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Jo Burdett

BA(Hons) Counselling, Class of 2016

Jo Burdett

Jo Burdett

Final year PhD Student - University of York, Research field: Coercive Control

I chose to study at University of Suffolk (then UCS) because they offered an integrative counselling degree course. Living in North Norfolk at that time, there were courses I could attend much closer to home but the diversity of the UCS course content really appealed to me. In hindsight, having worked as a counsellor for the past six years, this course was absolutely the right choice. Studying a range of therapeutic models and theoretical conceptualisations, which can be tailored to client’s individual needs, works well for me. At the same time, you can develop one predominant therapeutic approach while accruing a broad understanding of other intersecting therapeutic models. This facilitates a deep level knowledge to apply to the range of difficulties clients bring to therapy.

One of the most enjoyable and thought provoking elements of the course was studying philosophy; I remember this generated some very lively debate within our peer group. You also embark on a journey of personal development, so there is a good combination of theoretical and personal learning. Though, my greatest memory is of two residential weekends away, intensive learning, especially around personal development, so the days were demanding and the evenings spent letting off a lot of steam! This still makes me smile.

A counselling placement was a mandatory part of the course and I felt very well prepared for this; the tutors were tremendously supportive. My placement led to paid work at the organisation where I am still working several years later. I have also trained and worked at other third sector organisations such as rape crisis services for women and for men, which has allowed me to gain varied experiences and develop my career.

I specialised in working in the field of eating disorders but became interested in gender-based violence and this led me to study at Goldsmiths College, London, for an MA degree in Understanding Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse. This also was a positive learning experience and so I decided to study for a PhD focusing on coercive control and gender-based violence. I felt there was still much to learn to advance my career and important research to undertake.

I began university as a mature student but when I look back I can see I definitely caught the learning bug at UCS, my time there was such a great experience.

I loved my degree course at UCS.  I was 53 when I started there and didn't ever feel out of place as a mature student.  I brought up 4 children, mainly as a single parent, so had to wait until they had all been to university before it was my turn.  Starting academia late in life, and having such a positive experience, gave me the courage to continue.  Out of the 3 universities I have attended University of Suffolk is definitely my favourite.