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Thinking about becoming a Counsellor?

Have you been thinking about training to be a Counsellor? Would you like to learn Counselling Skills?

One of our Foundation students started the course in September and has kindly agreed to write a post about what it’s like:-

I never finished my degree. I went to university to study economics, found it wasn’t for me, dropped out, and have been jumping from job to job in the 10 years since. I tried working in a shop, doing photography, working for a magazine, and an array of administrative jobs. There were always parts I liked, and parts I didn’t, but I definitely never felt I’d found my vocation.

My girlfriend and I both started going to counselling about a year and a half ago. We’d both had experience of mental health problems, and found straight away that counselling gave us whole new perspectives not just on ourselves, but everything around us too. I loved it. I found the process absolutely fascinating. And the idea that you could have a career listening to people and forming these intimate relationships was magical to me.

I was sure you’d need a degree to study counselling, or that you’d at least have to do a degree in counselling (with the fees that university entails) and was surprised and delighted when I found out you didn’t.

Although there are still issues of access for many people – the members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy are far more likely to be affluent and living in “comfortable communities” (according to Therapy Today, March 2017), to start – counselling does at least, in theory, allow people of all backgrounds – different ages, work histories, and more – to practise. Like many subjects, the majority of counselling textbooks have been written by authors that don’t reflect the diversity of their readership, but in the course we’ve been encouraged to read the books we want to read, which means we’re able to introduce diverse voices into our learning if we wish.

I’m just over three months into the Foundation year. At the moment we’re studying counselling skills and the theory that shapes the practice. In many classes, we’re given the opportunity to practise with our classmates, which means both sharing parts of ourselves with them and being an empathic listener. I never thought I’d take to talking so much in a class, but luckily we’re all in the same boat which helped with the nerves! It’s a steep learning curve, especially learning about ourselves, and I know a lot of us found the Developing Personal Awareness module at the beginning of the year quite taxing. There are so many parts of ourselves that we keep locked away, or parts we don’t even know about, and this training quite often asks that you face those parts. It’s very rewarding, but it’s not easy.

As far as careers go, this is the first thing I’ve found where I genuinely want to stay up late reading books and studying and seeking out films and TV shows and podcasts to broaden my knowledge. I feel lucky that I can read about what interests me – from black British history to fat activism, stories from therapists’ practice and philosophy – and I can make use of all of it in my studies. Counselling is an incredible course to embark on – it demands you bring yourself to the table, with all your passions, hobbies, fears, skills and histories – which is both a scary and powerful thing to do. I feel invigorated by it, and I can see that many of my classmates do too.