MSc Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents

“I never finished my own secondary education after dropping out to become a carer for my mother at 12 years old.”

My career goals have always been shaped by my life experiences.

For the past five years I’ve been working as a teacher, specialising in non-traditional education settings like prisons and hospital schools, or working with children out of school due to mental health difficulties (SEMH) or special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

I never finished my own secondary education after becoming a carer for my mother at 12 years old. I dropped out to work part time and help manage aspects of her life. There was a real chance I could have gone down a different path and fallen out of the system. I’ve seen friends and people close to me really struggle. We didn’t have the support that is available now, so I know how important it is to help young people stay on track during these crucial stages.

Despite leaving school without qualifications, I always wanted to keep learning. I studied in my own time around work and caring responsibilities and managed to complete an art foundation course, then later an undergraduate history degree. But it was while working as a teaching assistant that I came across the NHS’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The people I worked with were incredible and it made me more interested in supporting the mental health of young people. I knew this had to be my next step.

Several people working in the field recommended Birkbeck to me because of the quality of teaching and career prospects. The College told me everything I’d need to do to enrol and gave me a list of recommended courses. So I completed my Advanced Counselling Level 4 and then enrolled on Birkbeck’s Psychodynamic Counselling master’s. I began working as a self-employed history and art teacher for SEMH and SEN students so that I could still work, attend my classes, and do the course placement days. However, it did add some financial strain and anxiety.

The scholarship I received, which helps students make that next step into postgraduate study, came at the perfect time for me. I was speechless at the generosity of Birkbeck’s supporters. I have always had to do things myself, so it took a lot for me to apply for this scholarship. But with Birkbeck I’m getting better at asking for help.

It makes such a difference knowing there are people out there who want you to pursue your goals and succeed. I’ve just started my second year and I can’t wait to finish my degree and start work in CAMHS.