Establishing counselling at the National University of Laos : questionnaire and interview results
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Citation:Inseachiangmai, J. (2018). Establishing counselling at the National University of Laos : questionnaire and interview results. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4601
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4601
The literature on tertiary counselling services in some Asian and Western countries is reviewed. This material documents the need for student counselling services. These findings form the initial basis for investigating establishing a student counselling service at the National University of Laos (NUOL). Questionnaires were developed for NUOL staff and students to assess student need for a counselling service at the NUOL. Interviews were conducted with three New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) registered Supervisors with extensive experience of supervising tertiary student counsellors (from New Zealand and elsewhere) and several of whom had been tertiary student counsellors and were counsellor educators at the time of the interviews. The National University of Laos, Vientiane, Lao PDR and Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand provided ethical permission for this research. The research is presented through four manuscripts. Manuscript 1 focuses on NUOL staff feedback on the establishment of a student counselling service for students. Manuscript 2 presents NUOL student feedback on the establishment of a counselling service for students. Manuscript 3 provides the three NZAC supervisors’ account of students’ experiences of receiving counselling services in New Zealand tertiary institutions. Manuscript 4 provides the three NZAC supervisors’ accounts of counsellors’ experiences of delivering counselling in New Zealand tertiary institutions. The findings for each are as follows: MANUSCRIPT 1: The vast majority of the NUOL staff and monks recognised a counselling need for students and strongly supported the establishment of a counselling service. Academic counselling was ranked first by all participants as the most important as well as being the first most likely service to be used by students. Career counselling was ranked second and social and personal counselling was ranked third respectively. Respondents identified the most common issues for which students presently seek assistance: academic achievement (poor), academic writing issues, financial difficulties, lack of assertiveness, career counselling, anxiety of test-taking, lack of confidence, other academic difficulties, issues with friends and family problems. In addition, staff indicated potential challenges that NUOL tertiary student counsellors were likely to face: a shortage of funding, a shortage of qualified staff and students’ negative perception of counselling. MANUSCRIPT 2: The large majority of NUOL students acknowledged the need for counselling and showed strong support for the establishment of a counselling service. The student respondents identified a full range of counselling needs, however, academic counselling was ranked first as the most important as well as being the first most likely service to be used by students. Career counselling was ranked second and social and personal counselling was ranked third respectively. The results also revealed that NUOL students experienced a wide range of issues during their studies. From the student’s perspective, the top ten most common issues were: financial difficulties, lack of assertiveness, time management, lack of confidence, anxiety of test-taking, academic achievement (poor), procrastination, goal setting, academic achievement (high), academic writing issues. Only 21% of students had sought professional counselling support. NUOL students relied primarily on their friends and family. The findings suggest that a future counselling centre needs to contain a financial advisor who is able to work alongside the counselling staff. MANUSCRIPT 3: With respect to New Zealand tertiary student’s experience of receiving counselling, five significant themes emerged from the interviews conducted with NZAC registered supervisors. These included: an extensive list of issues for which students seek counselling, what tertiary institutions provide students with, counselling delivery medium, students’ help-seeking, attitudes towards counselling services and their accessibility, and counselling techniques and methods used by counsellors. MANUSCRIPT 4: Six significant themes with respect to counsellors’ experiences of delivering counselling to tertiary students emerged from the interviews with NZAC supervisors: expectations concerning levels of qualification and work experiences, promoting the use of counselling, caseloads, team support, challenges faced by counsellors and counselling services and what tertiary institutions provide counsellors with. The themes from the interviews and the findings from the questionnaires are being used to inform the establishment of a counselling service at the NUOL. RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON THE RESEARCH FINDINGS: Findings from NUOL staff and students indicate that NUOL students experience a similar range of issues during their studies as tertiary students elsewhere. This thesis recommends that a comprehensive range of intervention services be considered in designing a counselling model for NUOL students to address the wide range of needs students are likely to present with. Financial difficulties were identified as the most common issue among students surveyed. Hence, a financial advisory service is needed for students to equip them with budgeting and planning skills. Establishing a student job search service at the NUOL would also support students in finding work while they study. To improve the provision of an effective service to students, collaboration and consultation with other professionals (e.g., nurses and doctors) and services (e.g., learning centre and career development) are critical and highly recommended. Networking and collaborating between the different professionals and service providers will assist the counselling centre in coping with its own likely financial constraints and the shortage of qualified staff. Potentially the counselling centre could also assist other services. This thesis also recommends that counsellors at the NUOL receive training in multi-cultural counselling to help them deal with increasing number of students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. An eclectic range of approaches premised on a client-centred approach, is also recommended in a counselling delivery process. Another crucial factor to help a counselling team succeed is mutual support such as peer-supervision especially given that counseling services are new to tertiary institutions in Laos. Collaboration with academic and administrative staff as well as health professionals will facilitate an effective process of advertising and delivering the services. Team building and mutual support within the counselling staff team will improve the development of a cohesive unit. On-going professional development for the NUOL counselling team needs to be addressed. Regular participation in training and supervision is recommended to develop a commitment to enhancing skill sets in counselling practice.