While approaching completion of her Graduate Diploma of Counselling studies at ACAP, Sarah accepted a job offer as an alcohol and drug counsellor from her placement agency, SalvoCare Eastern Support and Recovery Services. Her duties combine face-to-face counselling, agency networking and care and recovery coordination.
“Placement especially, was crucial to learning what it was really like to work in the field, as well as for discovering which area of counselling work suits you.”
Read Sarah’s story:
As a teenager I had a few family members experience post-natal depression. My interest in counselling grew from wanting to understand their experience, and finding out how to support others who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental health.
During placement, I conducted intake and assessment duties, anger management, alcohol and other drug counselling, as well as delivering the Salvation Army’s Positive Lifestyle Program and general counselling. After a training period, I was offered a lot of autonomy, having my own caseload of clients. Supervision was a crucial part of this process.
Being face-to-face with clients and implementing different treatment models was the most rewarding experience, and certainly gave me insight into what employment in the field would be like. Liaising with external agencies that were referring clients was also valuable, and allowed me to develop skills in treatment planning.
Working with clients who are high-risk or in extremely vulnerable situations will always involve challenges. I found supervision and self-care to be extremely important and can’t emphasise enough how important these practices are.
The first time I was able to put theory into practice was using the core skills of active listening. Being able to reflect and paraphrase what clients were saying, and building rapport with them, was initially a little nerve-wracking but so rewarding!
Both of my managers were supportive mentors and they encouraged me to apply for a position when it came up. I knew I wanted to continue with the agency even if it meant volunteering, so the job offer was an added bonus. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity.
ACAP was a really supportive place to begin my journey as a counsellor. Placement especially, was crucial to learning what it was really like to work in the field, as well as for discovering which area of counselling work suits you.