Can counselling help me?
Counselling is absolutely of benefit for any help-seekers. However it’s not usually a 1-stop quick-fix, and counsellors don’t usually give advice- we believe in consulting your own expertise and co-creating pathways out of troubling situations with you for the very best long term outcomes. Generally the first session is about getting to know you, it can take a little time to do that before moving forward. Your identity is precious, which is why many counsellors try to give lots of information about how we work through our website and blog posts- so you can choose a counsellor who is the best fit and have the best chance of healing and success.
Is it normal to seek counselling?
A lot of people think you have to be in agony to go to counselling, or that something specific happened- like your partner died- before it’s ‘bad enough’. None of this is true. Anyone can go to counselling, and in fact it’s probably better to take the time to find someone if you are struggling before things get worse.
Are you qualified and can you work anywhere?
Yup. I have a Masters level qualification in Narrative counselling from Melbourne University (and a post-graduate qualification in counselling from La Trobe University, and an undergraduate qualification in Social Science from Southern Cross University). I am also registered with the Australian Counselling Association, which is one of the few ways in Australia counsellors can demonstrate their qualifications, experience and expertise as well as making ourselves available within a directory that can be searched for by the public.
I can practice as a counsellor anywhere in the world EXCEPT the USA and Canada. However we may be able to do coaching if you are located in those countries so please do ask if you think coaching is something you’d be interested in.
Will you give me medication?
No. Only doctors and psychiatrists can diagnose and medicate people. My intention is to help you with what you see as being problematic in your world. I actually prefer to work with people who aren’t taking medication or are looking to reduce reliance on psychotropic meds. If however you were in an extreme situation or needed more help than I can offer, I would be obliged to recommend you seek medical support. This isn’t as scary as it sounds. I have years of experience as a caseworker and counsellor in various organisations that abide by high ethical standards, so I can safely and supportively guide you to other support options if need be. We can also continue working together while you are accessing other supports at the same time if we agree that’s a good option.
How long will I need counselling?
That is something we decide together, and then revisit along the way. There are no limitations. We may decide to plan for 4 video sessions and 2 email sessions, then discuss where things are at after that. We may talk once a week for a while, then reduce to fortnightly, and then arrange a monthly check-in. You may decide to have a few booked in, then continue with stand-alone sessions and then contact for more as they are needed. I will also let you know if I am concerned in any way about anything over the time we work together.
The Magical Cure effect
It’s really common to feel unstuck and even elated after just 1 or 2 counselling sessions. Taking charge of your life and the one thing you have some ‘hold’ over (yourself!) can feel amazing, and can prod some action that may have been stagnating. For some people, that’s all they need. For many others this feeling is just that: a great feeling. It doesn’t last. While I have no intention of keeping you in therapy forever, if you are here because you really want to change something, that usually takes some time. If that’s your wish: to change something, then it’s worth showing up even when you feel good. It can be helpful, as you are calmer and more able to create pathways and absorb information when not in crisis. When we first meet, we’ll begin deciding what it is that YOU would like to be different (and what you’d like to be the same) and then our conversations will be shaped by those desires or goals. This could take 2 – 7- 20 – 30 sessions depending on what comes up over the time we meet. It’s worth making a commitment to plan for the longer term and investing in yourself beyond the ‘magical cure’ effect.
What is a Narrative Approach?
Narrative Therapy was born in Australia, and has become one the most internationally recognised support interventions for various challenges of a psychological and social nature. I recently made a video (hello short pink hair!) talking about it, so check that out. The Dulwich Centre provides more detail if you’d like to know more.
Narrative holds the point of view that YOU are the expert in your own life. We want to walk with you to enrich your sense of self by exploring, discovering and thickening your preferred and stronger stories.
