After training to be a Nurse, working as a Hospice Nurse and starting her Midwifery training here at UCLan, Clare Watson realised that her true calling was Counselling and Integrative Psychotherapy.
Clare tells us about her journey to become a Counsellor and her studies on the Integrative Psychotherapy, MA course.
“I chose to study at UCLan for my postgraduate Integrative Psychotherapy course after I studied here for my MSc Midwifery (Shortened) course. I realised halfway through that Counselling was where I was meant to be, and I met with a wonderful tutor, who offered to see me despite not knowing who I was or having applied for the course.
“I was so stressed and anxious about my career and life, and she was so incredibly kind in supporting me to find my path and assuring me that it was quite usual to not realise that Counselling was my calling until I’d gained some real life experience. I honestly walked away from her office feeling such relief and feeling hopeful again at a low, stressful, and angry place in my life. She started me on my Counselling journey by offering me a place on the one-year Advanced Counselling GradCert and that was that!
“My initial impressions when I started my Counselling programme was how different it seemed to other courses I’d done. It was academic, while at the same time really focused on who I was as a person and valued that, along with my personal development and growth, above all else. It was so refreshing.
“I realised through my Nurse training, Hospice Nursing roles and Midwifery training that Counselling was where I needed to end up. The emotional wellbeing of my patients and their loved ones were always my top priority. I always wanted more time to be able to spend with them to listen and talk, but other aspects of the job prevented this. It hit me one day as I was running about doing the clinical side of my student Midwifery role that I just wanted to be able to sit down with my patients, one to one, and spend whatever time they needed listening to and supporting them. I was familiar with career changes/progression, so it felt like the natural next step to take in streamlining my skills and experience into what I was passionate about.
"The teaching... was like nothing I’d experienced before. It was much more personal, and with the group being small on both courses, it felt much more interactive and effective."
“The teaching on both my one-year Advanced Counselling Skills Certificate and Integrative Psychotherapy programme was like nothing I’d experienced before. It felt much more interactive and effective. The nature of the course meant that we needed to do a lot of personal development and growth. The tutors were all realistic and supportive, and respectful of the busy home lives we all lead. When the pandemic and lockdown came in early 2020, both the tutors and the University overall were very supportive.
One lesson I’ve learned is that assignments and coursework don’t have to be ‘perfect’ - they just need to be good enough. The Student Support is there for a reason.
COVID-19 has presented many problems for people, especially with mental wellbeing, and 2020 was an extremely difficult year for many, with 2021 not proving to be much easier.
Clare, along with two other students, Katie and Debbie Bentley (Founder and Co-Director), decided to utilise the skills and knowledge they have gained during their studies and working life and founded their own business: The Bee Tree Community.
“Starting a Community Interest Company (CIC) definitely wasn’t on the cards for when I was studying, but then again neither was a pandemic! I was already self-employed as a Diet Consultant and planned to add to that by being self employed as a Counsellor. However, when Debbie approached me about the online community centre that eventually evolved into Bee Tree, I knew it would be amazing and that we could combine our skills and experience to create something truly wonderful”.
“We had no idea where to start. Then I remembered Craig from Propeller who had spoken to me and my group on my Counselling course about starting a business from scratch. We got in touch with him and presented our idea to him. He quickly took it and made it much more realistic and doable, where it wouldn’t cost us a fortune to create. He was and still is invaluable in terms of guiding us through the process, as are his colleagues who he linked us to.
“My main role has been in creating the brand, marketing Bee Tree across social media, customer support, technical support and our website design and development. I’m fortunate that my husband works in IT and has been able to teach me a lot of the IT side of things, as well as Debbie’s son helping us with the website. A lot of it was self-taught and I found it brilliant to be learning new skills that also saved us money that we just didn’t have.
“I’d advise any student wanting to start a CIC to not be afraid to do it. But be realistic - no new business of any nature will bring you an income immediately or possibly for a long while. Be prepared to go the distance.
“It’s definitely been a few years of taking each day as it comes and following my heart with my career evolving as it has done. But I truly feel I am exactly where I’m meant to be both now and for the future. ”
For more information about The Bee Tree Community and to become a member, visit thebeetreecommunity.com. Membership costs £10 per month, with your first month free.
You can also read more about Debbie Bentley (Founder and Co-Director of The Bee Tree Community).