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Psychotherapist uses experience of disability to help others

Despite growing up with severe visual impairment, Rob is now qualified and working as a Psychotherapist, a profession in which he can thrive, thanks to the support he received at UCLan.

Rob explains: “The bullying from my school peers, the lack of support from my high school, the stigma surrounding disability and the death of my father before the age of 10 all added to a cocktail of savagely poor mental health. My job prospects at home were bleak until I started studying at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. As my feet hit the floor, I was signing myself up to speak to a counsellor, and it was the best decision of my life.

Accessing counselling for the first time at the age of 20 was intense. As I sat in the chair, discussing with my counsellor all of these bottled up emotions that I didn’t even know existed within me, I started to imagine what it would be like to be the other person in this relationship. The person who knew just which questions to ask and when a non-judgemental companion along my mental health journey – and I thought “I could do that”.

My career aim evolved into becoming a psychotherapist. The PG Dip Integrative Psychotherapy course at UCLan was a natural progression from the undergraduate BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Studies. Whilst there were other choices available, I felt that the Integrative Psychotherapy course gave me a grounding as a young professional, with opportunities for expansion in the future. I also had a great teaching team on the undergraduate course, who also taught on the PG Dip. As a disabled student, keeping those working relationships is really important and it was an easy transition from undergraduate to postgraduate.”

Rob decided to stay at UCLan for his postgraduate studies due to the wider support he gained from the University’s various departments as a disabled student. He tells us about the course and how it has helped his career.

“My course was a professional training qualification. Upon its completion, I am qualified to work as a psychotherapist, which considering my disabilities, is a profession that I can thrive in.

As a career choice, psychotherapy allows me to use my disabilities to their full advantage. Due to my visual impairment and ADHD, I already have active listening, however, I have been taught how to apply this to emotional processes, not just my immediate environment. My clients often find my openness regarding my disabilities refreshing, and they all love having a guide dog in the therapy room. This candour has developed through the course as I have learnt how to use myself in a way to relate to others, to encourage them to engage with themselves on a deeper level.

Rob Greggor, MA Integrative Psychotherapy student
Rob Greggor, MA Integrative Psychotherapy student

Rob decided to stay at UCLan for his postgraduate studies due to the wider support he gained from the University’s various departments as a disabled student. He tells us about the course and how it has helped his career.

Additionally, the knowledge of my own internal processes I have gained through the course is immeasurable. I am now much happier than I have ever been, and I understand why I act the way I do. I am also able to communicate this to my family and friends, which is refreshing and has brought me closer to those I love.

My extended essay on the course consisted of a literature review of my choice. I chose to investigate psychotherapeutic explanations of suicide, through an integrative lens. This meant I reviewed Humanistic, Existential, Classical Psychoanalytic and contemporary Psychodynamic theories on why individuals may feel the need to end their own life. This also incorporated recent research literature for supporting/critical comparisons of arguments, which has given me knowledge of many extra resources regarding measuring an individual’s suicidality.

The best thing about the course was the teaching - it was incredible. I felt challenged at every step, but equally supported. The lecturers were guiding us towards our own way of working and openly encouraged this. Whilst there are certain criteria we must meet in order to pass the course, it was very flexible as to which parts of integrative theory best fit our own personal modalities, and as long as we could justify this, the lecturers worked to help us succeed.

If you want to understand yourself better than before, this course will open those doors. A lecturer on the undergraduate course once said in our Personal Development module “If you don’t cry, you’re not doing it right.” This is so incredibly true, but I feel it goes deeper than that because of the depth of insight you gain. If you then want to give this level of insight to others, this could be the course for you.

Whilst your own personal therapy is not mandatory on the course, I thoroughly recommend it, as sometimes this was the only thing that kept me going. I felt this course dismantled who I thought I was and using the therapy on the side I was able to reconstruct myself into who I am today. I cannot emphasise the gratitude I feel towards the teaching staff for running this qualification.

Alongside training as a Psychotherapist, this qualification has improved my critical thinking skills greatly. I am often found by my family considering news stories, research papers and other materials whilst making notes and asking questions to myself as to what lies behind the report. This has aided me as I have been able to advise local Vision Awareness charities, provide solutions to better the lives of disabled individuals in my local area and challenge some aspects of policy by my local Government.

As a disabled person, my career choices are limited. Before I considered a chosen career, my future was restricted to computing or administrative work – something which I find deeply tiring, stressful and in some instances, inaccessible. With this qualification, I have a professional career at my fingertips that I can expand into. There are multiple progressions from where I am now, and there is always the opportunity to retrain in the future.”

"There are multiple progressions from where I am now, and there is always the opportunity to retrain in the future."

Rob Greggor, MA Integrative Psychotherapy student