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.