How This Student Is Helping Her Community & Making A Difference – SACAP
Applied Psychology

How this student is helping her community & making a difference

Jan 08, 2019

Nabilah Davis is doing life-changing work thanks to SACAP’s support and guidance

Oh man! Making the right decision can feel so hard sometimes, right? Choosing what to do after matric, for example, can affect your future profoundly so the stakes are pretty high. Luckily the seedling of your career dreams already resides within. There’s a passion there that’s waiting to take root and grow. The time has come to focus inwardly and really listen to your gut. SACAP alumni Nabilah Davis, 26, a student-registered counsellor working in the Department of Correctional Service, says she did just that and hasn’t looked back: “Choosing psychology was the best decision I could have made. I have absolutely no regrets and I’m loving where I am at.”

Sowing the seed

“I always dreamed of becoming a paediatrician,” recalls Nabilah who grew up in the Cape Flats area of Athlone. Armed with her keen interest in social science she knew she wanted to be in a profession that helped others so she started studying medicine.

“I completed my first year, but somehow something didn’t feel right,” she concedes. “I realized that medicine wasn’t such a good fit for me and found that I was drawn to the psychology modules of my course.” Fortuitously Nabilah happened to read a piece about SACAP in the newspaper and decided to go along to the open day. “I remember walking onto the campus and everything just felt perfect – I knew it was where I wanted to be,” she says.

Nurturing the passion

Nabilah applied for admission into SACAP’s Higher Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills at the Cape Town campus where her passion for people was expertly nurtured. “Coming from a big university where I was just a number in a huge lecture hall, SACAP’s small intimate classes with opportunities for interactive and experiential learning really grabbed me. Also, the academically rigorous curricula and its emphasis on the application of knowledge through the training of relevant skills appealed to me, along with the possibilities to engage and connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds,” she says.

Developing from strength to strength, Nabilah went on to complete her Advanced Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills, followed by the Bachelor of Applied Social Science (BappSocSci) degree, as well as the Bachelor of Applied Social Science Honours degree. Currently Nabilah is coming to the end of SACAP’s Bpsych Equivalent Programme. “I have just completed the practicum component of the course where I was placed at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre in Cape Town,” she says.

According to Nabilah the work integrated learning components of SACAP’s various courses have been exceptionally valuable, especially as the scope of her practical experience has been so broad. “From working with refugees and children in foster care homes and orphanages, to counselling centres and loss and bereavement facilities, I’ve been able to experiment with skills and explore different avenues of interest,” she says. The result? Nabilah believes she’s really found her niche in the prison working with those in conflict with the law.

Driven by her passion for community work, Nabilah feels very strongly about providing good quality psychological care at primary health care level, which is why she decided to continue her studies to the level she has. SACAP’s BPsych Equivalent Programme incorporates an Honours degree in psychology and leads to professional registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a Registered Counsellor. “Psychological services have been largely fragmented, under resourced and inaccessible to the majority of the population,” she explains. “This qualification helps bridge the gap between social workers and psychologists and provides training that encourages personal development and growth.” Consequently, Nabilah says she’s learnt a lot about herself: “I have grown into a more insightful and sensitive human being.”

Beyond the academic skills and knowledge she has gained through her SACAP qualification, Nabilah maintains that her work integrated learning experience has helped facilitate job opportunities, too. “Through my internships I have built good relationships with people who have recommended me for my current position in the Department of Correctional Service,” she says.

In full bloom

In her spare time Nabilah enjoys playing the saxaphone – arguably an instrument that is tricky to master. Evidently her blossoming career success is a result of the same quiet determination she applies to her music. “What I love most about what I do is being able to really connect with others,” she says. “The most challenging aspect is having to recognise and accept the limits of what I can realistically achieve with clients. One never works in isolation but within multidisciplinary teams and alongside other organisations or institutions who may not always be as eager and willing to assist. However, while it presents as a challenge, it is the very same thing that keeps me motivated to continue doing my best.”

Nabilah’s determined dedication and commitment to hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Dr Jaclyn Lotter, Head of Programmes at SACAP, speaks very highly of her: “I think what stands out for me about Nabilah is her unwavering belief in the field of psychology and the hope she holds for every single client she works with – some of whom might otherwise not have access to mental health services. Nabilah is a role model to students and staff alike. She truly embodies the Registered Counsellor category and we cannot wait to see the impact she will continue to have on the mental health landscape of South Africa.”

As for the future, Nabilah plans to continue helping others. “While I hope to have completed my masters in clinical or forensic psychology and be working in a position that adds value, I trust that I will end up exactly where I need to be in that moment of my life – making a difference somewhere.”

Would you like to make a difference, too? South Africa has massive psychosocial and emotional needs, and well-trained counsellors are in desperate demand. If you’re fascinated by people and have a deep-seated desire to help them, then take the time to nurture your passion. Genuinely. Your country needs you! SACAP will help grow your budding dream into a full-blown reality. Enquire here now.

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