applied-psychology

From personal loss to professional healing: Stephanie’s counselling story

By Barry de Silva
Stephanie Huang smiles at camera, with hand to face.
Over the past year there have been reports that Australia is in the midst of a domestic violence crisis. Stephanie Huang has first-hand experience of the effects of this, as a family therapist at leading child welfare organisation, OzChild. As an ACAP graduate, Stephanie shared her experience studying the Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy, and why she enjoys her life as a family therapist and its challenges.

At OzChild, Stephanie receives referrals from the Department of Communities and Justice, addressing issues ranging from domestic violence to child protection concerns. Her work encompasses supporting children with behavioural issues, parents with mental health and substance abuse concerns, as well as extended family living in the home. Despite the complexity of these cases, Stephanie finds fulfilment in making a positive impact.

 

“Some of the families I have worked with have been going through negative patterns for decades, so when I get to help them, it’s a real privilege that they let me into their space,” Stephanie said.

Acknowledging the emotional toll of her profession, Stephanie prioritises self-care to maintain her own mental health and overall well-being.

“Working as a counsellor, you’re exposed to a lot of second-hand trauma, and it can be hard to not bring that home. It’s really important to have good boundaries and do a lot of self-care, which is something I learned at ACAP.”

Stephanie’s professional journey started when during the last year of her undergraduate degree, she took an elective unit in grief and loss counselling which opened her eyes to the complex grief she was going through and later inspired her to study at a postgraduate level at ACAP.

“At the time, I had lost my pet dog and I couldn’t quite understand why I was having such a hard time with it. I then realised that it had triggered the loss of my grandmother a few years before that. The experience of feeling so validated during this not-uncommon life event made me want to study more and go on to help people who are going through similar experiences, which was why I enrolled in the Master’s at ACAP.”

ACAP’s Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy is accredited by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia and the Australian Counselling Association, and provides students the opportunity to apply advanced counselling skills in practical real-world scenarios. This environment, coupled with ACAP’s “great reputation” as Stephanie said, provided a well-rounded education.

“My experience at ACAP was brilliant. The learning was very interactive and the class sizes were small which meant I really connected with my classmates and educators – it felt like a very personal learning process. The teaching staff were very knowledgeable and had front line experience from the industry.”

With a young family of two children under the age of two, Stephanie said she had enjoyed the flexibility and lifestyle that a counselling career brings.

“Having a work and life balance is really important to me, and being a counsellor allows me to do that. Sometimes my day will start at lunch time and on others I will be finished by 3pm, so it gives me a lot of autonomy. Being a family therapist is my dream job. The most rewarding aspect of the work that I do is that it helps families stay together.”

ACAP offers accredited courses online, on-campus and through hybrid delivery.

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