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Sara Mohamed

Name: Sara Mohamed
Course: BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapeutic Relationship

Picture of Sara Mohamed

I'm a first-year student on the Counselling and Psychotherapeutic Relationship course. Counselling courses in CLL have become more integrative while they were previously more person-centred, I think the course team found that the market and the landscape of therapy was changing to become one that was more integrative rather than just solely focused on person-centred. So, within that we're learning about different modalities. And it's only in this last half term, where we've really began to integrate different approaches.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey before you joined this course?

This is my second time at university. I originally went to York studying psychology back in 2014, when I turned 18. I'm now 25 so it's been quite different, when people assume they're quite similar. I unfortunately didn't enjoy my experience then, despite the fact university experience was great, and the social life also was good; the actual course, and the way we were taught felt just very clinical without much application to what we were learning. I am very much the type that if I'm not enjoying something, I just find it difficult to actually do anything about it. So I found myself getting really low around that time period. I then left in 2016 after two years there, took some time out to work and just gather some experiences in different areas, which is really been a godsend. I think it's been a real help, in terms of then finding this course, coming in with some real-life experiences and meeting people at different stages of their life. It's a really mixed bag in terms of students, of diverse backgrounds, ages and life experience. This really adds to the richness of the course. As well as being part of a university that is just brilliant in terms of league tables. It's even better to actually be part of the community and I feel like I'm part of the community, even though I'm on a part-time course.

I'm only on campus on the Wednesday when I am travelling from Sheffield, which is about two hours, it's a commitment, but it's one that I'm happy to do. You know, it never really feels like 'Oh, I have got to go to Uni today'. If anything, it's the opposite. And I've only ever missed one week because of COVID--I was looking at my watch thinking, oh, people are going to be in the community now, or they're just going to be starting the lecture you know, that real FOMO. It’s been such a brilliant, brilliant experience. And I think just the wider support system at Warwick, having the induction and introduction stages of the course and having meetings with student support around assignments have just been a fantastic experience. It's one that I rave about constantly to people. So I'm very thankful.

Picture of Sara standing in front of a bridge that oversees a city landscape

How would you describe the learning experience?

It is difficult, and it is hard work. But you know, when you just enjoy something so much, it doesn't feel like work, it's that kind of feeling. And I think particularly compared with my previous university experience, I just really didn't enjoy myself at all, felt completely out of my depth, and did not feel supported.

We’ve got a teaching team of three this year. And we've had some guest lecturers coming in from other parts of the of the course, and everything has been just outstanding. I can't pick a fault, everything you learn can be used for a bigger purpose. I think particularly because it's such an experiential course which I've not come across before, with its practice side. It really puts you in that frame of mind of what it's going to be like when you do have your own clients. So even the hard bits and the blips along the way I'm just so grateful for because it's all part of the ‘grist for the mill’ as I think Phil calls it.

Why did you apply for a degree?

So I'd obviously been doing a lot of research around different therapeutic courses in the country. And I knew that I wanted to go back to university, it's sort of part of the cultural identity I think -- as an immigrant and part of an immigrant family, to have a degree and you know, that's what my mum calls 'the weapon'. It's that extra level of security, which, I understand, and it's something that I'm happy to do. So I narrowed down my field in terms of where I could apply. And there were a few universities that do similar type of courses, but either they weren't accredited, or they were full-time. So stumbling on this course that was part-time, which I thought brilliant, that kind of fits into my schedule! It is at a great university, one of the best in the country, which is even better. AND it's accredited! It ticked all the boxes.

What made you choose us?

So I spent a lot of time on the website and sort of looking at Student Stories, because I thought, oh, you know, I'm an older student, and I wouldn't really class myself as one, but I guess I am. So I spent a lot of time looking at the Centre for lifelong learning website and looking at the student support and everything else that was available, and it was really accessible, really easy to read. And then I was able to book in a call with Phil, who's the course lead ahead of the interviews and the applications going out. And one of the main questions I asked around was diversity, because I felt in my last university experience, very isolated, very othered. It was really difficult at different points, I think as well sort of living in a city like yours that isn't very diverse and having microaggressions thrown at you, but also within the university, and then not really having any sort of consequence or repercussions for those kinds of things, it really kind of threw me off and made me feel even more less than as a teenager, you're kind of coming into your own as an adult, so that was super difficult.

So that was one of the main questions I asked Phil in terms of the course content, but also the student body, and also the university at large. And he kind of really settled my fears around that because I could, understand Coventry as being a diverse place being so close to London and Birmingham, for example. But being there is something else. On my course for example, we've got students from Romania, we've got student from South America, India, there's myself, , from a Somali background, Kenya, America, and Canada…we've got a real mixed bunch of people, which just adds to the value and the richness of the course itself. As well as with the teaching team being very aware of sort of different privileges and biases themselves. And they've really taken a focus within the course around diversity and difference to the point where, we as students can add in our own experiences, and the communication has been very, very back and forth. It's a very open conversation.

Have you experienced any challenges during the course? What helps you overcome them?

Everyone is always willing to learn, which just helped my experience, it's been super rewarding. It's been challenging at different points. But again, it's all sort of added to that greater purpose of what you're trying to achieve. And even at times when you fell, I wish oh they would sort of step in like you would expect from a traditional teacher student relationship from school. And at times, I felt that you should have stepped in and said something there, but then on reflection, I understand why you didn’t and I'm quite grateful that you didn't.