Staffs Student Stories: Meet Zoe Bishop BSc Psychology and Counselling student (level 5)

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I applied to the Psychology and Counselling course at Staffordshire University because counselling was a career I knew I wanted to pursue for various reasons.

But why staffs? When I was researching the course at different Universities, I found myself getting bored looking at the course outline, never mind actually participating in the degree. However, when I looked at the course outline of the Psych and Counselling degree, I was interested and could see myself wanting to explore the chosen topics. I liked the amount of options I would get that would allow me to tailor my course to my personal interests, whereas other courses did not allow much personalisation.  

I got my place on the course by applying through UCAS and I made Staffordshire University my first choice. I was very surprised to receive an offer considering my grades were not what they should have been. However the University were happy to accept my application and I have made every effort to do well academically. 

What has been the best part of the course? 

I know it sounds like such a cliche, but the best part of this course for me has been how much I’ve learnt about myself. I have learnt about my strengths and weaknesses, both academically and personally. I have learnt to reflect on my actions and emotions in order to understand them and work towards a way of improving them. This course made me realise that I used to listen to people to provide them with an answer, rather than listen to them just so they have been heard. You learn a lot of skills on this course and you honestly feel yourself growing as a person as you begin to understand yourself more. I know what my limits are regarding what I’m prepared to talk about in sessions and you learn to push those limits as you become more comfortable not only with the people in your group, but with yourself.  

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us? 

The biggest challenge I have had to overcome would definitely be learning to accept myself for who I am and the things that have happened in my life that made me who I am. I never realised how much of a grudge I held for things that had happened in my past, but learning to accept that I cannot change what happened and that if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be the person I am or have the people I have around me, was very difficult.  

I overcame this through the sessions we have in groups. I built up a lot of trust with my group members and I found myself being able to talk about things that I never would naturally bring up in conversation. By discussing and exploring some of my personal issues, I realised that I was not benefiting my future by holding on to the past. Without the group discussions, I am not sure how much I would have realised on my own.  

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

The next step for me after my degree is to complete the diploma, this is so I can practice counselling. After this, I plan to do whatever I can to face the problems of mental health that impact so many of us and I want a therapy dog so that I can show people the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. The main goal is to become a voice for mental health, by encouraging people to talk, by helping people understand they matter and by ensuring those who need someone have someone. I know I cannot help everyone, but just to help someone and I mean really help someone, would make all of this worth it.  

Would you recommend our course to others? 

I would 100% recommend this course to anyone who is serious about it. I mean it when I say ‘who is serious about it’ because this course really makes you take a look at yourself. I have got upset in quite a few sessions due to exploring my own issues, but it has honestly made me so much stronger as a person. You learn to trust people you would never imagine even talking to and you meet people that can relate to you more than you realise. I have made some really good friends on this course and I can honestly say I have never felt more academically or personally supported by lecturers or tutors than I have on this degree. If you are ready to learn about yourself, tackle research methods and SPSS, make friendships you would not normally make and be supported through it all, this is the course for you! 

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

LJ Potter joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

By LJ Potter, Lecturer in Counselling.

I joined the Psychology team at Staffs in July 2020. Previously, I’ve taught Counselling and Psychology at other institutions. Although it’s an odd time (in a pandemic) to be starting a new place of work I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s a friendly and welcoming place to be!

About me:

I’m a genderqueer psychotherapist (with they/them pronouns) who specialises in working with queer people and topics. My Psychology career began in 2002 when I completed my BSc at Coventry University. On graduating I wasn’t ready to put studying aside, but also needed to move home to a town that did ot have easy university access, so I was really glad when Coventry introduced an online Parapsychology Master’s degree.

The study of the paranormal has always really interested me, thinking about whether these experiences are 1) something that (largely) arises from inside of us (whether it is another ‘sense’ that we don’t fully understand) or 2) whether they are experiences that exist outside of us and happen to us. The degree was fascinating and didn’t require a belief one way or the other, and spending a year unpicking some of this was really fascinating. Sadly, parapsychology is a difficult area to make a living within, and I was also interested in working with people and mental health, so this is where I started to focus my studies.

I went to the Sherwood psychotherapy training institute (SPTI) and completed a PgDip in person-centred counselling and psychotherapy. Whilst I was in training I began my own charity that provided free and low-cost counselling for people who identified as LGBT or who were in different kinds of relationship styles (such as consensually non-monogamous or kink-based relationships). My aim was to create a place where people whose sexual lives where outside of standard norms could be met with understanding. The charity became very successful, going from being just me at the start, to in 2020, having ten volunteer counsellors and a long waiting list of LGBT people wanting to access our service.

Alongside this I have been studying for a PhD in psychology looking at experiences of gender and sexuality in UK high schools and am currently in ‘writing up’, which a process that never seems to end!

My research interests are mainly focused around gender and sexuality and people’s experience of those in counselling relationships. I am interested in publishing widely in that field, including a paper that I hope will go in for publication soon on therapist disclosure of non-cisgender identities.

I’m very much looking forward to September and the start of teaching and really starting to find my feet in the team.

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Staffs Student Stories: Meet Janette Renshaw, Level 5 BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling Student

Janette Renshaw

Hi! My name is Janette. I’m a (very) mature student, having worked in child protection and safeguarding in schools and prisons for a number of years.

An out-of-the-blue breast cancer diagnosis at the end of 2017, and the following 7 months I had to take off from my job to undergo treatment and recover, gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do with the next stage of my life … and that brought me to Staffs University!

Over the years I had considered taking a further course in counselling but had always, one way or another found reason not to do it – finances, child care, time – but I realised that it was now or never and so I applied to Staffs Uni and I was very happy to be given an unconditional offer! I began the Psychology and Counselling course in September 2018.

I am now nearing the end of my 2nd year and it has been a great experience so far! There is a combination of young and mature students – so no one feels out of place – and we all get along fabulously. I have really enjoyed every part of it – a good mixture of seminars, lectures and practical sessions that all add variety. Lecturers and tutors are very supportive and accessible.

The challenges along the way for me have been overcoming nerves to give presentations and trying to get to grips with SPSS – the statistical package we use to analyse experimental data. I’ve never seen myself as a scientific person – it’s been a challenge, but do-able and I am actually enjoying it. 

There are opportunities to take up voluntary placements both within the Uni itself and externally and also a good variety of venues on site in which to socialise, meet up with friends, eat, drink etc. There is a Sports Centre accessible to all and I particularly enjoy the beautiful nature reserve within our own grounds, that the River Trent runs through. I walk there sometimes, before and after lectures and seminars, taking my camera with me as I love macro photography. I’ve seen kingfishers, woodpeckers and dragonflies – it’s a beautiful, picturesque hidden gem! 

Janette’s Sumi-E Japanese painting

The counselling module itself offers invaluable insight and opportunities for personal growth and development alongside nurturing counselling skills. I have particularly enjoyed the creative/therapeutic sessions along the way – so much so, that where once I never saw myself as a creative person in terms of art – though I’ve always indulged in creative writing since I was a child – I have taken up Sumi-E Japanese Painting. It’s so therapeutic and I’m actually ok at it! 

I am hoping to go on to do a Masters and a Diploma in Counselling, aspiring eventually, to run my own counselling practise. I can’t believe how fast time has flown over the last two years. The CV19 pandemic has obviously affected us all during the last few months,which has seen closure of universities and schools nationwide. However, Staffs Uni have met the challenge head on. Tutors have supported us all via on-line seminars, lectures and chats via MS Teams and have done everything possible to ensure that we have been able to complete our second year fully – for which I am very grateful and commend them. 

I would highly recommend Staffs University and certainly the Psychology and Counselling Undergraduate course, without hesitation. Come and join us!  

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Staffs Student Stories: My Placement Year Experience: Pros and … Pros!

