We are back spilling spicy tea and what better timing than the start of a new term. In spite of the negative connotations I usually associate with term 2 (winter uniform, coldness, etc.) I have promised myself that I won't go into term 2 with preconceived prejudices about what the term will bring (only took me 13 years to shift my mindset, but we finally got there.) The relevance of that? Welcoming Nici Berman; a psychotherapist and school counsellor who has all the tea on back to school blues, besties and beating burnout. Queen of holistic wellness, Nici is passionate about helping people going through tough times or needing support (literally all of us). A very worthwhile read with some even more worthwhile, easy to implement tips and tricks for slaying life/school/friendships. ENJOY XXXX
Describe yourself in three words
I would say empathetic, inclusive and a deep thinker.
Outline your job and how did you get into this field?
I’m a school counsellor, I started off with my social work/ honours degree and moved into completing a master of counselling and psychotherapy. I don’t think where I am now is my dream job, but it is all about the process and learning. Whilst I feel very out of my depth here, I have learned so much starting this job. I work with adolescents on social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Ranging from grief and loss, ADHD, Autism, child abuse/ neglect, dyslexia, bullying and managing ones’ workload. Social work was right for me at a stage of my life, providing me with a foundation for my knowledge on topics such as social justice, inclusivity, gender equality, cultural diversity and the government system. It was rewarding and humbling to meet so many people from such uniquely different backgrounds. I was however constantly referring them out to a counsellor after our meetings to get ongoing support and this sparked a passion in me to be that person for them. It is an honour to be trusted with someone’s deepest thoughts and curiosities, I am grateful everyday that I have the privilege of meeting with the most interesting people that challenge my knowledge and allow me to grow.
What is self care to you and how do you practise this?
As part of my own journey and a requirement of my practice is to seek professional support. Whilst it is expensive, I find so many benefits in being able to reflect and dissect my own practice. Whilst bubble baths and face masks are nice, setting boundaries to have alone time is so important. I do this by exercising, practicing mindfulness or gratitude which are evidence based activities to help with our mental health and well-being. I love making time for fun adventurous activities as well as spending quality time with family and friends to take my mind off work and ‘mental health’.
Being a school counsellor, can you speak a bit about the importance of seeking help and school?
Let’s be honest, school is rough! You are sometimes with people you don’t necessarily like, teachers are telling you what to do and you are tired from homework, learning and all the developmental changes happening. There is a lot of stigma around seeking help at school as students think it makes them less capable, less smart and less cool. Seeking help when you are struggling socially, emotionally or behaviourally is only going to teach you strategies and help manage the difficulties you are experiencing. We all need some guidance and support, seeking help at school can help you feel more motivated for school, help you focus and enjoy spending time with your peers.
Top tips for burn out/school overload...
- Ask for help from your teachers with school work
- Talk with the school counsellor, there might be a need for an external referral for further professional help. Students are developing and changing, so it might be that a visit to the GP or psychologist would be beneficial.
- Start practicing self-care at a young age. This means setting boundaries after school and on weekends to have down time and alone time.
- Speak with your teachers and school counsellor, it might help to take a break during the school day in a quiet space
- We are only human, there is so much pressure to get the highest grades. Stop and take a moment to think whether these marks are going to effect your future or not.
How to help a friend going through a tough time...
- Don’t feel as though you need to know what to say or do. Just reassure them that you are there for them to listen to.
- It might be helpful to research the what they are going through. For example, depression, anxiety, eating disorder etc.. It might help you make sense of what is going on for your friend and therefore be more sensitive towards them
- You can say things like: (Often your friend will be more afraid that they will have to manage your emotions and reactions)
- “You haven’t seemed like yourself lately, is everything okay?”
- “Hey, is everything okay at the moment? Always hear if you need to chat.”
- “You are not alone, I am here for you when you need.”
- “You don’t have to apologise, I can take care of myself”
- Remember to be non-judgemental, don’t try diagnose them, don’t force them to talk, ask them what they want to do and be empathetic.