From the time I was a teenager, I have been drawn to older people, wanting their lives to be rich and supported. As a student, I worked in retirement homes and researched home support services in the community. During this time, I received an Honours Bachelor of Social Science degree and studied Counselling the Dying and Bereaved at Ottawa University in Canada. Life often doesn’t go the way you anticipate and rather than continuing to work with older folk, I ended up in New Zealand, started a family and ran a Landscape Gardening business. This experience emphasized to me, the important role of nature, gardens and creativity in people’s mental and spiritual health.
A few years ago, I realized that it was time to re-engage with my earlier interests and I completed a two-year Post-graduate Diploma in Health Sciences at Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand. During the first year studying Palliative Care, I developed a keen interest in the psychological and spiritual aspects of life and death and learned a process called Companioning which supports people by ‘walking alongside them without judgement’. I expanded this study by completing NZ Hospice’s Fundamentals of Palliative Care programme.
In the second year Counselling programme, I discovered Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) which made me feel as if I had ‘come home’. It is a hope-filled questioning process which honours people’s desires and strengths. I currently belong to a training and professional development organization called the SFU led by the world-renowned trainer and therapist, Elliott Connie, with members throughout the world. We meet regularly via video conferencing to practice, share experiences and gain wisdom and support from each other. The Solution Focused approach has become the mainstay of my interaction with people in my life and the focus of my Advocacy and Companioning Service – Serenity Advocacy.
Serenity Advocacy Inspiration Sessions offer support to people looking to manage difficulties and change in a hopeful and resourceful way. The starting point in any conversation will be, “what are your best hopes from our talking?” In this way, the focus is on you and your resources, opening up pathways unique to you and determined by you, to achieve what you want in your life. The Companioning service is for people in life-limiting circumstances and their Carers. Independence, enjoyment and possibility are the focus of the interaction, whether through conversation, sitting quietly or meaningful activity.