UNE’s key role in national plans for counselling education

Published 29 August 2008

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A meeting between the University of New England and two national organisations of counsellors and psychotherapists has initiated a process aimed at the development of unified national standards for counselling and psychotherapy education in Australia.

The meeting, yesterday at UNE, was hosted by Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions. Taking part in the discussions were Philip Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), and Dr Colin Benjamin, Chief Executive Officer of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).

ACA and PACFA, together, represent about 6,000 members. Yesterday’s meeting at UNE was the first time the two national bodies have officially come together to promote the development of unified national standards for counselling and psychotherapy education.

They came to UNE because of the University’s distinguished history in the education of counsellors. UNE has produced many hundreds of counselling graduates, and is the first university to engage in postgraduate counselling programs – including a Master of Counselling degree with Honours and a PhD in Counselling. UNE academics and alumni were instrumental in the foundation of both ACA and PACFA.

Mr Armstrong and Dr Benjamin said they were committed to forming solid national working parties and collaborative projects to promote the public interest and to improve practitioners’ working conditions and access to allied health care provisions. They said there were about 16,000 practitioners in Australia who identified themselves as counsellors – in addition to social workers, psychologists, and other mental health practitioners who do counselling – suggesting the existence of a significant demand for core training as well as ongoing professional development.

UNE’s Dr Randolph Bowers, Founding Editor in Chief of the first Australian and international research journal dedicated to counselling – Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Health (www.cphjournal.com), sponsored by the Australian Counselling Association – also attended yesterday’s meeting, along with Associate Professor Jeanne Madison, Acting Head of UNE’s School of Health, and Dr Myfanwy Maple, Lecturer in Counselling.

“This meeting signalled a renewal of mutual commitment to collaboration and ongoing growth in counsellor education programs,” Dr Bowers said. “UNE Counselling has a record of great distinction through leading educational and practice-based standards nationally and internationally, and is one of the first Australian universities to take postgraduate counsellor education into Asia and the United States, via long-term and productive partnerships in Hong Kong and California.”

For more information about UNE Counselling Studies contact Dr Bowers at counsellingstudies@une.edu.au.

A PHOTOGRAPH showing (from left) Dr Randolph Bowers, Philip Armstrong, Dr Colin Benjamin, and Professor Victor Minichiello can be seen by clicking on the image displayed here.