I am a counselling student studying the PGDip Counselling and Psychotherapy course at Leeds Beckett University. I attended the BACP Research Conference for the first time, and it was an amazing experience. I was encouraged by my tutors to chair a session, initially, I felt anxious and thought I couldn’t do this, as I hadn’t ever chaired a session before, but to my surprise, I enjoyed it.  

I attended with my fellow student Alia, a person who became a friend on the course, along with many others I have met and who have become part of my counselling family. It has been a pleasure to get to know them throughout the course of the year.   

 I was very grateful as I got to chair the wonderful and knowledgeable Dr Jane Hunt’s research session on ‘An exploration of how trainee counsellors who are practising believers of a world religion or faith tradition experience undertaking counsellor training.’  I could resonate with this research as a Muslim woman who practises their faith. I do feel it is harder to reach out to tutors and professionals without feeling that you may be a burden to them, or that they may judge you for your beliefs. Once you get to know them it is different, but this may take some time to do. I encourage others from diverse communities to attend these events and build a network among others to make a difference and make your voice heard. 

It was a great experience, as I had the opportunity to meet other inspiring people, such as Professor Divine Charura, who is incredibly passionate about his work and so humble, Professor Mick Cooper, Natalie Bailey and Caroline Hickman to name a few. I was truly moved by Dr Nahid Nasrat’s keynote lecture on the mental health of refugees and what they have had to endure. It made me feel grateful and humble for the opportunities that I have been given that allow me to help those in need, by utilising the skills and experience I have gained. Caroline Hickman’s keynote lecture on climate change was very enlightening. This is relevant today and, going forward, should be at the forefront of our concern, to make the necessary changes for the betterment of our environment. 

The dialogue related to Duo ethnography was one of a kind, and I would like to know more about it, so will be reading up on this to gain a deeper understanding of it. On a side note, I did end up taking a lot of photographs with the lovely people I met, almost felt like a fan girl, but hand on heart they were a true inspiration for me as I progress on this incredible journey.  

I was grateful to BACP for the research event, as it has been very informative and inspirational. I am grateful too that they designated a prayer room within the hotel, so others and I could perform our prayers during the day. 

I will end this by thanking Dr John Hills for his continuous encouragement and support of me to attend the conference and chair the session, and to Dr Vivien Sabel for inspiring me and empowering me to work outside of my comfort zone in order to really develop myself and work creatively on this counselling journey.