I have a little extra time today as it's been a quieter day in work so I thought I would get down some of my thoughts and reflect back on my time as a counsellor as I approach 1000 client hours (still can't quite believe I'm almost at this milestone!) and why I chose this career option and qualification.
Growing up my Mum was a nurse and had practiced in this position for around 30 years before she took early retirement. I always admired her hard working attitude and that every day she came home from work she had helped someone in some way. Initially I remember really wanting to be a nurse in the army and felt that this could be an incredible way to give back in a direct, hands on, front line position. But the thought of being away from my friends and family for sustained periods of time ended this dream for me. I wanted to be in the UK and still have a consistent and established here.
In my A-levels for one of my options I chose to study Psychology, it was something we hadn't studied at school before and I thought it sounded interesting it and it basically didn't clash with the other options I wanted. I loved my Psychology teacher and she really created a passion in me of understanding how the human brain works, especially under challenge and during mental illness. I ended up coming out with a pretty average grade but knew this path interested me. At the time I definitely didn't give enough thought to going to university and what studying Psychology would even give me, I felt it was just what you did when you left school - you chose a subject you liked then you went and studied it. Before moving to university my Nana became ill and passed away. I knew I had wanted to help her in some way, but knew it wasn't nursing, it just wasn't for me. But I knew I had to be in a role in my life where I helped someone so I could give back the same way my Mum had done. During my final year studying Psychology at university one of the modules I chose was called 'Counselling Psychology'. I learnt about all the different types of therapy, how they had all originated and why some were better suited for certain people and the difficulties they faced. I was really fascinated and excitedly told this module leader that when I finished university this was what I wanted to go into next. Disappointingly she quickly rejected this idea and told me that 'young people don't counsel'. It was a job you do when you are in later life and want to change career. She suggested I train to be a university lecturer but it didn't feel right for me to do a doctorate when I wanted instead to be a counsellor. I'm really glad I listened to my own instinct!
I later found an 'Introduction to Counselling' course at a local university when I moved back home to figure out my next steps. It was a course ran in the evenings about an hours train journey from my home. I would work during the day then travel to the university, study for about 3 or 4 hours then get the train home late. After a few tiring months I passed and was accepted onto the 2 year Post graduate diploma course followed by another year studying my Master's degree. I knew at this point this was definitely the right choice for me. I met new people with the same interests and passions, went on two placements which I loved and all of this massively helped me grow outside of my comfort zone. I've grown massively as a person and I realised I wanted to help other people do that too, just in a different way.
After a 3 and a bit years journey I made it and I'm so happy I went down this route. Everyday I meet new people in my role and hear things they have never told anyone before in their life. I never take this for granted, that is huge. I feel so privileged to be a counsellor and even if I just make a small difference in the time I work with someone I know I have done my job. I want to leave people feeling better than they did before they met me, both in my personal and professional life. I want to think at the end of my life - 'I made a real difference'. And if I can think that, then I will be happy.