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Why I do not take students for placement

  • Ampersand & ASOCHA

I trained with Ampersand Australia from 2011 to 2014 covering Dip Counselling Psychology, Advanced Applied Counselling Psychology and Level II Solution Oriented Hypnosis.  Ampersand Australia and the Association of Solution Oriented Counsellors and Hypnotherapists of Australia or ASOCHA, was set up by David Johnson and Ellen Johnson-Brown, registered psychologists, and Rob McNeilly, a medical practitioner and hypnotherapist.   

For 25 years Ampersand Australia, a psychology practice and teaching body, designed and delivered Counselling and Hypnotherapy courses endorsed by PACFA, the Australian Qualifications Framework, The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association and international luminaries in psychology, and hypnosis.   They delivered master classes in the US, UK and Europe over these years. World renowned practitioner Bill O’Hanlon is the Patron Member of ASOCHA. He is a developer of Solution Oriented Therapy and a founder of Possibility and Inclusive Therapies following the approach of Dr Milton Erickson. 


  • 2012 Changes to courses

In 2012 the Australian Qualifications Framework made changes to Counselling qualifications.  It seemed that there was a well intentioned and welcomed push from Government, to rid the field of unethical practitioners and well meaning but fanciful ones and also, to better clarify the various often ill-defined levels of diploma that existed. What ensued though, was a mandate that courses be re-formatted to a competency based or “training package” curriculum or lose their Diploma status.


  • Broader Criticism of the changes

Critics of the competency based approach to teaching (and learning) cite insufficient global learning (increased fragmented learning), resultant skills being non-transferrable across contexts, and preoccupation with testing which reduces the amount of requisite teaching.   Prior to the Competency approach there was more allowance for students to be immersed sufficiently in the material / skill to really internalize it, master it and be able to manage it across real world contexts, before they were tested.

 The new wave, insist that frequent testing provides “proof” that a skill / concept has been grasped.  Perhaps it briefly has, but the old guard pointed to the often shallow nature of that learning and the context dependency of it.  


  • The Ampersand Experience

The new mandatory regulations, to transfer to competency based training were unmanageable for the three Ampersand personnel.   They began the reformatting process in good faith but found it unachievable due to the work in their private practices and teaching and assessing students in their courses.  Before they abandoned the reformatting of the course, the Australian Qualifications Framework notified Ampersand that their diploma course was not a diploma; it was an Advanced Diploma!  This happy reveal was dimmed by a directive to rewrite the diploma course at a lower level (and in the competency based profile.) 

Ultimately, it would fundamentally alter the method and structure of these celebrated courses and this was at a time when retirement was peeping over the horizon for all three practitioners.   The reformatting was dropped and the courses discontinued after 2014.


  • Where I stand

As 2012 unfolded, I opted to stay with Ampersand Australia for the next two years to do what had been the Advanced Diploma in Applied Counselling Psychology and the Diploma in Solution Oriented Hypnosis, both now called Level II.

I do not regret that further study from the aspect of skills and understanding I acquired there but I have been disadvantaged.  I cannot join the Australian Counsellors Association.  (They advise me to go to an approved (university) course to “bring my qualifications into line with current parameters”). 

 I continue to do all required Professional Development and Supervision where I regularly hone my ear, my skills, and my approaches. I also remain a member of several professional bodies.  I deeply value the training I experienced at Ampersand Australia.


Whilst being somewhat “outside the current box” is not problematic for me in real practice terms, I don’t encourage students to take an “outside the current box” placement!  

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