Deciding to undertake a massive course like the doctorate in counselling psychology is a huge step.
For me, it was a journey I wasn’t sure I would ever get the opportunity to be a part of at one time. Starting the counselling psychology doctorate meant I had to conduct a graduate diploma in psychology and gain enough experience in the therapeutic and psychological field to be considered for the course.
When I was accepted onto the doctorate in 2016 it was an overwhelming sense of relief, excitement and apprehension. I would experience these to even greater degrees as the course began.
I’ve come to realise a number of things after being on the counselling psychology course for a year and a half, that I think are worth sharing. Firstly, it is a fantastic course. Studying a subject that is your passion is exhilarating at times, I feel like I am a working cog in the course and not just a ‘student’ listening to a ‘teacher’.
Although this, in theory, is true, I feel that because I enjoy learning so much about counselling psychology, I feel fully involved in my learning experience.
Secondly, there are a massive amount of opportunities that present themselves during the course and after graduation. Attending annual conferences, presenting workshops at universities, connecting with larger psychology organisation, and developing networking connection are just some of the fantastic opportunities I have realised come with undertaking the doctorate.
My advice here is that these opportunities really only present themselves to people who go out to find them. The extra work is well worth it though.
Thirdly, success on this course is dependent on a number of things rather than just intelligence. The ability to juggle multiple things at once is something you have to get used to very early on and get better at as the course develops.
Class work, reflective work, assignments, placements, personal therapy, and your own external work are just some of the things going on for me right now. Staying organised and accepting that the juggling act is just part of the course is vital.
At times for me, it feels like working on coursework is something I spend less of my time on than everything else. Placement takes up a large amount of time, as do additional reading and reflective practices. I’ve learned not to be worried about this though and have seen the value in investing time in these exercises.
Reflection and learning from practical work are extremely valuable when it comes to writing assignments and feeling more confident in the therapeutic work you facilitate. One key point I have learned so far is that your ‘intelligence’ might get you on the course, but your resourcefulness and determination will keep you on it.
One of the most challenging aspects of training for me has been juggling it with employment. Making enough money per month whilst studying can be stressful and has become a challenge I have had to accept on a monthly basis. I have been fortunate enough to work part-time as a research assistant and seminar tutor, which has allowed me to earn a living whilst studying. However, financial assistance for the course is something I feel needs improving. Especially when compared to our clinical counterparts. This, of course, is an issue externally to my course, my university and my governing bodies, but it is an issue that I feel needs consideration by those about to start the counselling psychology doctorate.
The course has been a pleasure and a real honour to be a part of. Studying my passion has kept me motivated and focussed on progressing further. I have learned that there are huge opportunities in the field of counselling psychology. I have also learned that whilst continual independent reading is vital, the practical experience that we gain in classes and on placement is invaluable. Practically implementing theory and research into actual therapeutic work is exciting to be a part of.
Interested in learning about the day in the life of a psychology doctoral trainee? Then click here.
Why not stay up to date on my YouTube channel ‘GetPsyched’ too. Youll find weekly videos on topics in psychology and study tricks also. Check out the channel by clicking here.