Students in all fields of study often wonder: how can I improve my learning and make the most of my studies? Studying counselling is no different and, as you will see below, there are many options available that encourage the transfer of theory and knowledge into application.
Volunteering in the not-for-profit or community sector is an effective way to learn more about working in a counselling or similar support role. Not only will you have the opportunity to apply your counselling skills and knowledge, but you will also gain the experience of actually working in a community organisation. Volunteering is also a great confidence-booster with the added bonus of feeling positive about contributing to your community. The experience also looks great on your resume and, you never know, you just might score a job out of it!
There are some useful resources available for you to source volunteering opportunities:
Conducting a search on the term 'volunteering' on www.ninemsn.com.au, lists a variety of organisations that provide volunteer opportunities in all sectors of the community. To save you the search time, visit the following links:
Volunteering Australia at www.volunteeringaustralia.org
Volunteering NSW at www.volunteering.com.au
Volunteering Qld at www.volunteeringqueensland.org.au
Volunteering Victoria at www.volunteeringvictoria.com.au
Volunteering SA at www.volunteeringsa.org.au
Volunteering Western Australia at www.volunteer.org.au
These are only a selection; there are plenty more websites that provide information on available volunteer opportunities and how to source them.
Some AIPC Student Support Centres also have a Volunteer Opportunities Booklet that lists details of organisations that regularly accept AIPC students for volunteer work during their studies. The Booklet provides detailed contact information, the organisation's activities and at what point during your studies to approach the organisation.
The Opportunity to Practice
The Institute provides students many opportunities to practice their counselling skills. For example:
Many AIPC students are enrolled in specialty field Advanced Study Majors (ASMs) as part of their course. ASMs are a fantastic way for Diploma students to specialise in contemporary counselling issues. Students are able to complete ASMs externally or by attending a two-day workshop. The workshop option includes students applying the theoretical knowledge they have learned.
Many of the Institute's Student Support Centres schedule regular tutorials for their students, both on a small group or one-on-one basis. Tutorial sessions are flexible and interactive with the learning requirements of the students determining the topics covered. Many students also enjoy the additional occasion to get together with other students in the informal environment of a Tutorial.
The Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth Student Support Centres deliver regular classes for each unit of the Diploma. In-Class Studies are an ideal way for students to receive face-to-face learning and study support from an Institute Lecturer and provides valuable opportunity to network with other students and counselling professionals. The classes include plenty of interaction and opportunities to apply counselling skills.
Many AIPC Student Support Centres have a Student Network that lists the contact details of students who would like contact from other students. So if you are looking for a Study Buddy or Group, ask your Student Support Centre for a Student Network List. And the best thing is, in this age of electronic communication, email is a popular and effective communication tool that aids studying together.
Industry Involvement and Professional Development
Even as a student of counselling, there are many opportunities for you to become involved in the counselling industry, learn about industry trends and developments, and contribute to your network of industry contacts.
The Australian Counselling Association (ACA) is a peak industry membership association for practicing counsellors, students and other allied mental health professionals. The Student Member category is available to those individuals who are currently undertaking a course of study in counselling with an ACA-recognised educator.
Participating in industry seminars, workshops and conferences is an ideal way to get in touch with industry developments. Check the ACA website at www.theaca.net.au for national, state and local industry events.
Read as many informative resources (journals, texts, websites, e-newsletters) as you can so that you keep up with how your industry is evolving and its new developments. Industry journals and magazines offer a great range of information that will help you adapt to your future environment. AIPC also has a list of popular textbooks that students can purchase at competitive prices to support their wider reading in fields of interest.