For a successful start in the Master of Counselling program…
- Make information and experiences personally useful and professionally relevant. Take responsibility from the very beginning of your counsellor education experience to ensure that you get what you will need most. This involves becoming an informed and active consumer of your training, not a passive recipient who does only the minimum of what you are asked to do.
- Formulate academic goals in accordance with your life-career plans. Take opportunities to make assignments relevant to your interests and career-oriented goals.
- Become aware of the personal weaknesses that may interfere with your ability to remain clearheaded and appropriately empathic. What are some areas of your life that you will need to bring under greater control if you hope to be successful as a counsellor? What unresolved issues are you bringing with you that could interfere with your counselling efforts?
- Assess areas in your personal functioning that you may wish to upgrade. What are some aspects of the ways that you relate to others personally, or relate to yourself internally, that you could work to improve? Think about your values, attitudes, biases, and past life-patterns. How do you handle conflict? How comfortable are you in discussing sensitive issues? How well do you take care of yourself physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually?
- Find some balance in your life style between play and work. It is important to build some time for yourself and the people you care most about into your daily and weekly schedule. Do enjoyable activities (without having guilt) in order to give you some time away from studies to replenish yourself.
- Build a support network. Even though you may be working at a distance, find ways to build an informal support system on-line (i.e., chatrooms, facebook, skype, etc.). Having a cohesive support group of classmates who are going through the same program as you are is extremely important and helpful.
Take a deep breath and relax!
Remember that your peers are in the same boat. If it ever feels like the boat is sinking, there's always a life preserver around somewhere! Talk to program staff, to faculty, student mentors, and friends and you will soon make it through the transition to graduate studies.