Q&A: Changing your career with free Distance Learning courses

Here at Trafford College Group, we offer online courses through our Distance Learning programme, offering Level 1 and 2 qualifications in Business Administration, Mental Health, Customer Service, Team Leading and Equality & Diversity, and Health & Social Care.

Our professional online courses have been developed alongside industry professionals to improve your career prospects and enhance your skills for anyone who is over the age of 19, and a resident in the UK.

Student Emma Epko recently studied with us during the COVID-19 pandemic to help her with a shift in her career, we spoke to her about the courses she studied and her experience so far.

Hi Emma! Tell us a little more about yourself…

My name is Emma, I began studying in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had begun to envelop the nation; and took a hold of the retail industry. Up until this point I had been employed as a Beauty Concession Manager within a high-end department store, which I started in 2003.

As a result of the pandemic I, like so many others at this point, was put on furlough. By the November of that same year, I was made redundant. Naturally, this was unsettling because being unemployed can cause a person to feel isolated; and the fact that much of the world was also in lockdown, compounded these feelings and made any prospects of immediate help seem even more remote. However, determined not to be a casualty of my situation; I understood that I needed to find a new career and vocation in life. I also began to see my new circumstances as a chance to make positive changes to the way I work and where.

Considering what I wanted to do, made me question what could I do. I have a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts – majoring in Choreography. Having started out with the desire of becoming a choreographer. But as many people do, my life had been one in which I had used transferable skills well and pursued a completely different career. However, I knew that I enjoyed working with people; that there was psychology to good salesmanship; that I have knowledge of the body; and that the Pandemic was going to have a profound effect upon us all mentally.

Where did you find out about the course?

Being unemployed gave me access to National Careers Service advice and support, and it was through their help that I was made aware of the courses offered by the TCG (Trafford College Group).

It was by a process of deduction, I first sourced the career (which was a Movement Psychotherapist). After researching the role I realised that I lacked the necessary psychological training that would support any applications I made.

My advisor sourced the first course I did – The NCFE Cache Level 2 Certificate in Working with People with Mental Health Needs. Without a psychology degree, I saw this course as an access study; to determine two things which were:- a) if I enjoyed the subject; and b) if I could do the work, academically and literally.

Encouraged by this first course, and after learning that the more a psychotherapist knows, the better their support – I then enrolled onto those courses that I thought would serve that purpose. The NCFE Cache Level 2 Certificate in Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Advocacy in the Workplace; The NCFE Cache Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills, and finally The NCFE Cache Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems.

What made you decide to study this course?

I chose the courses I did because it was important to choose subjects that were both specific and relevant, and they each delivered essential information surrounding the same subject – but from uniquely different perspectives and this made my comprehension of the subject more rounded.

For example, the Working with People with Mental Health Needs course gives details of how legislatively Mental Health is governed and the governing bodies that have been established to ensure ‘Good Practice’. The course covers the personal standards required to be a good support worker, how mental health can be managed, and the importance of understanding the scope of your role.

The Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Advocacy course provides up-to-date accurate information about the more serious mental health conditions individuals can experience, the challenges these illnesses can present for the person and to yourself. It also details approved medications and approaches to person-centred care, and reasons for detention and care management. This course was superb in supplying anatomical information, such as how certain conditions impact the brain physically, neuro-receptors and the impact of these processes being damaged in early life.

The course in Counselling Skills, sought to ensure that in the learning process I adopted the right mental condition that would enable me to help more efficiently in my new role. I found this course the hardest, because there were no leads to follow. Instead it needed me to take an introspective look ‘at, and into myself’, to uncover any ‘self=sabotaging’ attitudes and beliefs that often you do not even know that you have.

The course helped me understand that there are many approaches that can be adopted in terms of mental health support that are not as invasive as medication. For example, the course highlights the fact that talking can be therapy and that there is an art to listening and observing, certainly when assisting in an individual’s recovery process. I learned techniques for helping myself, and how to understand aspects of my own behaviors – and crucially how society, cultural attitudes and the pressure to conform can influence our state of mind and physical outcomes.

The Awareness of Mental Health Problems course, was a subject that I chose because it offered a broader and more in-depth look at many mental health conditions. This course explained more fully how particular disorders impact the brain in its functioning and sometimes even in its actual structure. It also details how certain negative lifestyle choices can create symptomatic effects that mimic certain mental health conditions.

How did you find the teaching methods and delivery of the course?

Being a Distance Learning Course, naturally tutors are professional, knowledgeable, personable and positive – whilst ensuring that individuals like myself are able and equipped to complete the course.

Their feedback, coupled with the fact that they are always available to discuss any problems you may have is invaluable.

The way that the course is structured is easy to navigate, access and store. The demands of the course mean that students must do their part and be focused, able to self-manage, understand and compose their work and deliver that work on time.

Every module comes with source material, which is enough to help direct your personal research.

“I am extremely proud of your accomplishments in securing your role with the Priory in Cheadle and to hear you are working directly with patients on the ward is wonderful! I hope your new found knowledge works as a foundation to the ongoing training you will receive through your workplace.” – Jemma Lees

Tell us more about how this course has helped you progress with your career?

Studying with the TCG has given me a new career, and one that I could not have even considered without the qualifications I have achieved. Mental Health is not an easy subject to teach, nor is it easy to learn. Thanks to the TCG and having completed the courses, I have a newfound confidence in my abilities; a sense of pride in my accomplishments; a more positive outlook about my future; and a new job with opportunities to build upon the knowledge you have given. I am truly grateful.

What would your advice be to someone who’s looking to study this course?

It is important to choose courses wisely. Have a plan, and select those courses that support the end goal.

It is important to be passionate about the subjects that you are undertaking as this will help you focus and achieve the high standards that the tutors set.

After completing the courses, where are you up to now?

I have been given a job and I am due to start at the Priory hospital, Cheadle. My interest is in learning how to become a psychotherapist, so they’ve thrown me in at the deep end and I shall be working on the EUPD ward – which is the emotionally unstable personality disorder ward. This relates directly to my mental health first aid and mental health advocacy learning.

Thanks to the course I can now embark on a vocational training pathway that will help turn my life around. I have to say how grateful I am for all the help the tutors gave me whilst I studied at TCG.

Want to find out more about our courses? Click here.