‘Numbness’ and the Battle of Holding onto Something I Care About

I’ve been struggling with this thing I can only describe as ‘Numbness’.

Numbness can set in randomly for no reason at all.  Or if something happens that I feel sad about.  It can happen at home or at school.  It seems to like invading my weekends.

It’s like the light bulb goes out in me.   And I lose the thrill of doing anything.

Numbness can make me not feel anything.  I just feel tired and want to be alone in my room.  I’m even too tired to fight with my siblings.

Numbness takes away my motivation and makes me not want to do any of the stuff I really like.  It takes me away from being with my family. 

When numbness is around, I stop taking care of myself.  I stop showering.  Numbness is not something I can just wash off. 

Numbness throws me out of routine.  There’s no in between.  I either eat too little or eat too much, sleep too much or not enough.

It makes me lose all hope when it tries to tell me “Oh well, it is what it is”.  If I fail an assignment, no big deal.

There are things I try desperately to hold onto when I notice Numbness trying to take me away from the things I care about.  One of these things is LOGIC.  I can call on logical thinking to try to challenge the tricks and tactics of Numbness.

I like bingeing on my favourite TV shows.  This makes the light bulb really bright in me.  I feel happy and it influences me to do more of my favourite stuff.

Numbness has not been able to steal way my personality when it comes to kindness.  Even when I’m not at my best, I am still kind and friendly to others.  I still give a bright smile to people I care about.  I tell my friends to stay strong even when I am feeling worthless.  I know I’m a good person.  Even at my weakest, I still give advice to my friends, even if it’s a bit quicker than usual.  I will never say “I can’t help you”.  I believe it’s important to be friendly.  I hate the idea of making people sad for no reason.  If I snap at them, that hurts me.  I won’t let Numbness take away my goodness. 

If my favourite anime character Erza was fighting Numbness, she would never give up.  She is always thinking of her friends, she keeps fighting for them.  She reminds herself of what she is trying to protect.  She cares a lot about other people and gets strength from helping others.  There are moments when I feel accomplishment when I help other people.

I won’t go overboard trying to chew someone up.  That takes too much energy.  In the past one friend dragged the energy out of me.  When they are upset, I don’t put much energy in.  I don’t want to get drawn into their stuff.  I have to try to put boundaries in for myself. 

Erza wouldn’t let people walk all over her.  She would say “I’m not an inanimate object”.  She has good friends that don’t try to use her.  I want to be able to stand up for myself more.  If no-one is going to stand up for me, I need to do it for myself.  If there are people picking on me, I just ignore them and walk away.

Opportunity to be an Outsider Witness to this story

After reading this story, we invite you to write a message to send back to the author.  Here are some questions to guide your response.

  1. As you read this story, were there any words or phrases that caught your attention?  Which ones?
  2. When you read these words, what pictures came to your mind about the authors hopes for their life and what is important to them (ie. dreams, values and beliefs)?  Can you describe that picture?
  3. Is there something about your own life that helps you connect with this part of the story?  Can you share a story from your own experience that shows why this part of the story meant something to you?
  4. So what does it mean for you now, having read this story?  How have you been moved?  Where has this experience taken you to?

Please contact us with your response and we will forward your message to the author of this story.

‘They Sucked Me Dry”

When Supporting Friends Becomes Too Much

There was a time last year when I realised I had to let go of some friendships that were affecting my mental health.  I would come home grumpy because I was providing therapy sessions for my friends, that didn’t want to get professional help.  I was so wrapped up in taking care of others, that I wasn’t taking myself into account. 

I think my friends sucked the energy out of me and I started withdrawing because I had nothing left.  I felt numb.  I used to spend lots of time gaming and not sleeping.  I first noticed numbness appearing in Year 5 when girls started turning into teenage girls.  It got worse in Year 6 and 7 when everyone was questioning their sexuality and gender.  I was coaching a friend who thought they were trans.  They didn’t have the skills to deal with their own problems.  I had to cut off these people because they had no sense of boundaries and they sucked me dry.

Numbness is an affect of depression.  You lose motivation for everything. Numbness made me not care to shower.  I used to not shower for weeks.  I would feel depressed at the thought of having a shower.  Numbness helped me not to think too much.  It made me too lazy to move forward into despair.  Numbness also made me not sleep.  If I sleep too much, it made me more sad and I might fall into despair.

I realised my friends were dragging me down.  I ended up getting rid of those people.  I just started by not talking to them and then later blocking them.  If it was bad enough, I had to cut them off completely.  There were ones that were extremely attached.  I had to slowly detach them from me.  I told them to go and seek professional help.  I started to find where the line is, and my mental health nurse helped me learn about boundaries.  I noticed they slowly started coming to me less for their problems and I didn’t have to coach them through every single step.  If it got really bad, I would go to their parents.

It can be a scarey thing to get outside help.  Kids attitudes to accessing professionals can differ depending on the school culture.  At my old school, the whole counselling thing was not set out well.  There was no privacy and kids didn’t feel secure, teachers had access to notes, parents would know about it, and it was less about mental health and more about religion.  I did my own research looking at headspace online and realised there was a better way.  I told my friends about it.  Some said thanks but others wanted to continue to talk to me.  I couldn’t keep them as friends anymore.

There are some problems that are bigger than what teenagers can deal with.  I didn’t want to be their only support person.  Mum told me that if there was ever a problem too far out of my reach, that they should go to a trusted adult.  And that’s what I did.  I told them it was way out of my hands.  If you tell them enough, they will realise what they are doing is unhealthy.  I did this to make them stop relying on me.

I think we need to find a balance; having a balance of professional help and being able to help yourself.  Friendships turn into relationships of dependence if friends don’t help themselves.  You need to find other ways to help yourself, if your support systems are failing. 

When I moved schools I realised I was just a support person that was giving advice to friends, and they were not healthy friendships.  But even when I left, I gave each of my friends a book about what I appreciated about our friendship.  I have held onto relationships with friends that are more open to getting help for themselves. 

Opportunity to be an Outsider Witness to this story

After reading this story, we invite you to write a message to send back to the author.  Here are some questions to guide your response.

  1. As you read this story, were there any words or phrases that caught your attention?  Which ones?
  2. When you read these words, what pictures came to your mind about the authors hopes for their life and what is important to them (ie. dreams, values and beliefs)?  Can you describe that picture?
  3. Is there something about your own life that helps you connect with this part of the story?  Can you share a story from your own experience that shows why this part of the story meant something to you?
  4. So what does it mean for you now, having read this story?  How have you been moved?  Where has this experience taken you to?

Please contact us with your response and we will forward your message to the author of this story.

Balancing in the Boat: What helps me get out of the dark messy waters of Depression

In this reflection, our author shares the skills and knowledge she holds for managing depression. This story emerged after we read together the story of Ebony which was published by Sarah Penwarden in her work with young women at a New Zealand High School. The reflection begins with an excerpt from Ebony’s story, followed by our author’s story.

EBONY’S FIGHT WITH DEPRESSION – in which she holds onto what she’s learned and what she knows
After many years of depression Ebony knew depression quite well. It was familiar; it could suck you in.
Depression was like a well; a daunting, dark and gloomy well. It was made out of grey stone, and had sides to it. When she was at the bottom of the well, she couldn’t climb out of it.
Ebony learned that you’ve just got to stop yourself reaching the bottom of the well. She‘d also learn that others can help you up. Some people can do this without even realising it. She knew from experience that once you were in the well, it was very hard to climb back up. She could fall
back down the well by letting one thing get to her.
There were times when Ebony could see herself perched on the edge of the well, sitting on the top; feeling unsteady, swaying, waiting for one gust of wind to push her off balance. All she could do was to try to fall back instead of forward; back onto the grass, rather than forward into the well. Even though falling back would be difficult and painful, it would be better than falling into the well. It was all relative.
Up on the grass, she had people there to break her fall, people to support her. That was the advice she wanted to give herself: fall back instead of forward. It will eventually get better. The grass was soft and there was shorter to fall. She just needed the courage to fall back.
This was difficult because the well was very familiar, and falling backwards involved complete trust. There was something slightly welcoming to her about the well. There was so much comfort in the
depression. No-one else seemed to understand that. But down in the well she knew would become accustomed to being alone in a cold, dark place. It felt safe down there; no-one could harm her. But then she would look up and see something beautiful – a bird, a butterfly, someone’s face, and this would give her determination to climb up.

I recently heard Ebony’s ‘Fight with Depression’ story.  I really liked this story and I connected with her experience of depression being like falling into a dark and gloomy well.  I noticed how hard Ebony tried to ‘fall back instead of forward’ into the well because once she had fallen into the well it was very hard to climb back up.  This got me thinking about how ‘falling back’ requires a lot of trust.  Trust that people will be there for you.  For me, trust is when you know you have people behind you and you have a history of supporting each other.  If you support them, then you know they will be there for you when you need it.  I’ve been there supporting my brother in the past and I know he will be there for me.  For me this is having a good balance in the relationship.  Balance is important when trying to get out of the well of depression.  Without balance, you might fall in.

For me, depression lurks in the deep, dark water underneath my boat.  It makes me not care if I fall in or not. When I feel myself slowing dipping into the darkness, life feels bland and exhausting.  Its hard to see life being any different.  It takes away my motivation to live and I all I feel is pain.  Sitting on the edge of that boat, I feel like I’ve lost myself.

Depression makes you withdraw from relationships with people and with life.  It takes me away from doing my assignments and stuffs up my routine.  It pulls you down into the dark water and disrupts the balance.  It makes me not bothered to ask for help.

There are some things that help to keep me in the boat.

Friends distract me from falling in.  The best kind of friends are ones that are fun, easy to talk to and don’t push subjects onto you.  They might gently make suggestions like how to get better sleep.  They are looking out for me.  They include me in things.  They have a good balance of logic and emotion.  When I lack logic in my thinking or cannot connect with myself emotionally, they help me out.  They read me well.  These friends have good balanced lives.  They are not fussed about the future or the past; they help me stay in the present moment.  I appreciate that they are not self centred.

Depression has me wanting to keep my emotional and dark thoughts to myself.  I’ve learnt that its healthier to project these thoughts onto other people like counsellors.  I also know I can talk to my brother.  I know that he has dealt with his own depressing emotions before.  We have dealt with tough situations together in the past and have been able to get things off our chest.  We developed a bond.  So recently when I found myself in the dark depressing waters, my mum got him on the phone.  My brother doesn’t undermine a problem.  He thinks all problems are on the same level, none is more important than another.  So even if my problems are different to his, he still values my experience.  That’s where trust comes in.  I can ‘fall back’ and trust my brother to be there for me.

Opportunity to be an Outsider Witness to this story

After reading this story, we invite you to write a message to send back to the author.  Here are some questions to guide your response.

  1. As you read this story, were there any words or phrases that caught your attention?  Which ones?
  2. When you read these words, what pictures came to your mind about the authors hopes for her life and what is important to her (ie. dreams, values and beliefs)?  Can you describe that picture?
  3. Is there something about your own life that helps you connect with this part of the story?  Can you share a story from your own experience that shows why this part of the story meant something to you?
  4. So what does it mean for you now, having read this story?  How have you been moved?  Where has this experience taken you to?

Please contact us with your response and we will forward your message to the author of this story.

Tree-of-life-booklet-photo

Group Work During COVID Times: Capturing the Hardwon Knowledge of Parents, Aunties and Grandmothers on raising strong kids in Borroloola

I received an invitation from a colleague this year to travel back to the Northern Territory to co-facilitate some narrative therapy group work with the Aboriginal women of Borroloola.  We had it all planned out.  It would have been a two day drive from Darwin to reach the remote township, then a trek over to Barrnayi, an island off the coast of the Gulf of Carpenteria for our two day camp.  I love it when collaborations like this come together – Telling Story, Artback NT and the Moriarty Foundation – bringing together good will and established therapeutic practice for positive community outcomes.  What we didn’t account for was the arrival of COVID 19 and the immediate closure of state and territory borders as well and lockdown in remote communities. 

Airfares were cancelled.  However, I wasn’t about to shelve this one without some serious thought into whether delivering the Tree of Life on-line was a possibility.  I learned later that this is called pivoting!

I had some doubts about whether we were going to be able to gather rich story from participants over a technology platform.  However, Sudha Coutinho had done a lot of work in Borroloola and already had established relationships with some of the women, so that was a positive starting point.  With some thoughtful deliberations and program modifications to the Tree of Life methodology, Sudha and I decided to ‘set sail’ and see where the adventure might take us on these unchartered waters. 

Facilitating the Tree of Life with ‘Zoom’ technology

We were very influenced by the beautiful work done by Anne Mead and Jasmine Mack in their application of the Tree of Life with parents of Roebourne.  Ideas such as home yarning, the tree visualisation meditation and crafting a community tree appealed to us.  Given the extra difficulties we would face interacting over a screen with our participants, we needed to pay attention to ways people could join in that did not require so much hands-on guidance.  

The program was delivered over five weekly morning sessions consisting of three hours with a break in the middle.  We posted out a big box of materials required including art supplies and resources prior to starting.  We hoped that our local Yanyawa Project Officer could work alongside us in navigating the use of these materials.  Each session generally consisted of an introductory activity such as using Tree Card images we created to check in with how people were feeling, followed by a yarning section with corresponding drawing or art making, and a collective conversation on what these stories meant to the community as a whole, then finishing with an invitation to undertake an exercise at home between sessions. We invited people to connect on the Workplace Chat App on their mobiles to continue the conversation and share images of what they discovered in their environment between sessions.  This is also where we, as facilitators, shared therapeutic documents based on the ‘rescued words’ from each session.  These five therapeutic documents were later incorporated into a Tree of Life booklet the women wanted to publish capturing their skills, knowledges and hopes for raising strong and healthy children. 

The women in Borroloola were on a learning journey with us

Over the project the following themes were explored using the tree as a metaphor for growing up strong children in the community.

  • The Sun – principles of caring.  Just like the sun shining down on little trees guides their growth, the principles that are important to us guide our caring.
  • Roots – History of place and story.  The roots follow the history of culture, linking us to stories, traditions and places of significance.
  • Trunk – Strengths of skills and knowledge. This includes the practical things we do to keep our families strong and to hold up our kids.
  • Bark – The Protective Layer.  Acknowledging the need to protect our children because the types of experiences our children have in life influence their development.
  • Leaves and Fruit – The important people and their gifts to us and our children.
  • Storms of Life – The things that try to get in the way of us bringing up strong and healthy kids and how we stand strong against them.
  • Branches – Our hopes and dreams for our children and family.
  • Planting Seeds – The actions we want to take to make our hopes and dreams grow.
    and;
  • Flowers – Ways we want to work together to make our community dreams blossom.

The women brought together their completed individual tree pictures and shared together their hopes for the future of their community as a ‘Collective Forest’ to stand strong against the storms of life.  We finished on physical actions of planting seeds into flowerpots as a reminder of their hopes and dreams coming to life, slowly but surely.

Forest of Life – Borroloola

We had to make lots of changes on the go and this required some quick thinking and flexibility on our part.  We needed to feel not so precious about sticking to our script, even more so, given the lack of ability to just jump in physically and rescue a situation.  The struggles as well as the delightful outcomes of this work are explored extensively on the video below, so I won’t repeat those here.  Let me just say that our doubts about gathering rich story were well and truly blown out of the water.  We gathered so much beautiful knowledge and wisdom from the mothers, aunties and grandmothers that participated, we couldn’t fit it all in the booklet.  If you do not have access to a hard copy, you can read an on-line version here.

The following video is a 17 minute snapshot of this work presented at the AASW 2020 Symposium.  Meanwhile, If you’d like to know more about using the Tree of Life over ‘Zoom’ technology, please contact us.  We are really open to sharing our work with you.


Invitation to be an Outsider Witness to the women’s stories from Borroloola

Reading the Tree of Life booklet about raising strong and healthy kids in Borroloola may spark thoughts about your own skills and knowledge, your hopes and dreams for your children, and help you stand against any storms you may face. If you would like to share these thoughts with the women you can email Telling Story at sudhacoutinho@gmail.com

australian outback

‘Connecting in Time and Place’ With Michelle Bates

Michelle Bates had spent most of her life in Sydney’s South West raising a family, but something else was calling her to the outback.  Moving to Tennant Creek for a short stint helping Aboriginal people understand and implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme Plan, Michelle found herself putting down roots after falling in the love with the colours, the country and the stories of the Warumungu people.

Among her various roles in Tennant Creek, Michelle is a counsellor and narrative practitioner, advocate, mentor and leader.  She volunteers at the Paterson Street Hub, a collective space in the main street of Tennant Creek which offers safety and opportunities for learning, sharing and contribution.  This is a delightful interview of what its like to fall in love with a place and do the work that you really love.

In Episode 34 of ‘Talk the Walk’ we explore:

  • What drew Michelle to Tennant Creek to find an anchored adventure and what keeps her there
  • The history of Michelle’s connection to working towards systems change and living well in community together
  • The impact of connection to place and the role of nurturing women on Michelle’s early life and its resonance in remote Australia
  • A narrative project unearthing the wisdom of Aboriginal children in story and play, witnessed by important adults in their lives
  • What it means to children to uncover stories about the things that are important to them in childhood 
  •  An opportunity for listeners to provide outsider witness responses to the stories of Tennant Creek children
  • Key values and qualities needed to work with children in remote communities
  • The story of Patterson St Hub, a thriving inspiring gathering place for community members
  • The challenges of living and working remotely and how struggles become rich opportunities for growth
  • The small sparkling moments of resistance that makes Michelle’s day
Listen to Stitcher

To listen to this episode simply click on the Play button below or listen via the Stitcher App for iOS, Android, Nook and iPad.

You can also subscribe to podcast and blog updates via email from the Menu on the Home Page.

Don’t forget, if you or someone you know would make a great interview on ‘Talk the Walk’, send us an email from the Contact Page.

Things to Follow up After the Episode

Michelle’s Masters project through The Dulwich Centre (link to be provided when available)

Patterson St Hub, Tennant Creek website

Patterson St hub on Instagram

Michelle Bates on Instagram

Connect with Michelle Bates on LinkedIn

Email Michelle at michelle.bates@ymail.com

Triumping Over Trauma Pamela Trotman

“Living Life to the Fullest” with Pamela Trotman

Pamela Trotman

Pamela’s Trotman’s social work career began in Redfern over 50 years ago.  She has worked in a range of settings from child protection to mental health, taking her on many journeys of healing alongside trauma survivors including the Stolen Generations, refugees and those experiencing family violence and sexual abuse.   It is these experiences as well as her own journey of recovery from child sexual abuse and multiple traumatic losses, that has inspired Pamela’s new book ‘Triumphing Over Trauma: Journeys Beyond Woundedness”.

It is a pleasure to have her back on the show, after our first interview in 2017 to talk about her own experience of personal and family trauma and how it has inspired her first book. 

In episode 33 of ‘Talk the Walk’, we explore:

  • The journey of writing a book as a wounded healer for the traumatically wounded
  • The nature of Pam’s personal and family tragedies, and the realisations that informed her understanding of the impact of trauma and what truly matters in recovery
  • What is traumatic wounding and the seven forms of traumatic wounding
  • The capacity for the brain to heal and factors that promote trauma recovery
  • The metaphor of crossing the bridge and how family members can help their traumatised loved ones take that first step to get help
  • Finding other forms of justice when legal justice is not an option
  • The case study of Joanna, a young Aboriginal woman who found her voice, to heal from child sexual abuse
  • The role of the therapist in walking alongside people in triumphing trauma, as enrichment rather than depletion
Listen to Stitcher

To listen to this episode simply click on the Play button below or listen via the Stitcher App for iOS, Android, Nook and iPad.

You can also subscribe to podcast and blog updates via email from the Menu on the Home Page.

Don’t forget, if you or someone you know would make a great interview on ‘Talk the Walk’, send us an email from the Contact Page.

Things to follow up after the episode

To listen to this episode simply click on the Play button below or listen via the Stitcher App for iOS, Android, Nook and iPad.
Listen to Stitcher
You can also subscribe to podcast and blog updates via email from the Menu on the Home Page.

Don’t forget, if you or someone you know would make a great interview on ‘Talk the Walk’, send us an email from the Contact Page.

Things to follow up after the episode

Noah Publishing – where to purchase ‘Triumphing over Trauma: Journeys beyond woundedness”

Mark Moran – Serious Whitefella Stuff:  When Solutions Became the problem in Indigenous Affairs

Pamela Trotman author and social worker on Facebook

Access YouTube videos by Pamela Trotman including Crossing the Bridge to Trauma Recovery

Contact Pamela Trotman info.noahpublications.au@gmail.com

Check out Pam’s other interview on ‘Talk the Walk’

coronavirus

Stay Safe, Stay Sane: Supporting you Through the Pandemic

You may be wondering what changes are being made to our counselling services during the pandemic?  Well, to put it simply, I am still here and still connecting with you but perhaps it might look slightly different.
Like everyone else, I am following the recommendations set out by the Department of Health to minimise the spread of the virus.  The pandemic has the potential to increase anxiety and other mental health concerns, so it is my priority to ensure you have the support you need during this uncertain time, while keeping us both safe. Therefore, I am doing two things differently.

  1. Social Distancing.
    I am practising social distancing.  That means, if we meet face-to-face we will be sitting at least 1.5 metres apart from each other and avoiding physical contact.  Hand sanitizer or a place to wash your hands will be available to use at the beginning and end of our sessions.  I will advise you in advance if I am unwell and unable to meet with you.  I hope that you will do the same and advise me if you are unwell.  If you are uncomfortable meeting face-to-face, please discuss this with me, as Telehealth (videoconferencing and phone) services are now available (see point 2).
    I continue to see clients at Bowraville Community Health Centre and HealthOne, Nambucca where social distancing measures can be practised.  I also continue to offer therapy in the outdoors like ‘walk and talk’ sessions, as nature provides lots of space and a good healthy immune boost.
  2. Telehealth services.
    Videoconferencing services (via Zoom or Skype) is available to those who are in self isolation. We are also able to offer telephone consultations if you do not have internet access.

My priority during this time of uncertainty is to help you ‘stay safe, stay sane’.  There are multiple ways we can stay connected, wherever you are.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

stories matter

Facing the Climate Crisis: What’s Your Story?

As many of you know, I am all about story.

At the heart of narrative therapy is listening to the problem stories of people’s lives.

Right now, I am hearing stories of young people being crippled by eco-anxiety, feeling despair at the future that unfolds for themselves and future generations.  I am hearing stories of despair and sadness at the unfolding crisis on our planet and frustration through lack of climate action by our leaders.  I am hearing stories of the sense of powerless people feel over the melting ice-caps, the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species. 

According to Joanna Macy, we are now seeing and understanding what is happening in the world through the lens of three main stories or versions of reality.  The Business As Usual story is the one that has people living the way they always have, with economic growth and getting ahead as its goal.  The story of the Great Unraveling acknowledges the disastrous consequences of living by the Business as Usual story, through the collapse of biological, ecological, economic and social systems.  The Great Turning is the story being created by those who recognise the Great Unravelling and are rising to create a different future for our planet.  Joanne argues that there is truth in all these stories.  They are all happening right now.  And we can choose where we put our attention.

While the ‘doom and gloom’ problem story is getting lots of airplay, as a narrative therapist, I am also interested in shining the light on the alternative story.  For it is in feeling despair and sorrow for the planet, that we can speak about our preferences for living. It is in losing hope that we can speak to the kind of future that we wish for.  It is in feeling the pain that we can speak about the values that are so precious to us. 

In 2020, my goal is to uncover the alternative stories of people’s lives around the climate crisis, unearthing the ways they are surviving and thriving, living out their true values and taking action.  The intention in collecting and publishing these stories is to give richer attention to the Great Unravelling that is happening across our communities.  Perhaps these stories will bring back hope to someone who has lost theirs and cannot pull themselves up out of the pit of depression or anxiety.

I am looking for people just like you to share your story.  I would love to speak with you about your relationship with the planet, how you are standing strong in the face of uncertain times and explore opportunities for developing superpowers for future actions. 

Just to be clear, you do not have to have a big story, you may not feel you are changing the world or even coping all that well with the climate crisis.  I envisage that my reflective interview questions will be a therapeutic and healing process for you, as we give voice to the downs and unearth the ups together.

If you are interested in participating, please get in touch and I will send you some questions inviting your written response, to become part of a narrative collective document on Facing the Climate Crisis Together.

Surviving the Child Protection system

From Victim to Survivor to Teacher

Alicia is one of those people that knew from the beginning of our work together, she wanted to share her story with a wider audience.  Having re-authored her narrative from a problem mother as defined by the Child Protection system to one that never gave up loving her children, Alicia then decided to publish her story with a view to helping others.  Alicia believed her skills and knowledge for surviving the Child Protection system would be useful for other parents who are trying to get their children back. 

In narrative therapy, finding another audience beyond the therapist for people’s preferred stories makes a big difference in how people experience themselves (Denborough 2014).  The story teller not only has this new version of their story validated, but feels a sense of contribution to the life of another; that in some way their life will be changed too by reading about the author’s experience.  

Being heard by outsider witnesses can also feel like a small step towards justice for someone who feels like the system let them down.  Putting one’s story out for others to read turns a personal experience into a political issue, highlighting where systems are failing people instead of continuing to blame mothers for failing their children.

This therapeutic process moves people not only from a position of victim to survivor, but through to an influential teacher who has hard-won knowledge and skills that are of benefit to others.  What an empowering position to be in for someone who has felt completely powerless over their life!

For anyone out there who is currently in a situation where their children have been removed, feeling devastated by the separation, and have lost hope, what more powerful way of reaching out to them than reading a real-life story from someone who has already ridden that roller-coaster.

On that note, I am privileged to be able to share in Alicia’s own words, her tips for parents who are currently riding the roller-coaster that is ‘surviving the child protection system’. 

And if you haven’t already, you can read Alicia’s full story here.

I hope Alicia’s words bring comfort, support and hope to those who are possibly on the worst ride of their life right now.

References: 

Denborough, D., 2014, ‘Retelling the Stories of Our Lives:  Everyday Narrative Therapy to Draw Inspiration and Transform Experience’, W. W. Norton & Company, N.Y.

nature-therapy

7 Reasons for Choosing Me as Your Therapist

So it is just about to clock over into a new year and a new decade.  Are you filled with excitement or dread?

Perhaps it’s time to finally do something about that Anxiety that has stopped you from getting a job or going outside.  Or maybe you want to shine the spotlight on the plans Depression has had for your life, because it doesn’t fit for you anymore.  Or perhaps your life experiences or the state of planet have you believing that life will never be safe again?

If the idea of therapy, freaks you out (yeah, Anxiety can stop you from getting help too!), then here are 7 reasons why you might like to consider reaching out to me.  Unlike other counsellors, I do have a few unique features that you won’t find elsewhere, as an alternative from traditional talk therapies.

  1. I come to you. 
    If transport is an issue or the idea of meeting a stranger in an office doesn’t float your boat, no problem.  I can meet you at your home, your workplace (if there is a suitable private space), or school (so you don’t have to run around delivering kids to their appointment)
  2. You are not the problem here.  Your problem is the problem.   
    Your problem is not inside of you, but perhaps it has been coming and going for so long now, it has you convinced there must be something wrong with you.  Maybe other people also think that you need fixing.  Together we will expose the problem for what it really is – something external to you.  Something you can have control over.  Something you can change.
  3. I will meet you outside (if you like). 
    From a Western viewpoint, it’s called eco-therapy.  If you’re from an Indigenous cultural background, yarning on country is what you have always done.  And it’s a much better option for people who don’t feel comfortable eyeballing their therapist between four enclosed walls.  I meet people on beaches, riverbanks and in parks, while taking the utmost care to maintain your privacy as much as possible.  Being in nature provides a whole host of health and well-being benefits. I learned all about the healing aspects of being connected to the land from my time working in remote communities of the Northern Territory.
  4. You may not have to pay. 
    I am committed to offering therapeutic experiences to people who can least afford it.  If you have a mild to moderate mental health issue and are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for 12 free sessions over 12 months through the Connect To Well-being program.  A further 10 sessions per year are available through Medicare’s Better Access, with a Mental Health Care Plan and referral from your GP.  Check your eligibility here.
  5. I am here to stay.  
    There is nothing worse than building a relationship with a therapist, then learning that they are leaving their job or moving away.  The Nambucca Valley is my home and my work space.  I am really passionate about my community and making it a great place for everyone to live, work and play.  I would be crazy to leave what is the best micro-climate in the country that makes me thrive.
  6. I will ‘Walk and Talk’.   
    Sitting still doesn’t suit everyone especially if you feel fidgety or restless.  Sometimes moving your body is part of what’s needed to help you relax or express yourself.  We can do this in private or you can join a group.  Why not try a whole day of bush walking along the coast, while working on a problem in our Narrative Walks program!
  7. I am the only Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide in the region. 
    If the stress of daily life has taken its toll, let me guide you into the forest to help you slow down and reconnect mindfully with yourself and nature.  You can book a private walk with a group of friends, colleagues or just yourself.

So what are your plans for your life in the decade to come?  Let’s work together to make it happen. Get in touch.