ACC offering tuition-free counselling program

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Assiniboine Community College is seeking students to enrol in its tuition-free counselling services program beginning this fall.

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Assiniboine Community College is seeking students to enrol in its tuition-free counselling services program beginning this fall.

The applied counselling skills certificate program is designed to develop learners’ understanding of general counselling, cross-cultural communication and family and youth issues, according to a news release.

Students in the program will receive 425 academic hours of in-class learning at the Victoria Avenue East campus in Brandon, followed by a 100-hour paid practicum.

Assiniboine Community College North Hill campus. (File)

The program is funded through a partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) and is specifically for Indigenous learners living off-reserve to develop proficiency in basic counselling skills.

“We are excited to provide this opportunity, made possible with funding from CAP, enabling students to focus on their studies without the burden of tuition and textbook costs,” said Michael Cameron, dean of community development at the college.

“Partnerships like this make it possible for Assiniboine to offer educational opportunities to individuals that might have not otherwise had them.”

He added while geared toward Indigenous students because of the funding from CAP, anyone can apply for this program. Programs like this have a history of allowing graduates to find employment shortly after graduating from the program, said Cameron. So, when the opportunity came to apply for funding for the college from CAP, they took it immediately.

The is a one-time funding partnership, but the hope is it will attract more people to receive their certificate so they can meet the growing demand for counselling services. This program gives students the skills to help determine where someone is in their life and what is causing disruptions in managing it so they can help them return to a more balanced lifestyle, he said. Anyone working directly with people can benefit from training in the program.

The program provides culturally relevant and recognized training for para-professional counsellors working in health, education, private social services, government counselling, corrections and First Nations. The college offers tuition-free training whenever it can so the college can be accessible to as many people as possible, said Ben Welsh, co-ordinator of credential programs in Assiniboine’s Centre of Continuing Studies.

The hope is people who don’t have access to traditional levels of support can get education pathways opened up for them and in turn, access to better jobs and careers.

“We know that the process of employment with regards to changing perspectives and changing lives is really valuable, not just for individuals but for Manitoba,” said Welsh.

“We’ve had an inundation of students who are eligible and very interested in the programming. We’ve had a lot of uptake for these, as well as employers are very supportive of our graduates in getting practicum experience, as well for them to go out and test themselves in the market with a relatively low risk for employers, and also to hopefully find employment pathways so they can see how great our graduates are.”

Programs like this are growing in popularity because they allow people to learn about themselves through self-actualization. The applied counselling program focuses on helping people learn about themselves and different populations across the province, Welsh explained.

The program also changes the students and how they view situations. The course is about counselling people, but it also talks about counselling families, children and youth. It teaches how to assess trauma and crisis.

The college is gearing it toward society’s changing perspective on how to treat crisis, truth and reconciliation as well as with the government recognizing the value of our entire population, he added.

The program is taking 25 students, and applications are open until one week before classes begin. Those interested in applying must first attend a free online program information session, with the first session taking place Aug. 3.

For more program details and to register for an info session, visit assiniboine.net/TFappliedcounselling.

» mleybourne@brandonsun.com, kmckinley@brandonsun.com

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