Aisha Gordon-Hiles is a BACP-accredited counsellor, working with adults and teens aged 13+, a coach, author and independent TV and media consultant. 

Like many who find themselves in this field, my life experience from childhood triggered the desire to want to help others.

Unbeknown to me, and unlike most, I actually started my professional journey around the age of 11, where I found enjoyment, relief and purpose in entering agony aunt competitions. I then went on to develop a listening service in year seven - providing people with free lip glosses, if they talked to me about their struggles (for free) - not a great business model I know haha! 

Fast forward through psychology, sociology, health and social care and critical thinking at college to the next pivotal moment in my professional career - Starting my psychology with counselling undergrad. During my second year, I started practising as a Mindline counsellor. 

Fast forward again, and I completed my Masters in therapeutic counselling along with a number of placements, paid and unpaid, to meet the criteria of the course.

Once finished, I found myself at a crossroads. With fears of ‘too many Counsellors and not enough jobs’' and the need to pay bills on one hand and the personal things I wanted to achieve - like buying a house on the other. I decided it would be better to leave the profession and get a job in something I was already doing to meet my personal goal.  

Needless to say, a few years later I missed counselling. An opportunity arose through BACP and Metanoia Institute, and I found myself as a counsellor on their ETHOS project. 

This return to the sector lit a fire in my belly. I quickly began to search for more. It took me a year or so to find my first role as a counsellor. I decided it would be best for me to combine my already gained experience in university settings with my qualifications, and secured my first job as a university counsellor.  

I hadn’t bought my house but was working towards it. Some disappointing news from my broker left me searching for additional work. I wasn’t ready to take the plunge into private practice, and it wasn’t suitable for the time frame I had. I stumbled upon an advertisement for an online counsellor, working with children and young people, which aligned perfectly with my passion for working with that age group, and the out-of-hours time I had available to work, Kooth. 

The team would see 1,500+ young people per week, and I noticed recurring patterns in my sessions. 

I wanted to do more, to help more. I knew it would be difficult in a one-to-one capacity. I started to develop a workshop, ‘Understanding Life’ - aiming to deliver it in schools and youth centres. However, I quickly realised I would hit a ceiling, as there is only one of me and only so many hours in a day.

This supported the birth of my book, What The Hell is Life??? A tool for understanding life and how to get the most out of it. Now it’s sold internationally, enabling me to help people even when I’m sleeping!  

Somewhere in the middle between then, and now I realised there were some key things missing from my core training that would further help me support people - enter my postgraduate diploma in Child and Adolescent Counselling, and postgraduate diploma in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.  

Then (oversimplifying) I realised not everyone needs counselling - enter my diploma in Coaching, a lovely pairing with the part of me that likes to be directive.  

With all of the above experience (and more) rolled into one, and navigating the complexities of social media, marketing and selling yourself as a therapist; I have worked in a number of areas. I’ve:  

  • Taught on a BSc programme
  • Coached on a tv programme
  • Spoken on the radio about current MH affairs
  • Been a keynote speaker · Been a guest on a podcast
  • Created mental health content for big brands
  • Been elected onto an advisory board
  • Facilitated countless workshops
  • Helped develop a theory of change
  • Been hired to support research projects
  • Been hired to edit mental health content
  • And now, I am training to be a supervisor.  

I say all this to show that with your unique life experience and your counselling training, you can do and be anything.

I know I avoid commitment so studying an integrative course and a career where I do a little bit of everything and a lot of ‘something new’ keeps me happy. How about you?  

How might your chosen course be a reflection of you/complement your personality? How can you use that?

What gaps in the industry do you see that you would like to bridge? 

What life experience, hobbies or interests do you have that you might be able to pair with your therapeutic training?