Specialist Wellness Counselling is a recognised profession in South Africa, but it is not part of the professional psychological domain. In this post, we’ll explore this profession further.
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) registered designation of Specialist Wellness Counsellor is the highest category of registration with the Association of Supportive Counsellors and Holistic Practitioners (ASCHP) which is a recognised professional body with SAQA on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (Act 67 of 2008). To obtain the designation of Specialist Wellness Counsellor you should have a relevant SAQA-accredited qualification on NQF Level 8+ which is a postgraduate qualification.
The ASCHP consequently licenses Specialist Wellness Counsellors to practice and such registration provides para-professional status, since it is a non-statutory professional body that regulates non-psychological counsellors in South Africa.
Not Psychological, but what exactly is it?
Specialist Wellness Counselling is not psychology, psychotherapy, social work, occupational therapy nor medical health work, but what exactly is it then?
It is a holistic systems approach to dealing with everyday life issues like trauma, crisis, relationships, spirituality, emotions, and so forth. It is non-diagnostic, in other words, the Specialist Wellness Counsellor cannot make a diagnosis, but is trained to recognise where possible psychological or medical diagnosis and treatment is needed and will then refer to the relevant professionals.
Holistic means that the approach considers the whole person taking into consideration your spirit, soul, body, social relationships, sexuality, finances, and career (Scheepers, 2002; Scheepers, 2003; Scheepers, 2007). It is a counselling method where the Specialist Wellness Counsellor will come alongside you and facilitate the process of working through matters of concern in your life with the main purpose of helping you to experience wellness in all areas of life.
Specialist Wellness Counsellors are trained in different modalities and the approach used is very dependent on the qualifications of the specific counsellor. I have been trained from a Christian-Holistic perspective and therefore work holistically with a person from a Christian foundation of values.
Does this mean that I only counsel Christians? No, definitely not. I work with any person from any religion, background, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age group without ever discriminating. What it does mean, is that I treat all people with respect and dignity, since my Christian values clearly guide me to love all people regardless of who they are and what they have experienced in the past. This creates a non-judgmental environment in which you may openly discuss any matter with full confidentiality (obviously within the boundaries of the legal system in South Africa).
Specialist Wellness Counselling usually involves talk therapies as well as body therapies in the counselling approach used; dependent on the training of the counsellor.
What are talk therapies?
Talk therapies are the approaches the counsellor uses to help you work through your problem. I make use of Christian Counselling or Biblical Counselling, meaning that if you are also a Christian, I may make reference to specific Bible verses and use prayer or even Emotional Healing Prayer during the session. If you are not a Christian, other talk therapies may be used.
Other talk therapies I use include Healthcare Counselling, Wellness Counselling, Holistic Trauma Debriefing, Life Coaching, and Narrative Therapy.
The purpose of talk therapies is to provide you with a healing environment conducive to you feeling safe and able to discuss any matter openly in an attempt for the counsellor to facilitate the discussion or coach you through a problem or over an obstacle you are experiencing in life.
What are body therapies?
Body therapies are therapies the counsellor is trained in that involve actual physical touch during a session. There is sometimes much debate about whether touch is appropriate during a counselling session, but in Specialist Wellness Counselling that uses a holistic approach, touch is of the utmost importance.
However, touch should always be appropriate and within professional boundaries that will be discussed with the client before it is used.
I am also a trained Therapeutic Reflexologist and therefore my professional therapeutic domain is the feet. Due to South African legislation, it is not possible to use Therapeutic Reflexology and Specialist Wellness Counselling during the same consultation, but it can be done in different consultations; in the one, the focus is then on counselling and in another, the focus is on Therapeutic Reflexology. Due to this background, my bodywork therapy of choice is always focused on your feet which makes the physical touch very non-invasive. To read more about Christo Scheepers Therapeutic Reflexologist and what Therapeutic Reflexology entails, you may visit www.christoscheepers.co.za.
