Leanne was working for a corporate organisation at KPMG as a project manager and was already finding she didn’t love her work. It was fine – it was one of those jobs you fall into because you aren’t sure what to do and because she was good at it, nothing had really rocked her boat until…
On the 27th September 2010, Leanne’s husband very suddenly passed away and she found that she was now a single mother with no family support in the country and had the challenge of struggling to become a sole bread winner whilst having to deal with the grief of losing her partner. To make matters worse, she was doing her work and woke up one day at around 3-4.00 a.m with the dawning realisation she no longer wanted to do her job. Leanne took some leave from work and spent time reflecting on her role in life and where she could make a positive difference.
She had done a coaching qualification during her employment whilst she’d been at KPMG as she was managing staff and this had really peeked her interest. She also completed an online counselling diploma course. She decided to take a sabbatical from work and then decided to leave her job to go to University to study for a Psychology degree with the thought of perhaps going into teaching which would fit in with her children’s schedule. She spoke to her work and told them she was leaving to study. Financially, this was only possible because she took out a student loan, but she also succeeded in obtaining a grant to help support her childcare. She says if she’d stopped to think too far ahead, she possibly wouldn’t have been brave enough to change her career, but taking each day as it came in bite sized pieces really helped to get her through.
Her skills as a student became clear and she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology 2:1 at Canterbury ChristChurch University. She did brilliantly well and loved psychology so much she won a scholarship to do a one-year Masters in Organisational Psychology at City, University of London. It was incredibly hard work but she found it fascinating. She kept coming back to her traumatic experience and grief and was feeling more and more as though she wanted to help contribute to the development of frameworks and approaches to grief counselling. She’s now working on this as she pursues her PhD in Professional Practice Psychological Perspectives (there is literally no stopping this woman!)
Whilst a student, she still needed to earn an income, so she worked part-time jobs and once qualified she managed to get a job for the YMCA West Kent in their HR department. Her previous role as Project Manager combined with her Organisational Psychology Masters set her up well and she was quickly offered the role of HR manager. The role itself filled her with confidence as she worked with wonderful people, felt that she was listened to and was able to make a difference and influence how things worked. It was whilst she was in this role that she got headhunted for a role as NHS Practice Manager. This is the role she does now. She has a fantastic team of clinicians and admin/receptionists (around 216 staff) plus 6 amazingly talented GP Partners. She loves the team and the fact it’s now a well-oiled machine means she’s been able to also focus on building up her Grief Recovery work.
So, to summarise: she’s a Practice Manager, she’s doing a PhD, she’s running a Grief and Loss Psychology grief counselling business – oh and she’s still a single mum to her now two superb teenage children. Leanne works hard but it’s this variety and challenge that she loves. She’s found her own experience with her own personal tragedy has enabled her to become a better counsellor and Grief Psychologist. She can relate to and reassure her clients as she does have some understanding of their trauma and whilst not a pre-requisite, she does feel it helps her clients open up to her and to feel comfortable that they are sharing with someone who can relate to their experiences. She’s a wonderful example of someone who has taken one of the most horrific experiences anyone can imagine and turned it into something constructive she can now use to help others. A Brave Starter if ever we saw one!