Carol McNeill graduated from the BSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy in 2014. She studied in PCI College Cork and in her own words “I was born and still remain in Cork. I don’t think I would ever leave the place. It’s the rebel in me!” Having left school initially at 16, Carol returned to complete her Leaving Cert part-time, and afterwards began working at the Imperial Hotel as a receptionist. She settled down to raise her two daughters and following a Diploma in Youth & Community Work in UCC, she signed up for the BSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy in 2010. “Counselling appealed to me for different reasons. I was struggling with managing myself after a few very traumatic years and knew it would help me in understanding myself and situations with raised awareness. I had always been someone who people would share their feelings and troubles with and felt it was important to hear people without judgement”.
Carol chose PCI College after some consideration “I checked out every course in Munster to see what would motivate me regarding teaching style, hours of attendance, methods of learning and recommendations. I had completed a counselling certificate and found the teaching/learning style of that institution did not motivate me so I searched out another college with a more adult training method. This was the main reason I choose PCI College”. The timing of the course suited Carol very well as “The fact that the course was on a Friday night and a full day on Saturday every second weekend made it very appealing in having the time to start and finish the full course. I still had every other weekend free to relax”.
While at times challenging, her experience in class ensured that Carol enjoyed her course “The tutors were incredibly experienced in counselling and I found they treated us as trainees rather than students, which was very encouraging and gave you the freedom and confidence to build on what you were learning and how you were growing. It took me a bit of time to see what suited me best in terms of working style and assignments. We used to joke that coming up an assignment every part of the house/car/office was squeaky clean – procrastinating! However, I figured out eventually if I just typed the title it was a beginning and to build on that each day. In each year the assignments became more challenging but in another way we had learned a lot of skills and developed an understanding of human nature and had the confidence to write what we really felt about a subject and how this might be in the counselling setting”.
Carol feels she learned a lot about herself during her studies, and has gained greater confidence and compassion for herself “I find using the 3 core conditions with myself; empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard have been the best tools for everyday life. It dawned on me that if that is what clients need then I surely need that too. I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things in life and find joy in them and I’ve learned to always find time for fun and laughter and of course relaxation; that’s vital!”
Carol is busier than ever, working part-time as an Administrator and with her own private practice called Counselling Life. On Valentine’s Day 2014 she celebrated another great event, with her wedding to husband Cormac Dunlea. Her husband and her two grown-up daughters, Sarah and Jess have been very supportive of her studies “I attended both the graduation for the PCI College Diploma in Dublin and the degree in Middlesex and my daughter Sarah who lives in London was able to come along to see me receive my degree”
Carol’s best advice for anyone considering the BSc degree in Counselling & Psychotherapy is “Don’t put off what you feel is right for you. Take the first step and be courageous and you will be rewarded for your efforts. It’s a wonderful course and opens your eyes to the world around you and the limitless possibilities therein”.
Carol McNeill Dunlea, Graduate 2014
BSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy, PCI College Cork