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An Experiential Learning Centre: An Essential Platform to Becoming a Competent Counsellor

26 Jul 2022

A well-developed and designed master’s programme in training competent counsellors requires a well-designed curriculum structure that prepare students to become ethical and culturally sensitive as well as equipping them with skills that fulfil the needs of society. All these require an effective delivery to facilitate a meaningful and practical learning experience for students.

 

One of the teaching and learning approaches used by the International Medical University (IMU) Master of Counselling faculty in training competent counsellors is using an Experiential Learning Approach. This approach involves students “learning through reflection and doing”.

 

In most of the practical classes, students will be given hands-on experiences to gain practical skills to support clients. In the process of learning new skills, students are expected to reflect on their learning and to process the experiences in order to increase personal awareness.

The IMU Psychology and Counseling Centre (PCLC) is a dedicated learning centre initiated by the Department of Psychology to provide an experiential learning platform that allows students to practice learned skills and collect practical hours to fulfil the requirement set by the Malaysian Board of Counsellors.

The PCLC’s main objectives are to provide a training ground for students from the Master of Counselling programme to become competent mental health professionals, and at the same time providing accessible mental health service for the community.

 

In PCLC, students are closely supervised by experienced registered counsellors and receive support from multidisciplinary practising faculty to provide guidance throughout their practice to ensure the best of care for our service recipients. The mission of PCLC is to produce well-trained and competent mental health professionals, to increase awareness and knowledge of our citizens towards mental health, and finally to lower the barriers in accessing quality mental health services.

 

As a platform of training for the Master’s students, PCLC offers a wide range of counselling services, including individual counselling, family and marriage/couple counselling, career counselling, grief and bereavement counselling, and expressive art therapy. Before beginning practicum and internship, the Master’s students have been trained in their respective elective modules, which grant them the competence in handling diverse cases, including crisis cases, couple and family cases, grief cases and many more. It is envisioned that through this exposure to real cases, our Master’s students will be ready to enter the working field and be able to face the challenges, while being aware of the continuous need for professional growth and self-enhancement.

 

To cater for these services, the PCLC is well-equipped with an advanced audio-video system that allows for live observation or recording of counselling sessions for supervision purposes, and also includes sand trays and figurines, visual cards, and other art materials for expressive art and creative interventions, as well as a series of psychological assessment tools.

As a counselling and learning centre, PCLC has five comfortably furnished counselling rooms, one resource room that is equipped with PCs for students to complete their case notes, and two smaller rooms to conduct online teaching and counselling. Furthermore, the centre has administrative personnel overseeing the centre to ensure the smooth running of the activities.

In addition to counselling services, the PCLC also allows students to organise workshops and support groups, for instance, self-exploration through cards play, family bonding through sand-tray, strength-based assessment workshop, and psychoeducation talks. These activities allow students to acquire the ability and confidence to work at a wider scale in the mental health field.

Here, our students share about the learning gained throughout the programme and support received from the PCLC.

 

Studying counselling at IMU is not just about learning skills and knowledge, but it is more like a journey of self discovery and growth. Expressive Arts Therapy module is an eye-opener to endless possibilities in this profession. Supportive lecturers and peers enhance the learning atmosphere and motivate me to step out of my comfort zone. I am blessed to be among this pioneering batch of students.

Kuah Rui Ning

I am glad that I have joined IMU to study my Master of Counselling programme. The experience, guidance and opportunities provided by my lecturers have provided me a better quality of learning and preparation for me to practice as a future counsellor. I truly appreciate the support provided by PCLC admins as they not only provide support to us on client scheduling but also make an effort to create content related to counselling in order to build a positive awareness to the public.

Wai Kar Yan

I love and enjoy my learning experience in this programme, as I am exposed to the various learning methods and trainings from experienced lecturers in each professionnal area. Other than that, not limited to the learning, space and support are provided for me in self-exploration and discovery throughout this journey to understand myself better. PCLC is established as well to provide students a place for training and practice, equipped with good facilities in supporting us to be a professional counsellor.

Lean Yi Wen

For me, it has been a life changing journey – I have gained invaluable experiences through the coursework and activities, that had given me the opportunity to reflect on my journey so far, tap into my inner world and gain a deeper level of understanding of myself. My learning has also been enriched by the nurturing environment the lecturers had provided for me. The programme also provides a counselling centre (PCLC) where students are able to practice their counselling skills, equipped with high tech recording facilities for assessment and evaluation purposes. Besides that, counselling tools such as cards, sand tray and expressive art materials are also provided for the students to help facilitate the counselling sessions. The MOC programme does not only hold a space for learning, but a place with a true sense of constant growth and belonging.

Tiara Wong Hwei Juin

PCLC is currently offering Career Assessment Services for school leavers or individuals to understand and explore their personal attributes which will influence their potential success and satisfaction with different career choices.  Kindly contact us +603-27206840 or email to us PCLC@imu.edu.my to register for the service.

 

Written by Chong Hui Ying and Dr Nicole Chen Lee Ping

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