Former primary school teacher and Royal Navy reservist, Rosie, who lives in Devon, is in the final year of the three-year Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
"My doctoral study explores the lived experiences of primary school-based counsellors delivering their service during a crisis, be it the current one of COVID 19, a natural disaster, a criminal or terrorist attack. Sadly, I feel there is only going to be more of these events, so I hope my research will contribute to a broader understanding and have more impact.
"My experiences of working with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities led me to do a doctorate in counselling psychology. I saw what children could do if they had the right help and support, particularly support for their emotional health and wellbeing; if they could think and feel differently and believe in themselves, they could thrive and achieve so much.
"It wasn't easy being open about my own need for support when I returned to full-time education, especially as a mature student with Multiple Sclerosis, a health condition I didn’t have twenty years ago as an undergraduate. There was something about having a disability - and one with invisible symptoms - that made it difficult, and I suppose I also had a fear of stigma.
"Now, in my counselling psychologist training, I realise how important it is to try to be open about difference and diversity, and raise awareness to others that disability/health conditions are about what people CAN do rather than what they can’t because of additional needs. For anyone reading this in a similar position to myself, I’d say it’s about finding a ‘sweet spot’ between what you can do and what you are passionate about. I have definitely found mine with counselling psychology.
"The University's Disability Advice Team is brilliant in how it coordinates and supports students in a sensitive way. My MS affects my vision mainly so I’ve had to have adaptations with printed materials or presentations and my sitting position in classrooms.
"Life will always find a way of challenging us, and every situation will impact each of us in different ways. It’s okay not to be okay during such times and I hope that I can inspire fellow students to adapt and to continue their studies but also to reach out when those challenges become too much."