AIPC Graduate Bernie Turnbull shares her story…

“I never really thought about a job as a counsellor until I went through my own traumatic experience in my mid-thirties. My husband and I started trying for a child in 2003, but we had 6 miscarriages over the course of seven years. During this period, we had to re-evaluate our future because we had always imagined our lives with children. In mid-2009, when we had made a decision to ‘give up trying’ to conceive, the thought of studying counselling became a distraction from our painful losses.

When I mentioned to family and friends that I was interested in becoming a counsellor, they were very supportive and not surprised I might start studying psychology. With so much positive feedback, I made the call to AIPC for a course prospectus. I sensed that AIPC was the best Institute for me in many ways, as I definitely did not want to give up working full-time, nor did I want to attend lectures. I began studying in September 2009 and immediately I felt that this was the perfect field for me, as I absolutely loved every Unit. In early 2010, something amazing happened, we found out I was pregnant again! As my pregnancy progressed, so did my studies and our beautiful boy, Ciaran, was born in October 2010. I worried that my studies would be affected by becoming a mother, but I was determined to continue and I barely took a break for fear I would not pick it up again.

I returned to full-time work when Ciaran was 15 months old, as my husband and I decided to swap parenting roles for 12 months. Whenever I felt I was struggling with my studies, all it would take would be receiving my Units back with the most amazing, positive feedback from the Assessors at AIPC and I would continue with greater determination. In August 2012, I submitted my last Unit and, I have to say I never imagined feeling sadness along with elation, but I was sad and scared about what would I do with my Diploma? My main concern was that I wasn’t certain if I was ready to practice counselling, but I was definitely ready to use my diploma to find a job.

I really didn’t know what direction to take, but I knew I wanted to work with a group who assists women with fertility issues. I sent off an e-mail to ‘Pregnancy Counselling Link’, offering my services in any capacity, with an emphasis on my administrative experience. I felt that this not-for-profit organisation might take me on for charity work initially and counselling work might follow. As it transpired, ‘Pregnancy Counselling Link’ was seeking a person for ‘Networking Co-ordinator’ role, which they thought I was capable of fulfilling. They really believed my Diploma would be of great benefit and, now that I am six weeks into this job, I have found my studies invaluable to the role.

The job is amazing; it’s a PR role which means I am responsible for increasing the profile of ‘Pregnancy Counselling Link’ over the next 12 months. I absolutely love working with counsellors and this has reinforced that I am working in the field I should be and not where I had to be to earn a living. Through the encouragement of my peers, I am now considering further studies and I am also in the process of setting up a networking group to assist graduates with employment. I want to keep in contact with AIPC graduates, because I know that some of us need guidance as to where to start looking for work or at the very least, keep the counselling dream alive.

Thanks to AIPC, who have the most amazing staff, teachers and assessors, you really are the reason I see a future as a counsellor, a counsellor who will make a difference!”