"Abertay allowed me to learn about different schools of thought and counselling modalities rather than training in a single therapeutic model."Ashleigh Cormack | Rowan Consultancy | Head of Counselling and Supervision
Abertay was the most appealing due to its pluralistic approach, which would allow me to learn about different schools of thought and counselling modalities rather than training in a single therapeutic model. I was also attracted by the quality of the teaching staff on offer. Prior to undertaking counselling training, while working in IT, I’d volunteered at Childline and Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland. These experiences of helping individuals with complex needs indicated to me that I’d benefit from having knowledge of a repertoire of theories to better understand what causes human difficulties and how these can be alleviated. Counselling is an interesting and varied field with many opportunities to learn about self and others. Abertay encouraged me to be a life -long learner. I’ve done a lot of post -qualification training, which has helped in gaining employment opportunities.
I appreciated the vibrant learning community at Abertay. When undertaking the Masters, by Research, I enjoyed taking part in training to enhance my research skills and events such as post graduate research conferences. These activities allowed me to engage with students in many disciplines, which I found exciting, interesting, and encouraging to be part of. I enjoyed the wealth of resources in the University library and the peaceful environment to study. At the time I had a baby and a toddler at home. Peace and quiet was in short supply! I had my second child, during my studies, and appreciated the flexibility of the teaching team who allowed me to bring her to campus so that I could participate in class and lectures.
Graduation day was a highlight. I loved celebrating success with classmates and teaching staff. My favourite memory was that after achieving the PGDip, in Counselling, I was awarded the Abertay University Prize entitled, ‘Best Student Overall’, for Health and Social Sciences. I hadn’t known there was a prize to win. Gaining the award was a big surprise. I felt like the passion, commitment, and time I’d given to my studies had been recognised.
Counselling can be a challenging field to get into, but it can be extremely rewarding. In the very early days, I undertook voluntary work opportunities to gain experience of working with a wide range of client issues and in various settings including charities, schools and youth services, and a further education college. These work experiences gave me opportunities to learn from trainers, peers, supervisors, mentors and, of course, from my clients.
When I undertook my studies the dream of obtaining a Masters and having a career in counselling seemed daunting. At times pressures of working, studying, and raising a family were challenging. However, I learnt to chunk things down and to approach coursework and examinations one bit at a time. I remember having the quote, attributed to Henry Ford, on my white board, ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are probably right’, and this would help to remind me to bolster myself up when things got tough. Keep believing you can, keep the dream alive and you’ll get there! I found academic and non -academic staff to be a great source of support and encouragement.
My first paid post was as a researcher and the Masters by Research was excellent preparation for this. Currently I run a private practice and I’m Head of Counselling and Supervision, in a private consultancy, supporting counsellors across Scotland working in a range of private, public, and voluntary sector organisations. Early work experiences, working with different client groups and presenting problems have been highly valuable in helping with my current job roles.
Currently I’m emersed in practice and in supporting and managing practitioners, which I’m still finding challenging and rewarding. I’d like to create some space for writing and for more research. One day I’d like to achieve a PhD.