Otago Polytechnic

Seeing the person, not the problem

It's a warm feeling when someone feels comfortable enough to open up, says Danielle Taripo.

Danielle Taripo

Study

The Bachelor of Social Services was the right fit from the very beginning. The learning was group-focused, and all of the subject areas were appealing and fascinating to me.

When Danielle Taripo moved from Blenheim to study at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, she knew she wanted a health-focused career that helped people.

“Initially, I completed the bridging certificate to health, and did well – particularly in Biology – so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing,” she says. “I discovered that my true passion was interacting with patients, so after a year, I withdrew from Nursing and began a Bachelor of Social Services instead.”

Danielle acknowledges this was a brave move – “I was nervous at the time about telling my family!” – but it was absolutely the right decision.

“The Bachelor of Social Services was the right fit from the very beginning,” she says. “The learning was group-focused, and all of the subject areas were appealing and fascinating to me.”

Ultimately though, when it was time to specialise in Second Year, Counselling won out. She and her classmates worked as student counsellors with real clients at the Polytechnic’s Kowhai Centre, a counselling clinic.

“That was a big learning opportunity and a huge confidence boost,” she recalls. “We’d done a lot of role-playing in class, but it’s not the same as actually sitting with a real client. Third Year students sat in with us for our first few sessions, and our lecturers would monitor at times, too, and give us useful feedback.”

Danielle describes third year as “a big step up”. She began a weekly work placement with Otago’s Mirror Services, which offers counselling and treatment programmes for children, young people and their whanau.

“It felt amazing to be welcomed to Mirror Services with a mihi whakatau, and I immediately loved the awesome team dynamic there,” she says. “I was both excited and nervous about the work at first – it’s a significant responsibility working with young clients, some of whom come from vulnerable places.”

About six months after Danielle graduated with her degree, she secured a permanent job at Mirror Services.

“I love so many aspects of my role, but one of the best is when I meet a young person for the first time,” she smiles. “They’re usually anxious, withdrawn and very focused on the reason they’re meeting with me. I spend time getting to know them, asking about their interests and friends, and it’s a special moment when they start to open up and feel seen as a person.”

Danielle wants to encourage others who are considering a career in Social Services.

“The Bachelor of Social Services is such a worthwhile programme – all the lecturers were awesome and the learning style was fantastic,” she says. “Otago Polytechnic puts a lot of thought into its programmes to make sure you get the best possible start to your career.” 

Bachelor of Social Services (with specialties in Career Practice, Counselling, Disability Support and Coordination or Mental Health Support)

Are you looking for a way to gain the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand? Want to become a counsellor, career practitioner or work in the social services, disability or mental health services? Look no further!

Health bridging certificate

Don’t have the academic requirements you need to enter one of our diploma- or degree-level healthcare programmes? No problem. By studying courses such as Function of the Human Body and an Introduction to Careers in Health, you will be well-prepared to apply for your chosen diploma or degree.

Student

Danielle Taripo

Study

Bachelor of Social Services (with specialties in Career Practice, Counselling, Disability Support and Coordination or Mental Health Support)

Are you looking for a way to gain the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand? Want to become a counsellor, career practitioner or work in the social services, disability or mental health services? Look no further!

Health bridging certificate

Don’t have the academic requirements you need to enter one of our diploma- or degree-level healthcare programmes? No problem. By studying courses such as Function of the Human Body and an Introduction to Careers in Health, you will be well-prepared to apply for your chosen diploma or degree.