FANCY a career change? You might want to consider becoming a counsellor.
The good news is you don’t need to bother with the rigours of a psychology degree or its equivalent.
You can become professionally qualified, and get a whole lot of fancy letters after your name, with just a few hours of online training combined with an open-book assessment done in your own time, and “clinical exams” that involve testing your newly acquired skills on family members and writing an email to describe what happened.
One Australian correspondence course offers a fully accredited* Health and Harmony Diploma – letters after name: HH Dip. (H.C.) – and promises graduates “will have an edge over the other counsellors out there, who are only relying on traditional methods and getting ordinary results”.
Investigating my options as a future holistic counsellor has immersed me in a swamp of randomly emboldened text, sudden capitals and wildly oscillating font sizes, bolstering my long-held theory that the more typographical variety a website offers, the less likely its claims are to bear any resemblance to verifiable reality.
But back to the Health and Harmony Diploma, which develops skills that “should be mandatory for all Counsellors in the workforce… [new paragraph, dramatic font size increase] Unfortunately it isn’t…”
I’m not sure what “it” stands for here. Perhaps the wayward pronoun refers back to the tools for promotion of “complete wellbeing” to be acquired during the course.
These include subjects that are shamefully absent from conventional educational offerings for would-be counsellors: numerology, astrology, tarot, crystal therapy, angel therapy, flower therapy and palmistry, to name a few.
And, if you enrol now, you’ll receive a bonus offer of a mini-reflexology chart that you can keep in your study folder and consult any time.
If that’s not enough to tempt you, a rival Australian college offers a diploma course that qualifies you to call yourself a holistic counsellor.
Among other things, you will “explore esoteric signs and messages; make your own runes, learn to read a coffee cup, conduct rituals, manifest, discover the laws of the universe, meet your guides and totem animals, explore magical lunar energy and more”.
It’s hard not to be impressed at anybody who can get “learn to read a coffee cup” and “discover the laws of the universe” into the same sentence.
And, as if that’s not enough, there’s also a unit on archangels.
Prerequisites for the diploma course are onerous (Reiki I and II or an equivalent level of study involving “placing or directing the hands on or towards a client with the intention of healing via energy”).
If I direct my hands towards a stranger on the street with the intention of healing, will that suffice? Or will I just get arrested?
Never mind, if you can’t satisfy that prerequisite, you can always start with a Certificate of Holistic Counselling, though you will need some specialised equipment: “This course contains some activities that require the use of the following crystal implements – a quartz pendulum, amethyst druze and satin spar”.
I’m sure I could pick those up in Diagon Alley. Actually, I kind of want an amethyst druze.
Joking aside, though, the scary thing about all this is that people with actual mental illness could end up in the grip of the coffee cup readers.
When anybody can put a jumble of letters after their name and call themselves a counsellor, it puts some of the most vulnerable people in our community at risk of harm and exploitation.
I’m putting together a rune to stop it right now.
*Ah yes, but accredited by who …
Jane McCredie is a Sydney-based science and health writer
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