Counsellor (Psychological Therapy)

How did you become interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I have changed career to become a counsellor. My first degree was in Primary Education and I taught for 5 years. I embarked on study to become a counsellor when by youngest child began school. I have studied part-time for 5 years and have a masters degree now in counselling. 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? 

In counselling, I chose to tackle a counselling skills course first to test my interest. This was one morning a week at Stevenson College in Edinburgh. I loved it and felt I had made a good choice. I signed up for a Masters degree course at Edinburgh Napier (part time over 3 years) that involved both practical and academic elements. 

Talk us through a day in your working life... what sorts of things would it involve?

At the moment I am job hunting! When I was working, my day would begin at the main centre where I was the only counsellor. I would see three or four clients in the course of a day. I would also conduct the odd assessment of people to guage suitability for counselling. I would keep notes and prepare for staff meetings. I also co-facilitated an Art Therapy group one morning a week. 

Was this your planned career when you were 18?

No I went into primary teaching. 

What did your parents want you to do?

Something which would get me a job. Doing something non-vocational such as philosophy or psychology or art was NOT mentioned and was viewed as frivolous and for people who had more money and less "need of a proper job". I do not agree with this view now. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I would advise that they should follow a career in either nursing or psychology to begin with, then work towards gaining CPD in counselling financed by the NHS. Work within the NHS is the easiest route. 

What other directions could you work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I could carry on with my teaching career and am seeking to follow this up at the moment. Other people may choose to embrace H.R. or social work. I aim to begin my own practice and supplement this with other teaching or voluntary counselling to expand my experience.

Is there anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?

It is probably a second career and having some "life experience" is helpful. I feel I left things too late (I'm now 46) but I wish I had followed a path which I was more suited for from school. Psychology would have been perfect for me or social work but I was given no guidence. This job does not really pay well and the training is usually expensive and there are extra costs incurred for every student in :

a) gaining 20hours per year personal therapy at potentially £30-£50 per hour 

b) professional membership of BACP or UKCP ( student £50, full member £150) 

c) professional insurance (liability) (£50 - £80) 

You definitely need a lot of compassion, empathy, organisation and grit to do this job.