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From a tumultuous time to becoming a Counselling student

Wednesday 9th December 2020

Stan Winn, Master of Counselling and Morling College alumni, is currently completing an 18 month contract as a Couple and Family Counsellor at Relationships Australia in the Hunter Valley, NSW.  

Stan shares his journey of how he was led from a tumultuous time in his life to study counselling and what he learnt along the way...

During a period of time living in London, England, I was eager to escape the city and decided to learn to sail. As part of a sailing training program I circumnavigated the United Kingdom on a yacht with 5 others for 40 days...and 40 nights! This was a time in my life when I felt at sea in more ways than one. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing in England and my marriage at the time was about to shipwreck.  

During the trip we anchored in many bays, rivers, harbours and towns.  One of these was Penzance, and while stopping there, after having a real Cornish pastie for lunch, I strolled into a bookshop and stumbled on Richard Nelson-Jones’ Practical Counselling and Helping Skills. I was instantly inspired to learn more about counselling, being especially intrigued by the listening skills described as well as the attitude of the counsellor required. 

My time on the yacht, in close proximity to the crew, helped me see that I was a 'go-to guy' for a yarn and people seemed to trust me with their concerns. There was something else too, which was more of a hunch at the time and pulled at my heart like a turning tide and favourable wind... I could sense that my failings, griefs and fears along with my faith in God and desperate need for His grace in Christ could all be put together to create a new vessel in which I could sail on with a second wind of purpose and hope! 

I decided I would learn the ropes and give The Lord Jesus the helm.  After taking an introductory counselling course in Hackney, London, I returned to Australia to commence a new journey. 

Morling has been a part of my life since I was born again at 18 years of age. Thanks be to God for Elio Bicanic, the youth minister at Macquarie Baptist Church at the time, as well as my Great Aunt Edena and Gary Baker, the pastor at MBC, who guided me to Christ. There I was baptised some 21 years ago and have always felt a sense of connection with Morling. The old church building is gone, yet the inner heart remains. When I returned to Australia the tide took me to Morling in search of further training, perhaps even theological.. not knowing that counselling offered a Masters program. God works in mysterious ways and I made fast the mainsail, hauled anchor and enrolled in the Master of Counselling at Morling. 

Morling was a rich time of personal growth for me, as well as a source of deep comfort. I made many close friends at Morling and got to know my own heart through the careful guidance and friendship of teachers and fellow students. 

The Masters program at Morling is a thorough preparation for the profession and the teachers who led me through it are trustworthy and humble. Learning and practicing process oriented counselling sometimes requires a kind of surrender. The Christian Counsellor is in a unique position here because allowing the process of the client to guide the counselling session requires humility and faith. The Christian practitioner need not fear the unknown as nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ!

Self awareness is the keel of good counselling, a balance point and stabiliser along the way. It can be stormy at times but to know something of what is below the surface of oneself is fundamental to the craft of counselling.  Self awareness is an ongoing task for the counsellor, like good navigation skills, and is always needed on the journey.  If one focuses on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and studies the chart of their own heart, then Christ, the true Captain of the soul, will lead us safely home to Him.  

If you are considering studying counselling through Morling college, prayerfully proceed in faith. Slow is fast.  

Written by Kath Gambell

Kath is an Individual and Relationship Counsellor at the Ezra Clinic, Macquarie Park, as well as an Adjunct Tutor at Morling College.

Kath Gambell's Blog