Employability and Professional Development: Counselling Students’ Perceptions of Counsellor Education and Beyond
A project completed in 2009, undertaken by Massey University, to examine the extent to which students who had completed a postgraduate distance counsellor education programme were prepared for: continuing development as reflective practitioners; professional employment; and gaining professional membership and appropriate progression in the guidance and counselling field.
The main aims of the project were to:
- access information that assists decisions about the teaching and the content of the counselling course
- investigate how different elements of the counsellor education/Professional Development workshops prepared participants for: continuing development as reflective practitioners; professional employment; and gaining professional membership and appropriate progression in the guidance and counselling field.
The project used a mixed methods approach involving:
- an online questionnaire which was sent out to graduates of the programme
- semi-structured interviews by telephone
- a smaller number of in depth interviews.
Dr Jeannie Wright
Project LeaderMassey University
Brent GardinerMassey University
The key findings from the project included:
- The most useful aspects of the counsellor development programme identified by the participants were the live and filmed counselling sessions with trainer feedback provided during the on-campus workshops and the cultural and particularly the bi-cultural input.
- Participants wanted more depth on specific approaches and perhaps less of them; more on couple, family and organisational work, particularly the former; and there was some call for greater input from a human development perspective and also more from a medical model mental health view.
- The findings have informed curricula and pedagogical changes in the practicum element of the counsellor education programmes at Massey University. Notably, we have reduced the requirement to engage in intensive therapeutic group work in favour of expanding the focus of developing good, independent, reflective practice. Thus, the teaching model aims more for autonomous self-discovery for life-long professional learning and development.
- The teaching team, while retaining an integrative model as previously taught, are revising the nature of that to a more pluralistic and flexible approach that is likely to better serve graduates in a changing future professional environment. This is being designed to more readily accommodate the key themes indicated by this research.
The key recommendations for good practice from the project included:
Programme content | There is a need for educators to consider how programme content can be made more relevant to the requirements of private practice.
Reflective journal writing | An emphasis on reflective journal writing as foundational for professional learning from practice is recommended. This is probably in preference to personal therapy.
Further research | Further research is suggested to establish what aspects of students’ bicultural experience were helpful and how these contributed to their sense of being competent practitioners.
A research report prepared by Jeannie Wright and Brent Gardiner.
(PDF, 513 KB, 8-pages).
- 31 August 2009