, Superannuation Complaints Tribunal

Cutty also regularly addresses larger audiences as a keynote speaker and has been privileged to deliver training workshops and briefings to staff in the House of Representatives in Canberra. Recently she was honoured to deliver her Accidental Counsellor workshop for the Office for Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“"I have learnt how to support someone in crisis, gained skills to maintain boundaries, be-non judgemental and ask the hard questions."”

“"Cutty was very engaging, she used examples that can be applied in the workplace to help me to help others."”

“"Very worthwhile training that is useful for everyone particularly those that deal with students."”