In 2004, Sharon Wade was one of a small group of pioneering students accepted into the inaugural cohort of Yorkville University’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program.
Fast-forward 16 years, and she’s now once again among the very first to enroll in Yorkville’s newly launched doctoral program, the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy.
“For me, again, it was a gut instinct,” Wade, a Whitehorse-based registered psychotherapist, said of her decision to pursue doctoral studies at the same university that first set her career in counselling in motion.
“I’ve been pretty much a lifelong learner and I’m always taking courses, because if I can further my education in the field, then that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
While Wade’s pre-counselling background as based in natural medicine, she said it nevertheless lead her down the path to a career in psychotherapy.
The owner of a health food store at the time, Wade found herself deriving the most satisfaction from her interactions with customers who sought out connections and advice from her.
“People were opening up to me and talking to me, and I really enjoyed that kind of counselling aspect to it,” she explained of her initial impetus to pursue her Master’s degree in counselling psychology.
“I didn’t have a background in it at the time, but I thought it would be a better fit for me.”
Despite being brand new in 2004, Wade said what drew her to Yorkville’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology was the combination of its quality Canadian professors, online ease, and accreditation.
“At the time, it was really exciting to be to starting a brand new (MACP) program as part of the first cohort,” she said.
“Some people were kind of worried about it being so new, but when I looked at the faculty and saw they all had really good backgrounds, credentials, and reputations, I just instinctively knew it would all work out.”
As she commenced her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology studies, Wade and her classmates also came to be impressed by Yorkville’s willingness to adapt aspects of the fledgling program to meet their needs.
“They were just beginning, it was brand new for them, so they were really listening to us. If we were having any issues, we would let them know when something wasn’t working, and they were very good about creating something that was going to work,” she said.
“They were very open to student feedback and direction, so it was really a good experience.”
She’s now anxious to continue on to the next chapter of her Yorkville story – this time as a doctoral student come January, when she’ll begin her Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy studies.
Already armed with a PhD in Health Sciences from Trident University in California, Wade said what convinced her to pursue a second doctoral degree was Yorkville University’s unique approach to learning.
Rather than culminating in another dissertation, Yorkville’s Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy is capped with an Applied Scholarship Project, where students are tasked with resolving problems of practice in counselling and psychotherapy.
“I had applied for a PsyD program just before applying to Yorkville’s Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy, and I was accepted and thought I was going to do that. But, in the end, it just didn’t feel like a good fit for me,” she said.
“I’d already done a PhD, and I wasn’t really looking to do research and another dissertation…because that would have felt like I was repeating a lot of the stuff I’d already done.”
In contrast, when she looked at the Yorkville doctorate program, Wade said it looked like something both fresh and familiar at the same time.
Characterized by Yorkville University President Dr. Rick Davey as “practitioner-oriented degree,” the 60-credit Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy’s course work builds research and leadership skills, preparing graduates to assume leadership positions in the counselling and psychotherapy profession.
“It’s really focused on individuals who are currently counsellors and psychotherapists who want to continue the development of their skills and expertise in terms of their own practices, in terms of supervision, and in terms of leadership in the profession,” Davey explained.
And that, said Wade, was exactly the right fit for her.
“When I saw that there was only one methods course and no statistics courses, I was happy, because I’ve already done a research degree and didn’t want to do another,” she said.
“But at the same time, it looked like it fit exactly what I’m doing, because I am a psychotherapist, and I am counselling, and I have done a few years of supervision – all of it seemed to be pretty much matched to me and my career.”