My name is Meredith Danks and if you’re reading this, I guess you might be wondering whether a placement year is for you?

Well I can only begin by saying YES – deciding to complete a placement year was, without a doubt, the best educational decision I have made. Over the last 6-8 months I have gained invaluable experiences, that will guide me through both my working and academic career.

However, hindsight really is a wonderful thing; if you had asked me the ‘placement’ question a year ago I would have shared my doubts. My biggest worries were whether I should take a year out and if it would be worth it? If you are feeling like this now my advice would be to make sure that you find a placement that suits you and it will be 100% worth it!

Now, finding the right placement can be a tricky business. I wanted to benefit from a year out by finding a placement that offered the experiences that I was looking for. I contacted over 30 organisations(!) to try to find a suitable placement, with the majority of them ignoring me. This was a tough time, but you need to persevere! It wasn’t until a guest lecturer mentioned “Midlands Psychology CIC” that I actually had some luck in finding my placement! So, I guess the moral of the story is to always listen during lectures!!

During my placement with Midlands Psychology CIC I had the opportunity to gain experiences that an undergraduate student could only dream of. I shadowed and worked closely with some INCREDIBLE clinicians, who have taught me more than I ever thought possible. Furthermore, I gained experience within the Looked After Children Service and Supported Living Service. Working with these services has given me many fond memories and broadened my interests beyond the fields that I already knew.

I also spent time working in the admin team, this was invaluable at showing me the other side to Psychology, whilst developing my confidence and resilience. In addition, I attended various courses and workshops which have helped to extend my knowledge in preparation for 3rd year and beyond!

For me, the best thing about my placement was, of course the invaluable experiences, but also having the chance to work within an incredible team of professionals. They have taught me so many things that I will never forget. I am truly so grateful to them all.

So, my advice to you?:
1. Considering a placement year? You might be delaying graduating by a year, but the experiences and skills that you gain outweigh this concern one thousand times over!
2. Looking for a placement? Be patient, do your research and don’t settle for something if it’s not what you want.

A year might seem like a long time, but when you’re on a placement that you love, it flies by and this was definitely the case for me!

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

5 things to get involved in whilst studying with us!

There are many things that you can get involved in whilst studying a Psychology degree with us! Here are 5 ideas of what you can do outside of your academic workload.

5 things to get involved in whilst studying for your Psychology degree!

#1: We have lots of events and opportunities for you to get involved in throughout the year!
For example you could:

  • Write a blog piece on your experiences or an event you have supported.
  • Run a demonstration at one of our events such as ‘Psychology and Me’!
  • Present your research at one of the Psychology Research conferences.
PitP expert talk

#2: You can attend expert talks

These take place on campus as part of our visiting speaker series and as part of Psychology in the Pub! You can hear about research and different Psychology fields who are invited to talk about their interests.

Group PsychMe

#3: Become a Psychology Advocate!

Learn more about the field of Psychology and develop your transferable skills by delivering workshops, tours and supporting events within the department!


#4: Develop your practical research skills

Conduct your own studies, support academic researchers and participate in studies. These might use our amazing technical resources!
You can put your learning into practice on a placement year or one of your option modules.

#5: Join the Psychology society!

Socialise with students from across our Psychology degrees and become part of a wider Psychology community!

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Meet the StaffsPsych Students – Beth Jaromski (Level 5 BSc Hons Psychology & Counselling)

Beth Jaromski talks about her course, future plans and the support she has received, especially during the current pandemic.

Beth Jaromski

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I applied for psychology and counselling because a counselling career within the NHS is my dream, specifically I want to help people, especially individuals with mental health difficulties. Therefore I knew this was the perfect course to give me an idea of the career I may enter!

I applied for this course through UCAS after completing my BTEC’s in Sixth Form. I feel that I got a place on this course because of my passion for mental health and my previous volunteering experience with a mental health charity.

What has been the best part of the course so far?

I would say my favourite part of the course so far has been the counselling modules. This is because we have been able to put theory into practice. We have done this by engaging in counselling sessions where we practice counselling skills with peers on our course.

