SectionsA Conversation About Where Counselling Fits in the Government's Wellbeing Strategy Supervision Changes Benefit Whole Counselling Industry Caring for Those in Hospice is a Celebration of Life The Enneagram Wisdom: Coming to Know, and Owning Your True Self Part 4: Nurturing a Better Method for Operating into the Future Outgoing President Bev Weber's Final Goodbye
Counselling Aotearoa August 2019
A Conversation About Where Counselling Fits in the Government's Wellbeing Strategy
Mental health awareness has recently come to the fore in a big way and its services are in line for one of its largest shake-ups in decades as a result.
But with the government’s Wellbeing Budget allocating $455 million for mental health workers to service those with low-to-mid-level mental health problems, NZ Association of Counsellors President, Christine Macfarlane, says a conversation is urgently needed to determine the counselling profession’s role.
The Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry panel found that the mental health system has been set up to respond to people with a diagnosed mental illness.
However, it does not respond well to other people who are “seriously distressed”, noting variable quality of services that often don’t arrive soon enough.
Additionally, wider social issues are often not addressed, with hospital emergency departments often being the front line for people with acute mental health needs.
“Where does counselling fit into the government’s mental health review and their strategy going forward?” Christine asks.
Mental health nurses in schools, mental health nurse practitioners in emergency departments, or primary health care while better than nothing, Christine says, are not appropriate for the level of mental health needs New Zealanders require. Counselling, also known as Talking Therapy, is a very much under-resourced area of funding.
Another issue for consideration is the focus on the provision of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) over the skills and specialist work of counsellors in the government’s mental health strategy.
Research shows that CBT can be effective for mental health issues in the short-term but is not successful as a therapeutic intervention long term.
Yet, New Zealanders’ mental health issues are becoming increasingly complex, and need to be addressed via modalities that research shows will work over the long-term, Christine says.
“Our profession has a tried and true workforce – with Association members numbering at about 3,000 – all of whom operate in a myriad of areas; from schools and prisons, to communities and NGO’s.
“We’ve set in place an enhanced quality assurance programme that has a minimum of Bachelor education, as well as ongoing professional development requirements, so the public can have confidence in using NZAC members’ services for the benefit of their wellbeing.
“So, is ‘counselling’ becoming a catchphrase that encompasses all aspects of mental health? If so, then maybe it’s time we look at creating a stronger, clearer identity that is more attuned towards therapy.”
Supervision Changes Benefit Whole Counselling Industry
A unique approach to understanding the identity and relationship of Tangata Whenua in Aotearoa is a gamechanger for the counselling industry and its supervisors.
Supervision has undergone significant changes in the past decade, but none more so than the development of Puawananga Kaitiakitanga, convenor for the NZ Association of Counsellors Supervision Committee, Te Ruru, says.
Previously known as Cultural Supervision, the name was chosen after much korero from the collective Māori NZAC Rōpu.
Unique to NZAC and a shift away from the old bi-cultural model, implementing this new framework is about growing members’ learning and understanding of identity in relation to tangata whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“It is an indigenous way of checking where I am in relation to understanding my own cultural development and where am I in relation to the connection of tangata whenua.
“That’s currently happening at the moment, and growing – at the upcoming professional day in August there will be workshops designed to help supervisors understand this more.
“The Association is quite interested in integrating this across all supervision. So, I think that will be a significant move, and it will help people understand the continuing journey of moving towards an inter-cultural, treaty-based society rather than the old bi-cultural model.”
Another interesting change is the Association’s continuous support for supervisors to help further their professional development, as supervision is a specific domain with its own expertise.
“In years gone by, counsellors would have just moved into the role of supervisor through age and experience.
“But now that there is greater emphasis on keeping up with leading edge knowledge, research and expertise through professional development in supervision.
“One of the shifts then is in the nature of supervision, towards a coaching and education element for the counsellors, supplemented by the reflection on their work and the personal issues impinging on that work.”
Te Ruru says the intention of supervision has always been to ensure a good service for clients but that’s now more explicit in terms of the professional development.
This hasn’t come about from a catalyst, but from supervision’s need to evolve with the times, he says.
Caring for Those in Hospice is a Celebration of Life
It’s a universal phenomenon; death comes for us all, but wecan bevery wary of mentioning it.
That’s the view of NZ Association of Counsellors member, Shireen Tresslor, who has worked at the Otago Community Hospice for the past five years.
