The Australian Psychological Society has launched the “Believe in Change” advertisement campaign. On their website http://believeinchange.com/ you will find fictional stories about how a psychologist can help. Change can be stressful but made less difficult by having a psychologist by your side. If you need support to take these steps then call me.
I’ve recently completed some training in understanding and counselling people affected by forced adoption. This practice was still occurring into the 1980’s which means there are many people–children now grown, mothers, fathers and extended families–presently in the community around us who have direct experience of it. They may experience feelings of shame, anger, grief, depression and anxiety, and this can lead to difficulties in relationships, parenting of children, formation of identity and mental health disorders. For a long time people were told to keep quiet about their experience.
The then PM, Julia Gillard made an official apology in 2013 and although this goes some way in recognising the harm done, it is not sufficient for healing. For those who are still affected by forced adoption I would encourage you to seek out and speak to a professional about it, or if you have a family member or friend suffering, encourage them similarly. It’s never to late to heal from these types traumas.
People often engage with a psychologist when working through a transition in life; leaving school, joining the workforce, becoming a parent. One transition that is often seen as a time to sit, relax and lay back is retirement. The difficulty with this approach to retirement is that when we leave employment we loose a part of our identity. This often results in feelings of sadness, frustration, emptiness and anxiety……unless a new identity if formed.
So what should you do when considering retirement? I would recommend building up social connections before retiring, perhaps work part time while you do this. When social connections are established and participated in, a new identity begins to form. You belong to a group and have activities with others to look forward to. You have a place. Added benefits include a reduction in risk of mortality (Umberson & Montez, 2010), memory decline (Ertel, Glymour & Berkman, 2008) and depression (Cruwys et al, 2013).
So those who are retired or planning to be, focus on staying active socially and get out there into our community!
Like lots of people I volunteer in the community and I’ve found the Scouts to be a fantastic organisation. I’ve been a leader there and found it very rewarding. Today I loaned them my credit card terminal to help them sell Christmas trees at a fundraiser on the corner of Pacific Hwy and Banockburn Rd; and if you purchased a tree there and used a credit card you’ll see ‘Rhona Barker Psychology’ on your credit card statement. Don’t be alarmed – you haven’t been scammed – it was just me helping out the Scouts.
There are many items people use to remind them of special moments in life; photos, letters and knick-knacks to name a few. But what about those special moments when your toddlers says something hilarious, insightful or intelligent? I guess if you are quick enough you may capture it on video but if not perhaps you could write it in, what I call, a quote book. We have done this in our family and it is full of all the stand out amazing things my children have said from when they could talk to .…..well we are still writing in it now when they are in their tweens. I love reminding my children of these, teasing that we’ll need to write that in the quote book and giggling at the words when we are going through a particularly difficult time. It is full of the memory of those special moments. If you are a parent of a toddler then now is the time to start one!
I read a story in the Sydney Morning Herald a couple of days ago about a special needs teacher, Sophie Murphy, who was called upon to assist airline crew to seat a boy with downs syndrome, who was refusing to get up from the aisle, so the plane could land. Within the text of the story there was a particular paragraph that struck me……
“On the plane, I got down on the floor in the aisle with Shamran. If he was going to move, I needed to introduce myself, find out his name, connect, let him speak, listen to him, see what the problem was, and not panic him or be punitive. I knew I needed to lock onto his eyes and show empathy. I learnt his favourite books, not as an ice breaker or an introduction, but to construct a real relationship, however brief.”
She did such a fantastic job of connecting with this boy and gently encouraged him into his seat. Shamran has downs syndrome but what struck me is that all children should be approached like this in a time of crisis however big or small that crisis is. Connection is so powerful in everyday interactions.