Meet ACAP Graduate, Tony Johannsen
Tony began working towards his career change by enrolling in the Bachelor of Counselling at ACAP. The course content matched his desire to help others in a professional capacity, as well as satisfying his personal curiosity about psychotherapy and sociology. The turning point for Tony’s new vocation came during placement in his final year of studying when he was offered a job as an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Clinician at TaskForce Community Agency in Melbourne. Tony graduated from ACAP in late 2015 .
What inspired you to become a Counsellor?
For 15 years I had been owner-operator of my own garden maintenance and landscape gardening business. For the most part I loved being self-employed and working outside every day. However, the work was very physical and was taking its toll on my body. I knew that sooner or later I would need to think about entering into a more sustainable career.
All I knew was that throughout my life, people had always confided in me. This was never more evident than in the running of my gardening business. Almost without exception my gardening clients would share their frustrations and current life challenges with me. This was a space I always sat comfortably in. There was something strangely familiar about the counsellor’s role.
What did you do during work placement?
I worked as an AOD counsellor for my entire placement. I was counselling clients within my fourth day of placement. I had a very high degree of autonomy, which suited my placement needs and my personality perfectly.
I had finished all the other academic requirements of my Bachelor, including the AOD counselling unit, and therefore had a very good theoretical understanding of several counselling modalities. I was also still running my own business during this time and consequently had a robust understanding of risk, consequence and personal accountability. My supervisor recognised these qualities instantly.
How did it feel being offered a job while at placement?
AOD was a natural fit for me and my colleagues and I knew it. Most of the other counsellors in the agency had suggested to my supervisor that he should offer me a job at the end of my placement. Being offered a job therefore was not a surprise but it was a relief.
I started paid work at TaskForce the week after I finished student placement. It was a very satisfying feeling to be offered a counselling job the day I finished my counselling degree! I worked part-time at TaskForce for the remainder of 2015 whilst still running my business.
In January 2016 I closed my gardening business and began working full-time at TaskForce, as an AOD Clinician. I now work almost exclusively with forensic clients. This means that the majority of my clients are mandated to see me for AOD counselling as part of their corrections order, bail conditions or as part of their parole order. I have become very passionate about working with this population.
How did your studies qualify you for your new occupation?
All aspects of my placement helped prepare me for employment. While the training I received at ACAP had given me the skills to be an effective student counsellor, it’s not until you’re sitting in front of your first client that you really get a taste of what being a ‘counsellor’ means. One-on-one, without a lecturer or supervisor watching over your shoulder and with nowhere to hide; this is how you learn your craft.
Undertaking placement is perhaps the most poignant aspect of the entire educational process at ACAP. It is ‘where the rubber hits the road’. During my time at TaskForce, I have observed several students from various universities undertake student placement. I can state without hesitation; that no student group in my opinion is better prepared for meeting the challenges of student placement, than ACAP students.
What would you say to someone considering studying at ACAP?
I am a proud advocate of ACAP and encourage anybody thinking about a career in counselling to seriously consider studying there. I think the lecturers at ACAP are second to none. The depth of their academic knowledge combined with their field experience makes for a very well-rounded educational experience.
ACAP offers Counselling courses from Diploma to postgraduate level in a trimester structure. Our flexible learning options include full-time, part-time, on-campus, online or mixed-mode study. Contact us with questions about enrolment requirements, or for the next available intake date.