Graduate Michelle Castle with lecturer Dr Mark Widdowson

Date published: July 17, 2018

Graduate starts counselling career after seeing benefits of therapy

A WOMAN who decided to become a counsellor after going through therapy herself is starting her career as she graduates with a first class degree.

Michelle Castle (pictured with lecturer Dr Mark Widdowson), aged 32, chose to retrain in the profession after benefiting from talking to counsellors several years ago.

She is graduating with a BSC (hons) in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Salford during a ceremony on Wednesday July 18, but already has two jobs.

She is now a key worker on the Pathways Project, which is  funded by the Salford Foundation and based at a women's centre in Eccles, providing a range of support to women who are at risk of experiencing mental health and other problems, as well as counselling on a domestic abuse research project in the Stockport area.

Michelle, from Poynton near Stockport, said: “I’ve had a bit of counselling myself in the past and I wanted to give something back. It’s a really rewarding career and it’s nice to be able to make a change to someone’s life.

“I’ve always wanted to have a job where I was helping people but I could never quite get to where I wanted to go. When I had my own therapy it was a bit of an eye opener and that whole experience was what made me decide that this is what I needed to do. Having that safe space, and that one-to-one time with people who are just there to listen – it makes such a difference to how you feel.”

Michelle had to juggle her studies between looking after her children Calypso, aged nine, and Bondi, aged four – often doing her coursework in the evenings when she had put them to bed and her husband went out to work on a night shift.

She said: “It’s a very hard choice. I’ve got two children and so I had to make it work. It was a very hard decision but I was determined to make a success of it and all the hard work has paid off now.”

Dr Mark Widdowson, Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Salford, said: “Michelle was an incredibly dedicated student who was absolutely passionate about the subject.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way she applied herself throughout the course, and for her to get a first class degree as well as two jobs before she’s even graduated is a fantastic achievement.”

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