Otago Polytechnic

Nurturing growth

Jo Cook is living her dream after establishing a health practice with trusted colleagues – a job she describes as the “best in the world”.

Jo Cook

Co-Founder and Counsellor, Foundation Health

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I only spent two years at high school so I didn’t think higher education was a possibility for me – now I’m planning to start my Doctorate!

When Jo Cook left high school early without any qualifications, she spent the next 15 years working as a hairdresser. Inspired by her own life experiences, she decided to become a counsellor.

“Being a hairdresser was a bit of a start down the counselling path,” she jokes.

Jo enrolled at Otago Polytechnic, gaining a Certificate and Diploma in a traditional class-based setting. Later, she got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees through our Capable NZ process, which accredits people for their existing work and life experience.

When I started out as a mature student, I wasn’t sure that I could do it. But I was so well supported, and the whole experience was life-changing. Tertiary education has completely changed my life.

Jo worked as a support worker with the Salvation Army; a counsellor with the Community Alcohol and Drug Service and at Rape Crisis; a lecturer and assessor at Otago Polytechnic and manager of its Kowhai Centre counselling service; and in her own private practice. In all her roles, she has been inspired by the human spirit.

It’s incredible to see how much strength people have and how they can survive adversity. It has given me hope and faith in people and their ability to grow, even when they may be in a really dire situation or coping with adverse life circumstances.

Some years ago, Jo and two colleagues – therapist, Rachael Moore, and psychiatrist, Dr Gavin Cape – established their own practice, Foundation Health. The practice is stylish, welcoming and beautifully-furnished, a tangible reflection of the way in which it values its clients.

We have a very strong ethos about how we work. We have utmost respect for people and work to support people’s strengths and the things they’re already doing well.

Clients go through a thorough assessment process to ensure they receive the right support, based on the principles of Te Whare Tapa Whā.

“First, everyone sees our psychiatrist to determine their medical needs, and then they see a therapist to discuss their social supports, relationships and so on,” she notes. “Then we formulate a treatment plan so nothing is missed.”

Jo feels she has the best job in the world.

This was my dream, and achieving it shows that anything is possible.

 

They've made it theirs - now make it yours!

 

Master of Professional Practice

Are you ready to advance your career through postgraduate education? Are you an experienced professional facing interesting challenges in your workplace? In a liberating approach to education, this postgraduate programme supports your ambitions by focusing on your development and work innovation goals. These real-life aims are directly used as the basis for your learning.

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

Want to become a counsellor, career practitioner or work in the social services, disability or mental health services? This degree programme will give you the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand.

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Jo Cook

Co-Founder and Counsellor, Foundation Health

Study

Master of Professional Practice

Are you ready to advance your career through postgraduate education? Are you an experienced professional facing interesting challenges in your workplace? In a liberating approach to education, this postgraduate programme supports your ambitions by focusing on your development and work innovation goals. These real-life aims are directly used as the basis for your learning.

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

Want to become a counsellor, career practitioner or work in the social services, disability or mental health services? This degree programme will give you the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand.