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Friday, 09 April 2021

Live a better life today

STUDENT WELLNESS SERVICE: Counselling Psychologist, Heidi Wichman assists students to develop skills to cope with their careers and personal challenges. STUDENT WELLNESS SERVICE: Counselling Psychologist, Heidi Wichman assists students to develop skills to cope with their careers and personal challenges.

The coronavirus pandemic has many students worried, concerned and/or depressed, and for that reason, Counselling Psychologist, Heidi Wichman is urging students to get connected to the caring staff at the Student Counselling Unit who have timeless wisdom.

Wichman is part of this Unit which is staffed by amazing professional psychologists, who offer a range of confidential services designed to assist students with their individual, interpersonal, academic and occupational needs. 

She says the Unit delivers a vital service to students on their academic, career and personal journey in life.  “We provide a pivotal experience through our various programmes that do make a lasting impression on the lives of these individuals…I am working in a team which has its primary focus of holding space for individuals in such a manner that their growth can be catapulted to the next level which they desire. This energises me to contribute and to do what I can to make an impact. Working at Student Counselling also allows me to combine the two things I enjoy the most, therapy and people development.”

Wichman who has been a registered psychologist for 14 years, obtained her undergraduate degree at University Cape Town (UCT) and completed her Honours and Master’s in Counselling Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. She also completed an additional Master’s degree of Philosophy in Programme Monitoring and Evaluation at UCT in 2015.  Wichman has been working in Higher Education for 11 years.  Her role at Student Counselling includes various activities from individual counselling session, workshops, assessments and many other assortments of activities that Student Counselling offers.

Recalling the reasons which lead her to become a psychologist, she says at the age of 16, she had an amazing teacher who spent time doing a career assessment with her class.  The results of the assessment indicated that she was suited to the helping profession.  “After exploring different careers in this field I decided on Psychology.  I can’t say exactly what made me decide!”

After studying Psychology at the undergraduate level, “I reconsidered this field as a career and consequently entered the Human Resources Development field.  I loved this work but I realised that I was limited in terms of helping people with difficulties they were experiencing in their work-life that stem from personal psychological issues. I then decided to go back to university to get more qualification as a Psychologist.”

Amongst the challenges she has faced recently includes assisting students who have been experiencing a huge lack of resources and as a result, their studies have been impacted [ by the coronavirus pandemic].  “This at times makes me feel helpless in assisting them! These are also the students who have given me hope in many ways because despite their challenges they carry on and achieve results. The other challenge is not having face to face contact with students and having to rely on Wi-Fi which impacts the experience of therapy.”

At this point, Wichman would like to explore the area of research more seriously and she is considering embarking on a PhD.  “Generally my focus is constantly on what I can do to develop myself as a therapist.” 

Written by Aphiwe Boyce