Otago Polytechnic
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A good fit: theory and practice

Dianne Begg

When the Polytechnic advertised a position for a lecturer who could help establish a counselling training programme in 2001, Dianne Begg jumped at the chance. “I just applied and thought, dream territory, I will never get the opportunity for a position like this again,” she said.

Dianne, now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Services, is in charge of finding work placements for students in the Bachelor of Social Services (BSS) endorsed counselling programme.  As part of the programme, students also need to produce a work portfolio to present to an expert panel.

Dianne’s become intrigued by how students integrate their theory into practice, and whether the match between students and placement providers was a good fit.

“That’s how my own research came into being. I wanted know whether we were meeting the developmental needs and standards of counselling, whether we were getting the right match between the students and placement providers, and whether what was presented to the panel was of a good and sufficient standard,” she said.

She was also interested in knowing a student’s journey through the process and wanted to understand their frustrations and drive to succeed as a counsellor.

“All the students want to become the best counsellor they can. That’s not always a simple process; for some, the academic learning comes more easily than the actual practice. For others, working with the clients is great but the academic learning is difficult. So each student has a unique set of frustrations and challenges. For them, success is being able to say that I have my BSS endorsed in counselling.” 

As far as the placement side of it went, there was a good outcome. Dianne found that all the placement providers were willing to take a student again.