I also make use of other bodywork therapies, but within the appropriate context.
Specialist Wellness Counselling cannot guarantee any results, but it is an approach during which the counsellor facilitates the process of working through dealing with various aspects of life that you may be struggling to deal with in isolation. The purpose of Specialist Wellness Counselling is to stimulate overall holistic wellness.
What is wellness?
Wellness is more than the absence of signs and symptoms, it is a way of life, a state of mind. Wellness is seen as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization).
Wellness can be seen as the optimal state of wellbeing in your entire human being consisting of the seven human dimensions (Scheepers, 2002; Scheepers, 2003; Scheepers, 2007). Wellness is more than the absence of illness or signs and symptoms. Wellness is a state of mind where you experience happiness and inner peace in the midst of circumstances of life.
What if the circumstances of life are negative?
Life happens to us all and even when you have not planned it, some very devastating and unwanted things may happen to you. This may cause you to feel overwhelmed and in need of some guidance to overcome the situation so that you may live a happy life.
Wellness is when you have the ability to experience wellbeing in all areas of life in the midst of these life circumstances. Sometimes things happen to you that you are unable to resolve, but you should experience wellness even though the circumstances are not being alleviated.
Why? You may ask. Well, if you don’t, you will use your energy to constantly think about the circumstances that may lead to your energy being drained and you experiencing fatigue; not only physical fatigue but in all dimensions of your life.
You may read more about this in my book Life Happens.
What can Specialist Wellness Counselling do for you?
Specialist Wellness Counselling can help you to walk from devastation through the circumstances of life to wellness in order for you to experience wellbeing in all areas of your life regardless of the circumstances surrounding you.
The Specialist Wellness Counsellor is a facilitator and a life coach that will guide you through talking about your situation and then facilitate you implementing an action plan that may lead to you experiencing wellness, even if you do not have any control over eliminating the negative circumstances from your life.
Walking to wellness is a journey, not a destination.
We live in a world where trauma, crisis, disasters, and devastation are occurring on a daily basis around the globe. You have no control over what is happening in the world and as a result, you cannot postpone your happiness and wellbeing until such time as the world is perfect. You have to experience wellness in the midst of your circumstances.
How you accomplish this is often dependent on who you are and what you are experiencing in your life.
The journey to wellness is a voyage you should not have to take on your own. Why not invite a Specialist Wellness Counsellor to accompany you on this journey while assisting you when you have to deal with circumstances in life that is overwhelming to you?
Walking to wellness is possible, but it begins with you taking the first step which is to make the decision that you will embark on this journey to experience wellbeing in all areas of your life in the midst of the circumstances of life.
Make an appointment with a Specialist Wellness Counsellor today.
Scheepers, C.A. (2002) Trauma handling by using the metaphorical value of Bible characters within narrative context. Unpublished M.Min.-dissertation. Pretoria: Commonwealth Open University.
Scheepers, C.A. (2003) The exploitation of practical sociology as counselling model for application in a Christian-Holistic founded practice. Unpublished Ph.D.-thesis. Pretoria: Commonwealth Open University.
Scheepers, C.A. (2007) Holistic Wellness: A Christian omnibus for whole-person wellbeing. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Christo A. Scheepers: Specialist Wellness Counsellor | Freelance Academic
Dip.ICBC (USA), Dip.Psych.(INTEC), Dip.R.(Cum Laude)(AC), Dip.T.R.(Cum Laude)(IARAMT), B.Min.(Cum Laude)(THEOLOGOS), B.Th.(SATS), M.Min.(Cum Laude)(CLT), M.B.A.(MANCOSA), Ph.D.(COU), D.R.T.P.(USB), Ph.D. Candidate (DA VINCI), D.Nat.Med.(SACNM)
ASCHP: SWC19/413 | APS: 19372 | ETDP SETA: SOR189239 | SAIMS: SCHC02
Tel. 072-800 7243