What I wish I knew before starting Level 2 counselling course

Starting college / uni can be a scary thing. Especially if like me you're older and going back into education 10+ years after leaving school/ Now that I am coming to the end of my counselling concepts level 2, I can look back at my experience studying counselling & psychology and I can reflect on my personal journey. Even though it hasn't been 100% clarified I have passed I have successfully received back 95% of my assessments with passes with an oral exam coming this week. I still wish I done or known particular  things before I actually started. In today’s blog post - the very first in my new counselling / psychology series, I am going to be sharing the things I wish I knew before starting college.

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Don’t underestimate your capability to learn

Before I even thought about applying for this course my mother in law kept telling me I should go back to school and get into the helping profession. Any professional career path as long as I was helping and benefiting the lives of others. She had so much confidence in my ability yet I had so much doubt, underestimating my capability to learn psychological theories. A few months later I found a level 2 counselling concepts course at a local college and applied 10 weeks later it’s honestly changed my life! My self-esteem & self-confidence has improved dramatically.

I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge, I’m happy to be the learner in a situation and I’m open minded to other perspectives. I even created a study gram account HonestThrive to reflect this.

Be pro-active

If you are just starting with your first year of  school (or even if you are at the beginning of your second, third or last year), it can be quite challenging to immediately dive in. You are just starting a new chapter of your life, met a lot of new people. You may feel the urge to justwait and seehow things are going to work out for you. However, thischillattitude won't get you through the course. You have to put in the work from the start. Do your homework from the start, be prepared for every lecture, and ask questions even if you don't understand something (which is by the way, totally okay - just make sure your question is specific enough that the tutor / professor sees you took the time to read through the material).

Another lesson that I have come to understand after my time at college, is that every students path is different. Forgetting this can put pressure on yourself, wanting to do the exact same things as your peers are doing, as well as being just as successful in those things as well. However, whatever they do - it is their counselling / psychology path, and not yours. You should not feel pressured to follow in their footsteps. Instead, focus on your own skills and abilities and try to improve them, as well as stepping out of your comfort zone. In the end, all our lives are going to be different, so don't try to be the same as the rest.

Study smart, not hard

Another thing I wish I knew before starting counselling  is that it's not about studyinghard, but about studyingsmart. It's not about pulling those all nighters in the library every week, but about the material you are actually focusing on. A tutor / professor will never be able to ask for every little detail of the study material during the exam due to time limits. That is why you should not focus on reading everything from cover to back, but on the topics the tutor / professor spends more time on. Read through your notes, and spend most of your time on topics they were interested in or are generally very important. This way, you will spend your study time more effectively, which will also give you better results in the end.

Think to the future

So you’ve decided to start learning about counselling, brilliant. You want to be a counsellor. Fantastic! But wait are you sure you don’t want to be a psychotherapist or psychologist? What even is the difference? What will your modality be? Psychoanalysis, CBT, eclectic, spirituality etc...Think ahead to the future. When you qualify where do you want to work for the NHS or private practice, schools or your local GP surgery? These are all things you need to consider when learning so you you can make sure you’re on the right path. The last thing you want is to do Level 2, level 3 & diploma level 4 in counselling (which takes 4/5 years) to make your mind up you want to be a psychologist and will need an additional 2 years studying psychology. (You only get 1 student loan use it wisely)

Focus on understanding

Last, but not least: You should focus onunderstanding, rather than justmemorisingthe study material. Being in college / uni studying psychology is going to be very time consuming. You will have a lot of readings every week, papers to write, and deadlines to finish as is.  However, professors and study books will often refer toadditional study materialor cases to read. This is study material you will not receive any questions about on the final exam, but it is considered useful and helpful information to the required study themes. Your first thought reading this would probably be "ain't nobody got time for that", but I highly recommend you to make some time for it, especially if you find a particular topic difficult or hard to understand. Reading additional texts that elaborate more on the history, technicalities, and reasoning behind certain theories will make help you understand. This way, you are not justblatantly memorizing the pieces of information, you will understand how the theory works and how to apply it in specific cases.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blogpost and it was somewhat helpful to anyone considering going to counselling / psychology college or university!

What is one thing you wish you knew before starting college or uni?