Hi there! My name is Estelle, and I’d like to give you a peek at a day in the life of an Online Counselling Student here at TrainSmart Australia. You may be considering what it would be like to study online and wondering if it would suit your current lifestyle. In this article, I will walk you through an “average day” when I am studying to show you how I approached online counselling study.
Why Study Online?
I chose to study online because I was working part-time, and the online approach suited my family life and situation. The important thing is that you have to get organised and keep yourself to your plan – it’s easy to slack off, but that won’t get you the desired results. So if you approach your study with enthusiasm and responsibility, you will get great results and have fun in the process!
Why did I choose to Diploma in Counselling?
I was drawn to studying counselling because although I had worked most of my adult life in the health sector, I felt that I could put the knowledge I had gained to better use by helping people more directly. It felt like it was the next logical step to create a greater impact in the world through my work, rather than just repeating all I had done for the previous 20 years.
Many people choose to complete a Diploma in Counselling to jump into a different career, while some complete it because of the skills they learn from the course that can be utilised in their current employment or family life. Undoubtedly, skills learned in the diploma course are directly applicable to pretty much every aspect of your personal and professional lives.
Top 3 Reasons for Studying a Diploma of Counselling
The reasons I chose to study with TrainSmart Australia were many, but here are the top three.
A Diploma of Counselling is the perfect stepping stone if you wish to move on to complete a Bachelor’s degree. All of the subjects you study in the diploma can count towards a one-third of a university degree, for example should you decide to take that next step.
A Diploma of Counselling can be your ticket into a new and rewarding career, in helping people navigate through their issues. Whether that be supporting people through their mental health, providing substance abuse counselling, or anything in between, you will be learning the skills to embark on a new career path.
The skills and knowledge you will gain from studying a Diploma of Counselling will benefit you not only professionally but personally as well. In fact, many students find that the professional development they experience is one of the most rewarding aspects of the course.
Study Requirements for an Online Diploma of Counselling:
When you commence studying for an Online Diploma of Counselling, you can expect the following study requirements:
- 15-20 hours per week commitment for study and classes for a duration of 12 months
- Active participation in online classes
- Active participation in role plays
- Professional and respectful behaviour in the classroom and on placement
- Taking responsibility of own learning and reaching out when needing support
How will you study for your Diploma of Counselling?
The Diploma of Counselling qualification is delivered through a blended learning approach, combining the flexibility of online learning with the practical support of live training via web tutorials, online forums, and interactive eLearning. All learning, whether that be online or face-to-face, is overseen by a qualified trainer and assessor.
Our Simulated Practical service also supports this course, where students can complete practical assessments in a safe, controlled and simulated environment.
So What Does Online Study Look Like on a Daily Basis?
So here is an example of how the day flows when I am studying.
6:00 am – Wake Up
I only have classes 2 days per week, the rest of the time, I work, so this is my routine for the days I am studying. I am usually an early bird, so I get up and exercise and take the dog for a walk before breakfast.
8:00 am – Getting Started
My first class isn’t until 9:30 am, so I usually spend an hour or so reading, making notes, or doing any assignments that are pending. My brain is most creative first thing in the morning, so that’s when I try to work on creating new content, like completing assessments or assignments. I know some people who are just so NOT morning people – and that’s fine. The trick with this is that you get to choose how and when you do your work – as long as you do it! Just make sure you do what works best for you.
9:30 am – First Online Class
My first online class is a tutorial with students from all around the country. We get to discuss the content, and each person contributes to the discussion, either in a live audio chat room or on a forum where you can type in your questions. It’s important to have a quiet background and good headphones to help keep the class audio clear and understandable and you can concentrate on the subject. If you can have a room dedicated to this, like an office or a bedroom, then that is ideal. Although I’ve seen some students attend their classes in their workplace or in a public library. Another thing you do need is good internet, although that is becoming easier as technology advances.
At the end of each class, I summarise the class, even if it’s just in dot points, and then I note down what is required next for that class, as this aids my memory of the class and it’s content.
11:00 am Second Online Class
My second class is a video-based class, with a chat room attached where we can ask questions of the lecturer. It’s just like physically attending a class, without the travel!
Once again, a quiet environment is an advantage, so you can hear the audio and concentrate on the content. It also helps your classmates if your video feed is free of interruptions and distractions, so that your colleagues or the tutor are not distracted by your background.
12:00 noon Lunch break
At noon, I take a lunch break and usually go out for a walk, because I hate sitting down all day. Another option is to use this time to run errands or call friends so that you minimise interruptions while you are studying. It’s important to let your family and friends know that just because you are studying from home, doesn’t mean that you are free and available for a chat or to do things. If you are going to study, then commit to the process and set clear boundaries regarding when you are available for a chat.
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Homework
When I return from lunch, I dive into my homework, which often includes writing assignments and/or completing prescribed readings. I keep all assignments on an electronic calendar to know what is due and what is required to be done. I will work for a few hours or until the important tasks are done in the afternoons.
I usually closed down my computer around 3:30 pm, when my son returned from school. That way, I was able to plan my study and work around my family’s needs – so we all benefited.
Others may like to plan their study day differently, and that is fine. It’s one of the many benefits of studying online. You are the master of your own ship, in that you do get to work when it suits you.
Create a Balanced Approach to Study:
While study and online classes are a priority, taking care of your body and mental health is extremely important, especially now. Whether cooking a healthy meal, doing a daily workout, or taking a brain break, studying consumes much of our life.
That being said, online courses are just as demanding as traditional courses, so each individual must learn how they learn best, what schedule works for them, and how to organise their time for the most success!
