I find Quyn’s door open, she is sitting at her desk working at her computer. Her office is quiet, relaxed, and I am greeted by her very friendly dog, Essie. Essie is Quyn’s guide dog: She has a curly coat of fur, a healthy excitement for a newcomer, and a face so squishable. I already feel comfortable, at ease, and more than welcome. I am here to “interview” Quyn, to learn what it is she does as an Auxiliary Counsellor here at Sunshine Coast Health Centre. To my surprise, she begins to interview me! She asks how I am adjusting, about my past experiences, and about my feelings around my current role. Thank you, Quyn. I appreciate your warm welcome, and to know that you are invested in the wellbeing of your co-workers. Quyn offers a compliment, I sink further into the couch, sated and excited to continue on.
While she had an interest in mental health and addictions early on as a counsellor, Quyn didn’t fully believe the 12-step model. It’s the model that’s traditionally found in residential “rehab” facilities, and it didn’t fit her beliefs. This led her to pursue other directions in her career. She met Melanie, SCHC’s CEO, who informed her of SCHC’s non-12-step, meaning-centred model which strongly resonated with Quyn’s own professional values. A bit of time passed before Quyn came across a job posting for a Primary Counsellor position at SCHC.
Primary Counsellors are responsible for the intensive client group therapy and the caseload of clients in their group. Primary counsellors also refer their clients to other clinical therapies at SCHC such as Somatic Therapy, EMDR, Hypnotherapy, and more based on assessment as well as feedback and input from each client. Group therapy isn’t something Quyn had a lot of experience with, but with a little introspection she decided it was something she was willing to try; recognizing an opportunity she didn’t want to miss out on. A few years of working as a Primary Counsellor evolved into a new role as an Auxiliary Counsellor, leading her to move out of small group and into offering working 1:1 with clients by offering EMDR and Hypnotherapy.
What is EMDR?
“Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing” – Quyn chuckles “it’s a lot of words”. Here is a quick introduction:
Eye movement: the therapist would use their hand and track it back and forth in front of their client’s eyes and the client would follow the hand with their eyes. That was the original version. After practiced, it was realized that it is more about bi-lateral stimulation (stimulating both sides of the brain) and you can create the same effects with tapping. Quyn taps.
Desensitization: desensitizing certain upsetting emotions so they become more neutral or calmer.
Reprocessing: reframing certain beliefs about oneself or the situation.
Some clients find having a hand in front of their face to be dizzying or triggering due to past traumas. Reportedly it is more personal and intimate having the element of touch involved with tapping which helps clients relax a little more. Quyn explains that by stimulating both sides of the brain this allows the client to process emotional events in a more calm or clear way, they are able to be more insightful
In the beginning, EMDR was used for trauma or PTSD treatment, but now the reality is you can use it for anything that is emotionally challenging, anger, shame, depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, resentment, even guilt. Quyn uses it to ease strong triggers also, which aids in a deeper understanding of those triggers. EMDR benefits through engaging the thinking brain, the frontal lobe, so you can move from a “flight or fight” reaction to a calmer and more clear reaction. By asking questions to illicit different insights, the client can then allow the answers to come from within themselves, which cultivates self-discovery.
What is Hypnotherapy?
There are two general types of hypnotherapy:
Non-Interactive and Interactive.
Non-Interactive hypnotherapy is where the client lies back, relaxes, and the therapist does all of the talking. Offering positive messages around whatever they want to work on. This is great for symptom relief, relaxing the client and stabilizing them.
Interactive hypnotherapy is where the client gets to relax first, then go into a hypnotic state and start to talk to the facilitator. The client does the talking which helps them resolve things on a deeper level. The therapist will ask questions to elicit certain feelings and emotions which will help prompt the client along the way. Quyn facilitates interactive hypnotherapy.
The Power of The Mind
Hypnotherapy is about making changes in the subconscious mind on a deep level. When someone wants to consciously make a change there can be a subconscious block: their subconscious brain grips them in a process of repeating patterns, ultimately preventing them from sticking with the change their conscious mind wishes for.
Hearing positive messages about recovery sometimes isn’t enough for clients and that’s where interactive hypnotherapy comes in. You have to look at where the addiction stemmed from and reframe it. This is a very meaning-centred approach, which doesn’t come from the therapist but from the client’s subconscious mind. Quyn has been told that she is magical or capable of the impossible, but is the first to admit that the work done by the client is exactly that – work done by the client. Any results they reach is brought on by the path they took themselves on. That is the power of the mind.