Blog post

How I began my counselling journey

Mature student Danielle Roberts had worked for ten years in the care industry and customer service roles when she decided it was time for a change. She’s now in the third year of our BSc (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices.

By Danielle Roberts - 21 May 2021

Passionate about supporting others

I decided I was ready for change while I was on maternity leave. Having accessed mental health services in the past myself, I knew that I was passionate about a rewarding career supporting and guiding others with their mental health.

I chose Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices at Derby because it offered an introduction into the core skills for counselling, including a broad view of therapeutic approaches, theoretical knowledge and incorporated both insights and practical skills of counselling. I knew this would help me to decide on my pathway towards working within the mental health sector.

I’ve found the teaching on the programme really engaging. I have had the chance to learn both theory and skills in a variety of interactive ways:

We also had hands-on practice of counselling skills within the University. This involves the chance as a student to put theory and person-centred counselling skills into practice with other students via counselling triads (counsellor, client, and observer). It allowed me to self-reflect by evaluating my performance as a counsellor.

Being enlightened

Reflective practice is an essential component of learning and working as a counsellor. I have found that the reflective aspects on the course are one of the most challenging yet enlightening parts. It involves unpicking and exploring parts of my own personality, behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and values. We do this via assignments, the peer process group, self-reflective video recordings and journaling. The reflective practice has helped me discover and understand the impact of ‘self’ and ‘others’. It brings a greater sense of self-awareness for my personal and professional growth.

One of my favourite modules on the course is the meta-awareness and the unconscious unit. It was truly fascinating to learn and uncover how our unconscious is communicating with our consciousness behind the scenes. Before this module I had never really considered how our memories that are entrenched within us emerge.

I enjoyed participating in all the different creative methods on the course that enhance the emergence of the unconscious:

We took part in a spontaneous art expression group activity and it was intriguing to learn how to interpret my art through my wider awareness. This module also provided me with the awareness on how my unconscious parts could be projected or transferred onto others unintentionally in a therapeutic relationship.

During the second year, students have the chance to take on placement from a therapeutic stance. I have had the opportunity to train and volunteer as a befriender to support a one-to-one service user with their mental health and eating difficulties.

This position has given me the professional practice of following ethical guidelines, putting into place boundaries and experience of handling safeguarding concerns. It has also increased my confidence to put into use the core counselling skills I have learned along the course, such as empathetic understanding and reflective responses.

Using these skills from the course has helped me build a trusting relationship with my service user that has enabled them to share and explore with me their underlying difficulties. As a result of working with the service user over the last nine months, they have reached a positive outcome in their recovery journey.

Feeling inspired

This valuable and rewarding experience has given me a real insight and passion for working with individuals with mental and emotional difficulties. It has inspired me to extend this position with the organisation further.

Overall, the course has given me the fundamental counselling skills and reflective practices for my self-awareness for personal and professional development. As I student I have found that the course is a great experience in offering a wide introduction into a range of therapeutic, creative, and emerging contemporary approaches. This includes a range of lectures from professionals in the field of compassion-focused therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, coaching skills, working with addiction, children, and young people, and working in different settings, to name a few. This has given me an insight into the different fields and the varied opportunities of working in mental health that has encouraged me to continue my counselling studies further.

About the author

Third year student Danielle Roberts, smiling.

Danielle Roberts

Third-year student, studying BSc (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices.