Have you ever wondered what it takes to qualify as a counsellor?
We interview Aniece Eddleston, who recently completed her 100hrs of clinical practice at PH7 Wellbeing. This huge achievement means her road to qualification is nearly complete!
-When did you make the decision to train to become a counsellor and why?
Back in 2016, I’d been working for 16 years in consumer insights roles on a European and Global level for various international Blue Chip companies. I’d always loved the side of my job that involved learning about the psychology of the consumer and what conscious and unconscious thought processes triggered their needs and desires, learning about the impact of their family, social and cultural backgrounds on any decisions related to their product consumption. Yet, as I kept going up the management ladder, my role became further removed from the core of what I loved; less about the interaction with people and more about managing projects, budgets, and stakeholders. It is at that point that I started to explore a career change and counselling felt like the perfect fit, allowing me to remove the business element out of the equation and focus on the people to help others in times of distress, whilst giving me a renewed sense of added value and purpose in life.
I went on a 4-week introduction course at a local college and was hooked from the first day! I then studied my way up to a Level 3 Certificate in Counselling skills and, for the past two years, I have been studying towards a part-time Post-Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling at Salford University to become a qualified counsellor in Person-Centred therapy.
-What challenges has training presented?
The course requires us to complete 100 hours of clinical practice with clients and, to do so, I have worked across two placements, one at a Sixth Form College and the other one here at PH7. Juggling two placements with family life, a day job and a part time course has certainly presented some challenges as it requires strong time management skills and can been very taxing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Still, it’s not stopped me from loving what I do.
In terms of client practice, one of the greatest challenges I have and still face is about finding the right balance between the importance of building a strong therapeutic relationship with my clients whilst remaining safe in this journey to accompany them in their distress as some experiences can stay with you, so finding ways to look after my mental and physical wellbeing has been key, along with the support from my family and friends, my tutors and peer supervision group at university, as well as my individual supervisor.
-What have you valued the most from your training?
My work at PH7 has been very enriching as it has afforded me the chance to gain valuable experience by counselling a wide range of clients across demographics and presenting issues. I have Paul and Lily to thank for that as well as the PH7 team as they were really open to welcoming students into the centre and provide a setting with great opportunities to learn their skills in a safe environment.
Also, after two years of learning the theory, seeing clients once the nerves of the first few sessions subsided felt really exciting, and the privilege of witnessing and being a part of another person’s healing journey is a very special and humbling feeling. And more recently, the challenge of switching from face-to-face to counselling via zoom calls during the Covid-19 pandemic is one that has enabled me to learn new skills and which I am grateful for. Besides, counselling clients in a world context where both clients and counsellors may be facing similar issues has proven to be a steep but valuable learning curve for me. Again, PH7’s role in enabling and supporting my upskilling into remote counselling, and especially the support and mentoring I received from Michelle, centre manager at PH7, has been second to none. Broadly speaking, the challenges I have experienced along my counselling training journey have all provided opportunities to discover and fine-tune my style and grow as a future practitioner.
-Is there anything about the qualification process that has surprised you?
Initially, the fact that we had to do at least 20h of personal counselling as a mandatory requirement for our qualification felt like a surprise and, if I’m honest, a slight irritation as I didn’t feel like I needed any counselling at the time. However, I quickly realised how powerful this experience can be for a student counsellor. The course in itself is very demanding from a mental and emotional perspective as it focuses on our own personal development and encourages us to dig deep into our own psyche and lives, much like the process we would accompany a client through, and going through personal counselling at the same time is a very enriching experience. I came out of it thinking that we don’t need to be in the darkest place to reach out to counselling and I believe that everyone would benefit strongly from doing it at least once in their life in order to gather insights into their past and present lived experiences and how these impact and influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
-What are your aspirations for the future once you have qualified?
The recent completion of my 100 hours of clinical practice has represented a big milestone in my counselling journey and gives me a great sense of achievement. All being well, I will be a fully qualified practitioner by the end of summer, and I am considering working in similar settings as I do now as I have really enjoyed it. I have received great support from the PH7 team to help me begin my journey as a qualified counsellor by offering me the chance to start my own practice here. I am also looking forward to expanding my skills set through Continuous Personal Development and one of my goals is to work towards a BACP accreditation, which is no mean feat and maybe even taking on a course to become a counselling supervisor in the longer term in order to support other counsellors.
Are you interested in counselling sessions? or perhaps you want to consider the first step in training?
Visit our counselling services page to see how we can help you.
Article originally published in PH7’s Health & Wealth Magazine, Issue 6, Summer 2020.