Case study

Making it

Pretty Gill is in her third year of part-time masters study. And she’s already secured a role as an Integrative Counselling Psychotherapist, working for the NHS.

It’s been a 'bit of a whirlwind year' for Pretty Gill. On top of her studies and securing her new role, she has only just left her previous job, runs fitness classes, and is a mum to two young sons.

Pretty's story

Pretty in the counselling suite

View Pretty's story video transcript

Time to change

Until recently, Pretty taught Sports Studies at a college, working with students up to foundation degree level: “I was becoming quite complacent in teaching,” she explains. “And I’ve always had a keen interest in psychology. I thought it was time to make a break.”

So she signed up to study an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Coming back into a learning environment was, she confesses, “Terrifying. I did sit in my lectures at the start wondering what I was doing and if I could do it.”

But her motivation has seen her through: “I have a passion for helping people; I like helping make somebody’s journey in life a little bit easier, or take pressure off and help them believe in themselves again and that somebody does care.”

Support network

There’s also been support at hand for those moments of self-doubt: “I’ve got a great support network in my family – my husband and boys. And our lecturers have been so patient – I feel I can say that, coming from a teaching background. From the beginning they made you feel that you were going to be all right. They’re happy to share their wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s so important for us to hear about industry experience and to understand where we might sit in the industry.”

Gaining perspective

For Pretty, the course has been challenging, teaching her about herself as well as about her clients: “It’s not an easy journey, therapy. People think it’s just sitting there while someone offloads. It is about really working with your clients and applying interventions. But what I’ve learned is that you need to be able to process and put things into perspective and be present. This course enables you to look deep within yourself; but there’s lots of counselling and support in place for you, both as a student and afterwards.”

A key feature of the course is the requirement for 300 hours of voluntary placement. Remarkably, Pretty has completed all of these in her first two years, which is why she has been able to secure her job in the NHS while still studying.


The NHS was my first placement, then I found two private practices – one online and one face to face. I don’t know if I struck lucky, but all three have been phenomenal.

Pretty Gill
MSc Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy


Luck may have played a part, but Pretty was determined to get the best out of her placements, despite the challenges of Covid: “I chased my placements, especially the NHS one, and asked my supervisor if I could come in and get back to counselling. I still remember making that call – it was a case of taking the bull by the horns. If I hadn’t made that call, I might not have got the role I’ve got right now.”

That’s because her current role followed directly from her placement. Working in secondary mental health, she supports people who have been referred to the service: “Everybody who is referred to us has a different story, has been on a different journey. I work with people with a range of conditions, including trauma, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and many more conditions. It is such a rewarding role, which I am learning so much in and being given many opportunities.”

Future plans

Her immediate ambition is to develop in her current role once she has completed her studies, becoming a supervisor when she has enough experience. But her varied skillset and personal interests are inspiring her to think of further opportunities in the future: “I’d like to set up my own practice one day – I have a vision that I could do something that interlinks all my skills. That’s a way off yet – but watch this space!”