The pandemic has pulled the rug from under the feet of many, rocking nations with travel restrictions and lockdowns. It has also dramatically altered daily life as we know it, making social outings and milestone events seem like quaint things of the past.
As the world gradually returns to normal, the impact of prolonged lockdowns and the uncertainty it comes with will remain. Prolonged incidences of worry and stress lead to higher rates of depression, anxiety and insomnia, fuelling the need for quality mental health support. Figures suggest a strong job outlook for professionals in the field. In Australia, positions within counselling alone are set to grow from 31,200 in 2019 to 38,900 in 2024.
For those looking to become a mental health professional, Cairnmillar Institute is the place to do it. Founded in 1961, Cairnmillar is a not-for-profit organisation, registered health promotion charity and an institution with decades of experience in championing the importance of counselling and psychotherapy in Australia.
Cairnmillar’s current courses aim to fill a shortage of mental health professionals. Take Cairnmillar’s latest TEQSA-accredited double major Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling degree, for instance. The programme was recently introduced to provide an immersive learning experience for aspiring mental health experts vying to get career-ready quickly.
How quick? Those who choose this programme will be qualified to counsel in just three years. Once APAC accreditation is gained the additional honours year puts them on the pathway to becoming psychologists. Cairnmillar educators who double as industry practitioners or researchers ensure graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to thrive.
The Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling degree is anything but ordinary. “It’s unique for a number of reasons,” says senior lecturer and course coordinator Jenny Coburn.
“These two fields (psychology and counselling) are similar in some ways and quite different in other ways. The course, as a whole, is dedicated to producing well-rounded practitioners, focusing not only on the knowledge and skills involved in practice but also on the reflective and ethical capacities of the practitioner themselves.”
To ensure outstanding outcomes, this inspiring programme focuses solely on mental health. Each student explores subjects such as counselling and psychological theories, human development across the lifespan, social psychology and foundational principles in cognition and neuroscience.
“The Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling keeps your options open,” says Coburn. “It is not unusual for students to begin a course not knowing what their favourite subjects will be – where their passion will lie — until they are actually doing the course.”
Learners are also required to complete 40 hours of direct counselling experience and real-world exposure through industry placements. “This means that you will spend time working within a counselling agency or service,” explains Coburn. “The Cairnmillar Institute has developed industry partnerships with organisations that provide quality counselling services. We also have our own, busy clinics!”
Upon completion of the programme, graduates can assume lucrative careers in administration, advertising, business, community services (such as child protection), counselling, government, human rights, media, policy development, public relationship, publishing, research, and more. The field can also be financially rewarding — counsellors in Australia can earn between AU$54,000 and AU$102,000 annually.
The Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling also serves as a potential pathway into Cairnmillar’s Master of Counselling & Psychotherapy, leading to eligibility for registration as a psychotherapist with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).
Anne Best left her performing arts background behind to pursue just that. After three years of private practice, she realised a master’s degree would help her broaden her skillset for maximum social impact. “Cairnmillar is a place of integrity, which was important to me,” she says.
The student experience she pursued and enjoys today is one she encourages all aspiring mental health professionals to consider. The lecturers she’s encountered have been ever-willing to answer her burning questions with all the sensitivity therapists are required to have.
Coburn explains how, stating: “We’re not a large institution, so it is easier to get to know us, and for us to get to know you. Our smaller size also means it is easier to access your teacher or to chat with the Course Coordinator. Academic support is available to you all year, and at times, particular workshops will be run, so you receive relevant information when you need it.”
Feel inspired? To begin your journey in impacting the lives and wellbeing of others, click here to learn more about Cairnmillar Institute.