View From the Therapy Room

Moving forward...

Jess Bayley - 3rd March 2023

On 21st February, I started the LSC Level 2 Counselling Skills course online. It was not a straightforward decision to enrol, but now that I have, I’m very excited to begin the work.

 

My career over the last 8-10 years has been in mental health. I’m a gardener/horticulturalist by trade, and in 2012 I qualified as a social and therapeutic horticulture practitioner. I know, from my own experience, the healing power of nature and honest toil in the earth, and felt I could pass that on to others with conviction. In 2014 I founded the Centre for Ecotherapy in Brighton, and led that project through 8 years of development. Despite not having a counselling qualification, my work was of an intricately therapeutic nature and I worked closely with people struggling with various mental health issues, learning difficulties, and other life experiences. It was deeply rewarding.

 

At the end of 2021, however, my own mental health had taken a beating. My father’s admission into a dementia care home in Nov 2019, just before Covid broke in the UK, provoked an incredibly tough 2 years. That time followed the breakdown of my 20 year relationship with my childrens’ father in 2018. By Xmas 22 I felt ‘done in’ and realised that I needed to care for myself, and quickly. I made the tough decision to resign from my role in the project I had created.

 

I returned to gardening, immersing myself in simplicity for the first time in 8 years. After the slow decompression from a managerial position had taken effect, I was able to start considering further options. I love my gardening, but at 51 I consider that there is a time limit on how long I can make it my primary career. And I have 10 years of therapeutic experience in nature-based therapy. My thoughts kept returning to counselling as my next step. I researched the process of becoming a counsellor, and found this Level 2 online course. I am currently in Mexico, taking a much needed break while my gardens sleep. This course is perfect, enabling me to start the Level 2 while I am still abroad. Hopefully, if I pass, I will be able to move onto Level 3 face-to-face in September.

 

Today we have just had our second session. Like the first, it leaves me excited to continue. I’m enjoying the pace, the light-heartedness and the attention to detail. I feel like I am on a good path. Whether it is the ‘right’ one is yet to be determined, but it is certainly taking me in a positive direction for the time being. 😊

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Author Biography:

Jess Bayley is an experienced Social and Therapeutic Horticulture practitioner, group facilitator and a professional gardener. She holds a BA Hons in American Studies, a Certificate of Education in the Lifelong Learning Sector, a Professional Development Diploma in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, Introduction to Youth Work (Kent County Council), CPCAB Introduction to Counselling Skills.
She runs a private garden maintenance business, Wild Gardens Tamed, and spent 8 years (2014-2022) years as Manager of the Centre for Ecotherapy, in Brighton, East Sussex.
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