Have you ever wondered how or why people become therapists? This blog is all about my journey to become a therapist. Its not very often we get an insight into the world of a therapist as our work is confidential and often hidden because of the nature of work that we do.
My journey to become a therapist started when I was in my early 20’s, I like many of the clients I now work with went through a period of low mood/depression to the point where one day I didn’t even want to face going into work. I knew something had to change!! It was my dad who suggested to me that counselling may be helpful for me. I was lucky enough to work for an employer at the time that provided ten free sessions of counselling to their staff each year. I didn’t have a clue what counselling was to be honest or how it could help me but in my despair thought anything was worth a try.
It was through my own life changing experience of attending these sessions that I started to understand the value of counselling and how it supported me and other people that engaged in counselling. There is something so special and unique about the relationship you build with your therapist, the fact that they are unconnected to your day to day life, the time you are given to talk freely about yourself without the fear of being judged and the safety of the counselling room and the fact you can off load your emotions and leave it in there, for me are the most powerful aspects of counselling and psychotherapy.
I literally feel like counselling did change my life as I not only benefited from the sessions but it sparked an interest in me to want to help others like I had been helped and this was the start of my journey to become a therapist. Approximately a year after I engaged in my own counselling I started a 10 week counselling skills course, this was then followed by a counselling skills course that was 20 weeks long. This was like the foundation of becoming a counsellor as it covered the basic skills, techniques and covered mostly person centered counselling approaches. I knew on completion of these courses that this was the career path I saw for myself.
However training to become a fully qualified therapist does not happen overnight and the courses I had done did not yet qualify me to practice as a therapist. In 2007 I gave birth to my first daughter and shortly after realised that if I wanted to gain a better paid job that going to University was a good move so as a mature student at age 26 I took myself off to University. Iv lived in Nottingham all my life so it was an honor to gain a place at the reputable University of Nottingham. However I didn’t study to become a counsellor straight away as I also had an interest in social work. I decided that it would probably provide more job security which after having a baby was very important to me. I had also developed an interest in supporting young people because of the secondary school I worked in at the time as a receptionist led me to develop such good bonds with the children and see what adversities they faced.
I wanted to help them more but was limited in my capacity as a receptionist. I saw social workers come into school and also practitioners that work for the local Children and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS) and I quickly knew from the pulling in my heart that this was the career I wanted to pursue. With a plan in mind to study a BA in social work and social policy, I had already mapped out that I wanted to complete a Masters in counselling on completion of my first degree.
Now when I look back I don’t actually know how I achieved this as it was tough, real hard work juggling being a mum and going to University fulltime. My daughter was 15 months old so you can imagine some of the challenges I faced. However I was so determined and passionate about what I was studying so this made it easier as I really was enjoying being at University and learning all about society and social policy, and working with people within the role of a social worker. I got there after three years hard work and completed my first degree in social work in 2011, I gained a job straight away from a work experience placement I had competed in the Children and Adolescent Team (CAMHS) which was just amazing for me as this role enabled me to start working with children, young people and their families in a therapeutic way.
As planned I started my Masters degree in 2011 straight after finishing my first degree. This course was at the University of Derby MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. During the first few months of the course I went through the separation and divorce with my ex-husband and needless to say my own mental health was delicate during this time. However I was so focussed on succeeding to become a therapist that these obstacles didn’t get in my way. In 2012 I was awarded the diploma part of my Masters degree course which meant I could officially practice as a counsellor and psychotherapist alongside this I had started my dissertation to work towards gaining the Masters. The rest is history in 2012 I set out in private practice alongside my paid employment in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health team (CAMHS). I completed the Masters in 2013, and am now enjoying a very fulfilling and rewarding career as a counsellor and psychotherapist, there is northing more rewarding in life to be doing a job that you truly love and for me this is being a therapist.