Family counselling releases a new approach

Quentin case study

Despite being a professional communicator who has worked for some of New Zealand’s largest corporates, when it came to communicating with his own teenage son and daughter Quentin had to admit something was amiss.

For Quentin it had been a turbulent two and a half years that included a marriage break up, relocating several times, the unexpected loss of both of his parents, and coping with a couple of teenagers. Quentin describes this as, “A very busy and challenging time.”

Speaking of his relationship with the kids Quentin considers it was good, “We’d always been able to talk reasonably openly, but I had a sense there were things they wanted to talk about and ask. Likewise, I too had questions I wanted them to answer.”

After settling back in Auckland, Quentin and his ex-wife could see something else was required beyond the conversations they’d been having with the kids. It was important to find a neutral environment where it was possible to have a frank and free conversation with someone who was detached from the situation and able to help steer the discussion.

Quentin had friends that had been through similar situations and found counselling helpful, so was willing to give counselling a try. His GP recommended Home & Family so he did some research and made contact. When asked about the children’s reaction to counselling, Quentin replied, “The kids were pretty open to it actually, particularly my daughter. My son, after initially seeming uninterested surprised me by being ok with it, and ultimately, I think he benefitted the most from the counselling.”

Home & Family provided a welcoming environment that felt relaxed and informal. “It was like walking into someone’s lounge and being able to talk candidly without judgements or whatever else,” says Quentin.

Quentin admits he probably had an expectation that going to counselling would be an instant fix, “Like taking a pill when you are sore.” Rather, he discovered counselling provided more of a methodology for life. “What I learned was you’ve got to keep on doing what you pick up on,” he says.

One of the most significant outcomes from the counselling was the way Quentin approached talking with his kids. “The biggest thing I learned was to let the kids have their say and not be judgemental or try to put a parental take on it, just let them talk as individuals”, he states.

Summing up the counselling experience he says, “Aside from the kids and I having a better relationship, I think I’ve learned more about myself that I can apply to other aspects of my life. For example, I’ve learned to think more about different perspectives – even when situations look black and white to me, there can still be different ways of looking at things.”

What surprised Quentin was that counselling didn’t mean making monumental changes to his life, “I learned practical strategies that fitted into everything I do on a daily basis,” he says.

So has Quentin any advice for others out there?

“I’d say, give counselling a shot. I’d be astounded if you didn’t find it worthwhile. For families with teenagers, regardless of your personal situation, counselling can be really helpful. If you are receptive to counselling, then you’re really going to be benefit from it.”