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Counselling Support Helps Clients Live Life to the Fullest

Note: Client names have been changed to protect their privacy.

When Stella was referred to Circle of Care’s social work team for counselling, she was struggling with depression and anxiety, exacerbating her chronic back pain.

Circle of Care social worker Maria Valle Perez was assigned to work with Stella.

“Stella was previously very outgoing and happy, but when I met her, she was having some physical challenges and displaying symptoms of depression,” said Maria. “I worked with her to determine what it was she wanted to achieve. Her goal was to improve her coping strategies for managing depression and anxiety, especially during the pandemic.” 

Maria, who has worked at Circle of Care for six years, has seen many clients during that time, and makes sure to practice a client-centred approach when conducting assessments to determine which type of counselling would work best for her clients.

In Stella’s case, Maria offered muscle relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to address Stella’s chronic pain, and worked closely with her on narrative therapy. Narrative therapy is a form of therapy that allows clients to explore the meanings they have placed on their life experiences. As part of counselling, they work to identify problematic or negative meanings that can instead be reshaped or thought of in more neutral or positive ways.

“After five months of counselling, I saw an incredible change in Stella. Her entire mood had changed from the first time I met her. She was smiling constantly again. It wasn’t like I made the pain go away, but I helped her learn how to manage with the pain and how to live her life to the fullest,” said Maria.

Stella’s improved mood was a testament to the hard work she put in during the counselling sessions, as well as the trust she built with Maria. 

“It’s so important for anyone providing counselling support to create a non-judgemental bond with the client,” said Maria. “They will shape their expectations for the success of counselling around the trust they can build.”

A Safe Space 

One out of three Canadians will experience a mental illness at least once in their lifetime. Though struggles with mental health may affect someone during any stage in their life, many older adults and their caregivers are commonly affected. 

“Some of the older adults that we support live alone, with no family or friends around, and some have experienced physical decline that limits their independence and ability to function,” says Patricia Wendy, Social Work Practice Lead. “Others have become overwhelmed by their role as a family caregiver, or are grieving the loss of a loved one.”

No matter what the reason for their referral, due to the pandemic, many challenging situations have worsened as daily routines were disrupted by closures, loss of income, or losing a loved one. Coping with these heightened challenges has caused emotional turmoil and decline for an increasing number of clients, leading to depression or an increased anxiety disorder.

It can also bring out trauma that hadn’t been previously addressed.

Sam, another of Maria’s clients, was referred to her for help after getting injured from a fall. As Maria bonded with Sam, she learned that the client hadn’t told the truth about the reason behind the injury. 

“The more we spoke, the more Sam started to feel comfortable and safe around me. Eventually, they admitted that the fall was attempted suicide from a balcony. I was the first person that Sam had told about this, and I knew that it was important for me to continue to cultivate a safe space for them to share more.”

Over time, Sam continued to build trust in Maria, and shared with her about the sexual abuse they had experienced when they were younger.

“On the surface, this referral looked benign and straightforward,” says Maria. “If I hadn’t stayed open and provided a safe environment for Sam to share with me, none of this information would have been evident.”

The Journey of Counselling

Using different counselling approaches, Circle of Care’s client and family counselling team can address difficult situations and help clients live their lives to their fullest while coping with mood, personality, or anxiety disorders. 

“Sometimes just being able to talk about their problem helps the person to learn more about themselves, see a solution more clearly and learn new skills, as well as find solutions on their own outside of counselling,” says Patricia. “Clients that received counselling are able to improve communication and interpersonal skills, have greater self-acceptance and self-esteem, develop problem-solving and conflict resolution abilities, and learn to manage stress more effectively.”

Different types of counselling such as group or individual counselling, along with family counselling, are available for all clients, depending on the situation. Each counselling program practices a client-centred approach and provides a safe space and opportunity to talk about social, emotional, and physical challenges interfering with daily activities. 

“The counselling process is a journey and most of its success is based on the trust that the social worker builds with clients,” says Patricia. “Through counselling, many clients begin to feel as though they’re not alone, and that we validate their feelings as well as build their strength to create boundaries with others.”

Circle of Care’s Client and Family Counselling service offers emotional support and guidance to individuals dealing with grief, facing abuse, or feeling depressed. The service is available online or in-person and is aimed to emotionally and mentally support those who request for help. To learn more about our client and family counselling service visit: https://www.circleofcare.com/counselling/