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The Minster Centre on Lonsdale Road provides professional training in counselling and psychotherapy, and a range of community-based therapy services.

To find out more about the highly acclaimed training and counselling facility in the heart of our very own Queen’s Park, we spoke to psychotherapist and Director of the Minster Centre Lissie Wright.

You’ve had a long career in counselling and psychotherapy, what drew you to work in the world of therapy?

I had been interested in psychology and mental health when I was university but wasn’t quite sure how to pursue my interest in terms of a career back then. After university I worked in the civil service and environmental services for a number of years, but they never felt like the right choice for me. Having experienced some anxiety and depression when my children were young I saw a counsellor myself and realised that it was something I would like to do.

You’ve had various roles at the Minster Centre, from tutoring through to the role of Director – how do the roles differ from each other?

Tutoring is much more hands on and, as we work in an experiential way with our students, incredibly enriching. The day to day contact with the students, their ideas and views, always gives you new perspectives from which you can keep challenging yourself. As Director, its different. While I am still there for students, I am also steering the ship so to speak, so a lot of my time goes on supporting the tutors, working with Middlesex University and the various professional bodies who accredit our courses, as well as overseeing the administrative and financial sides of the Centre. As an organisation, we are committed to social justice, so I need to make sure that our decisions and plans are always in line with our objectives on that front.

It must be fascinating to work in an environment that caters for clients seeking therapy coupled with those those who want to train in the field. Does this make the Minster Centre quite a unique environment?

Yes, it’s such an interesting place to be. The MCPCS is an affordable therapy service and it’s very important for us that we are able to provide this service for our community. It’s also an integral part of our training programme as the therapy is provided by our senior students. This means that both the clients coming in for therapy and our students have the support of the Centre.

What can those seeking the services of the Minster Centre for counselling purposes expect?

We offer individual counselling and psychotherapy for adults experiencing a range of emotional difficulties, including depression or bereavement, lack of fulfilment, concerns about relationships or identity. As I mentioned before the MCPCS is staffed by our senior students, so clients will be seeing someone who has already been on a lengthy training and is working towards becoming a qualified Integrative Psychotherapist.

First of all, you can make contact with us via the form on our new website, or simply by phoning up. We will ask you for some more details about what you are seeking supprt with and if we think we can help you, we will ask you to come for an initial assessment with an experienced therapist. After that we will pair you with an appropriate therapist who you will see weekly at the Minster Centre.

What can those looking to train at the Minster Centre expect from the courses and what in your opinion, makes them stand out from other educational settings?

I think most importantly we are an experiential training organisation with high academic standards – we involve our students actively and holistically in mind, body and spirit, as an individual and as part of a group. In this way our trainees come to experience the feel of key psychotherapeutic principles, as well as understanding them intellectually. During the training we encourage our students to explore different ways of working and to develop skills to work with a range of clients.

We also offer more face-to-face training hours, smaller class sizes and a greater opportunity for personal development than many other training organisations, and are one of relatively few training courses that include a module on the body in psychotherapy.
We focus on the practical side of studying too, as we aim to make our trainings accessible to people from a wide range of backgrounds. Many students are juggling personal, financial and work commitments so we offer part time study, flexible payment options, a Bursary Scheme and we are one of the few programmes that are able to provide training clients for our students.

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The practice of counselling and psychotherapy appears to be an attractive option for mothers (and fathers) seeking a change of work that allows them the freedom to work around the needs of their family. With this in mind, is there any advice you can give to parents considering training in counselling and psychotherapy?

That’s absolutely right, on the practical side of things, being a qualified psychotherapist or counsellor can bring flexibility to your work life alongside a very fulfilling role. It is also important that psychotherapy students have some life experience so mothers and fathers looking for a career change can be fantastic candidates. My advice would be to come along to one of our regular free Open events. You can meet a tutor and a current student and find out about the various options to train and what you will need to consider. And you could always try a shorter counselling course first and see if the subject feels right for you. We run Introductory courses – some intense week-long versions, others running over 8 to 10 weeks – which are great way for people to dip their toe in the water.

What type of jobs do your graduates go onto do after completing their training at the Minster Centre?

It can be incredibly varied. A lot of people set up in private practice, others work in the NHS; in schools, colleges and universities; organisations such as MIND and various charitable foundations; and as tutors in other training organisations. In fact, being a counsellor or psychotherapist can turn into a portfolio career, with many people who run their own practices also tutoring or working part time elsewhere.

If you could start again, is there anything career-wise you would do differently?

I started training as a psychotherapist elsewhere and then transferred to The Minster Centre – if I were to do it again I think I would have started at the Minster from the beginning.

The Minster Centre is on Lonsdale Road – within the heart of Queen’s Park. What do you enjoy about working in our beautiful corner of London?

There’s an involved supportive community here. We know a lot of our neighbours on Lonsdale Road and we also took a stall at Queen’s Park Day last year where we met so many interesting people. I also like that Salusbury Road is a unique little high street with an eclectic mix of local businesses – and of course the Park.

In an ideal world, what does the future hold?

I really want to see The Minster Centre go on from strength to strength- offering training and therapy services to a diverse community. We want to increase the range of what we can offer – we are hoping to offer a summer school in future with a range of interesting short courses that will appeal to both those developing an interest in the field and established therapists.

The Minster Centre is hosting a special Open House Event on 24 May from 2-4pm. For more info on this event, plus details on their Open Days and Psychotherapy courses visit: www.minstercentre.ac.uk

20 Lonsdale Road
Queen’s Park
London NW6 6RD

Tel: 020 7644 6240

Email: reception@minstercentre.ac.uk


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