This particular client applied for the role of Student Wellbeing Counsellor in the Tertiary/Higher Education Sector and gained a job interview. As is typical with university applications, many of them require the addressing of numerous Essential and Desirable criteria. This application required the addressing of six Essential criteria; one of the rare few applications, where only a small number of criteria were stipulated. Overall, the application was still very comprehensively written, exceeding just over the four-page mark; I limit at five pages maximum for Tertiary Sector applications especially where a larger number of criteria are required to be addressed. Following are part excerpts from three of the criteria.

Demonstrated ability to provide appropriate recommendations to staff and families to support the needs of individual students (e.g. behaviour management, student learning and social and emotional interventions).

During my time at CCC, I was involved in organising and participating in both care team and professional meetings. In these meetings, I recommended strategies to parents, teachers and support workers (both within CCC and other external agencies such as OOO) on how best to provide ongoing and tailored support to my clients and to highlight any protective concerns or parenting capacity concerns that arose. Furthermore, when I assessed the learning difficulties of a 12-year old female client who was living in kinship care, on completion of the assessment and testing, I formulated recommendations and relayed these to school staff, the client’s primary caregivers and her OOO support workers. Recommendations for the school involved providing a supportive and nurturing learning environment through emotional validation; specific classroom interventions through praise from teachers in areas in which her performance was adequate, rather than praising only when she did very well; and development of an individually-tailored learning plan to incorporate specific curriculum areas missed during her absence. In providing feedback to her carers and support workers, I recommended they should aim at providing her with a predictable and structured environment at home; she would benefit from one-on-one time each evening with her carers to assist her with completing required reading and homework; and that they provide her with positive reinforcement for good learning behaviours. During this placement my supervisor provided me with positive feedback regarding my assessment; parent and teacher recommendations recognised my strong engagement skills with the clients; pertinent observations of the client’s presentation; and integration of the client’s history, presenting issue, observations and test scores into a sound cognitive assessment, followed by relevant and clear recommendations.

Demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills and an ability to communicate effectively with students, parents and staff.

When communicating with students my main focus was on establishing rapport and trust from the outset in the therapeutic relationships. I achieved this through activate listening, empathy, taking a non-judgemental and non-blaming stance. My interpersonal and communication skills were evident in a case where I worked with an adolescent male whose mother had significant mental health diagnoses, including a personality disorder, anxiety and depression. My client had difficulties identifying his feelings, was unable to describe his likes and dislikes, and showed parentified behaviours. My communication with him was non-intrusive and I allowed him the space and time to talk about himself in order for him to start to develop a sense of self. I focused on being genuine, and provided him with the time needed so he could formulate what he wanted to say without interrupting. I also used less formal therapy settings, often engaging with him while we played basketball or cards. During therapy when protective issues arose, I handled this very delicately by using active listening, taking a non-blaming stance, displaying empathy and asking direct questions to assess the immediate risk. I was also direct and honest when explaining to both my client and his mother the significance of these protective concerns. At the same time, I maintained a trusting therapeutic alliance with the adolescent by explaining the importance of his safety. Overall, this challenging and rewarding experience provided a platform in which to enhance my interpersonal and communication skills, and my ability to discuss highly sensitive and difficult matters in a manner that facilitated and maintained a trusting therapeutic alliance, which in turn provided my client and his mother with a sense of empowerment.

Demonstrated the ability to engage in evidence based short-term counselling, deliver group interventions and provide appropriate referrals externally based on student needs.

I have had extensive experience in providing evidence-based short-term counselling to students of all ages, and working with their parents in therapeutic settings. Across my employment and clinical placements, I adopted and used a number of therapeutic treatment approaches, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Play Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy, and Motivational Interviewing. I developed and adopted an array of differing styles, and drew extensively from these approaches to provide a best fit for students of various ages and diverse cultural backgrounds. For example, I found using ACT a very useful model when working with students from diverse cultural backgrounds as the approach focuses on values and allowed me to gain a greater understanding into their culture and values. I found using CBT with adolescents who were experiencing anxiety and depression a very helpful model to guide therapy as the approach focuses on awareness and cycle of thoughts that perpetuated anxiety or depressive symptoms.

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Annie Cerone