Certainly I achieved my Learning Goals as expressed in this Contract: “how to recognise and respond to mental health issues; the collaborative recovery model (CRM) for people with mental illnesses; and suicide prevention, safe home visitation, child protection and cultural awareness”. Indeed, Aftercare ensured my attainment of these goals by most generously sponsoring my participation in professional workshops on all these vital topics, as well as affording me a wealth of other opportunities including engaging with clients in face-to-face counselling sessions.
The two-day workshop on the collaborative recovery method (CRM) was especially inspirational, as it acquainted me with what appears to be an increasingly internationallyaccepted way of working with people with mental illnesses, largely developed at the University of Wollongong. Though considerations of space preclude a detailed discussion of the CRM here, in brief it is a „client-led? , „evidence-based? , manualised model based on the two guiding principles that recovery is both „individual? and „collaborative? and consisting of four collaborative components: „change enhancement? , „identification of values and strengths? , „visioning and goal-striving? and „action and monitoring?. Even more fundamental to my personal and professional development than such invaluable learnings, however, is the fact that my placement with Aftercare has enabled me to achieve the over-riding ambition implicit but unstated in my Student Placement Learning and Supervision Contract, that of overcoming my previous fears of working with people suffering mental illnesses.
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In my relative ignorance of mental illnesses following the study of just one module on the subject, I was rendered apprehensive by warnings like that of Meares and Stevenson (2000) that “the treatment of severe personality disorder is a hazardous business”, and that some helping professionals react so badly to such sufferers as to treat them “with the rejection, abuse and neglect which was characteristic of their early lives” (p. 869).
An additional caution was that of authors including Berry and Haddock (2008) that “counselling and supportive psychotherapy are not recommended” for clients with schizoid conditions (p. 421). My experience at Aftercare has dispelled my previous and initial apprehensions in a number of ways. Since the very commencement of my placement I have been impressed by how deeply and genuinely respectful of clients the case-workers are. Even more impressive is the fact that, as I gradually realised, some of the paid case-workers are peer-workers, that is,