Case Five: Jeanne Broadbent

A retired lecturer, who swapped training teachers for counselling, has gained the highest dissertation mark to have ever been awarded by the University of Chester’s Department of Social Studies and Counselling.

Jeanne Broadbent.
Jeanne Broadbent.

Jeanne Broadbent, from Chester, will enjoy a different side of graduation this Friday when she receives a Master’s with Distinction, having gained 92% for her dissertation which explores how humanistic therapists’ own experiences of bereavement impact upon their professional practice.

The former teacher explained: “I looked at how therapists’ lived experience of bereavement might impact upon how they worked with clients within the therapeutic relationship.

“I found that whilst the experience of bereavement can profoundly affect the bereaved individual’s sense of self and social identity it can, over time, also result in personal growth and resilience. 

“I also found that as a result of their own personal struggle with bereavement, the therapists in my study were able to experience a greater degree of empathy and connectedness when working with clients who had similar issues.”

Having enjoyed a very rich and varied career, Jeanne’s connection to the University goes back 25 years.

Jeanne, initially trained as a secondary school Dance and Drama specialist before changing her career path to become a bookseller, running the children’s section in the Chester branch of Hatchards, and organising children’s storytelling sessions and author events for Cheshire primary schools.

This experience led to her return to education and in 1987 she enrolled at the University – then Chester College of Higher Education – to study for a Master of Education degree in children’s language and literacy development. Three years later she embarked on the institution’s PGCE Primary Programme and enjoyed several years teaching in Ellesmere Port before making the move into Higher Education as an employee.

She said: “In 2003 I joined the University of Chester’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services as a Senior Lecturer specialising in Primary English. Then in 2007 I went part-time in order to pursue my growing interest in counselling and completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling in 2010. 

“This interest came about partly as a result of my role as a Personal and Academic Tutor (PAT). One of the University’s many strengths is its commitment to supporting students throughout their studies, and I’ve experienced a high level of support as a student myself.  As a Lecturer, I gained great satisfaction from my role as a PAT and also from my role as a mentor to students on placement in school.

“I really enjoyed building supportive, professional relationships with these students and seeing them mature and develop into fully-fledged teachers. It was a natural development for me at that point in my life to train as a counsellor, and to develop my skills in supporting clients in a therapeutic context.

“Following this I took early retirement in order to study full time for the MA in Counselling Studies, and to continue my counselling practice in a hospice and with private clients.”

Dr Rita Mintz, Programme Leader for the MA in Counselling Studies, said: “Jeanne was one of our most outstanding students on both the Diploma and MA and achieved distinctions in all of her assignments on both programmes.

“Her MA dissertation achieved the highest mark ever awarded for a dissertation in the Department of Social Studies and Counselling. Our external examiner, who has extensive national and international experience in counselling, said that this was probably the best MA dissertation he has seen.”

Jeanne, who is now embarking upon a PhD at the University, said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the MA and I look forward to continuing my studies in the Department of Social Studies and Counselling.”

She will be joined by family and friends during her graduation ceremony on Friday, March 16, which will be followed by a gathering with fellow counselling students in the Department.