ACAP placement students thrive at unique Jarrah House

Posted by on 31 March 2017

Leafy Jarrah House at Little Bay in Sydney offers detox and rehabilitation for women only, through a 10-week residential program followed by outpatient group support and counselling.

The not-for-profit organisation has operated for more than 30 years and is the only service of its kind in Australia where children can stay with their mothers during treatment. The Jarrah House program provides in-house childcare, as well as counselling and other services to clients’ children. The facility has hosted ACAP Social Work and Counselling students since 2004.

“We offer a very ‘hands on’ placement,” said Lisa Hofman, social worker and placement supervisor at Jarrah House.

“Students can take on their own clients and facilitate groups. This gives them a good opportunity to build professional competencies and it increases their confidence in joining the workforce.”

Lisa is an ACAP Graduate Diploma in Counselling graduate and also has a Master of Social Work. She was employed by Jarrah House in 2009 after completing her placement there.

The Jarrah House placement experience

Lisa says there are many opportunities to work autonomously during placement at Jarrah House, but students are also given plenty of guidance and support, particularly in the presence of client trauma, which can be overwhelming to the inexperienced. Jarrah House ensures adequate student supervision and emphasises the need for self-care in such circumstances.

“Daily duties are negotiated with the placement supervisor depending on the student’s learning goals but would typically include observing and facilitating psycho-educational groups, observing psychotherapeutic groups, Case Managing, attending Inter-agency meetings, attending Case Review and other internal meetings,” said Lisa.

“We prefer students to be ready for a final placement because of the practical nature of the role. Strong interpersonal skills are a real asset, to fit in with the multi-disciplinary teamwork environment.”

ACAP students are attracted to Jarrah House for its diverse treatment spectrum and their confidence is boosted by applying theories learned in class while working as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

“Our primary treatment model is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Brief Motivational Interviewing, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Attachment-Based Family Interventions including Circle of Security and Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale,” said Lisa.

While experiencing therapies in action is the main attraction and purpose of placement, there’s scope for participation in special projects as opportunities arise.

“A student last year assisted me in developing a new parenting program,” said Lisa.

Rewards of mentoring

Jarrah House employs Registered Nurses, Drug and Alcohol Counsellors, Social Workers and Child Care Workers and an Art Therapist. The organisation relies on donations, government grants and charitable business partnerships to fund its 24-bed service, and the facility has a long waiting list. Supervising students during the late stage of their degree has benefits for all participants.

“I always learn something new in the supervision process and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my own practice and that of my colleagues. We grow as a team by reflecting on our practice by mentoring. There have been times that we have reconsidered policies because of the input of students,” said Lisa.

“ACAP students bring diverse educational and professional backgrounds and very often they are mature-aged, which adds richness to the workplace.”

Find out more 

ACAP offers accredited courses and pathways in Social Work and Counselling, some with the option of online study. All courses are available to start in February, May or September. Read about the history of Jarrah House and its services here