Our learner Rachel Parker transforms her life in pursuing her dreams of becoming a Counsellor! | Adult Learning Wales

Our learner Rachel Parker transforms her life in pursuing her dreams of becoming a Counsellor!


Our learner Rachel Parker who has completed her counselling practitioner training shares her story with us and tells us why she chose to become a Counsellor. . .

Rachel says “I was born into a family of dysfunctional alcoholics. My education and my whole self-worth suffered immensely due to my start in life. I knew nothing about love and nurture, healthy boundaries, stability, normality, or basic decency. I only learned how to survive amongst all of my ACE’s (adverse childhood experiences). This caused me to develop a mass of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I decided that I wanted to become a counsellor in order to be there for others, as I knew what it truly felt like to have no-one there for myself.  I wanted to do this profession since my mid- twenties, but at that time I was unable to commit to it. I was a young mother of a beautiful, severely disabled daughter with extensive disabilities. I had also developed an addiction and dependency on alcohol and illicit drug use.

Throughout my treatment over the years from substance misuse counsellors, I would often think to myself at times…. “If I could get and stay clean, perhaps I could do their job 1 day.” Despite all the adversity I have lived through, from early childhood trauma and so much more!!! I have always remained an open and honest person with a very good heart. I never allowed my unfortunate and cruel life experiences to make me bitter or helpless.

I began to notice that people (even strangers) would often approach me and share all kinds of their problems and hardships with me. I would always listen and hold space for them with warmth and free from judgement. Sadly, I was in no position to train, study and become a Counsellor whilst living in my countless years of active addiction. It wasn’t until I began to realise that my lifestyle was killing me, then I begged my substance-misuse counsellor for help to get me into rehabilitation. Thankfully she secured the funding for me and I believe she helped to save my life. I had extensive counselling and therapy and successfully completed my rehabilitation treatment. This reignited my lost and buried dream of becoming a counsellor and I set out to begin my training in 2017. I was three years clean and sober when I began and felt the time was now right to pursue my career. I had built up a safe and solid foundation in my recovery and support network.

My learning journey was a true, life healing and changing experience. The skills I learned to develop and utilize have deepened my empathic nature and unlocked my authentic self. I made new friendships with my fellow trainee counsellors which enhanced my learning. There was a real sense of support, encouragement and camaraderie which spurred me on. The honesty, kindness and fun elements whilst learning together (even with each challenge that presented) secured the belief in myself. My tutors were excellent and extremely supportive.

I did go through some real difficult times whilst studying and training. The loss of my big brother, a relationship break-up and the loss of my ex-husband and father of my children. I was able to take some time away to process all of these sad times. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to Adult Learning Wales and their staff and tutors. They helped me to regain my strength and focus to continue on to my completion of my Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Even when my stress and personal bereavement levels were overwhelming.

I decided to do my training with Cruse Bereavement Support (my 100 hours) and undertook three months of their training which is invaluable. It seemed the right path to go, given that I had had many personal bereavements and the loss of my closest and dearest loved ones (my daughter Hollie being the most difficult). I sadly lost her when I had 2 years of abstinence in my recovery.  I made her a promise the day that she passed, that I would remain clean no matter what and continue to make her proud.

I am very pleased and joyful about my achievements and especially on gaining this wonderful qualification. My whole learning journey brought my dream of becoming a counsellor into fruition. It has fulfilled my life with purpose and meaning. My passion for helping others has grown and blossomed. I would strongly recommend taking up a Counselling course, or any other courses with Adult Learning Wales. The self-development and learning to counsel has been an epic journey that I will never forget.

The next part of my life’s journey is to expand on my learning. Possibly a Psychology degree, Artwork and creative writing really interests me. I would definitely like to do another course with Adult Learning Wales. I am going to continue in the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy, and I am excited that I have an interview next week. I am taking some self-care time out currently and hope to begin counselling clients in the near future. My life-long dream is to write some books (about my life in addiction and then in recovery). I feel that I am moving into this new phase of writing now. I want to carry on counselling and write my own books.

My motive for writing is also to help others and give hope and inspiration. It is a very cathartic piece of work I have longed to do.

Thank you to my tutors and the staff at Adult Learning Wales for helping to make my dreams come true.”

We would like to thank Rachel for sharing her story and wish her well with her bright future!

To find out more about our courses, click here.

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