An interview with Michelle Tennison – just finishing the Part-time BA Person-Centred Counselling and the Psychotherapeutic Relationship Degree
What encouraged you to study for the counselling degree here at Warwick?
I had always been curious about counselling, and thought that it’s something I might be able to do. When I was a teenager, my boyfriend committed suicide, and although this is a life-time away now, I feel that this is what pushed me to want to help others. I took part in the 10-week Introduction to Counselling course offered by Warwick, and the tutors really inspired me and brought the subject alive. I was left with such a buzz that I decided to apply for the degree. Initially, I was worried that I would not be successful in my application, as I had only two qualifications, a BTEC and an O level, and had no prior counselling experience. However the entry requirements were flexible, and an understanding of those coming to study degrees later in life, and I was successful in being offered a place on the course.
How did you find the degree?
I would describe completing the degree as a journey. It was a journey of highs and lows, but despite the lows, it was really great to feel some highs again. I was 47 when I started the degree and it is easy to get stuck into a routine in your life, but taking part in this degree made me feel alive. I felt energised by the depth of new experiences and new challenges. I made many realisations about myself along the way, including the realisation that actually, I can do this.
How did you balance completing the degree alongside your life?
I more or less work full-time as a photographer, and so honestly at times I found it a challenge. I also have a young son, but luckily a very supportive husband. As part of the course you are required to complete a 100 hour work placement, as well as assignments and 7 hours a week at university. However, having the holidays off gave me the chance to build my energies up again. And although I hated having assignments hanging over me, I also loved the feeling of completing an assignment and doing well in it. Over the 3 years I really built up my academic skills and this gave me a lot of personal satisfaction and confidence.
What else did you gain from your time here at Warwick?
I feel that I grasped a real understanding of the fact that not everyone thinks and feels the same as me! As everyone in our group was required to speak honestly, I really learnt to appreciate people’s differing views, and respect and enjoy other’s individuality. I am quite introverted by nature, but from my time on this course I have also gained some brilliant, life-long friends, and some other highlights from my time on this course include the residential week-end away, which was great fun. I would definitely recommend the degree to others.