I can't imagine studying anywhere else

Shane_Smith BSc Hons Systemic Counselling

Shane Smith is studying BSc (Hons) Systemic Counselling at The Family Institute.

He works full time as a personal assistant within health and social care and is a bereavement support volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Care. 


"My main reason for wanting to become a counsellor is simply to help others, and hopefully make a positive difference to their lives and relationships.    

Previously I was a fully qualified PSV engineer, but had to reconsider my career path due to a lower back injury.

Starting my counselling training here at The Family Institute with little knowledge or experience of counselling was extremely daunting for me. However, I stuck with it and can honestly say that this learning environment suits me down to the ground with the tutors offering me the right amount of support with an attitude that allows me to develop in my own way and at my own pace. 

It’s been an absolute pleasure being a student here. Being able to record simulated counselling sessions has allowed me to analyse my work in greater detail, vastly improving my counselling skills.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found the course challenging – but in a rewarding way. My confidence continues to grow and my ability to engage in constructive therapeutic conversations with my clients is encouraging. My emerging ‘systemic approach’ to working with clients in a therapeutic context is becoming clearer and more enjoyable as I progress through the learning modules. 

The course structure is great and the learning materials are fascinating, intriguing, and absolutely enriching – both in a personal and professional sense. Being introduced to systemic thought and practices has completely changed the way I think about the world in which we live. I’m gaining a particular fondness of constructivist and social constructionist thought. I’m currently engrossed in trying to integrate these philosophical ideas into my counselling practice.

I currently have two practice placements linked to my course – firstly, with Merthyr and Valleys MIND, working with a wide range of clients within the field of mental health and well-being and secondly with Cancercare-line in Blackwood, offering counselling to individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer. 

My position within both is that of a trainee/student counsellor (currently qualified at level 5) working towards completing a BACP recognised qualification (level 6). 

I’m lucky enough to be able to have flexibility within my job to achieve this level of commitment; my employers and family have been very supportive toward my studies. 

I feel extremely privileged to be in a position to offer my clients a space in which they feel comfortable enough to talk about the things that brought them to counselling; completing the first year of this course has allowed me to do this. 

Learning for me is a passion. I look forward to coming into the Family Institute and sharing my thoughts with my colleagues and tutors, I feel welcomed and encouraged to do this, in a way that reflects my own personality. I’m extremely pleased with my choice to study here at the Family Institute and genuinely cannot imagine myself being anywhere else on my journey to becoming a qualified counsellor."