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Counselling and the Learning Experience

Monday 12th May

Counselling and the learning experience with particular reference to trauma
Judith Woodward

Building on the theme I took up in my paper for Psychodynamic Practice ‘Internal state of emergency – working with an international student suffering from trauma in a student counselling service’, the discussion will focus on how some students, in the process of studying at university, do seem to find a way of expressing previously unexpressed responses that can echo earlier traumatic experiences. What is it about the learning process that feels traumatic to the student? The student counsellor’s role is critical in helping the student to understand why study can be so painful and make links to other events in their lives so that they can make the most of their time at university.

I have been struck by the range of traumatic experiences that come up in my work with students from delayed bereavement to traumatic events such as accidents and the parallels in the student’s struggle to engage with the course. I will talk about two mature students and explore how learning can be an opportunity for psychological recovery – something which may in fact be an unconscious reason for coming to university in the first place.

About the Speaker

Judith Woodward works as a student counsellor at the University of Westminster and manages the staff counselling service Only Connect for people working in education. She is a tutor on years 1 and 3 of the MSc in Psychodynamic Counselling at Birkbeck. Previously she worked as a counsellor in Primary Care for Hertfordshire NHS Trust and at The Royal College of Music.

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