My experience is that if you know how your body and mental health work best, then why not use this as an opportunity to play to your strengths? If you are mentally sharp in the morning, do your study in the early hours of the day. If you’re a night owl, then work when the sun goes down. Working to your strengths will allow you to do more quality work in a shorter period of time – and isn’t that what we all desire?
What To Avoid:
There are a few pitfalls that you can easily avoid with a little awareness and some pre-planning. Just because you are working online, doesn’t mean you have to do less study. It’s easy to put things off or try to take shortcuts because some people take the approach that online study is easier and less intense than face than internal study option.
That is not true. The work is the same, whether you are studying internally or externally. So you have to be prepared to put in the time and energy to complete the subjects. Studying online requires self-discipline – and at times, it is a real challenge. But I truly believe that the benefits certainly outweigh the limitations!
Another trap to avoid is leaving assignments until the last minute to complete. If you are dedicated to completing your course, you need to keep up to date with assignments and communicate with your tutors, and basically, you have to study when you are required to. This will make your study experience so much smoother, and your results will benefit too!
Meet one of our recent Counselling Graduates
“I’m Angie, from Perth. I decided to study counselling because I’ve always been interested in people and why they do the things they do. I chose TrainSmart Australia for my studies because of the convenience of being able to study online and still have time for my family.”
Gain Practical Experience In a Safe Environment
As a part of studying Health and Community Services at TrainSmart Australia, some units require students to complete practical assessments that simulate a counselling setting. These assessments give students opportunities to practice counselling skills and techniques before entering the workplace.
The practical sessions were invaluable because they allowed me to put the theory I’d been learning into practice in simulated counselling sessions. This gave me the confidence to know that I really could be a good and effective counsellor.
Simulated Practicals provides a safe and controlled environment to build confidence and develop essential counselling skills for future health care professionals.
Simulated Practicals simulates a counselling environment through an online Zoom call which involves a Health and Community Services assessor, an actor and the learner/student. In these sessions, the actor takes on the role of resembling a real-life client, in which an issue or traumatic event is retold from the actor’s perspective.
Based on the assessment criteria, the student is tasked with responding to the client with a focus on utilising skills taught in the unit.
Through the sessions, students can gain valuable feedback and be prepared to handle complex situations before entering the real-world environment.
Does an Online Diploma of Counselling Course Suit You?
Here are some factors that are beneficial whilst studying counselling:
- Curiosity – curious about who people are, what makes them think the way they do, what issues they face, where change is required
- Integrity – counselling isn’t about fixing or rescuing people; it’s about understanding them and supporting them while they work through their issues.
- Independently driven – self-motivated to learn
- Effective communicator – be open to speaking to new people, be willing to reach out for help or support
- Research skills – have a keen interest in reading, watching YouTube Videos, know how to search for areas of interest or further knowledge online
- Active participation – in online classes and role plays
What qualities should counselling student possess?
To study and work work in the industry of counselling, it is highly advisable that you possess the following qualities:
- Good active listener
- Ability to sit back and ask questions while letting people understand their own problems
- Ability to work independently
- A positive outlook on life
- Welcomes diversity
What will you Learn in a Diploma in Counselling Course?
The Diploma of Counselling teaches a number of key learning outcomes, including:
- Understanding the legal and ethical obligations in helping vulnerable people
- Build rapport and trusting therapeutic relationships
- Understand theories in contemporary practice
- Provide services to people from a diverse community and with a range of needs e.g. mental health issues and alcohol and other drugs
- Understand how people process their emotions
- Guide people struggling to work through their emotions
- Identify areas where change is needed
- Adopt a Person-Centred approach
- Develop counselling & treatment plans to industry standards
To gain these learning outcomes students are guided through 17 nationally recognised units in this course.
Core Counselling Skills You’ll Gain:
- Social Perceptiveness – Understanding why people react the way they do
- Questioning – Asking the ‘right’ questions to understand people and the core of the issue
- Active Listening- Listening to others, what’s being said and how it’s being said
- Communication skills – Knowing what to say and when to say it
- Critical Thinking – Identifying central issues and different ways to solve a problem
- Active Learning – Being able to use what you’ve learned to solve both current and future problems
- Building Rapport – Forming connections by talking to others in an empathic, fully engaged manner
What are some Job Opportunities for a Student with a Diploma in Counselling?
The CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling qualification can lead to an array of career opportunities with job titles such as;
- School Counsellor
- Mental health support worker
- Community Services worker
- Drug and Alcohol Counsellor
- Case Worker
- Youth Worker
- Guidance Officer
- Disability Respite Worker
TrainSmart Australia also has several standing agreements in place with universities across Australia, which guarantees student entry and credit transfers upon completion of this Diploma.
The Diploma in Counselling can lead to entry and further studies into a Bachelor of Counselling.
Is the Diploma of Counselling All I Need to Become a Counsellor?
Essentially, yes. Counselling is an unregulated title, meaning there are no regulations around calling yourself a counsellor. However, you will not be able to join an Industry Association, which is viewed as the sign of a qualified and experienced professional, without a minimum qualification at Diploma level. You will not be eligible for Professional Indemnity Insurance, which is a requirement for Industry Membership also.
Diplomas are sufficient baseline qualifications for joining an Industry Association, such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) or Australian Counselling Association (ACA). TrainSmart Australia is not officially affiliated with ACA however Diploma of Counselling can gain provisional membership with by completing 25 hours of Clinical Supervision.
Diploma of Counselling graduates may also consider other associations such as PAFA, and ACCA as an alternative.