At ICPPD we are currently busy marketing and advertising our programmes due to commence at the end of September. I was thinking about the natural journey of personal and professional development in my own life, beginning with a personal development course and a programme on family studies from NUI Maynooth.
Hindsight is great and, as I reflect, I see a journey that although I chose to follow, there seems also to be a bigger picture unfolding and perhaps destiny at work. I share the following for no other reason than to say if I can do it, so can you. I then progressed to a two-year foundation course in counselling and psychotherapy and on to a professional training diploma in counselling and psychotherapy.
Following the completion of this programme I commenced my work as a counsellor/psychotherapist and began to work my extra 450 hours as a therapist and the required criteria to become an accredited therapist. Five years later I began a supervision course and progressed over the next two years to become an accredited supervisor with IACP. I still wonder about the shy woman who went on to deliver and facilitate therapeutic workshops and present at conferences.
Ten years ago I found myself in Dublin commencing a full-time master’s degree programme. This enhanced my work at that time, which involved tutoring on training programmes in counselling and psychotherapy. All of this brought me to the point of opening our own college in Athlone, ICPPD. I am now in the final stages of a PhD.
I love learning and being in places of learning with people who are curious and interested in learning. I remember the mix of excitement, anxiety, and exhilaration I felt beginning each of the courses I undertook. The energy it took to make the initial enquiry and book my place. The apprehension, and sometimes panic, I felt on the first nights as I entered the class to meet the people there and introduce myself. It was painful. Wondering if I would be able for the academic requirements and assessments expected of me. Supporting myself around my interactions with my fellow learners and trying to gauge how much to disclose and how to protect myself from being vulnerable at times was a personal and worthwhile challenge.
Securing finances was my main worry, and trying to balance my study and time for myself with being a mother, wife, and family member. I remember the guilt I felt at times and how I would beat myself up, until I learned to be kinder to myself and others. I remember the challenge to keep going on days when I was too tired to think, and it all seemed too much for me. I will never forget the people who probably unknowingly supported and encouraged me, a silent hand on my shoulder, a warm gesture to a chair beside them, an encouraging smile, a word of praise given freely just when I needed it, a cup of tea, a bed for the night and more. They seem like small things, but they made the difference.
I didn’t feel alone or that I was on my own. Then finally getting there and the sense of achievement and satisfaction derived. It is a special feeling, yours alone. The courage it took to begin is celebrated in this final appreciation of the inner and outer struggle and adventure. I usually have a sense of gratitude for where I have come from, wonder at the universe and the plans it has for me, excitement for where I am now, and a curiosity about what’s next. This journey of life we are given and participate in is so amazing.
Reminiscing is nostalgic and poignant as I encounter my humanity reflected in others and their lives. So, if you are considering a personal challenge, are thinking of returning to education or are considering signing up for a programme, I wish you well. If ever I can be of help and you have questions and concerns, I am happy to answer your queries and hopefully encourage you to follow your dream. When the time is right, there is a natural urge or whispering within and if we listen and do our part then our world opens to the adventure ahead. Embrace the journey.