Monday, 1 September 2008

Addictions Counselling Degree

When I worked in a university, I always vowed that I would never become an external examiner. I considered it a mug's game, since the pain of reading so many scripts, sitting through boring meetings, writing reports etc, just wasn't worth the money you were paid. For those people who said I should be helping the university system - what, help make it easier for students to get higher grade degrees with no more talent, ability or work, and pretend this wasn't happening - I did not wish to to be a hypocrite. And besides, I did a lot of positive things for the academic system.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to act as External Examiner for the Foundation Degree on Addictions Counselling run by Action on Addiction and the Division for Lifelong Learning at the University of Bath. Nick Barton and Tim Leighton, of Clouds as it was then, obviously knew how to get around me. They not only got me to agree to be the external assessor for the development of the Foundation degree, and then External Examiner, but then External Examiner for the Honours Degree. External examining for four years!
Last Wednesday, I finished serving the maximum time that I could and, with some sadness, handed over to a new External Examiner, Dr. David Best. A great choice of successor!
It really has been a pleasure working with the Action on Addiction and University of Bath teams. I pointed out early on the amount of work covered in the Foundation degree (2 years) was far more than a normal 3-year Honours degree. And some of the students were exceptional. I was really amazed how much work the Action on Addiction team put into the course, and in helping and stimulating the students. The situation was so very different to what I experienced at Swansea University, where members of my department spent so much time moaning about and trying to reduce their work load.
Well done Derrick, Tim and the team.  I could say I'll miss you, but I know I am going to be seeing lots more of you (and Nick and Kirby), hopefully collaborating on a variety of new initiatives. Let's have some more fun!  Good luck for the future!!


Unknown said...

It was a real privilege to work with you David. You really appreciated what we were and are trying to do, which is to widen access to Higher Education in our field, to train talented and committed people as thinkers, so they can be part of the process of moving addiction recovery into the 21st century. What I am aiming at personally is to help build another bridge: between rigorous training in critical analysis, and the human business of being an empathic, responsible counsellor with both vision and humility.

Your belief in the Degree courses has helped sustain that ambition. I am looking forward to our future collaborations. with best wishes

David Clark said...

Thanks Tim.
The addiction recovery plane is being prepared for the runway with some talented engineers working behind the scenes. Let's hope that we can get the funding to facilitate takeoff - there is such an exciting journey ahead.
I like your personal ambition. I'll share that one!!

Anonymous said...


I have no doubt you’ll be sorely missed, nor have I any doubt that the standard set by Action on Addiction, together with the course content is of the highest standard.

Formally studying a subject which one feels one knows well is an eye opening experience as I discovered some few years ago when I attended training at St. Georges. Apart from the demands of absorbing useful knowledge and information, together with the necessary production of essays for this academically challenged, (Oh alright, ‘thicko’) individual. I picked up a number of resentments:

(A) I was the oldest on the course. (B) It seemed that I was the only one from a non medical background. (C) I appeared to be the only self funding student, whilst simultaneously losing income as the result of reducing the number of clients I was handling, in order to ensure I submitted my work on time.

However all of that paled into insignificance when another student, a young, charming lady doctor, who appeared to have recently graduated from medical school, on learning the length of my unbroken, non medication assisted, cold turkey, recovery from alcohol and other exotic mind altering substances, assured me that I ‘would be alright now’. Given that I felt great, I assured her I was ok, at which point she clarified that what she had meant was that, I could now return to social/recreational use.

Having thanked her for her advice, I enquired if she would be available to ‘pick up the pieces’, should her opinion prove to be less than accurate. Sadly she declined, so I never did get the chance to conduct yet another valuable piece of ‘field research’, which is just as well. It may also have been purely coincidental that in the first session of the following lecture, conducted by Colin Drummond, who made it abundantly clear that addiction is an irreversible condition; thus the only question left, is whether or not I had developed addiction. Let me say that if I haven’t, I do have some very serious undiagnosed problems.