Life is full of surprises. From unexpected project outcomes to unforeseen circumstances, we never can be 100% certain what our future has in store for us. Take our current reality for example. Five months ago could you ever have imagined this, our new, strange, restricted life in lockdown?
Carol Aslin, 60, is a professional artist with a creative career that spans almost forty years. Serendipitously she discovered the power of psychology and decided to study it online through SACAP. Carol completed her Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills through SACAP’s Online Campus earlier this year and admits its life-changing consequences have given her a new and somewhat unanticipated purpose. We caught up with Carol and asked her to share her story.
Carol is from Zambia. Although she’s spent her school years in South Africa and much of her career in New York and London – where she worked as a producer in the film industry and then in interior decorative paint effects – she moved back to her home country 20 years ago and is currently living in Lusaka.
“I didn’t really have a dream job as a kid,” she says. “I just wanted to get out of boarding school and travel, be free, be wild and experience life and all it had to offer.” Since Carol’s return to Zambia she’s been painting pictures on canvas and exhibiting regularly.
Four years ago Carol noticed she’d become increasingly curious about psychological concepts. “I had so many questions that would whiz around in my head while I was painting!” she exclaims. “I wanted to discover more about people – how they think and behave, why and how they use their defences, and how childhood experiences affect us as adults.”
Fork in the road
“A friend of mine’s daughter was studying at SACAP and really loving it so I decided to enrol for the Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills,” says Carol. “It wasn’t easy to go from visual work to written, but I loved the challenge and the more I learnt the more inquisitive I became.” Little did Carol realise that her fledgling interest was about to birth a whole new chapter in her life’s tapestry.
Having more time is one of the benefits of studying later in life, as is an increased capacity for fortitude. Carol says that as an artist she’s well versed in self-discipline. “I enjoyed working online and found it easy to do the prescribed hours and reading. There were times I struggled, too,” she concedes. “Sometimes I wished I was on campus with other students to discuss aspects of psychology and argue different points of view.”
Fortunately, says Carol, the interactive nature of SACAP’s online learning environment squashed any errant feelings of isolation. “We had weekly online discussion groups where we could interact and examine course content, which was of great value.”
Content is king
In Carol’s view SACAP’s course material is excellent. “The modules are all engrossing, the content really draws you in, the lecturers are very helpful and encouraging, and they’re always there if you have queries or need assistance,” she asserts. “What I really like about SACAP is the way the content is delivered. In my experience it never became boring, was always challenging and taught me to look at things from different perspectives.”
Despite studying remotely, the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) component of her Diploma was expertly handled, Carol feels. “The team was always available to discuss any problems and I felt very comfortable with them when asking for support or help.”
Happily Carol was able to complete her WIL hours before the coronavirus restrictions vaporised most of our human contact liberties. “Fortunately I managed to get my hours in before Covid-19 closed us down in Zambia, which was later than in South Africa,” she says. “The WIL online student support team was extremely helpful and flexible during the restrictions, and even though they must have been going through chaos themselves they stayed calm and accessible.”
At the end of her academic journey, Carol considered not fulfilling her WIL placement requirements. “I never really thought I’d give up being a professional artist. I loved it and I was successful at it,” she explains. “SACAP pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to complete the Diploma at a later stage so I began to enquire about places in Lusaka where I could do my WIL placement. Fortuitously, things came together in a wonderful, serendipitous way.”
Carol discovered an organisation that offers a number of different psychosocial services and would allow her to carry out all of her WIL requirements. “It changed my life really!” exclaims Carol. “I loved it and as time progressed I became more confident. All the knowledge I’d gained over the years through SACAP’s various modules and psychosocial work came together as a solid foundation, which I was able to apply in practise with my clients.”
The outcome of her decision to study online has surprised Carol, she admits. “It has been a growing, exciting, life-changing experience for me.” Her psychology journey may have just begun but ultimately, and unexpectedly, it’s informed what she wants to pursue in the future. “I hope that one day, when qualified to do so, I have a small practice of my own and that I will have helped people develop their own self-awareness and assisted them to garner meaning out of their life’s experiences,” she says.
What’s your future game plan? If like Carol you’re interested in people and the many nuances that make us tick, then a career in counselling could be a very worthwhile avenue for you to pursue – no matter where you are in the world!
SACAP has a well-established Online Campus that offers a range of accredited online counselling courses that you can study wherever you want. All you need is a computer and a stable Internet connection. The stimulating content and online educators will keep you motivated and you’ll have the flexibility and convenience of being able to manage your weekly workload. How cool! If the idea of gaining a first-class qualification packaged neatly and conveniently in a constructive and well-structured online environment sounds right up your academic alley, you can find out more here. SACAP’s next intake for the online Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills is in September (Term 3) and registration is open now. The course could be the key ingredient to your success story… Enquire here today.