Why do I want to be a counsellor?

I haven’t really blogged before about why I am retraining to become a counsellor. Partly because the question seems so personal. It goes to the core of who I am and what I want out of life. Also, a lot of what happens in class and in the experiential workshops involves other people , which would not be appropriate to talk about outside of that setting.
As I started University this weekend the question of why I want to be a counsellor has played on my mind. To not write about my personal journey seems wrong as if I am withholding part of my life.
So why do I want to become a counsellor?
Because I think I would be good at it. I find people and the stories we tell ourselves fascinating. In the darkest of times, counselling has been a life line for me. Sitting opposite somebody who had no investment in my life and to who I could tell anything was extraordinarily liberating. Watching how my counsellor was with me, was the first time I realised that this was something I could do.
But I put it off for years. I was too fucked up. I was too young. I hadn’t done a psychology degree. It was too expensive. It wasn’t the right time. How would I fit it around work? The excuses were endless.
Looking back maybe I was right, but I was also terrified of trying and failing.
Then last spring a colleague mentioned in passing that she was doing an Introductory Counselling course. I felt consumed by envy. I wanted to do that! So I did.
Walking into a room full of strangers and saying I wanted to be a counsellor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Skipping the small talk and starting to learning about people from their insides out was hard. It took me a long time to get back into the rhythm of studying again.
But then I got sick and I had to have an operation missing the penultimate session. If I missed another I would fail the course. So seven days after my operation, my stomach swollen and bruised, I left my house for the first time to go into the college. I wanted to be a counsellor that much.
I passed and did further courses. A year later I applied for the degree at the University of Brighton. It was very competitive and I was warned I was unlikely to get in the first time I applied.
In the interview, which at times strayed more therapy than an interview they asked if I would still want to me a counsellor  ‘If my sister had not been hit by that car’. The question threw me so much that I was certain afterwards that I had flunked the interview. Because how can I ever know who I would be without that? What ifs are particularly unhelpful. It happened and that shaped me into who I am today.
They offered me a place and this weekend we had our first two-day teaching block. One of the tutors said that on her introductory course, the tutor begun by saying: ‘You are all here because you failed your first two patients.’
Meaning your parent’s. Ouch. When she said that, it struck such a chord in me, because I did. It has taken me years to realise that I am not responsible for helping anybody else. For a very long time, subsuming myself to help other people was the only way I knew of being in the world. As if unless I had a purpose, people would not like me.
Which is to use counselling parlance, bullshit.
Learning to resist that urge to ‘help’, to ‘rescue’, to ‘save’ is something I still struggle with and perhaps I always will. In the end, every counsellors learns that you can’t help anybody. All you can do is be alone in a room with another and listen and hope that through that process of being heard they can help themselves. This is what I hope to accomplish, sitting with that feeling of helplessness and being OK with it.
Wish me luck?


  1. Alice
    October 4, 2011 / 8:46 am

    Really lovely writing my dear. Lots of luck with the course – you’ll make a fantastic counsellor! xxxx

    • treefin82
      October 4, 2011 / 12:56 pm

      Thanks sweetie-pie. I hope so, its exciting/terrifying all at the same time. But I’m very glad I’m doing it

  2. Michelle
    May 24, 2014 / 6:06 pm

    This has been the most inspiring thing I have read in regard to counselling and the journey. I am hopefully starting my 2 year diploma in Sept and this has made me want to do it even more..yes it’s emotionally draining sometimes but so worth it! xx

    • May 30, 2014 / 10:59 am

      Thanks Michelle. Really glad you enjoyed it. Training to be a counselling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and the most rewarding. Drop me a line to let me know how you are getting on your course in September. Would be lovely to hear x

  3. marie-jeanne Arku.
    August 27, 2014 / 2:50 pm

    very inspiring i did a pastoral counselling and i thought to continues indeed it is so rewarding just to see somebody being restored after going through a difficult times,it can be sickness,death,or even a separation with the family,being there to listen is more than money..well done dear would love to hear from you again..bless you .

  4. August 31, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    Reblogged this on etherapyblog and commented:
    I identified so much with this person I had to share. Her words feel so authentic

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