By Laura Maggs
The Rhodes Counselling Centre has recently begun work on a peer to peer counselling programme. Workshops are currently in progress to enable student volunteers with the skills to provide basic-level counselling for other students in need.
Dr Charles Young, head of the Rhodes Counselling Centre, realised the need for a peer counselling system last year but, due to short-staffing, the Counselling Centre was unable to start the training workshops until now. The workshops are to last approximately six weeks and are being run by members of the Counselling Centre.
Dr Young is confident that the project will be beneficial to the student demographic, acknowledging that often people feel more comfortable opening up to their friends and peers before approaching the Counselling Centre for help. “People end up speaking to their peers along the way anyway. In a sense, a sort of informal peer counselling already exists at Rhodes,” explains Young. “Often when people eventually come [to the Counselling Centre] it’s been a process.”
The students taking part in the programme had to apply and provide a letter of motivation. The application process was made available to the entire student body, not just Psychology students. The objective is to reach as many students as possible and make it easier for those in need to find someone to talk to. Peer Counsellors will have their details advertised and will attend follow-up workshops once their initial training is complete.
Young is pleased with the project so far and was “pleasantly surprised” with the amount of students who volunteered for the workshops. At present, some 40 students, both in residence and digs, as well as several wardens and staff members are being trained. The Counselling Centre hopes that the programme will be an ongoing one and has confidence in its potential to truly reach out to students in need, both on and off campus.