Making a difference

For Master of Social Practice graduate Laura Ashton, discovering narrative therapy at Unitec was a dream come true. “I majored in psychology for my undergraduate degree and always planned to return to postgraduate study. However, through working in mental health, I discovered that ‘mainstream’ clinical psychology wasn’t for me. What I enjoy is ‘discursive’ psychology, but I didn’t know how to apply it effectively. Then I discovered narrative therapy – which is what is taught at Unitec – and it was a dream come true!”

Narrative therapy was developed by Unitec Lecturer David Epston. It is a method of therapy that attempts to separate the person from the problem, and is used as a form of community work and counselling. It encourages people to rely on their own skill sets to minimise the problems that exist in their everyday lives.

Laura says she also loved the attention to social justice in her postgraduate course; especially the Treaty of Waitangi and gender power relations. “I loved the multiculturalism of both students and staff, and the equal focus given to practical and theoretical learning. I also thoroughly appreciated the tutors who are experts in their practice.”

Laura is currently the Business Services Manager at Mind and Body Consultants in Epsom. She says the skills she gained through her studies have made her a strong manager, researcher and facilitator. “I also completed a number of papers in the Graduate Diploma in Not-For-Profit Management, which has been hugely helpful in my work. I love that I am contributing to an organisation that makes a real difference to people’s lives and that I’m responsible for making it a great place to work.”