Student placements bring big benefits to community mental health
18 Sep 2023
Image: Students with caregivers from St John of God Mental Wellbeing Services and St John of God Raphael Services. From left, caregivers Chris and Leissa, students Iman, Liz and Angela, and caregiver Lloyd.
“I feel a bit like a sponge at this placement,” says Iman, 24, who is studying a Bachelor of Social Work at Perth’s Curtin University. “I’m constantly soaking up new skills and strategies, and collecting resources and information I can use in my future social work practice.”
She is currently on a student placement at St John of God Raphael Services and says it has been invaluable to help her understand the emotional challenges new parents and families can face during pregnancy and after their baby is born.
“Understanding how therapy, counselling and resources can foster emotional support and empowerment in new parents and help them develop meaningful relationships to positively impact their mental wellbeing has been amazing,” Iman says.
Angela, 25, also studying social work at Curtin University, is on placement at St John of God Mental Wellbeing Services and agrees that the supportive environment, where she can practice her skills by working directly with clients while having access to knowledgeable clinicians, has helped her grow in confidence.
“Working with a team and being able to ask as many questions as I need, as well as observe their skills in practice, has helped me. I know I will leave here a more confident social worker.”
St John of God Mental Wellbeing Services and St John of God Raphael Services WA Manager Natasha Tucker, says students come on placements from a range of disciplines, including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, nursing and art therapy, and from universities all over Australia.
“While they are with us, they are able to fully engage as a member of our team and, with supervision, are exposed to clinical work with individuals and in group settings.
“They undertake assessment and treatment with clients, complete liaison work with community stakeholders, prepare and present research findings, and attend team and clinical meetings,” says Natasha.
“Each student brings their own combination of learned and lived experiences, which really enriches the skills they bring to our teams and our clients.”
Natasha says she noticed a marked improvement in students’ self confidence throughout placements, which extended to improved presentation skills and a greater knowledge base from which to draw when working with clients.
Liz, 38, is studying a Master of Clinical Psychology, also at Curtin University, and says shadowing clinicians at St John of God Raphael Services during client intake sessions has been useful for her to further develop her interview and treatment planning skills in the perinatal and early childhood context.
“Working directly with individual clients helps me understand psychological presentations commonly experienced in the perinatal period and gives me the opportunity to provide individual therapy to address these,” Liz says.
‘I really enjoy being part of an interdisciplinary team; I can see this way of working provides a client-centred focus and helps ensure each of our clients benefits from a well-considered treatment plan, where multiple approaches have been considered and discussed.”
To find out more about St John of God Mental Wellbeing Services phone 1800 313 016 or visit sjog.org.au/mentalwellbeing.
To find out more about St John of God Raphael Services phone 1800 292 292 or visit sjog.org.au/raphael.
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