I have also been able to develop as a person which I feel is a quite unique aspect of the course, as others courses may not contain modules where personal development is integrated throughout.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome so far and how have you overcome them, while studying with us?

I would say one of my biggest challenges have been trusting other people on my course. Within counselling modules, topics and discussions can get personal and sensitive so you do have to put trust in your fellow students to keep confidentiality. However, I have overcome that now because we are always reassured by our tutors that if confidentiality was broken then there would be repercussions. This really does help you with feeling comfortable sharing your personal experiences.

Some of our student’s

I would also say keeping on top of your workload can sometimes be difficult, as you often get multiple pieces of work from various modules. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead. I often decide which assignments to complete first based on my deadlines while also making sure I give myself time to relax to stop myself from getting too overwhelmed. It’s about getting that work life balance.

What are your next steps and plans for the future?

I want to go on complete my postgraduate in psychotherapeutic counselling, to eventually gain the professional counsellor status. I am particularly interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy therefore, I may take a couple of years out then decide to complete a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course after my postgraduate course. I eventually hope to work within the NHS counselling service or mental health wards, where I hope to be working with either young adults or individuals in crisis.

Would you recommend our course to others?

Yes definitely! The course is so interesting, the modules are engaging and the support from the psychology and counselling team is impeccable. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, tutors have reached out, checked on our mental health via emails while also checking on us during live online classes. They have also supported us by giving us extended deadlines and alternative assignments to try and make things as easy as possible for us. I couldn’t thank them enough!

Interested in studying a degree with us? Find out more about our courses:

BSc Psychology & Counselling – Field trip to Beaudesert Care Farm

By Julie Faulkner, Course Leader – BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling

During the winter this year, we offered our Psychology and Counselling undergraduates the chance to don a pair of wellies and enter the hills of Cannock to experience the eco-therapeutic value of care farming at Beaudesert Park Farm. This is family-run cereal and cattle farm, in a beautiful setting on the edge of Cannock Chase. Fifteen of us travelled by coach to spend the afternoon with staff, members and volunteers, who offered a warm welcome and a range of taster activities.

What are care farms?

Due to increasing financial pressures on the British farming industry, many farmers need to explore alternative income streams to survive. Care farming is one example of this, based on the principles of ecotherapy, where the natural environment offers a therapeutic space. In the case of Beaudesert, this involved structured farm-based activities for people from vulnerable groups and extends to carpentry, crafts, preparing food for the team and walking. Many volunteers of the project are previous members who now support others. This work is funded by health, social care and education agencies, but this funding is not always available. Mary Cope, one of the farm’s owners explained how this type of purposeful activity has had a profound impact on the quality of life for people with mental health difficulties and their families. We heard how some members had previously been isolated in their homes without structure or social contact before attending the farm.

Sadly, funding for these programmes is becoming increasingly scarce. The Seeds of Hope Programme that supported these members came to an end due to lack of funds. But rather than leave them unsupported, the staff team decided to set up a weekly walking group, which is now exploring new locations for walks within the local countryside.

Our time at the farm

When we arrived, we were introduced to the ‘Rolls Royce’ of composting toilets! Then we were greeted by the group of members and volunteers in a modern, purpose-built educational facility. Mary told us about the work of the care farm, which also included a project for people with dementia and activities for school children. We were taken on a tour of the farm to feed goats, see the rare breed cattle and talk to members and workers about their experiences on the farm. Incidentally, most of the volunteers are previous members of the care farm’s programmes. John Hegarty, a keen eco-psychologist took us through a mindfulness exercise as we stood among the woodland. I could feel the tension of the day giving way to the calm of the present moment. Later, we were treated to home made cakes and hot drinks, whilst mingling with the team and weaving with corn. The students were able to ask questions and give their feedback about what had impacted them about the experience.

