Sample Counselling Personal Statement
Having always pursued study and work that allows me to make an impact on the lives of the vulnerable through a range of therapeutic approaches, Occupational Therapy Counselling is an obvious field through which I can continue to develop these skills and passions. What excites me most about the potential of Counselling & Occupational Therapy is the focus on the promotion of health and wellbeing rather than on mediating the negative effects of health-related problems. Learning more about this inspiring approach to changing the lives of clients through studying a postgraduate diploma at a prestigious university will allow me to achieve my ultimate goal of making a similar impact in my own career.
I have always been interested in the ways in which different therapies can be applied within different situations. After completing my high school studies in my native Croatia, achieving strong grades throughout, I pursued this interest through the study of Psychology at Thames Valley University. I found that I particularly enjoyed modules related to the practical application of psychological therapy within the field of healthcare, such as Health Psychology and Counselling Psychology. This ultimately led to me undertaking an MSc in Health Psychology, where I studied elements of healthcare promotion and communication, alongside the design and execution of healthcare research. Study in these areas has not only offered an excellent foundation of broader psychological knowledge but has also introduced me to principles which are fundamental to Occupational Therapy, including experience of communicating with clients to assess and respond to their individual needs.
I have gained experience of enacting these principles within the workplace through my work with the East London NHS trust. Starting out as a Social Therapist and now working as an Assistant Practitioner, I have been responsible for co-designing and implementing care plans for adults with a range of mental health difficulties. This includes using strong communication skills to talk to clients and colleagues about the best way to proceed in the case of each individual service user. We offer a range of solutions, based on the needs of our clients, which may include physical and psychological therapies, supervised activities and employment advice. I also work alongside nursing staff, psychologists and Occupational Therapists to improve their in-patient experience through facilitating therapeutic groups; including anxiety/anger management, problem solving, health promotion, relaxation and other ward based activities. I have found that the most rewarding element of the job, as you might expect, is the promotion of recovery and he focus on social inclusion. The ultimate goal of all therapies must surely be to allow the patient to live the fullest life possible, and it is the constant, dedicated work towards this goal that I have observed Occupational Therapists pursuing that inspires me to join their ranks.
In my spare time away from work, I have been keen to continue my studies for some years. To this end, I have gained a greater idea of current developments within the field of Occupation Therapy by reading books and journals dedicated to the subject. Combining this theoretical knowledge with my practical, professional relationship with the discipline, forged through my job, I believe I have gained a good idea of the challenges and rewards that the field offers and my suitability to pursue it.
Having worked hard to gain the knowledge and skill necessary to play a proactive and essential role in the lives of those in need, I am keen to continue improving on my ability to make an impact by completing a postgraduate diploma and, ultimately, registering with the Health Professional’s Council and applying for membership of the British Association of Occupational Therapists.
We hope this sample Counselling personal statement has been helpful
Think carefully about how you want to structure your personal statement. If your argument flows naturally and follows a logical order, this will impress admissions tutors and show them that you will do well on their course. After all, it’s a skill that will come in very handy when it’s time to write your essays and sit your exams over the next three or four years.
Basic personal statement structure tips
- Use paragraphs. This can be tricky as it will eat into the 47 lines available to you so don’t use lots of paragraphs but try to have a few. This will make your personal statement easier for the admissions tutor to read than one large block of writing.
- Have a clear beginning, middle and end. This will make help your personal statement flow naturally. For help with how to begin your personal statement, read our article on writing your opening sentence and, for help with the rest of your personal statement, read our article on what to include in your personal statement.
- Use the ABC method. When writing about each experience, use the ABC (action, benefit and course) structure. What is the activity, what skills and qualities have come from it and how does it relate to the course?
- Keep it short and sweet. You’re limited to 4,000 characters (47 lines) so use short, concise sentences and delete any unnecessary words.
Structure your personal statement to best show off your examples
There is no one set way to structure your personal statement. However, consider putting the most relevant and unique examples of your skills and experience towards the start of your personal statement. This can be more effective than working through all your examples in chronological or reverse chronological order.
For example, if you’re applying to study history you’ll probably want to make sure the school trip you went on to Auschwitz in year 12 has centre stage, rather than feeling you need to start with examples from year 13 or from when you were doing your GCSEs.
Read our article on what to include in your personal statement for more help on what to write about.
The three section approach to your personal statement
If you’re still not sure how you want to structure your personal statement, you might find it helpful to loosely split your personal statement into three sections. Jonathan Hardwick is a former head of sixth form and now a professional development manager at Inspiring Futures, a provider of careers information, advice and guidance to young people. He explains: ‘Your personal statement should cover three things. These are:
- why do you want to study the course?
- what have you done that makes you suitable for the course?
- what else have you done that makes you somebody who will contribute to the course and to the university?’
Section one: why do you want to study the course?
You need to explain to the admissions tutor your reasons for wanting to study this subject. If it’s a vocational course, such as nursing, think about what you like about this profession and why you think it’s the right career for you. If it’s an academic degree, such as geography or chemistry, why do you want to spend a long time studying this subject in detail? Think about what you’ve enjoyed so far and what you want to learn more about.
Section two: what have you done that makes you suitable for the course?
This is the biggest part of your personal statement. You’ll need to draw on your experiences to explain why you think you’d be a good student on the course and how you’ve developed the skills and knowledge needed.
If it’s a vocational course, think about what you’ve done that shows you’re engaging with the profession. Now is the time to mention any relevant work experience or voluntary work that you’ve done.
If it’s an academic subject, show that you’re going beyond what your teacher is telling you to do. If you’re doing an EPQ (an extended project) or you’ve done lots of extra reading, for example, tell the admissions tutor what you’ve done and how this has prepared you for the course. Or if you’re applying for a creative course, such as drama or music, write about what you’ve done outside the classroom. For example, for a creative writing course you could mention your blog or the poetry competition in which you were shortlisted for a prize.
Section three: what else have you done?
‘As a rule of thumb, 75% of your personal statement should be about your studies and your justifications for applying and 25% should be about your extracurricular activities,’ says Emma-Marie Fry, an area director at Inspiring Futures. Emma manages the careers guidance team in London and the south-east and goes into schools to deliver support to students.
A quarter of a personal statement is 1,000 characters (around 11–12 lines), so aim to roughly devote this amount of space to what else you’ve done. This is your chance to write about what you’ve done that perhaps isn’t so related to the course but makes you an interesting and well-rounded person. This could include any hobbies you enjoy in your spare time, paid employment or volunteering.
‘It’s important that you demonstrate why these interests and experiences are relevant to your application (for example, to show that you are able to balance your studies with your commitments) rather than just listing them,’ says Dr Helen Moggridge, a lecturer in geography at the University of Sheffield. Use your examples to show that you’ve developed important skills that will help you thrive at university. Good skills to highlight include independence, time management and organisation. So, for example, a Saturday job as a waitress may have improved your communication skills as well as your ability to work under pressure and prioritise urgent tasks. These skills will help you communicate with your lecturers and peers on your course, as well as juggling your coursework and exams.
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