Accessing affordable, ongoing, and non-judgemental mental health support is notoriously challenging in Montreal, even for youth who are struggling with acute or ongoing mental illness. Head & Hands counselling services aim to fill this gap by offering free individual, couple, and family counselling. In the last year alone, Social Counsellor Rhonda supported 196 clients, in 645 visits.
Here, Rhonda shares a bit about her work!
H&H: Why do youth come to you for support?
Rhonda: Every client has different needs. Many youth feel like the decisions they make at this point in their lives are very permanent and critical to their life path. They’re dealing with issues of relationships, career, where to live, gender identity, or decisions about how they want to break away from family patterns that they now feel detached from.
Some come in crisis over the end of important, powerful intimate relationships. Self-identity issues are very common and having a neutral ear to listen and help sort them out can make a big difference. Many youth need a safe, confidential place to talk and explore what these issues really mean to them.
What a privilege to have someone say to me, “I have never, ever told anyone else this deep secret I have but…” I am very careful to honor that trust.
H&H: What do you find most motivating about working with youth?
Rhonda: I feel very clear about the fact that I can make a difference—not all the time, but often.
I have developed models that really work with the client holistically. We talk about the food they eat, the physical activity they engage in. I use the Native Medicine Wheel to help us look at the balance in their physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual selves. It is so inspiring to see them have a small epiphany, and say: “Oh, ya…This is so true. This really makes sense. I can do this.”
Recently, in a couples counseling situation, one the partners said that the biggest learning for her was when I told them they were both personally responsible for their own happiness…that they could support the other partner’s happiness but they each needed to create their own and not expect the other partner to create it for them. This blew her away. It turned the relationship around for her.