The Department of Public Service and Social Science began the fall semester by unveiling their newest degree option: an Associate Degree in Human Services. Currently there are students enrolled in new Human Service courses, like Foundations of Addictions, Human Sexuality and Theories of Counseling.
Authentic learning opportunities abound when students embrace active, unique and creative approaches to the course content as some students did this semester in Kathy Schank’s Theories of Counseling class. The students formed small groups and were assigned to complete research on different conditions that may lead someone to seek help from a psychotherapist. Students then developed role plays to present for the class that were based on their research findings on topics like anxiety, depression and bereavement. The students were videotaped acting their role play scripts in front of the class.
The students were recently polled about their experience with this assignment and they reported that the information they are learning from the textbook is interesting but this assignment enabled them to directly engage in some of the situations that they may one day encounter as therapists. Students stated that the role plays enabled them to creatively apply techniques from different types of therapy that they had only read before, thereby putting the textbook concepts into action. Some students wrote scripts that were open ended, giving them the ability to really feel the client’s emotions, as one student stated: “I really felt that the client (fellow student actor) pushed my buttons” just as can happen in an actual therapy session. Students also stated that they felt supported by their classmates, as they are all highly interested and engaged in learning the content of the course. They also found this to be a very good fit with the knowledge they bring from their other human service, psychology and sociology courses.
DCCC uses a competency based curriculum model that defines the skills and knowledge expected of our graduates. One of the goals of this assignment was to achieve objectives relating this course content to the college competencies. In particular, College Competency 3 which focuses on career choice and exploration and College Competency 5 where students learn how to use decision making processes to solve problems. These students are now better able to recognize the challenges that we all experience as we struggle with serious life issues and the value of therapy as a solution to our problems. As they advance their knowledge and successfully complete this course their hope is to help to decrease the stigma that seeking therapy stills holds.
Submitted by: Kathy Schank, MSS, LCSW, BCD