This is an interview with Australia Counselling member Narelle Gillies.
Australia Counselling member Narelle Gillies is passionate about helping young people- teens and young adults- and their caregivers develop greater resilience and tools to deal with life’s challenges.
She has a particular interest in helping young people become more adept at dealing with emotional and psychological problems that arise in the natural development of a young person, and the relationships they form with others.
She spoke to us recently about her approach and how her interest in this field came about.
Tell us a bit about your practice- where it is, who you work with and the services you offer
My practice is called Perspective Therapies. It is located in the Live Well Centre, Crows Nest on Sydney’s lower north shore.
I work primarily with teenagers and young adults (aged 12 to 25 years) as a counsellor and psychotherapist. Alternatively I work with parents/caregivers to help them better understand and manage their child’s behaviour.
The clients I see at Perspective Therapies may be experiencing depression, anxiety, anger, grief or any number of social and/or family related issues. Many young people these days, particularly girls, are self-harming in an effort to cope with their feelings and external pressures. My goal is to help them normalise the full range of thoughts and emotions that are driving their behaviour and in doing so, empower them to make changes towards a realistic and more positive outlook.
I offer both short and long term therapy and base my work on the principles of narrative therapy along with the psychodynamic approaches.
I am also very interested in understanding my clients as part of their family system so will encourage them to explore the different relationships in their lives and how these have affected their development.
How did you become interested in counselling and working as a psychotherapist?
I first became interested in training as a therapist whilst looking after foster children through DOCS. Having witnessed first-hand the trauma and grief that these foster children were experiencing, I wanted to do more to help them emotionally and psychologically.
I also wanted to help young people, especially teenagers, to feel empowered by providing them with the tools to cope with life’s challenges.
Additionally, having worked as a Youth Mentor in high schools, I felt that by training as a counsellor I could expand and deepen my knowledge and create a meaningful career out of helping young people.
How do you believe people change and what supports long-lasting change?
I believe people start to change once they understand their feelings and behaviour in the context of their life experiences.
Life events and the family/social environment strongly influence the way individuals view themselves and the world. In other words, I believe that before people can change, they need to gain a deeper awareness of why they are perhaps “stuck” in unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour. Once they start to make sense of even the unhealthiest habits, the individual gains freedom to make positive changes in their life.
Tell us about your approach and why you believe the way you work is effective in helping people change
As the name Perspective Therapies suggests, my approach involves the consideration of different perspectives to a problem or situation. I help my young clients to explore their current situation through a different lens.
We look at what has happened to them in their life, including significant events, their relationships and their perception of themselves. Together we also explore the family environment, the beliefs and values that have been passed on to them and whether or not these sit comfortably.
I believe effective change is only possible by looking beyond the behaviour of the person and identifying its purposeful nature, no matter how unhealthy, with the ultimate goal of finding helpful alternatives.
Young people need to be listened to without judgment or prejudice. They need to be given an empathic space to uncover and explore their own identity and this is what I try to provide in my practice.
Tell us what a client can expect to experience in an initial counselling session with you
I try to bring a relaxed and informal approach to every session. I believe that working with teenagers and young adults is a privilege so I encourage openness by providing an atmosphere where they can feel safe to discuss their problems or concerns.
In our first session together, I will ask my client to talk about what is troubling them or what has brought them into therapy. We will have a very general discussion about their goals for therapy, and also start to get an idea of how long and how influential the problem(s) has been in their life.
Right from the start I will invite my client to start looking at their thoughts and feelings as predictable and purposeful responses to their current or past circumstances, rather than any sort of inherent pathology. My primary goal for the first session is to instill hope and to provide the foundation for a good therapeutic relationship.
On a personal note, tell us something that you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time
My spare time is spent with my family. We love nature and the outdoors so bushwalking, mountain biking and getting out of the city are high on the priority list. My hobbies also include horse riding and dancing.