How counselling training explores human behaviour and helps relationships
Are you considering a career change? Find out about the potential of retraining as a couple counsellor, through this interview with Monica Elba, who recently completed her training.
What was your professional life before becoming a couple therapist and how did you hear about our training?
I was working in a London law firm as a junior lawyer in a litigation department. The nature of the work was high conflict and I was interested in finding extra training to help understand and work better with people in conflict. I came across the training at Tavistock Relationships. Their training in relationship counselling caught my eye as a way of thinking about relationships that are not working.
What made you inquisitive about a career change?
When I began the training, I found that I was really interested in the psychological side of things and perhaps that was what had drawn me into working in litigation. I found that there wasn’t quite the space in what I was doing legally to explore that side of human dynamics, so I decided to focus on the couple training in the long term. I didn’t necessarily have a plan and I initially saw it as a supplement to what I was doing at the time, but I found it so fascinating that I knew I had to keep on with it.
What attracted you to the course at Tavistock Relationships?
I felt very assured by the experience of the organisation and its standing in the therapeutic community. If I was going to invest all the time in the course, I wanted to make sure I went somewhere I could trust to deliver on training.
How did you find training?
I was working full time and fitting the training around my job. It was a really intense few years but somehow it seemed to work and the course was flexible to my needs, so I built up my client hours at a rate that was do-able. In fact, at one point I took a year out of study due to changing law firms. I was seeing clients in the early morning and evening one or two days a week.
What was the experience like on the course?
I loved it. In a long career of academics including a four-year degree I had never felt such an interest in a subject. It was very bonding working with the other trainees and we felt like we were all in it together. It was also great to work with a whole set of new acquaintances, many of whom became friends.
What was it about Tavistock’s training that was most important and useful looking back?
It seemed to be the only place that really focused on learning about relationships. The quality of teaching and thinking both theoretically and in supervision was of an extremely high standard.
Which skills from your life in law did you find most useful?
I was used to working face to face with people in difficult situations and talking with them about their situation. I was also familiar with producing written work, which was helpful for the written aspects of the course.
What did the training bring to you personally?
A real intellectual stimulation and opened up to a new way of thinking about how people develop from an early age.
How did you feel when you saw your first couple?
Terrified! But in the safe hands of my reassuring supervisor.
Does it feel different from working as a lawyer?
The one thing that has always struck me is how much important support you get as a therapist at Tavistock Relationships through supervision and colleagues. It is a key part of the work and something that wasn’t valued when working on the front line with clients as a lawyer. What it means is that you don’t take your work worries home and that you always have someone else to think about them with.
What was it like to change jobs?
By the time I had finished the training I knew that I had found my vocation. Therefore, it was a no-brainer to change into a different career.
Why is couple therapy increasing in popularity?
The world is complex and our relationships are precious. I think it’s becoming better understood that therapy can really help and there is less stigma around it.
What would you say to people who may be worried about the work and commitment to the training and the theory and writing?
If you have an interest in the work and the ideas, this will carry you through. You need to be organised, but if you are committed you get into the swing of it.
What would you say is the best thing about being a couple therapist?
It’s a privilege to work in a field where it feels like you can make a difference to an important aspect of people’s lives. While I now work privately as well as at Tavistock Relationships, my training and colleagues at TR have given me a valuable community in which to think and to work.
*Names have been changed to protect client anonymity
This article has been supplied by Tavistock. The ideas and opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not reflect Timewise’s view.