I came into counselling wanting to help people, as most of us do… I learnt that becoming a counsellor meant learning theory and skills, yet I was also learning to trust the experience of the course, which was developing me as a person into a counselling resource.
I realised that I came into counselling with much of my own stuff. I grew to see my strong façade, but below that, my fear of letting others in, and the deep shame of making mistakes. With the gentle support of lecturers and with others who were doing the same, much of my first year studying counselling was coming to terms with myself. Studying counselling has given me skills to listen, and to engage honestly, without fear or pretence.
"Doing this course has given me a heart for deeper relationship, both in the counselling room, and in my personal life."
The course and staff at Morling were not focused primarily on marks, or performance, but rather on growing me as a counsellor in a holistic way – in deepening my self-awareness, in willingness to grapple with my own experiences and feelings, in being counselled myself, and then, learning to facilitate this experience with others in the counselling room.
Theoretical learning can only take you so far.
My placement at BaptistCare Hope Street Women’s Services provided me with an opportunity to learn and grow, trying new skills out, making mistakes and learning from others. I experienced a range of unique counselling experiences, including crisis counselling, counselling with the help of a phone/in person translator, developing and running my own group workshop, and exposure to working as a counsellor in a team setting with other counsellors, social workers, and volunteers.
"I learnt to be a genuine and honest counsellor who walked with, not ahead of, my clients."
I also learnt to be more adaptive and creative, learning how to intertwine theories and interventions to best suit my client and their unique needs. Placement also exposed me to difficult learning experiences such as safety risks and mandatory reporting, how to respond to clients not returning, sitting with client’s anger (especially difficult for me), or having my ability questioned by clients.
The length of the placement was also valuable.
"Through a year long placement, I could learn some of the lessons in counselling that can only be learnt through ongoing relationship and work."
Multiple sessions with clients taught me how to build the client-counsellor relationship, broaden my understanding of balancing counselling theory with relationship, refine my practice and continue to reflect on myself as I developed into a counsellor.
I was also able to do this with the invaluable support of ongoing group and individual supervision, with an experienced supervisor who was perceptive, reassuring, supportive and challenged me to grow in my individual style of counselling.
"The whole placement experience gave me an opportunity to bridge the gap between student and practicing counsellor."
Since graduating with the Master in Counselling, I’ve continued at BaptistCare Hope Street Womens’ Services as a counsellor part-time. I am so grateful for a job that allows me to support and walk alongside people who Jesus, when he was on Earth, loved and walked alongside.
Learning to be a counsellor at Morling was as much about being helped myself, as learning to help others. The most invaluable lesson has been in shaping me to be someone of compassion, who listens and seeks to understand, and with a heart to walk alongside people. Far beyond a degree or job, this is what the counselling course seeks to achieve, and achieves so beautifully.