Management & Leadership

What I learnt from going back to school as an adult

Jan 28, 2014
Back to school as an adult

Cape Town businesswoman, wife, mother and new SACAP graduate, Melody Hendriks explains how going back to school as an adult gave her a learning experience unlike anything she could have expected…

‘Since completing my psychology Honours degree many years ago (in 1996!), I have always longed to further my studies but family and life kind of got in the way. I looked at applying for a Masters degree but the reality was that this meant a good three years out of my life, something that just wasn’t going to work. Instead, I chose SACAP’s Advanced Certificate in Counselling Course, a one-year qualification that has been designed to further knowledge in psychology, human behaviour and mental health, with a strong focus on applied counselling and communication skills. The course comprises nine study modules, as well as a choice of elective modules, which allow students to deepen their specialised knowledge and skills in particular practice areas.

Although there is the option to do the course part-time over two years, I did it full-time as I wanted to complete it within the year – I’d made the decision to dedicate 2013 to my studies. I attended three morning lectures a week. It was wasn’t easy with the responsibilities of family and my business, but managed to fit it all in… just!

I liked the idea of selecting modules that were of interest to me specifically. My favourite was Family Work and Relationships a field that really interests me. It was a very interactive class with an amazing lecturer, Clinical Psychologist Carey Bremridge, who really made us dig deep and learn through our own personal experiences. A lot of what I learnt in that class also helped enormously in the other modules.

The optional courses had much smaller groups, which gave a lot of scope for one-on-on learning. There was a great deal of interaction and sharing but it’s basically up to each student to decide how much he or she wants to get out of the programme.

To graduate, I also had to complete a fieldwork preparation module and do 200 hours of fieldwork before December 2013. I was placed at BADISA, a non-profit organisation that focuses on adoption and fostering in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. I really loved it. Putting my knowledge into practice was essential and, although I had supervision, I was given the freedom to use the skills I gained. It was a crucial part of my learning experience.

I really loved the course. It was very different to my degree in terms of being much more individual and interactive. It also took me on a personal journey, which in itself is an experience crucial for those entering the field of counseling – whether or not I wanted to, I was forced to address with my own skeletons and face them head on. The personal growth I’ve experienced in my emotional reasoning has been phenomenal. I’m now able to look at issues from a much wider perspective and, as a result, can generate more possible solutions to problems, both my own and those of others. I’ve also learnt to listen and not just to throw in my two cents without thinking first.

I’m hoping to be able to set up a small private counselling practice myself. I’ll continue with some more volunteer work at non-profits to gain more experience in the meantime and also to provide a vital service as I’ve seen first-hand the desperate need for counselling services in these organisations.

I’d definitely recommend the SACAP learning experience. As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop indulging in some personal time – something I’d never have afforded myself before I did the course!

Learn more about the South African College of Applied Psychology’s programme of accredited counselling, coaching and psychology courses at www.www.sacap.edu.za.

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