Tue 25 Apr 23
Former Essex student Amanda Hitchin has been awarded a certificate of commendation at the Colchester Business Awards ceremony.
She was runner up in Colchester’s Best New Business category – and all in less than six months since opening her business.
Amanda, who graduated at the University’s spring ceremony in March with a Masters in Psychodynamic Counselling, set up her own therapy practice in the city centre in December – a week after she qualified as a registered counsellor.
Now, she has a thriving business which has grown week on week.
“It was a real honour and surprise to have been nominated and then shortlisted for the best new business award,” she said. “I don’t consider myself a business person as such. I set out to make a difference to young people’s lives and to improve relationships and outcomes to those that put their faith in me.”
And that is what Amanda’s practice, Colchester Children’s Counselling, based in the city, is all about. She supports the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families.
Amanda’s business was recognised by the Colchester Business Awards, organised by Our Colchester Business Improvement District (BID), in recognition of local businesses which have gone “above and beyond” for the community. The businesses are voted for by those who use them – the general public.
Sam Good, Manager of Our Colchester BID said: “This is an offering that is new to the city and provides a service needed within the community. Amanda received multiple glowing nominations from people demonstrating its value to the Colchester community. The BID would like to extend their congratulations to Amanada for her success at the awards and her hard work establishing this business in the city.”
Professor Sue Kegerreis, Director of the MA Psychodynamic Counselling programme, said: “It is wonderful to see that Amanda’s work in setting up her practice being recognised. She deserves all our congratulations on her courage and professionalism.
“She is a great example of the many alumni from our MA Psychodynamic Counselling who have started innovative therapeutic services all around the region. Together they are making a massive contribution to the mental well-being of all their clients, providing much-needed help to both adults and children.”
Amanda had spent over 15 years working with children and young people before training as a counsellor and said she always knew that this was the age group she wanted to support and represent. While working, she noticed there was a gap in the mental health offer for younger children, and during her time of being on the frontline of social care and mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic, she could see that “we were heading into a real mental health crisis with services stretched beyond their capacity.”
It was during the second lockdown that she decided to take the opportunity to return to study and completed the MA Psychodynamic Counselling. She first came to Essex in 2015 to study for a Foundation Degree in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, which then led to her studying for the BA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations.
“Returning to Essex and seeing the growth in the university, the department and in the individual lecturers and support team was wonderful and it felt like coming home,” she said.
“My experience at Essex has definitely empowered me, built my theoretical understanding, confidence and aspirations while equipping me with the tools I need to continue to learn and grow in my field.”
The Best New Business category in the awards looks for young businesses which have brought a new dynamic to the make-up of Colchester City Centre and have an exciting future ahead.
Amanda has already started to expand her business and has plans for the future.
“I have now started to support other therapists in their own journey into private practice and this has led to an exciting collaboration with another therapist working with me, which means parents can receive reduced-fee support with her while their child is with me.”
Other plans include setting up a trust or charity to help make therapeutic services more accessible to all who need it regardless of their financial situation – and to support others by empowering, supporting and providing a space for other therapists to practice.
“I could not have wished for a better postgraduate experience and start to my practice”, she said, “but I owe the success of my practice to the families and young people that entrust me with their health and wellbeing.”