Why I decided to train as a therapist

Deutsch: Phrenologie

Deutsch: Phrenologie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a comment from a reader, commenting that my blog doesn’t say much about me, and asking why I decided to train as a therapist. I originally got interested in eating disorders around the time I was 19. A few years later, I had thought to train as a dietician, and applied to university to do a dietetics degree. At the same time, I spent a day following a dietician in a hospital, and realised form that, that I didn’t want to be a dietician. I wanted to help people with eating disorders, but I wanted to help their heads, rather than their eating plans. I spoke to a dietician I knew who specialised in eating disorders and she said that with very few exceptions, even as a specialist in a subject you could till expect to spend more than 50% of your working time working in your non-specialist subject.


That clinched it for me, and I changed my university application to be a psychology degree, with the aim of becoming a clinical psychologist.   I loved my psychology degree, and after I graduated, spent a little while working part-time as a research assistant, whilst applying to assistant psychologist posts. It was just about the time the NHS bottleneck got really bad, and despite having very good marks, and relevant experience, I wasn’t able to get an NHS position. I moved in to other roles – I needed to pay bills. I couldn’t let go of the idea though, and decided that if I couldn’t work in the NHS, perhaps I could work privately. So I did a level two counselling course. Then my life crashed massively and I couldn’t continue for a while. A couple of years later I went to a different college and did my level three. That tutor was going on to run a level four and I considered doing that, but decided I couldn’t do it ethically – I had issues with her teaching, and so I started looking around for other courses.


I chose person-centred because the closest course I could do that would let me work full-time had two courses, PC and integrative. The integrative course had too much Freud in it for me to be comfortable with as an LGBT person and I thought that I would find it too easy to retreat to a position of authority on an integrative course (having knowledge and theories to ‘retreat’ to), whereas the person-centred method is decidedly NOT about being the expert. That’s not to say that I don’t think the integrative course has value, just that I think the person-centred method is better (for me, at least!)

And here I am. I’m also about to start a phd in psychology, so I’m going to have my hands pretty full! The plan is to eventually work part-time as a psychologist in research and part-time as a psychotherapist. If I can ‘marry’ the two, even better.   I like people, and feel a desire to connect, although I sometimes struggle with ‘chat’. I know that I can form good and clear relationships with people and that some people find this helpful. This is the kind of people contact that I enjoy and could do a lot more of.


I still have that interest in eating disorders, but my interest range is much broader now and covers trauma, dissociation, eating disorders, and LGBT-related issues.


So this is what shaped my decision to train as a therapist 🙂

5 thoughts on “Why I decided to train as a therapist

  1. Bourbon says:

    We did a psychology degree too. Loads of experience as a research assistant and stuff but now we seem to be wanting to work with animals, well dogs. Oh well, at least we can be kinda prepared for dog psychology! – Skye

    • There is someone at my university who was doing a psychology phd on assistance dogs. I know she was influenced by the work of Temple Grandin but not much more than that. It seems oddly possible to combine the two! 🙂

  2. dpnoble says:

    An interesting decision path. I suspect you are not alone in struggling with how to practice within an NHS environment. I must now read up on “person centred” therapy – I’ve some experience of attachment based therapy, though not as a student (and I’m not a therapist myself – just having an interest). Good luck with your PhD!

  3. CorimusCounseling says:

    Thank you for your sharing. I am a counselor in work and on my journey of wanting to becoming a counseling psychologist.
    A month ago I also wrote about my journey of how I arrive at the currenet stage of counseling (http://corimuscounseling.blogspot.hk/2014/05/who-am-i-on-my-professional-and.html), and when reading your blog it gives me the resonating feeling – despite the differenet backgrounds and experiences, we meet on the similar journey of counseling/therapy.

    Look forward to your further sharing, and I send my warm regards to you.

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