When I finished school I went to university and studied a double degree in Human Services and Theology. There was one thing I did when I was studying that I am so grateful for and that I absolutely want to educate my kids about.
For those of you who don’t know what Human Services is it is a cross between counselling and community development …. kind of like social work but a little different. When I started studying the counselling side of my degree I found it quite interesting. I was 19 years old at the time and as my own personal experiment I decided to go and see a counsellor because I thought if I was ever going to end up counselling people I needed to understand what it was like to see a counsellor myself. Little did I know how that would change my life forever.
I talked to a few people and found myself a lady in my local area who was working as a counsellor. I knew of a few things in my past that had happened when I was a teenager that I had never really debriefed with anyone which was a good place to start.
For the next 6 months I saw her fortnightly and we discussed a whole range of things that had happened to me in my short 19 years of life. My family culture and structure, friends and things that had happened along the way. It was a massive eye opener to me about how I really felt about a range of issues and people in my life.
I am not sure anyone had ever sat me down over a period of time and really asked me how I felt and what I thought. My life had become normal to me and I didn’t really stand back from it and think about it too much. Counselling enabled me to stand back from it all and look in and decide if this is what I really wanted and if it wasn’t what I was able to do about it.
Seeing a counsellor over that 6-month period, of a very fragile part of life, really did change my life forever. Not just because it gave me insight into who I really was but because it taught me an extremely valuable lesson that it is ok to get help from someone if you need to talk about your life and debrief what is happening for you.
I learnt it was ok to ask for help and it doesn’t make you a weak person it makes you a stronger person. Speaking with counsellors on and off has become part of our family culture and my husband, myself and our children have all seen a counsellor.
I have a strong desire as their mother to teach them that it is ok to talk to someone if they feel funny about anything that might be happening in life. That somebody could be mummy or daddy or it could be someone else.
Last year I took one of my children to see a counsellor to help with some friendship issues that were happening. I knew my daughter needed help understanding what was going on but I knew I was not the person to help in this particular situation.
In our family we call them the “Talking Doctor”. I explained it to them like this … when our back is sore we might go and see a back doctor and when our foot is sore we might go and see a foot doctor and when our emotions are sore we go and see a talking doctor.
Teaching your children that it is a sign of strength to get help and talk to someone when they are not feeling good is such a vital thing we need to teach our kids. It starts with us as their parents being open to talking to someone if we are struggling as this becomes normal for them through the family culture we create.