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ACAP placement students thrive at unique Jarrah House

Posted by Virginia on 31 March 2017

Leafy Jarrah House at Little Bay in Sydney offers detox and rehabilitation for women only, through a 10-week residential program followed by outpatient group support and counselling.

The not-for-profit organisation has operated for more than 30 years and is the only service of its kind in Australia where children can stay with their mothers during treatment. The Jarrah House program provides in-house childcare, as well as counselling and other services to clients’ children. The facility has hosted ACAP Social Work and Counselling students since 2004.

“We offer a very ‘hands on’ placement,” said Lisa Hofman, social worker and placement supervisor at Jarrah House.

“Students can take on their own clients and facilitate groups. This gives them a good opportunity to build professional competencies and it increases their confidence in joining the workforce.”

Lisa is ACAP alumni herself, with a Graduate Diploma in Counselling and a Master of Social Work. She was employed by Jarrah House in 2009 after completing her student placement there.

The placement experience 

While there are opportunities to work autonomously during placement at Jarrah House, student guidance and personal support are prioritised by its supervisors due to the chance of exposure to client trauma. Lisa and her colleagues emphasise the need for self-care, matching the ideology of both ACAP's teaching and professional social work standards. 

“We prefer students to be ready for a final placement because of the practical nature of the role. Strong interpersonal skills are a real asset, to fit in with the multi-disciplinary teamwork environment,” said Lisa.

“Daily duties are negotiated with the placement supervisor depending on the student’s learning goals but would typically include observing and facilitating psycho-educational groups, observing psychotherapeutic groups, Case Managing, attending Inter-agency meetings, attending Case Review and other internal meetings.”

ACAP students are attracted to Jarrah House for its diverse treatment spectrum. As advance stage learners about to enter the workforce, their confidence is boosted by applying theories learned in class while working as part of an expert team.

“Our primary treatment model is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Brief Motivational Interviewing, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Attachment-Based Family Interventions including Circle of Security and Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale,” said Lisa.

While experiencing therapies in action is the main attraction and purpose of placement, there’s scope for participation in special projects as opportunities arise at the facility.

“A student last year assisted me in developing a new parenting program,” said Lisa.

Sadia Sayeed completed 500 hours of placement at Jarrah House during the final stages of her ACAP Master of Social Work (Qualifying). She was exposed to a range of therapy methods and familiarised herself with current workplace practices. Soon after her studies finished in December 2016, Sadia began a part-time role as a bilingual caseworker in a settlement services program for the Bangladeshi community.

“I had a great learning experience at Jarrah House during my placement,” she said.

“There is a huge amount of scope to learn from the multi-disciplinary team there. I am really grateful to the magnificent social workers, Lisa and Juliet and also to Professor Sharon Moore from ACAP.” 

Rewards of student coaching 

Jarrah House employs Registered Nurses, Drug and Alcohol Counsellors, Social Workers and Child Care Workers and an Art Therapist. The organisation relies on donations, government grants and charitable business partnerships to fund its 24-bed service, and the facility has a long waiting list. Supervising students during the late stage of their degree has benefits for all participants.

“I always learn something new in the supervision process and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my own practice and that of my colleagues. We grow as a team by reflecting on our practice by mentoring. There have been times that we have reconsidered policies because of the input of students,” said Lisa.

“ACAP students bring diverse educational and professional backgrounds and very often they are mature-aged, which adds richness to the workplace.”

Study options and pathways

ACAP offers accredited courses and pathways in Social Work and Counselling, some with the option of online study. All courses are available to start in February, May or September.

Find out more about the history of Jarrah House and its services here