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Emma Foster

Emma is studying a taught PhD in counselling psychology

Taught PhD in Counselling Psychology

Emma Foster

A week in the life Emma Foster

A week in the life
Emma Foster


Monday is one of my placement days. I’m currently based in a neuro-rehabilitation team in an NHS Trust. I usually have chance to check my emails and catch up with some of the other team members before heading out to see patients for home visits. When I get back to the hospital I spend some time with patients on the ward, and the rest of the afternoon is spent in clinic. The work is varied and involves therapeutic work and cognitive assessments. I’m working with a range of patients which I really enjoy and being part of a multi-disciplinary team in the NHS is great experience for a trainee counselling psychologist.

I go straight to my personal therapy after work which is a mandatory part of the course. I’ve had 35 sessions and so we’re now coming to the end of the therapy. I get home at 7pm so just cook dinner and get my things ready for tomorrow.


It’s a bit of a shock to the system when the alarm goes off at 4.30am. My train to Middlesbrough is at 6am and it takes me about half an hour to drive to the station. This morning I need to return some books to the library, so I just have time to do that and get some breakfast before Clinical Workshops at 10am. After class we have time to get a coffee before Psycho-pathology at 12noon, followed by Psychodynamic 2 at 3pm.

Usually I would head straight home after this lecture, but today I’m doing some mandatory training at a new placement in Middlesbrough. The training finishes at 7.30pm so I don’t get back home until 10pm. There’s not much chance to do anything other than have a cup of tea and go to bed!


This is the day when I do some paid work as a mentor at the University of Sheffield. I work with six students who all have varying needs. Some of them I see face-to-face and one is currently studying abroad, so we have a Skype mentoring session.

After work I go for my external supervision for the non-NHS placement. It’s a really valuable part of the clinical work and I get a lot from the sessions. I’m home by 6.30pm today, so use the time to phone my family and friends. I don’t always get the chance to see them as much as I would like so it’s nice to catch up on their news.


Another early start and a train journey to Middlesbrough. I have to change at York, so usually sit in a coffee shop and people watch – one of my favourite pastimes!

This morning’s lecture is Research Methods, followed by Therapeutic Practice 2 in the afternoon. Both modules involve student presentations and it’s a good opportunity for us to hear about the work we’re all doing and learn from each other.

My husband collects me from the train station at 6pm and we treat ourselves to dinner out so we can have some relaxation time together. Family support has been essential for me during the course and I really appreciate the ways they are all helping me to achieve the doctorate.


Friday is another placement day for me and I drive up to a primary school in Leeds, where I’m based. I’ve been working with three children for a year and our play therapy sessions can involve lots of different activities. I really enjoy working with children in a creative environment and the school team where I’m based are very supportive and appreciative of the work we do.

The drive home usually takes just over an hour and this evening I’m meeting a friend for a drink on my way home.


Saturday is usually my allocated study day and I use this time for reading, essay writing and working on presentations. I’d prefer not to work at the weekends but I don’t have any time to do it during the week. I find the course academically demanding. I usually try and book something in for the evening though, as it gives me a good reason to stop working at a reasonable time. Saturday evening is usually curry night.


At last – a day off! I like to make the most of my time off and so I spend the day with friends. We’re lucky enough to live within easy access of the Peak District and today we go out for a good walk followed by a pub lunch. It’s nice to spend some time outdoors as well as catch up with friends and it’s a great way to relax before another busy week.