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From Senior Constable to Counsellor: a policeman’s career transition

From Senior Constable to Counsellor – a policeman's career transition

Ex-policeman Neil Warren always knew he wanted to help people. That's precisely why he became a policeman nearly three decades ago.

What he didn't know is that it would eventually be people just like him who he would particularly desire to help.

"Policemen, and those within the emergency services, face unique emotional challenges. Daily you can be subject to an array of issues such as domestic violence, vehicle crashes involving serious injury or fatalities, and drug related problems," he said.

"With 29 years of experience as a policeman, I believe there is a realistic need for quality counselling for all; especially emergency services employees."

So, motivated to take on a new career challenge, Neil at age 53 is making the rare career move from policeman to counsellor.

"I began studying toward a Bachelor of Counselling at Vision College in Hamilton at the beginning of this year," he said.

"Essentially, I am transitioning from one people-helping profession into another. In the police force I was able to help many people on the receiving end of emergency situations. Now I am pursuing a career that may assist in pre-empting the emergency."

According to Neil, many of the skills he learned in the police force will transfer well to his new profession.

"As a policeman I learned never to assume. When people are agitated, in either speech or behaviour, there's often more to it than meets the naked eye."

He says the same goes in counselling.

"The issues a person brings to you will often run much deeper than what's happening on the surface. It's all about taking the time to listen and empathise"

In line with Vision College's Christian ethos, the organisation's Bachelor of Counselling programme develops professional counsellors with a strong Biblical foundation.

Graduates may become provisional members of New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA) and / or New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).

Neil is particularly looking forward to dealing with people in a different way as a counsellor.

"I saw many sad and unhappy people as a policeman, but sometimes my role required me to deal with them in an authoritative way.

"As a counsellor I look forward to helping people by way of being available as a listening ear and support," he said.

Although his immediate passion is for helping those in the emergency services, he can't say for sure what area of counselling he will walk into when he completes his degree in 2 more years.

"There are so many different areas of counselling: drug and alcohol, family, teens, elderly, Christian. The opportunities are endless. That's one of the best things about this degree.

But one thing's for sure; he wants to stay in the Waikato to give back to a region he has been a part of for so long.

"Aside from a three year stint in South Auckland, I have been in the Waikato for my entire career as a policeman. I love this area and want to give back in a different way.

"I look forward to using my skills from a three decade career in the police force to make a difference as a counsellor"