If being the Community Care Coordinator has taught her anything, it’s that hospices celebrate life.
“Hospice care is one of the most amazing and rewarding places to work; to see people truly living, appreciating each day, and coming through suffering to the other side and being at peace, being comfortable.
“To have the opportunity to be there for families at such an intimate time in their lives is absolutely amazing. It can be sad work but very rewarding, too.”
But her work with clients in her private practice often starts earlier in their “life’s journey”, when they need support adjusting to and making meaning of a terminal or chronic illness.
With aMaster’s in Health Psychology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and a Certificate in Palliative Care – as well as working towards a PhD – she has worked passionately for the past 10 years’ in her chosen counselling field.
Using narrative therapy, Shireen doesn’t presume to be an expert on a person’s life: “I don’t teach them what to do and how to do it or give them a list of things to do.”
“It’s about us, the client and myself, creating a story together – me with my knowledge of psychology and counselling skills, and them with their knowledge of their life, and what is actually going to work for them in a meaningful way.
“So, it is a process. There can be a psycho-education edge to things, but mostly it’s about walking alongside people as they make sense of things themselves – take them on a journey.”
Take someone diagnosed with a form diabetes for example, they must then make changes to their eating habits. But food has more connotations than simply being a fuel for our bodies, Shireen says.
“We don’t just put nutrients into our mouths; we taste, we have memories attached to food, there is a huge social aspect to it.
“So, when anyone must make changes, I help them to make sense of the multi-dimensional changes that illness may cause in life and to be able to continue to live, whatever that might mean, despite what might be a life-limiting diagnosis.”
For many, family and friends play a crucial role in this process and Shireen often works with the whānau in order to help the patient.
It doesn’t mean that the patient is neglected or discounted, it just may mean that a family member might need more support than the patient, she says.
One thing Shireen has learned throughout her years working with hospice patients is society’s taboo-like attitudes towards death.
People often use euphemisms to describe death, but this can make talking about the issues, the fears and the concerns difficult.
“Being more open about conversations around death can be beneficial; once you accept that death is inevitable, you can then focus on what’s important to yourself, on getting on with life.
“I have a saying over my desk: ‘talking about sex doesn’t make you pregnant and talking about death won’t make you dead’.”
The Enneagram Wisdom: Coming to Know, and Owning Your True Self
The Enneagram of Personality Type’s structure may look complicated yet is anything but – and goes a long way to helping people understand their true selves.
For NZ Association of Counsellors’ member Gabrielle Daly, it was finding out that she had “been living a lie” for most of her adult life.
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing tool with a particular emphasis on spiritual growth. It is a suitable tool for business relationships, personal relationships and guidance for a person’s spiritual journey.
There are nine types that make up the tool – each with their own archetypal characteristics – connected via arrows that indicate influences.
Starting her counselling journey more than 20 years ago, Gabrielle discovered the Enneagram when training for Christian spiritual direction where it was introduced as a nourishment tool.
She says she had been living as a type Two – the helper, the carer, the rescuer – but discovered she was more authentically one of the other numbers – the Four, a romantic, artistic individual.
“There were things in my childhood, not huge, that caused me to perform as a helper, carer, rescuer, instead of as the romantic creative soul-child I was. I did this to be acceptable.
“It was a shock to discover that, and part of me neglected that part of me for most of my adulthood. So, realising that, the Enneagram tool has helped me back to my artistic self, and I’m going out to musical events, enjoying artwork, and making sure I catch up.”
The Enneagram is a big part of her work with her clients – she says she doesn’t assess them, instead they assess themselves.
“And once they know what their type is, I help them to explore what that means for them and how it reflects within their lives.
“The thing is, we’re not only that one particular number. So, it can take a while because someone might be living outside of their number for some time, due to family needs or societal needs. I lived as a Two Type, which is an Arrow from my Four Type, so it was a true connection, not an alien style of being, yet not my authentic self.
“A lot of people spend tremendous amounts of energy trying to repress their true selves. This tool helps them open the door for them – come into the Enneagram’s wisdom.”
Gabrielle currently focuses on her work with sexual abuse survivors of abuse by church leaders, which is a long slow process due to the often historic nature of the Trauma.
“Because they’ve kept a secret for a long time and living in what we might call a self-preservation mode – it can limit someone and cause them to be less than their selves.
“Most of us are not our best selves all of the time. But people who have suffered from sexual abuse struggle to be anything but safe – emotionally, spiritually, social, intellectually.
