On the brink of training to become a counsellor, Kate Eve Smith muses on the journey that awaits...
As the September winds are starting to blow, it is with feelings of trepidation and excitement that I look towards the counselling course I will soon begin. I intend this to be a long, rewarding and fulfilling career, and with the heady sense of new beginnings comes also a whisper of doubt – is this the right path for me?
The idea of becoming a counsellor pounced on me unexpectedly like a gregarious cat two years ago.
Ever since, I have been nourishing the thought, quietly imagining myself in the role, feeling happy to the point of giddiness that this is something I could be doing for a living. Indeed, the notion felt, and still feels, like a creature coming home; it's settled down, nestled in my mind and, happily, shows no signs of leaving.
I can honestly say I feel a sense of belonging to this profession. I want to jump in, hit the ground running, learn everything I possibly can, and do what I've always felt best doing – helping others.
Yet, I am embarking on this career path from a position of vulnerability. As well as being in the somewhat precarious state of recovering from a long term illness, I have often questioned my own mental and emotional health, and wondered if I needed therapy myself. I imagine all those new to the profession feel daunted by the prospect of sharing their stories, taking those skeletons by the hand into the open space of personal therapy or group discussion.
My own skeletons had been pounding on the cupboard door for some time, so over the summer, I decided to get stuck in early and sought out my own counsellor. I felt the benefits from the very first session – pain that had been tightly locked away felt free to cascade, and seeds of self-worth that had, perhaps, been neglected began to plump up with the skill and gentleness of the counsellor's attention.
Ideas of truth and matters of perspective hovered into view, and I walked away that evening a bit tearful but exhilarated, knowing that I was going to change somehow. It also put my mind at rest; I felt absolutely sure that becoming a counsellor was the right way forward for me. Having personal therapy isn't easy, and the requirement of it is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of training, but I feel overwhelmingly that it is a good thing and it will, however gradually, spark growth in me for the better.
Throughout the past couple of years I have, magpie-like, picked up every piece of information about counselling that has passed my way. I cannot count the number of times the word 'journey' is used to describe the training process. Like counselling itself, I see the word as symbolising change and growth, a whole experience with space for darkness as well as light. It tells of something significant; my journey into training will be a trip into the unknown where I risk losing parts of myself but gaining something too.
I will be stepping into new shoes, and I'm itching to test them out, even if they feel a little strange at first.
There will be difficulties, I'm sure, but what worthwhile journey is without obstacles? I am certain there will also be joys and I look forward to it all. I can't wait to meet my course mates, tutors and, eventually, clients. I have already devoured a small portion of the reading list and am worrying about getting through the rest in a typically Hermione-esque fever. I expect, no matter how much my mind runs over the possibilities of what there is to come, there will be plenty of surprises and lessons to learn. Whatever awaits, my feet will surely take me forward, and I will do my best to open my mind and heart to this rich adventure, which I have already, quietly, begun.
Kate Eve Smith lives and works in Northumberland where she is studying for a Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. She spends much of her time exploring the county's wilderness and coastline, and on colder days puts pen to paper. Follow her on Twitter @KateEveSmith.