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Journey in Becoming a Counsellor

08 Jun 2021

My name is Dr Nicole Chen, a registered counsellor and Programme Director of the Master of Counselling Programme at IMU. This year I have reached a milestone as my 20th year as a counsellor. Recalling my beginnings, I was given options to work as a Social Worker in a non-profit organisation or as a Corporate Officer in a listed company. Without any hesitation, I took the offer to work as a social worker because part of the responsibility was to provide counselling support to clients. Since then, there has been no turning back, as I continued to advance my career in the mental health field; from a Social Worker to Student Counsellor to today, a private practitioner and counsellor educator.


I have never regreted my choice as it has been a meaningful and adventurous journey. Its been meaningful to serve as a counsellor because it has given me countless beautiful experiences. There are no words to describe the inner happiness I feel when witnessing clients who came into the therapy room ready to give up and then seeing them leave full of hope, feeling that you are on cloud nine when parents express their gratitude to you because they finally understand their teenage son’s struggles, or journeying with struggling couples who have not talked in years, and in the end, seeing them holding each other’s hand tightly filled with love. There are so many more beautiful encounters that just cannot be listed here. It is an adventure because my career as a counsellor is not just about reaching out to help others but also required a lot of courage to discover myself and having the willingness to grow to become a better person. I came across many incidences that made me reflect upon myself; my actions, thoughts, and feelings. I cannot deny that there were negative experiences that made me question myself and, at the same time, motivated me to keep improving myself.


In a nutshell, pursuing a career as a counsellor was not just about skills training to become a professional counsellor but also about a gift of the journey to become a better version of oneself. It is an honour to be part of the International Medical University (IMU) faculty team in developing and designing our Master of Counselling Programme. The programme is tailored to provide students with a meaningful journey in becoming a counsellor. Our first batch of Master of Counselling students will soon be starting their counselling practicum. Here, our students share their learning journey as Master of Counselling students in IMU. Many appreciate the new skills they gained from the programme and treasure the personal growth attained through their learning journey:


Lim Shuang Ao
For me, the Master of Counselling is a journey sailing in the uncharted sea. I am humbled and amazed by all the things I am learning and yet to be learned. This programme is more than just getting me equipped with knowledge and skills to be a professional counsellor; it also allows me to learn more about myself, human and life. Although there are no standard answers to many of the topics I am learning, in my opinion, knowing what I do not know is already a great step, and we can only progress by acknowledging our ignorance; as Socrates said, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
Tan Su Wen
I have witnessed my tremendous growth, which comes linearly in both personal and professional aspects. My awareness of introspection and ability to build connections with people has improved vastly and were reflected during my practice in counselling skills. While the journey has been bumpy at times, the support gained from my beloved classmates and lecturers have become my primary strength to proceed further. Although my journey in becoming a professional counsellor still has a long way to go, I hope my continuous practice and learning allows me to provide better services to the community in the near future.
Derrick Ching Wei Chean
Upon completing two semesters in Master of Counselling, I am surprised with the number of skills and knowledge I have gained throughout my journey, not just towards becoming a professional counsellor but also as a person. Knowing there will be more challenges ahead, I am prepared to give my best in order to serve the public in the near future.
Priscilla Edna Moreira
The learning I have experienced has been very rich and meaningful as I continuously gain more insight into the human experience. This experience has allowed me to go through the process of a deeper sense of awareness as I learn more about myself and my family of origin. I feel more ready to embrace myself and others gently and authentically.


We are grateful that our students have entrusted us to pursue their postgraduate study and have let us be part of their professional counsellor journey. As described by the students, the expedition in becoming a counsellor comes with great learning and insight about themselves; thus requiring a lot of courage to venture into unexplored aspects of themselves. Nevertheless, it is a journey full of excitement and adventure, with students continually supported by a dedicated group of committed counsellor educators.

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