Best foot forward: The Counselling Service Guide to adjusting to a New Environment

Why am I here?

There are obvious questions that might enter into your head at the start of a new course. You may be asking yourself - Why am I doing this? What’s in it for me? And why is it going to be worth my time and effort. It is also quite possible that you have arrived at the threshold of this course without having the time or opportunity to really think why you are where you are. Without knowing they why, it can be difficult to sustain your motivation and commitment during the year particularly when the going gets tough!  The ‘why’ agenda needs to belongs to you, not just to other people and their expectations of you, or their hopes for you.

Task: establishing your rationale

  1. Take seven sheets of plain paper
  2. Think about doing your course
  3. Think about your dreams, ambitions and hopes
  4. Ask yourself the question ‘What do I want to achieve as a result of completing this year and completing the course
  5. Remind yourself you’re not asking yourself ‘ What am I expected to achieve’
  6. Allow yourself to think of absolutely anything that you might want to achieve, even if it’s got nothing to do with the course you’re pursuing.
  7. You’ve got six chances – On each sheet of paper, write down six things you want to achieve
  8. On a separate sheet arrange those six things in order of priority into a Diamond – 6 layout, with the most important or most significant one at the top, then the next important one in position two, and so on, till you’ve made a pattern like a six of diamonds

Did you notice how hard it can be to put your ambitions and dreams into an order of priority? That’s why it is easier to use separate sheets of paper or post-its as you can continue to shuffle and rearrange them. Tomorrow, your order of priority may well be different.  If possible, repeat this exercise from time to time during the next year. As you get deeper into your subject matter, and as you find out more about the possibilities of how you will be applying your skills and using your qualification, you may be surprised that new and more interesting things may occur to you. Keep your diamond six somewhere where you can see it – on a wall for example, above your studying area. Explain them to someone if they ask about it. This is good consolidation of your ambitions as explaining them to someone else helps you to believe in them yourself. Identifying your reasons for being on this course can also lend a clear sense of purpose to new structures within your life and also create something to return to for reassurance if things do not quite go to plan. In addition, the better you know why you’re doing this course, the more ready you will be able to look at:

  • What to do
  • When to do it; and
  • How to go about it.

Identifying Strengths and Improving Skills

“ I just want to get on with the course. Why bother thinking about myself?”

“Leopards can’t change their spots”

“ I have always worked this way, why should I change now?”

This guide is based on a different view of the above – that people can and do change. 
Taking stock, identifying what you are good at and what you need to improve should make you feel more confident about your strengths and help you to work out at the start of your course how to do things better, and consequently reduce your stress levels and improve your performance on the course.

Skills Diagnosis Sheet

On the following , please estimate:

  • Your current level of skills on a four-point scale where 1 = very good and  4 = in need of considerable improvement.
  • Your need for improvement on a four point scale, where 1 = very important to improve  and  4 = not important to improve.

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