Two Minutes With: A Quitline Counsellor Helping Smokers Find Their Aha Moment


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Two Minutes With: A Quitline Counsellor Helping Smokers Find Their Aha Moment
Two Minutes With: A Quitline Counsellor Helping Smokers Find Their Aha Moment

Name: Ciza Dion
The profession: Counselling
The organisation: Cancer Institute NSW
The job title: Quitline counsellor
The pay: Counsellor level 2, Year 1 pays a weekly base rate of $1693.78

Quitline counsellor Ciza Dion says he works in a large team that helps many Australians quit smoking or vaping.

What’s the coolest part of the job? Sometimes, a client calls Quitline, and during the assessment, they disclose that they have tried everything, but they have been unable to quit smoking.

The coolest part of my job is when a client experiences an “aha moment” during a session. After revisiting what they claimed to have tried, they come to a realisation that there are a number of coping strategies they have not tried, or that they have not done correctly.

It is very rewarding when as a counsellor, you sense a restoration of hope in the client and see them allowing themselves to try again. It is even more encouraging when you see the same client successfully quit smoking or vaping in a few weeks time after engaging with Quitline.

What’s the toughest part of the job? As the counselling is done over the phone, it can be tough not to be able to read each other face’s expressions. Also, the client can be distracted by their surroundings which can make it harder to deeply engage with them.

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One thing people wouldn’t know about this career? People might think that this job is only providing advice to clients about quitting smoking and/or vaping. But in reality, it is a proper counselling session with a particular focus on helping a client quit.

Most counselling styles adapt well to these sessions, although I mostly use motivational interviewing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and sometimes sneak in a little bit of narrative therapy. You work with the client where they are.

“It’s the right job for you if …” You can remain calm and patient when working with clients. Also, we work as a team, which is the beauty of the work. You may get a client more than once, but you may not.

It’s a very collaborative process, so unlike a lot of counselling work, it’s not “your client” alone. However, you have time to read all the notes from their previous sessions. If you are a team player this makes the job an excellent fit – it takes the load off.

People are surprised when I tell them: Clients who engage with Quitline to receive our ongoing counselling support increase their chances of quitting by up to 40 per cent. They’re also surprised to learn that clients who use support are three times more likely to achieve lasting success than those who try without support.

Why I chose this career: In Australia, I have worked as a group counsellor, a family and relationship counsellor and in other roles. I chose this job specifically because it is very practical in nature.

It’s very rewarding and engaging as I get the opportunity to engage every day in the process of finding better ways of helping smokers who want to stop.

What formal qualifications I needed: Before living in Australia, I completed a Bachelor of Social and Clinical Psychology from Hope Africa University, but that was in French, so I needed to do some retraining here.

I did a Certificate IV in Mental Health and completed a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Wollongong. Now, I am a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers, and I am currently doing a master’s degree in counselling social work at the University of New South Wales.

World No Tobacco Day 2024 is on 31 May.

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