MA Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice student gives their advice for kick starting a new business

Rena Kuhn, a third year MA Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice student, set up her own business, Aigburth Counselling and Psychotherapy, during the pandemic, in which she owns a counselling clinic and rents out rooms to fellow therapists.

rena web banner

Rena, 39, is originally from the Netherlands but moved to Liverpool in 2006 and now lives in Aigburth. She began studying at LJMU in 2020 and decided to transform a café into counselling rooms during her second year of study. 

Rena explains how the course at LJMU helped her do this: 

rena before

“The idea came about during my first year at LJMU. The passion to become a counsellor as well as wanting to go into private practice was nurtured on the course and it really helped my self-confidence and gave me new levels of self-belief.” 

“I looked into the hire of counselling rooms and soon realised that working from home would be the most cost efficient. I then started thinking about the café, slowly that developed into the idea of turning it into counselling rooms that could also be hired by other therapists.” 

The café was empty when Rena first acquired it but 14 months and a global pandemic later, she transformed it into a practice, with therapist rooms to rent out. 

“The pandemic caused a lot of delay in the building works. But it also caused a lot of fear. Here I was spending loads of time, effort and money and suddenly the very premise of the business, sitting in a room, face-to-face, with clients, was no longer allowed! 

“That did worry me, but I tried to look at the positive and with the UK in lockdown, it made me less stressed about the delay in building work, because I could not have opened anyway. Then as if by magic, restrictions got eased, not long before the opening date, and everything fell into place.” 

the counselling room after a complete makeover, with a seat, images on the wall and relaxing environment for the sessions

Rena now runs her business Liverpool Aigburth Counselling and Psychotherapy ltd in which she offers person-centred counselling. She also hires rooms out to therapists of differing modalities as well as psychologists and hypnotherapists. 

Each year dozens of students, and recent graduates, from across LJMU set up their own businesses. The LJMU Start Up Hub, which launched in 2003, is a hub of enterprise professionals and has helped kick start over 300 businesses with current student or LJMU graduates. 

So what would Rena’s advice be to anyone thinking about setting up a business whilst being a student? 

“I would say, do your research, get as much advice as possible, enlist the help of friends, expect delays and practice patience, don’t give up and remember why you are doing it. It was my passion for becoming a counsellor that brought excitement to the whole project, and the idea of being able to provide for my children by doing something I love, gave me the energy and patience to stick with it.  

“Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have so much gratitude to my friends and my partner, I don’t know what I would have done without their help.” 

Rena is also certain that studying the Counselling and Psychotherapy course at LJMU was the perfect choice for her: 

a headshot of Rena looking at the camera and smiling

“It was like for the first time in my life, I understood what a vocation was, and I realised this is not just a job, this is what I want to be doing in life and I love every minute of it.” 

“I really recommend the course and I love the person-centred modality. But I will say: make sure you are ready! The course is not just learning skills and theory, it is a personal journey of growth and that’s something you need to be ready for, mentally and emotionally.  

“On the other hand, I have met people that I can now share professional development and ideas with (some of us have set up a continued peer supervision group) and more importantly I have met people that I know I will be able to call friends for life, because we have been through that journey together and the course has really given those friendships a strong foundation.” 

Find out more about studying MA Counselling and Psychotherapy at LJMU here. 

Find out more about Rena’s business, Aigburth Counselling and Psychotherapy Services ltd, here. 




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