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Carleen’s journey: training the next generation of child counsellors

Carleen’s journey: training the next generation of child counsellors

Carleen Kirk

Carleen Kirk

Carleen completed her degree in counselling and psychotherapy at the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education. She went on to provide one-to-one support to children with special educational needs whilst undertaking Psychoanalytical Observational Studies training at the Tavistock. She completed her PGDip at Place2Be and now works in schools and runs a private practice.

Carleen trained as a child counsellor with Place2Be and now works as a trainer on our Postgraduate Diploma. We sat down with her to learn about her counselling journey and what it’s been like training and working with Place2Be.

What made you start your counselling journey?

I was always interested in psychology, but when I was young, I listened to the advice of my parents and ended up doing a business degree. I then got my first job in media and advertising, but soon realised that it wasn’t something I really loved doing and so I started to try new things.

I decided to do a part-time introductory counselling course, which I loved, and I started working as a teaching assistant with children with special educational needs. In my spare time I set up my own business which against my expectations began to grow.

I realised I couldn’t do it all, and so I had to make a choice. At that point, I decided to grow my business because I was young and had no commitments at the time. So, it wasn’t until later in my life that I went back to counselling. I sold my business and started training with the Tavistock. I found some of the academics quite challenging. English isn’t my first language, so some psychoanalytic writing didn’t come easily to me. During my first year of training, I fell pregnant, so I completed the first year of my training there but then took a break.

Five years and two children later, I had these various bits of training and ended up working part-time with children and young people at Victim Support. I worked both with young victims of crimes and with young offenders, piloting a restorative justice project with the Sutton Youth Offending Team. Although I received quite a lot of internal training with Victim Support, I wanted to develop more and train to become a qualified counsellor. Then, I came across Place2Be. What really appealed to me was that much of Place2Be’s training had creativity, play and experiential learning woven through. Also, working in schools would allow me to work around school holidays, which suited my life with young children.

I did the Introduction to Child Counselling Skills (Level 2 Award)Intermediate Child Counselling Skills (Level 3 Certificate) and the Postgraduate Diploma with Place2Be. Having trained in other places, I personally found the combination of academia and experiential learning really suited my learning style. It enabled me to anchor some of the theory in a much more integrated way and helped me to understand it much better. What Place2Be does so well, I think, is that much thought gets put into supporting students in their learning and creating safe learning spaces where people can learn and take risks.

How did you become a tutor on the Postgraduate Diploma with Place2Be?

My supervisor knew that I was passionate about Ethics, Law and Safeguarding. She was rewriting and developing the Postgraduate Diploma and had asked me to write a lecture on it. I thought it was a nice challenge as I hadn’t done anything like that before. I delivered the lecture, received great feedback, and was asked to do more.

What’s it like working and training with Place2Be?

For me Place2Be feels like a really safe, fun place to work. It’s an inclusive organisation where I feel people are celebrated and supported. You are encouraged to keep learning and developing. "There is a warmth, a playfulness and creativeness about Place2Be, as well as an easiness, which I didn't find in other organisations where it felt quite clinical."

What qualities do you think are needed to be a school counsellor?

I think openness, flexibility, a willingness to learn, curiosity and compassion are important qualities. Being willing and able to keep questioning and learning about yourself is also essential in this job.

What do you think are some of the barriers that stop people from starting counselling as a career?

The cost has to be one the biggest barriers, not only is the training expensive but your personal therapy is often not covered by the course. However, if finance is a barrier, Place2Be now offer bursaries for several of their qualifications.

If you’re interested in starting or continuing your counselling journey with Place2Be, then please visit our counselling pathway for more information.

Learn about our counselling pathway

Are you passionate about training to work therapeutically with children and young people but need some help to fund your training? Our bursary funding is here to support you.

Learn about our bursaries

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