A journey in tenacity: becoming a Consultant Counselling Psychologist
Hello everyone and welcome to the next edition of our blog. Today we have the opportunity to learn a bit more about Dr Julie Scheiner, Consultant Counselling Psychologist. Throughout her journey she has shown tenacity and commitment, to ultimately reach her end goal, of becoming a Consultant. Julie also speaks about personal difficulties and challenges which impacted on her pursuit of this goal, but the reward made it all worth it. We hope reading about Julie, will offer you inspiration to pursue your own journey towards a career in Psychology.
The journey to becoming a Consultant Counselling Psychologist
(This blog is dedicated to my long time friend, Alan Frankland, who is sadly not with us anymore but has always been there for the journey).
As I sit to write this blog to you, I am struck by how this journey has been for me. It’s had its ups and downs, twists and turns and never been straightforward!
As a child growing up I was fascinated by the writings of Freud, especially the part about the Oedipus and Electra complex. I was intrigued about the ideas and my interest and fascination in understanding the human mind (but if I’m being honest probably mostly my own!), extended way beyond Freud. I was continually intrigued as to why people do the things they do with a desire to understand the why above everything else. As a child I questioned everything with a thirst for the understanding of why? I recognised that not many people had a clear answer. Why are people so mean? Why is the world such a difficult place to navigate? Why are things the way they are? And on this went. I was never what you would call a bright student. I was the class clown – always wanting to make people laugh, potentially to make up for my own shortcomings of not understanding things and being too shy to ask. I was later at the ripe old age of 38 (!) diagnosed with dyslexia but being a child of the 70s dyslexia was not readily recognised unless you had problem with reading. So my tenacity grew. I was continually told that I was not a very good student and could always do better. A familiar scenario I’m guessing for a lot of people who have unrecognised difficulties in learning.
I went on to do A-levels in Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy. Again this was a particularly challenging learning experience for me whereby I recognised having to work much harder at my studies than my peers. In fact it took me four years to gain my A- levels and eventually go to University to study Psychology. But to University I went. I began life at Birmingham and realised that the course was not for me as it was a social science course with not enough Psychology and hence I moved back to London to go to Middlesex University where I studied Psychology and Sociology, which I loved. During this time I was also working in order to help me finance my time at University, flipping burgers at McDonalds! I then went on to study at various other Universities doing foundation courses for Counselling, as Counselling Psychology was not as well-known as it is today. This was potentially the only route to doing what I wanted, which was to go down the Clinical Psychology route, but which was not an option having attempted to gain a place on several occasions and failed. I went on to study for my MSc at Surrey University, again a great experience, but the stats courses left me flummoxed and frustrated a lot of the time with my learning needs still going unnoticed. By this point it was the turn of the millennium and I found out a lot more about Counselling Psychology. At the time of training it was an old Part 1 and Part 2 training, that’s how long ago I trained (!). Having got through the Part 1, which was the MSc in Counselling Psychology, I went on to the Part 2 for chartered status. During this time the course was not a Doctorate as it is today, and only the top few in my class were allowed on to study the Doctorate. I was hell bent on getting my Doctorate as I felt certain that I wanted to prove people wrong. My course consisted of the 3 main models of therapy but I was particularly interested in the existential model of therapy and went on to do my Doctorate at Regents. I passed the course, graduated having written my thesis on equine therapy which was both a love and joy to write about.
Meanwhile I continued working in the NHS. I gained a paid placement within a Learning Disabilities team which at the time was unheard of. I remembered a talk I attended by a Clinical Psychologist who said that due to Counselling Psychologists being up against Clinical Psychologists for jobs, that getting placements would be harder for us and to go for “less sexy” client groups, as opposed to mainstream mental health. The landscape for Counselling Psychologists in the early 00s was very different to what it is today. I worked in LD for a number of years and to say it was a steep learning curve was an understatement as our “team” consisted of myself (who was not yet qualified) and a colleague (doing her statement of equivalence). We had no Psychology Manager as she had recently retired, so we had to literally hit the ground running! To say it was a useful experience was an understatement as we had to learn a lot and fast. Not the most conventional introduction into the NHS but as part of a wider MDT, I found it incredibly useful to have to learn so fast, but we were thankfully also very much supported by the wider team. I stayed in the NHS for a good 15 years, moving between LD, Eating Disorders, Adult Mental Health and back to ward working. My goal was always to become a Consultant Counselling Psychologist. Given there are not many Consultant Counselling Psychologists and my history in academia, I wanted to prove to myself that I could get to that point, but also knowing how few roles there were at a Consultant level, made me even more determined. I often say to my students, that I supervise on Doctorate courses, you don’t need to be super intelligent to get through a Doctorate but you need a lot of tenacity to achieve your goals. Having worked in the NHS for several years and moving up through the ranks, I was headhunted to work in an Alcohol Service within the charity sector. I had a placement in Drugs and Alcohol during my trainee placements and felt that a move out of the NHS would be an interesting one. Suffice to say I began my job six years ago and my desire to become a Consultant never waned. I finally got the chance when a job came up for a Consultant post in a different team within the charity. I applied, had a grilling from the national assessors, which made getting the title of Consultant even more worthy, and after 11 years post qualification I got the title I wanted with the aspiration finally coming true.
The motto to this blog is that if you want something enough and are able and willing to put in the time and effort, that you can achieve certain things. I’m not saying the road was easy. There were a lot of challenging people standing in my way, obstructing the view. However I have finally made it to the top of a profession that I hold very dear to me. I am humbled every day by what we do and love it. The stories we hear, the people we meet, the challenges along the way have all made it worthwhile. I have had a lot of supporters along the way but becoming a Consultant Counselling Psychologist for me has been a dream come true.