Narrative therapists, counsellors and social workers all around the world also very much operate from a belief that we are not separate from our environments, and it is for that reason Narrative is considered to be a cross-cultural approach. We aren’t separate from discrimination, assaults, violence, sexism, ableism, racism, gender bias, judgment, good-looks-ism, unconscious bias, bad hair days, and all the other experiences that happen in our world. Our brains don’t live alone, floating about in our heads having no relationship with the things that we encounter every single day. We aren’t separate from the people around us, from our grief, from our workplaces, connections, our children… We ARE ‘in motion’ and being created as we go along- and often times ‘who we are’ doesn’t seems real anymore, doesn’t make sense. You can rebuild- or build- identity no matter what your situation.
How is narrative therapy different from positive psychology?
We aren’t seeking to ‘change’ your story, or ‘change’ your thinking- we are looking for neglected moments that might deserve some enhancing, to create a more balanced life. It’s a multi-storied, holistic approach to counselling and therefore life.
Do you use any other approaches or techniques?
Yes I do, and have been trained in numerous styles that I adapt and mould depending on what might suit. If Narrative is an overriding philosophy as well as a set of tools, then different approaches provide more tools for us to work together. These include: Person-Centred counselling, Mindfulness techniques, Play Therapy, dream interpretation, mental health Recovery models, artistic expression, Family therapy, trauma recovery training, relationship counselling and strengths-based techniques to name a few.
What is Online Counselling?
Put simply, ‘online counselling’ is the provision of mental health support via the internet. In the modern world the internet is an incredible social equaliser and has become just as important to get our voices heard and stay in touch with one another as face-to-face interaction. In some ways it has even surpassed that.
But can online counselling help me?
There are 4 modes of communication used in online counselling. They take place using a platform made especially for online counselling which is very much like Skype, only more secure. We simply book a mutually suitable time to meet, and then be online at the same time for our session. These modes consist of video, chat and phone which are elaborated on in this post on why you should consider choosing online therapy. There is also email counselling, discussed in more detail on the fees page. There may even be further possibilities for online therapy as we move rapidly into the future.
If the idea kind of appeals to you, but it seems unfamiliar, please be aware that It’s part of my role as your counsellor to make these styles of communication feel safe and be comfortable, relevant and useful to you. I want you to experience the most benefit and gain exponentially from our time together.
Check out this post on Instant Messenger counselling that might spark your curiosity. The general idea is that we address any of the same problems as face-to-face sessions, but we can use a variety of ‘omnichannels’ to communicate. These methods enable a much wider variety of support to be offered, because they make Time, Travel, Talking and Access no longer necessary to a counselling process.
Is online counselling safe?
Online counselling is currently still a bit new in Australia. There aren’t any ‘e-clinic’ homes for counsellors to work from as there are in the USA or the UK, and we don’t have strict regulations on the delivery of health support via the internet. Skype is not an acceptable platform for the delivery of counselling, so I use a professional secure platform.
Once we decide to go ahead with counselling, I invite you to meet me in the secure space. All the types of communication outlined above are available through this platform. They are highly encrypted, protected and private spaces.
Do you offer face-to-face sessions?
Online counselling isn’t for everyone. Or it may be that you would prefer to have at least one session in person before going online. If you live in Coffs Harbour or around the Bellingen Shire (Mid-North Coast NSW), in-person sessions are DEFINITELY POSSIBLE! I’m part of a fantastic integrative practice called Harbour Therapy Clinic which provides a whole body approach to mental health. The clinic also offers complementary services such as therapeutic yoga; couples counselling, children’s counselling; massage and mindfulness workshops. I like to be flexible so please get in touch if you want in-person counselling.
Do you have any tips that can help me right now?
I provide free and unique tips, ideas, stories and helpful information in my blog, which I include in emails I send to my list. You can sign up for my email list here. To get an idea of whether it’s helpful to you or not, here’s a link to my most popular blog post so far: Real Self-Care: More Than Just Taking a Bath (sex, politics, and other non-traditional acts of caring for selves).
How can I ask you another question that wasn’t answered here?
Have you provided expertise for other publications?