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Mrs Gardner

What you have done / achieved in your career?

I have set up a full time counselling service in school that is used by all year groups, and I have trained some students in listening skills. I’ve also worked to raise awareness of mindfulness and myth dispelling around mental health.

Is counselling what you always wanted to do?

No, at 17 I wanted to be an archaeologist but later changed my mind. Then when it came to applying to university I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do so studied my favourite subject - religious studies.

Why did you choose to be a counsellor?

I’m not sure I chose it so much as I found it by accident while volunteering. Whilst at University I volunteered at the advice centre and then at a student support line, this made me realise that this was where I wanted to focus my attention. I liked being able to support and make a difference to people. Once I had completed my degree I did further training and volunteering in counselling and advice, and after a year of that decided to concentrate on the counselling as that was what “made my heart sing” (corny but true) and did a full time counselling MA. I realised I enjoyed working with young people, so started with older teenagers and then completed a qualification in play therapy so I can work with children from five years old and above.

What have you gained from this experience?

If I hadn’t volunteered while I was at university I would never have found out about counselling as a career and could have ended up doing a very different job. So, never underestimate where volunteering can lead you.

Top career tip: Don’t panic if it feels like all of your friends know what they want to do with their careers and you have no idea. It is amazing where and how you can have the thunderbolt of realisation about what you want to do! Just think of what you enjoy and take it from there.