Case study

Helping Ken follow his inspiration

Ken Curley was inspired to become a psychotherapist when he saw the “amazing” positive changes counselling brought to people. He has now found his true calling – and he’s continuing to learn and grow in the profession with the help of our University of Derby Online Learning courses.

Changing direction

Originally from Ireland, Ken was first exposed to counselling as part of a training course in one of his previous jobs.

Ken explains, “I have always had an interest in psychology and how the mind works. When I first started looking into psychology was when I had to do community training and I got my first exposure to the profession. I was in awe of how amazing positive changes were in people. I felt inspired from others and found my calling.”

Ken completed his course and started working as a counsellor, before moving with his partner to Holland, where he works as a supervisor in a logistics company while he studies online.

Continuing his studies

When he arrived in Holland, Ken found that there is a requirement to continue personal training/studies to renew his psychotherapy membership.

He first discovered the University of Derby Online Learning when he came across our Understanding Autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD free course. He says, “I didn’t think it would be so easy for me to do the course. It was amazing to get the information and give me a bit of a taster for what learning online could be like.”

To continue his professional development, Ken firstly studied our Counselling Studies and Skills University Diploma. He says, “After completing my first course with UDOL, it was a good introduction to academic life. It was different to studying in Ireland, as the way of teaching is very different there compared to the UK. It gave me a feel for what academic learning was about. It was during this course that I fell in love with academic writing. Who knew there was an academic in me waiting to pop out?”

Ken wanted to gain a greater academic understanding of what he is already doing – learning the theory to back up his practice. He explains, “Following on from the course, I chose another course path in the same area in Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Approaches (Top-Up) BSc. I’m training in integrating humanistic approaches. It is about being a genuine person and using empathy. I’ve also learnt about attachment theory and developing a secure base, which is amazing. I intend to apply all useful techniques that I learn to my current practice here in the Netherlands.”

Student Ken Curley sat in a library
Online student Ken Curley

Why study CBT?

Ken says, “The main reason for choosing CBT is because it is currently the leading psychological approach in counselling and psychotherapy. I am very interested in developing myself in this direction, but the course also adds to my personal and professional development goals.

“Over the next two years, I’m going to really integrate CBT into what I’m offering. I love the compassion side of things. I like the solution of focused short-term therapy. It can be difficult to help my clients but by using a structure in the session and the tools I have learnt; it is helping me to improve my practice.”

Support and guidance

Ken found academic writing a challenge at the beginning. However, his tutors helped to support him and encouraged him to persevere. He says, “They were patient with me, and it helped my confidence. For me, their help went above and beyond. I asked if we could meet for a call as I did not understand the module and they contacted me out of their own time to make themselves available.

“I am really enjoying my experience so far, I’m loving the content, the interaction with tutors and fellow students. The tutors have been very supportive, encouraging, and empowering. I can’t praise them enough for being so friendly and helpful.”

Convenient study method

Being a father of two and working full-time did not allow for an on-campus option but Ken says, “Studying online allows me to fit in my studies at my own convenience. It would have been impossible for me to do it any other way.

“Since attending UDOL my academic skills have increased enormously, this is of course down to hard work but has also been developed through course activity and interaction with tutors. The experience in my first year has really boosted my confidence and made me feel capable to take on a degree level qualification.”

Gaining a research scholarship

Through his incredible work, Ken qualified for a research scholarship to support his final research project. Ken says, “There are no words to describe how grateful I am to the university and especially my academic lead Yasuhiro Kotera for his encouragement and continued support in connection with being awarded a university research scholarship through IGNITE: Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme.

"I never would have believed that I could complete a research project but, with the Yasu’s support, I was guided through the process and supported from start to finish. The experience has taught me so much, from interviewing skills, right through to the writing and data analysis process, it’s just been amazing, I’m very grateful.”

Ken is researching compassionate parenting and the differences between how autism is handled in the UK and in the Netherlands. For this project, he has spoken to many families of autistic children and discussed their approaches. This is a personal project for Ken. He says “I have family on the autistic spectrum. With my research, I am bringing two important factors together, my study and personal life. I’m learning so much through my research.”

A man sat writing in a book

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