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Q&A with VCC Counselling Skills instructor Sarah Stirling

What do you teach?

I have been facilitating VCC’s Counselling Skills practicum seminars since 2012. My purpose is to assist students in assimilating their learned theory into practical experience.

Can you describe your career journey?
While participating in my 25-year nursing career at Lions Gate Hospital, I also worked with people suffering from chronic pain, using biofeedback and meditation. I have studied metaphysics for 40 years and teach healing energy work. I completed the VCC counselling skills program in 2007 and soon after joined VCC’s Continuing Studies administration team as the practicum coordinator for the program. I then acquired a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a major in education.

What do you love about your job?
It is incredibly rewarding for me to pass on information, knowledge, and personal experience to students. I also love interacting with students, guiding students to resolve challenges with professionalism, and listening to the wisdom our students share in seminar. It’s also a joy to write references letters for students’ employment and/or furthering education. 

What is the student’s role during practicum?
While on practicum, a student’s role is to learn, practice, and receive feedback. For a student to learn, they must feel safe. For a student to practice, they must be given opportunity. For a student to be given effective feedback, there must be structure. All these elements are firmly in place for students in the VCC counselling skills program.

What is your best piece advice for someone starting out in this industry?
It is imperative that you have the courage to self-reflect and seek counsel regularly for your own personal and professional growth.

What would people be surprised to know about being a support counsellor?
The degree to which “self” is healed in the process of supporting others.