Who's the expert?
For 20 years now Otago Polytechnic's Kōwhai Centre has been providing a free counselling service for clients 17 years of age and older in a confidential and safe setting. Counselling is provided by students of our Bachelor of Social Services programme under clinical supervision.
Morag Cunningham and Stephanie Revell undertook research into the use of Person-Centred Counselling (PCC) at the Kōwhai Centre. To preserve student anonymity an independent research assistant interviewed students with respect to their learning about the PCC model and their use of it. The students understood the model well and appreciated its strengths, positioning the client as the expert in the client's own life.
The research has confirmed that the PCC model is a useful starting point for counsellors in training. The student feedback also identified ways the programme could be adapted to enhance their learning. More experiential and observational learning opportunities have been introduced. The students' external placement has also been moved back later in the third year of study to provide an opportunity for them to gain familiarity with additional counselling modalities which ultimately supports students in their work with clients.