It has been a year of high achievement for counsellor Girija Dadhe, who will end 2017 with a significant career milestone to add to her impressive accomplishments.
The ACAP Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy graduate will present her student research paper, "A Study of the Social Effects of Methamphetamine Use on Adult Users", at the annual Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) conference in Brisbane in November.
For Girija, formerly a French educator and French and Hindi interpreter, this year has seen the culmination of a postgraduate degree, a career-change and a new job as a family support worker, which she began before completing her studies.
“The opportunity to present at the ATCA conference was offered to me by my employer Goldbridge Rehabilitation Services, which is a Therapeutic Community on the Gold Coast,” said Girija.
This international event will bring together professionals working in Therapeutic Communities, researchers and clinicians in the Alcohol and Drug (AOD) field and affiliated areas like mental health, justice and child protection.
“This is my first time presenting my work at an event,” said Girija.
“I am looking forward to getting a better understanding of the therapeutic communities’ model of recovery from alcohol and drug use. I am also eager to meet other professionals working in the AOD sector and listen to their experiences of working in this field.”
It was the face-to-face client contact during her supervised field placement that inspired Girija to investigate the lived experiences of methamphetamine users and avenues for improved recovery rates.
“I chose this research topic because of my counselling placement experience of working with clients affected by substance use, especially methamphetamine and having complex mental health issues,” she said.
“I observed that most of my clients identified methamphetamine as their drug of choice. Therefore, I became interested in understanding their experiences of using this drug and finding out how it affected their social functioning.”
Girija put her studies’ theoretical and practical counselling experience to use for her research project and during the process, has made a meaningful difference to at least one of the volunteer participants.
“The data collection process, during which I conducted interviews with six methamphetamine users who were in recovery, was a very special phase of the research process,” she said.
‘It was a very humbling experience for me because participants really opened up about their life stories and experiences relating to drug use. A special moment of satisfaction was when one of the participants told me that taking part in my research would be a turning point in his recovery, since it was the first time he had talked about certain experiences with such openness.
Among a number of valuable first-hand research findings, Girija reported that some of the respondents expressed the need for better media attention to stories of recovery from methamphetamine.
“Completing the research initially seemed quite daunting. However, thanks to the valuable guidance of my supervisor Dr Cathy Bettman, I learnt to enjoy the research journey. I would also like to extend sincere thanks to Dr Katrina Andrews and all my ACAP educators for their encouragement and support throughout the course of my studies,” said Girija.
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