Final reflections

As we walked around the farm in coat and wellies and chatted with members, I could see how this setting created a sense of peace and how the people’s lives had been changed through coming in to this space, whether spending time alone in the beautiful setting or through practical tasks and being together in the rural setting.

This field trip was also a chance for students from all levels of the undergraduate course to take some time out of their studies to be together. In their own words, her are some of their thoughts:

“It was a great place to be with nature and to see how it helped the people who used the service”

“It was inspiring to witness how an environment offering a supportive network, acceptance and purposeful activity impacted and improved the lives of the people at the farm.”

It was such a success that we plan to repeat this trip in the coming year for any students on the BSc Psychology and Counselling Degree course.

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Andrew (BSc Psychology & Counselling)

As part of our new series of StaffsPsych Graduate  Success Stories, we’re pleased to introduce Andrew who graduated from our BSc Psychology & Counselling course in 2017.

Andrew introduces himself and talks about his experience studying Psychology and Counselling at Staffordshire University, and tells us how his degree has helped him pursue his dream career as a Health Psychologist:

Before coming to Staffs, I lived in the small southern town of Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Up until the time I was going to university open days, I had not travelled any further north than Northampton, so coming to Staffordshire was quite the trek initially! I studied Biology, English Literature, Chemistry, and of course Psychology at A Levels, and fell in love with the subject. Not only because I find what makes people tick so interesting, but because of it could offer me. Like many young people, I have struggled with my mental health. By being a person to lean on for my friends back in school, as well as going to seek therapy myself, I knew that pursuing a career in Psychology was my calling.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I wanted to study psychology, but to also specialise in counselling and therapeutic skills. As one of the only universities in the country at the time that was offering a counselling specific course at a bachelors level, Staffs was an easy pick. After going to an open day, seeing all of the equipment and facilities on offer, and feeling so welcomed by both staff and current students, I knew that I could work well there (and I did!).

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

Where do I begin! Of course, on the campus life side of things I enjoyed heading out to the student union bar with my friends. I got involved with anything and everything that I could, including setting up societies, running liberation networks, and being a part of student projects where I could. But mostly I am proud of what I achieved, and ultimately getting the best degree I could, graduating with a 1st Class.

What was the biggest challenge that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

Putting myself first and being confident in my abilities. I have always been a people pleaser, and while that has its benefits, often times my tendency to help others would come at a detriment to my own wellbeing. By going through the process of earning a degree and getting the much-needed support from my personal tutors and peers, I developed an appreciation for being much more introspective, and realising that my needs needed to be met too. Thanks to that, my confidence in myself and what I can offer as a graduate is at an all-time high, and I do not think I would have turned out like this had it not been for the course I chose, and the people who helped me along the way.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

I came right back! As someone pursuing a career in Psychology I require further training, and it just made sense to return to Staffs to do just that. I am currently studying the MSc Health Psychology course which I love! It has been a slight detour from my initial counselling path, but I could not be happier studying in an area that will enable me to make change, helping as many people as I can to live a healthier and happier life.

What are your plans for the future?

Ultimately, I wish to reach that doctoral level, and I plan on doing a Health Psychology Professional Doctorate sometime in the future to achieve that. In doing so, I hope to one day open my own practice, working with people to achieve their health goals and reach the best self that they can be.

At the moment however, I plan on slowing down after 4 straight years of intense studying. I have a volunteer position set up at a local health and wellbeing service back home, and I have applied for a casual research assistant role to keep me in the world of psychology but will allow me to relax for a few months.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Do not think that just because you do not know the ins and outs of every theory you’ve come across that you are not worthy to study a psychology degree. Be true to yourself, and let the university know what studying psychology would mean to you. If you are passionate about the area and want to use it in a way to help people, be expressive about it. If you just find the topic interesting and want to know more purely for your own gain, be expressive about that too. Good luck!

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at Staffs?

I would not trade my time being at Staffs for anything, and I hope that whoever is reading this will consider making Staffs their home for the next 3 years. I am certainly #ProudToBeStaffs

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages: