Personas

My self-esteem was non-existent

Linda is a 36 year old housewife and mother of three. She works part-time. This allows her to supplement the household income, and be available before and after school time for her children. Her partner works but is on a low income.

Linda has always been ’chubby’ and felt inadequate. She has gradually gained weight since becoming a mother. She feels bad and knows that her husband finds her unattractive. He has told her that he wants her to lose weight, and if she doesn’t he will leave her. This has left her feeling devastated. She is desperate to be healthier, to feel more confident but believes that she is an emotional eater and doesn’t know what to do. Linda has tried many diet programs, loses some weight but then puts it back again. She feels worse each time she fails.

This was a desperate move for Linda to seek counselling assistance as she was sceptical about how it could help her. As her program progressed she realised that there were a number of upsetting experiences that she believed had been ‘dealt with’. Her family’s way of dealing with upsets was to ‘just forget about it’. She realised that for her this meant distracting herself by eating in an attempt to feel better. As Linda progressed on her program, she found that she was losing weight without strict dieting. She is now enjoying her new lifestyle. She feels that she is a better partner and mother as she is more aware of the feelings of those close to her.

I was totally burnt-out at work.

Sue is a career woman, intelligent, well-educated and has a well-paying profession. She has a membership at a renowned gym, regularly goes away for weekends with her colleagues, and enjoys a privileged lifestyle. She takes pride in her achievements and knows that her family are proud of her.

Sue is seeking assistance because she finds it difficult to sleep or relax. She is afraid that this is affecting her work, and at times she feels quite anxious about it. She often brings work home so she has something to do in her spare time. Her family are also hard working. Sue doesn’t want to go to the doctor and doesn’t want to take medication. She is afraid that she will disappoint her family if she has something wrong with her.

Sue’s commitment to her family and their expectations of her make it difficult for her to accept counselling assistance. She knows that they would be very disappointed if she was not able to continue as she was.

Sue gained insight into her motivation during her counselling and decided to consider a career change. She realised that she could put more emphasis on developing her own interests and becoming comfortable with herself. Some family members were strongly opposed to her decision. Sue also sought medical care and continues to pursue her own goals.

My life never felt complete

Jane is a single woman in her twenties. She has a good job, many good friends and a busy social life. She enjoys dating and has had a couple of close relationships. She still feels that there is something missing in her life. This is worrying her and she often feels quite ‘down’. She has talked to some of her friends about it and they suggested that she take up a hobby or take a holiday.

Jane felt quite anxious about seeking professional help. She knew that she had a good lifestyle and her concerns seemed unfounded. During her sessions, Jane was able to share her memories of leaving a war-torn homeland and starting a new life in Australia with her siblings and parents. Her family were keen to adopt the lifestyle of their new home.

Jane’s family rarely spoke of what they had left behind. Jane discovered that she needed time to feel the loss of her old home and grandfather to whom she was very close. After several sessions she felt that she had found what was missing and felt more confident about her life.

I used to get overwhelmed with emotions

Sally is a middle aged woman. She has raised 3 children who are now becoming less dependent upon her. Her husband has managed the family business, and she has helped him while raising their children. She believed that she was happily married until 18 months ago when her husband told her that he wanted a divorce. Sally felt that her world collapsed. She sought the advice of friends with little comfort.

With divorce proceedings underway, Sally has had to seek employment to support herself. She feels that she has no current skills. She is having trouble adjusting to the loss of the retirement plans she and her husband had made.
When Sally attended her first session she was very emotional. She was feeling angry, confused, and disappointed and didn’t know what to do.

During our sessions together Sally discovered that she had skills and strengths that she wasn’t aware of. In dealing with the emotions a little at a time she began to see different but interesting possibilities for herself. Sally was able to begin making those plans without feeling overwhelmed.

I was a binge drinking alcoholic.

Shane is a married man in his early thirties. He and his wife met in high school. It seems that they have known each other forever. They are married and have 2 lovely children. He enjoys his work and is managing financially. His wife takes good care of their children but he feels that she treats him like one of them.

Shane was reticent about seeking help as he felt that he a lot to be thankful for. His close friend Dave recommended that he seeking counselling as he was binge drinking. At times this had stressed his marriage and financial security. Dave was concerned that this could seriously affect Shane’s work and family.

Shane wasn’t used to discussing his feelings, but in time overcame that and made good progress. He was able to share his feelings in session, and with his wife. They have been able to renegotiate their relationship and lifestyle.

Shane now seeks appointments occasionally to re-evaluate his goals.

I couldn’t get over her death.

Daniel was just eighteen when a car he was driving was involved in an accident. He and his girlfriend Anna were returning home after an evening out with friends. They had both had a couple of drinks. Breath-testing revealed that their readings were very low.

Daniel swerved to miss a dog that had run from the roadside in front of his car. Losing control of the vehicle, it slid down an embankment and came to rest against a tree. The owner of the dog came to their assistance. Although their injuries seemed minimal, he insisted that they attend the emergency department for assessment. Two hours after arriving there Anna developed complications and needed emergency treatment. The medical staff was unable to save her.

Daniel is now 27. He has an active social life, and uses recreational drugs occasionally. He has had difficulty forming relationships since Anna’s death but believes this is because he ‘just hasn’t met the right girl’. His mother has insisted that he attend counselling as she is very worried about his lifestyle. Daniel believes that he was well supported by family and friends after Anna’s death and that he has moved on from the incident. He realises that it was just an accident and could have happened to anyone. He is aware that his family is worried about him and can see that he may be at risk. He justifies his social activities by explaining that all of his friends are doing the same thing.

Obviously Daniel was reluctant to attend counselling. He did however acknowledge that the relationship that he shared with Anna was special. They had planned to spend their life together after they had finished their studies.
During counselling Daniel realised that he was still holding on to the dreams that he and Anna had shared. He was able to handle the loss of those plans and begin to rebuild his life.

Daniel now feels that he has begun to find a new purpose in his life and has stopped using drugs. His family are much happier with him.

Jan Hashman

Down to earth with real experience

Jan's background as a registered Nurse (R.N.) and paralegal worker has given her the experience to recognise that our physical/emotional/psychological selves are very closely inter-related. A problem in any single area impacts on the others. Hence, the requirement in her counselling for a holistic approach.

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Leave every session with a clear direction

Don't turn to medicine without seeing a counsellor first