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Past Students

Caroline O’Keeffe

After working in academic research for almost 20 years I finally decided to take the plunge and start counselling training at SPACE in 2013.  I had always had a yearning to work as a counsellor and experiencing trauma and tragedy in my own life (which led me to my own very positive experiences of therapy), confirmed in my mind that it was the right thing for me to do.  I started with the Introductory course and enjoyed it so much, I went straight on to do the Foundation course and then the three year Diploma.  Studying at SPACE was the most wonderful experience.  There wasn’t a single thing about the course that I didn’t find completely fascinating.  The work was extremely challenging at times and juggling studying with a demanding job and family life was difficult for sure.  However, the fantastic support of my peers and all the staff at SPACE made it so enjoyable and rewarding.  I did placements at the University of Sheffield Counselling Service and Sheffield Mind. I was extremely well supported by SPACE in finding placements and the Supervision I received throughout was absolutely first class.  This gave me the confidence to set up in Private Practice as soon as I graduated.  After all the hard work I was keen to start earning a living as soon as possible.  The first three months were fairly slow but after that, things really took off and I very quickly had a full list of clients.  This has been consistently the case ever since.  I had heard very mixed stories about whether or not it is possible to earn a realistic living from counselling, especially in the first couple of years after graduation. I have been surprised and thrilled to find out that it absolutely is!!  I share a lovely counselling room with a friend who I studied with and we also do peer supervision together. It’s lovely to have such a close relationship as both friends and colleagues, having supported one another through the years of training at SPACE.  I absolutely love my job (in fact most of the time it doesn’t feel like a job at all) and I couldn’t be happier that I decided to take the somewhat daunting step of completely re-training in my forties.  My client work is endlessly fascinating and every day I learn something new about my clients, myself and the world.  I’m not sure there are many other jobs which offer such rich rewards, nor many other training providers which offer such a professional, supportive and inspiring learning environment.  

Connie Chapman

I am one of the first graduates from the Professional Diploma course in The Academy: SPACE in 2014. The course was assessed and granted accreditation by National Counselling Society (NCS) during my final year. I am therefore, an accredited member of NCS and I am also a registered member of BACP.

I am a Chinese born and bred, holding a teacher’s qualification from Hong Kong. I have worked over 10 years with students in various capacities. I then chose to study in Britain in the mid-90s with the fresh dream of becoming a counsellor.

When I made an enquiry to SPACE by email, I was replied to with a personal phone call and advised to attend an open day to find out more about the course. I was given plenty of opportunities to ask questions and to consider my needs.

I was advised to take the Foundation course. I found that was good preparation for me to proceed to the strenuous but warmly supported three-year part-time training.

During the course, the key experiences were around learning in a group of about a dozen, the application of skills and theory in placement settings and my formation as a practitioner. These were well knit together by the continuous requirement to reflect on my own personal as well as professional development, with reference to the client work and the professional ethical framework. Being able to put the above in writing as precise and concise as I could was a valuable exercise to carve out my understanding of the core theoretical model in an integrative approach.

The other key experience during the course is the additional CPD events I attended. I was a frequent attender of the Development Forum sessions at The Academy where I met other counselling professionals in various work and voluntary settings. The wide range of subjects included in these sessions has expanded my knowledge and helped to make choices on what to focus on in the course. It also gave me a chance to network with individuals of like mind.

Currently, I am getting close to applying for BACP accreditation and I am a full time counsellor in an IAPT service, which is part of a multidisciplinary community team within a NHS foundation trust. I feel fortunate to be able to secure a paid employment within 15 months after completing the course but I owe this achievement to the demanding training process through SPACE [demanding on me as a person – to be open to others and allow changes to happen to my own self, as well as giving time and effort to catch up with all the readings and assignments required; and this does not come easier when I use English as a second language]. This foundation, built with the constant awareness to reflect and to assess has helped me to sit confidently within the diverse and evidence oriented IAPT service. I am also developing Soulace Counselling as my private practice.

If you are considering to be trained at The Academy: SPACE, I would suggest you to seriously set your time (and financial!) priority for the learning. There will be time feeling frustrated and stressed out but these are all good ingredients for more rooted personal development. Saying so, it is also important to put self-care as part of the mainstream development, rather than an additional entertainment in your spare time – receiving quality support from the close ones and good friends you can make in the process. … and taking advantage of the moments you can share tea, coffee and biscuits (and even homemade cakes!) with your fellow colleagues, etc. You will need these!

Alvan Brooks

AlvanCounsellor in the Voluntary Sector and NHS to gain experience

I have been a landscape gardener for over twenty years, so whoever reads this, don’t assume counsellors have to come from any particular background – just be a ‘person’! Several years ago, without apparent reason, I felt a particular urgency to enrol for the SHU Certificate in Counselling and I continued on to the Diploma. This ‘urge’ was instinctive, fulfilling and appropriate. There are endless positives to this training and work. Although it appears altruistic, it enables a greater understanding of self and others, mentally and emotionally and I can personally vouch for self-growth and a kinder outlook to others, more importantly to myself. Being mixed race, losing my father at twelve, I encountered grief, loss and discriminatory segregation. These experiences help my empathic stance in my practice.

My practice placements were at a homeless shelter and St. Luke’s Hospice, where I still volunteer as a bereavement counsellor. They provided contrasting and diverse situations which promoted my counselling skills. I am now nearing the end of a two year post-qualifying placement at an NHS service for staff. It has provided me with all sorts of experience and a wealth of depth and variety. I have now gained the hours, experience and supervision to apply for BACP accreditation.