224 ‘Class of 2016’ students recently celebrated their graduation from SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology). The event marked another significant cohort of qualified and work-ready counsellors and coaches entering the field in order to make a positive impact in South African communities and workplaces.
At the forefront of higher education in Applied Psychology, SACAP works towards a vision of a healed, empowered and healthy South Africa. Key to this is their provision of graduates with a blend of robust academic knowledge, relevant practical skills and the measure of self-awareness and understanding necessary for them to positively and productively relate to others.
The growth of SACAP’s educational offering is evident in the increase in the number of its graduates from 2014 to 2016. “We are very proud of our latest graduates and are excited about the contribution that they will make in increasing the mental healthcare workforce and building the capacity of the country’s mental health services to deliver quality support services,” says Zerina Royeppen, MD of SACAP.
7 students received Academic Dean Awards for highest academic standard in their programme:
- Nomsa Mlambo - Advanced Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills
- Sachin Ram Asary - Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences
- Claudia Campbell - Bachelor of Social Science Honours (Psychology)
- Imran Adams – Higher Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills
- Catharine Rackstraw – Advanced Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills
- Guy Howden Hamilton – Bachelor of Applied Social Science
- Bevin Leigh Reynolds – Bachelor of Social Science Honours (Psychology)
A significant differentiator in SACAP’s academic programmes is the inclusion of a substantial Work Integrated Learning component, which ensures that graduates are able to hit the ground running when they enter the professional field. The gap between classroom theory and real life can be especially striking in the fields of psychology, counselling and coaching where someone’s trauma changes from a textbook story into a highly charged and momentous face-to-face experience. SACAP’s closely supervised fieldwork has enabled the latest graduates to grow and learn differently as they worked in communities gaining practical insights and experience of South Africans’ high level of real-world problems.
“Work Integrated Learning is essential for this development in our students,” Royeppen adds, “We deliberately take our students far beyond observation, work-shadowing and volunteerism so that their experience of the fieldwork fundamentally changes them, contributes to their work-readiness and makes a social impact.”
Over the years, SACAP has nurtured partnerships with a wide variety of organisations such as non-profit organisations, government departments, schools, medical facilities and businesses. There is a network of up to 100 partner organisations that can host SACAP students and gain the advantage of having additional talent committed to their programmes. While students are placed at the coal-face they are not left to flounder in the deep end. With an educational philosophy that includes fostering close contact between the faculty and the students, the latter are entirely supported as they undertake Work Integrated Learning, which in turn, taps host organisations into the institution’s deep well of expertise.
The recently released SACAP Social Impact Report for 2016 documents the work of 69 students, now graduates, across 77 placement sites. Students from the SACAP’s Cape Town and Johannesburg campuses, as well as particular online students, impacted directly on more than 2300 South Africans through screening, counselling, coaching and referral interventions on both individual and group bases. The positive benefits of this would have had a far wider spin-off effect on family, group and community members.
An essential facet of the SACAP’s Work Integrated Learning component is also about the impact on the future counsellor or coach. For many students, the exceptional community-based experience opened their eyes not just to the realities ‘out there’ but also to their inner selves and the direction they want to take in the future. Counselling student, Debbie Mouton took a placement at Girls and Boys Town: ““My fieldwork experience has been an incredible learning curve. Although the organisation aims to empower biological parents and care-givers, one is aware that often these adolescents are going home to face enormous challenges. I am grateful that I did my fieldwork there, as it has inspired me to work with adolescents in the future.”
“SACAP’s Work Integrated Learning is essentially a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the student to gain real-world experience as they connect with different communities in South Africa and learn first-hand about the emotional and social issues facing our country,” concludes Royeppen, “With the opening of our Pretoria campus this year, and other expansions of our tuition offering, we expect to see further growth in the social impact that results from enriching our students’ learning experience.”
The SACAP Social Impact Report 2016 can be downloaded here