My journey to become a Counselling Psychologist began in 2008 when as a Life Coach; I had a self referral who suffered from anxiety over his forthcoming exams in his second year at university. I started collaboratively setting goals to manage his workload and set timetable into manageable chunks through asking him challenging questions so that e can start to think for himself. He had plenty of resources namely his family, time, books but he just would not settle into coaching which left me feeling I was inadequate as a Life Coach and started to doubt whether he could manage at all. As a life Coach I didn’t have a supervisor so had no one to maul this situation over with.
I remember talking to a fellow life Coach with years more experience than I who said ‘my dear anxiety is something you will need to learn about to be able to help this young man’. I then explained that I had a Psychology degree and I could handle it. However, I asked the young man to talk to his GP to see if he could be referred to a specialist. He came back saying there was nothing his GP could do. I referred to my friend who worked with him but said he needed to see a Psychologist. He was alarmed at this suggestion and never returned for Life Coaching and was never to be seen again. It was then that I started looking for courses to enable me to deal with clients with anxiety and depression as I started to realise that a few of my self referrals did have diagnosis and I was out of my depth dealing with this. So it was in 2008 when I enrolled on a long distance course in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’.
I did the course over 6 months and felt I was ready to work with clients, to my surprise I was still unable to do the job because I had not practiced even though I had a Diploma. Life was hard, clients were available business was good but I knew I was not giving clients my all and inwardly I felt I was taking money for nothing. I approached my Life Coach friend who said well if they are happy then you should be OK. I didn’t feel OK. I got a voluntary job as a Mental Health Worker at a local Day centre learning all I could about mental health issues especially anxiety and Depression. At the same time I took on another voluntary role as a Counselling Referral Coordinator in the NHS and started learning to more about Dual Diagnoses and other Mental Health Issues. Although I graduated in Psychology in 1999, I went on to study Occupational Psychology and worked in Recruitment then Project management, then Coaching and Mentoring, and always shied away from the Mental Health services due to bad experience from knowing someone who had a mental health issue whilst I was growing up and the misconceptions and ignorance around how dangerous it was to work in this area weighed heavily on my mind. I learned so much in the time I stayed in the NHS and helped so many people, even though I lacked the knowledge, the therapeutic alliance I formed with clients and service users got me thinking of developing a career in Counselling Psychology but didn’t know where to start. I had very little money coming in from working as a Life Coach part-time.
A wonderful Psychologist saw how eager I was to work and how excited I was at making people smile, making them want to live another day, supporting them in improving their lifestyle, asking questions. She said to me one day you have an Occupational Psychology degree I said yes, ‘don’t you want to become a Counselling Psychologist. I was the break I was looking and longing for. She downloaded some forms and said signposted me to a Co-ordinator In Training (COT) and the rest was easy, well hard, but easy because I had support. I met with my COT who talked me through the process and asked how motivated I was because studying through an Independent route requires motivation and self discipline. I informed him that I had plenty of those. He believed me after I spilled my life...