“But there is freedom that comes to them from recognising who they really are, and how those past situations currently limit them. We spend a long time assisting them to re-establish safety, regain control, express themselves fully, integrate, heal a bit each day, and learn to live a positive life within their bodies, despite this wound that will still ache and hurt a bit. Yet due to self-awareness they will eventually become their true selves, and the trauma will have less affect on them as time goes by.”
Part 4: Nurturing a Better Method for Operating into the Future
In the fourth of a new six-part series that explores the future of New Zealand’s counselling profession, NZ Association of Counsellors’ Te Ahi Kaa, Gay Puketapu-Andrews, speaks to the development of Te Tiriti o Waitangi audit.
The long-awaited Te Tiriti o Waitangi audit is gaining momentum, following the arrival of a Te Pūtahi-a-Toi – School of Māori Knowledge senior lecturer to lead the NZ Association of Counsellors’ project.
Māori constitutional lawyer Dr Moana Jackson recommended Veronica Tawhai after he first joined the Association to korero about a range of issues that relate to the then debate on registration versus self-regulation.
Of Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Uepohatu descent, Veronica’s research and community work include the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori and youth political engagement, constitutional change, and electoral, civics and citizenship education.
“Finally, we have someone who is available to embark on that audit,” NZAC Te Ahi Kaa, Gay Puketapu-Andrews, says.
“While it’s unfortunate that Moana was unable to continue progressing the audit, his knowledge in the area was invaluable to us.”
As for the significance of the audit to the Association and the counselling industry in general, Gay can only speculate. But she surmises that its completion will further cement the Association’s commitment to inclusivity.
“The idea is to guide the Association in its future direction in relation to the structures and processes of NZAC that could become based in Te Tiriti.
“So, that relationship between tangata whenua and Pākehā becomes more visible and shows that we’re working in a relationship where both partners are honoured for their ways of working, approaches and worldviews.”
The clear benefit of this process is mainly afforded to Māori, in the first instance, because it would affirm their worldview, Gay says.
In turn, she adds that this would encourage Māori to become counsellors or to engage more in accessing counselling services: “both of those things become more attractive or accessible”.
“More Māori in the counselling sphere is a good thing because we all know what the negative statistics are for our people, so we need to find better ways to uplift the health of Māori.
“The Māori worldview leans more towards one of potential and is more likely to achieve that potential for our people than any other method.”
However, Gay says the audit won’t just benefit Māori.
Including two worldviews, instead of focusing on one, won’t lessen any one view but will ensure any counsellor is better equipped to respond to a Māori worldview.
While not part of the audit process, the NZAC Māori Roopu’s recommendation to display Nga Kete Matauranga (the baskets of knowledge) prominently on the Association’s website, is still a relevant component.
This is an opportunity to visualise and prove NZAC’s support and value of their Tiriti o Waitangi commitments, Gay says.
And while the Association might be at a different phase of this journey compared with other organisations, Gay hopes theirs will encourage others to follow suit.
“We all have the potential to help each other through similar audits; we want to be able to learn from other associations and vice versa – we want to help people along the journey that we’ve undertaken.
“Nurturing such relationships – whether it’s within our Association, or organisation to organisation – will only serve to build a better pathway and method for operating into the future.
“By having the two Tiriti partners co-exist in an equitable relationship, we can only be stronger for it.”
Outgoing President Bev Weber's Final Goodbye
As NZAC faced one of the biggest shakeups of its time, Bev Weber stepped into the President’s role with a determination to steer members in the right direction.
Replacing then President Robyn McGill in 2016, Bev tackled the Association’s future regarding self-regulation or registration under the HPCA Act.
And it came to fruition in 2017 with NZAC members voting for an enhanced self-regulatory process – truly a proud moment for Bev, amongst many.
Handing the responsibility to newly elected President, Christine Macfarlane, however, ended nearly 20 years’ experience within NZAC’s structure.
But it’s the experiences of the past three years as President that she holds dearest, as the Association continued to achieve many milestones.
None of these achievements would have been possible without its members and those who toil behind the scenes, she says.
“The National Office staff, the National Executive members and the Executive Officer continue to go above and beyond their duties, and for that I will always be grateful.
“So, thank you to everyone – especially the members. Everything we do in the governance of this organisation – we do for you.
“And all the best to Christine, who I know will be unwavering in her resolve to continue pushing the Association towards a bright future.”