Ryan Paden Counselling and Psychotherapy graduate

Catherine Gadd Advanced Clinical Practice graduate

Ryan Paden Counselling and Psychotherapy graduate

Catherine Gadd Advanced Clinical Practice graduate

Two years into his three year MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice, Northern Irish student Ryan Paden has the job he wants and a bright future ahead of him.

Two years into his three year MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice, Northern Irish student Ryan Paden has the job he wants and a bright future ahead of him.

Ryan came to LJMU to study for his undergraduate degree in Psychology. “Liverpool really stood out as a friendly city and I decided I wanted to study here,” he recalls. “I had always been interested in helping people and my mix of arts and science A-levels seemed a good basis for Psychology.”

Working part-time as a support worker during his undergraduate degree, Ryan took up the role full-time on graduation. He also carried out project work for third sector organisations before taking up a job as a telephone researcher in LJMU’s Public Health Institute.

“After I graduated I studied for a Diploma in Counselling. I was increasingly convinced that was the path I wanted to follow,” he says. “I loved the course and decided it was what I wanted to do so, whilst working at LJMU, I started my Masters part-time.”

Ryan qualified as a Counsellor after his first two years of study and is currently undertaking his dissertation to complete the Masters. “The programme has been brilliant,” he smiles. “Yes, it has been intense and downright difficult at times but it has certainly been very worthwhile.”

On qualifying as a counsellor, Ryan started to look for work in the NHS and, having narrowly missed out on the first post he applied for, he was invited to apply again when another role was advertised. “I really can’t believe I have the job I have wanted for so long,” he says. “I split my time between hospital work, working with GPs and offering telephone counselling. I’m getting a really good all round experience and I’m loving every minute of it.”

Long term Ryan would like to combine NHS and private practice and eventually work in student counselling. “During my studies I undertook a student counselling placement and absolutely loved it,” he says. “Add to that my current research about the change of identity experienced by Northern Irish students who come to study in Liverpool, and you can see this is my particular area of interest.”

Ryan is full of praise for his Masters experience both in terms of the amount he has learned and the support he has experienced. “The programme covered so much knowledge but it also really focussed on self-development too,” he reflects. “Counselling is a testing profession and, during the course, we did a great deal of work on finding our own sensitive spots and trigger points and learning how to deal with these. The support from the staff was great but my peers were also brilliant.”

Ryan considers the step up to postgraduate study a very positive move. “I literally could not be in this job without my postgraduate qualification,” he says. “Postgraduate study gives you the opportunity to really invest in your education and develop as a person. If you have a specific career in mind, it is certainly worth pursuing.”

Having taken the conventional nursing training route some 30 years ago, Catherine Gadd decided to study for her masters in Advanced Healthcare Practice (Clinical) following an inspiring conversation at work.

Having taken the conventional nursing training route some 30 years ago, Catherine Gadd decided to study for her masters in Advanced Healthcare Practice (Clinical) following an inspiring conversation at work.

“I never intended taking a Masters degree,” said Catherine. “I didn’t want to spend my time churning out paperwork, dissertations and theses that had no bearing on my daily life. However, a colleague told me about the Clinical Examination CPD module and I decided to give it a go.”

Impressed by just how practical the module was, Catherine went on to complete the Diagnostics module too. Northwest funding then became available and she was offered the opportunity to complete the full Masters degree.

Postgraduate study really wasn’t what Catherine was expecting: “It was so clinically focused and far more interesting,” she smiles. “Obviously you have to reach a set academic standard but the focus is on real, juicy, clinical knowledge that you can use in the workplace and that is just what I wanted.”

“With a really inspiring, credible team of lecturers, the teaching sessions go so quickly and you really do hang on your lecturer’s every word. ”

In terms of study highlights, it’s the staff that make the difference for Catherine: “With a really inspiring, credible team of lecturers, the teaching sessions go so quickly and you really do hang on your lecturer’s every word,” she says. “The standard of teaching has been consistently high. Staff speak so eloquently and convey the information in a manner which is really easy to take in. They are all very different but are so clinically credible, having a lot of experience and expertise.”

So would Catherine recommend postgraduate study at LJMU to others in her position? “Absolutely! For someone like myself with a practical background it is amazing. I have been taught systematic methods of doing things – methods that colleagues studying at other universities simply haven’t encountered,” she enthuses. “In essence my Masters study has enabled me to think far more laterally about a world I thought I understood. I really can’t recommend it enough.”