Mental health has become a significant focus of government policy in recognition of the importance of individual well being and ability to reach potential, the impact on families and communities, and social capital of society (e.g. The Future of Mental Health 2006). In this context it is acknowledged that counselling and counselling skills are effective interventions creating positive change and that there is a need for improved services at every level of service provision (Layard Report 2006). Counselling, guidance and support are viewed as a priority area. Alongside this, a wide range of professionals are finding skills associated with counselling, guidance and support to be essential in their job. This includes youth and community workers, teachers, social workers, nurses, doctors, human resource management personnel, managers and supervisors. The raft of initiatives such as Connexions, Next Steps, and Extended Schools as well as policy emphasising welfare services working together also reinforce its central position.
This programme enables the development of theory alongside practice, an opportunity not always available within pressured working contexts. Furthermore, it is offered within a distinct perspective, one that considers the impact of social inequalities as central to our understanding of emotional well being. In the UK, connecting this to non-oppressive counselling, guidance and support has been slow to develop but essential, as perspectives such as narrative/social constructionist, feminist/profeminist, anti-racist and gay/lesbian, critical psychology, community psychology and the User Movement have argued for many years. The MA Professional Practice: Counselling, Guidance and Support is rooted in the Social Action approach, a broad term that considers “the socio-political context of mental health, the operation of power, and the interaction between social structure and individual agency” (Miller & McLelland 2006). The content and delivery reflects the values and principles of this approach and holds reflective practice as its anchor.
The Lead Psychologist for Adult Mental Health and for Exeter and East Devon Partnership NHS Trust states “This course is uniquely placed in the South West offering grounding in counselling within a social justice perspective. It meets with many of the key modernisation priorities across public services to address the challenges of diversity, social inclusion and social disadvantage. The programme offers its students a meaningful opportunity to develop personal and professional skills so that an informed contribution may be made in turn to their work settings in addressing inequalities”
- Module 1: (30 credits) Saving Souls or Liberating People
- Module 2: (30 credits) Facilitating Change: the art of accomplishment
- Module 3 (30 credits) Contemporary Professional Dilemmas: identifying and formulating new directions
- Module 4 (30 credits) Research Methodology
- Dissertation (60 credits)
Each taught module has four elements:
1. Module Symposium
Modules begin with a 2-day module symposium (Thursday-Saturday) consisting of formal input, workshops and other collaborative learning activities. A programme will be circulated prior to each module – this will include input by visiting speakers and professionals as well as the multidisciplinary programme team. Module content aims to be at the forefront of professional and academic knowledge stimulating individual and collaborative thinking and reflection for practice. Each symposium will close with collaborative assignment planning. Details of local accommodation with negotiated subsidies will be provided for those attending from distance.
2. Action Learning Set
You will also join an Action Learning Set for each module (flexibly/collaboratively arranged) involving a small group of peers engaged in guided, focused and specific learning activities for the module.
3. Electronic Newsletter
An electronic newsletter and resources will also support learning and development through each module.
One to one guidance to assist in academic and professional development is available, in line with the philosophy of the College and its commitment to regular contact between staff and students. In addition, each student will be offered a formative assessment tutorial for each taught module – if appropriate this can be undertaken electronically.
People choosing this programme may already be involved in areas of work that will be considered and will want to develop their knowledge and capability to enhance their career and employment prospects. The course will be part of their professional development. Such people will include social workers, youth workers, community workers, education welfare, teachers, nurses and other health professionals e.g. speech and language therapists and managers etc. The process of developing knowledge and practice is likely to offer participants opportunities in policy development