Hello. I'll keep this as simple as possible, mainly because I am writing with a burny, churny feeling in my gut, but also because no one wants to read an essay where money is involved.
This month, I have a place to begin a psychotherapy training programme with the University of East London: a progressive institution at I have long hoped to train with. It is a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) that will allow me to develop a practice as a BACP-registered integrative therapist.
Anyone who has ever thought about training as a psychotherapist knows that it is a long, expensive path. You have to pay for the institutional training, clinical supervision, personal therapy and account for working for free (or somewhere just above) in your clinical placements. I can afford some of this, but not all of it. Hence the crowd-funding, suggested by the university as a funding option.
Higher education is still a prohibitively expensive arena for many. I am not eligible for funding from Student Finance England (SFE) because I already have a post-grad qualification: an MSc in Psychology that I needed an SFE loan for, because who – without parental support, a rich partner, benefactor, etc. – can afford £10k off-the-bat? UEL cannot offer a scholarship because they offered me the place late and I missed their deadline. I do not have rich family. There are no other real options other than getting into huge debt.
This is, sadly, the reality of entering the psychological profession: privilege prevails. This is ideologically wrong and there are moves to make the whole business more accessible. Not least because, once qualified, therapists (particularly those who work in the NHS, as I would like to) often help those who are wrung out from the way society is stacked against them – but right now there's no other way. Which is why I'm asking for help.
Some years ago, I began to feel drawn to pursuing psychological therapy as a secondary vocation. I had been nudged towards it by friends and family for some time. The MSc was the first step. I am interested in people: our stories; our ability to heal after traumatic experiences (and how these 'live' in the body); our infinite diversity; our emotional granulation; our interpersonal relationships and what can affect how we relate to others – particularly in close attachments. My own experiences with anxiety figure, too, and how I've learned to live with a freedom I once thought impossible: the product of feeling seen, heard and understood in a room with a therapist. I believe in it, and feel I have something to offer.
I initially had the goal of progressing to the Clinical Psychology doctorate training, which is funded by the NHS (psychotherapy training isn't). But there are so few places available in comparison to how many people apply. I have applied two years in a row (with years of clinical experience as an Assistant Psychologist) and no luck. Again, anyone in the field knows how competitive and disheartening this process is. Many give up. For a while, I did, and felt very sad indeed.
Over time, I have realised it is the relational aspect of psychological therapy that speaks to me the most, and felt training in psychotherapy would suit me more. And here I am, with a place at somewhere brilliant, that I can't quite afford. I have already put considerable time and finance into taking my life in this direction, but the coffers have a limit. I am extremely lucky to do something I already love for a living – writing, interviewing, investigating – but, like so many, the pandemic has taken its toll on the journalism industry. As a freelancer, I have felt this keenly. What I earn is not enough for this, but the calling (gross, I know) is strong. I'm not sure I've ever wanted to do something as much.
So, I am asking those who might know me, who might also feel I have something to offer people in the future, for a little help. Crowd-funding is a strange business I have complex feelings about, but I'm also realistic about how unbelievably costly HE is and how scant the options are in this field unless you have a pot of gold somewhere, or from someone. It shouldn't be this way, but it is. I realise I have written much more than I intended to; sorry.
In terms of what I can offer in return, the promise of future services is ethically murky. But I am a great cook.
Thank you for reading,