from clients and workshop participants
One on one sessions
I was feeling quite lonely when I first contacted Helen, but after 4 sessions my life has become so much happier, at peace with myself, making new friends, and sleeping much better. Valerie, 84 years and loving life
One on one sessions
When I first came to see Helen I was overwhelmed by life in general and suffering anxiety and panic attacks. I was longing for change at work, in my relationship. I longed to do my creative work.
Now I feel much more in control, rather than life controlling me. I’m able to say no. I’m able to talk about my inner world. I talk up at meetings and am able to disagree with people. I still suffer anxiety at times and manage it better. I no longer have panic attacks. I’ve learnt how to live with my anxiety, I have much greater awareness and know what situations I’m likely to be anxious, that it’s ok to get support. My relationship is much better, my work situation has changed and I now have my own house. I am doing my creative work. Anna, social worker
One on one session
I’d suffered from clinical depression for most of my adult life, but it wasn’t until after the birth of my first child some 30 years ago, that my struggle for emotional equilibrium was either acknowledged or recognised as a condition with which I would need assistance.
At that time it manifested as an eating disorder. It wasn’t. It was deep, dark, lonely despair. I had a rewarding career, a beautiful new baby, a partner and paying off our first home. I should have been content. These were the goals I’d held for so long so why was I so unhappy?
For the next two decades I sought relief using drugs, alcohol, education and counselling from various disciplines. But nothing stuck. Eventually I suffered the first of several debilitating heart events. I became too unwell to continue my career and like a deck of cards, my life as I knew it, folded.
I’d lost my health, my career, my children had left home and married making lives of their own and for the first time in my life, I found myself financially dependent on my husband who’d proved to be cavalier and reckless with our savings. My husband had lost interest in both me and in maintaining our farm and I was facing daily realisation that my home, like my life and marriage was deteriorating beyond repair.
I left my home and my marriage seeking happiness and contentment. My children subsequently abandoned me as did many lifelong friends so that I found myself utterly alone. I had the first heart attack. I felt my heart was broken. I attempted suicide. Twice. I should have died. But for random bush walkers I would not be here. I had a choice to make. Clearly I was going to stay here so I could continue in misery or try to rebuild. I reluctantly chose the latter.
And so began the slow, painful journey back to health.
I was incredibly fortunate to stumble upon the person I credit with leading me back to me. When I think of Helen McWilliam the following words spring to mind. Kind, above all Helen is kind, she radiates kindness and compassion. Understanding. You just know Helen gets it. You don’t need to be a wordsmith to connect with her, it’s effortless. Innately talented. I’ve never come away from counselling before with a sense of having actual tools to help me continue to embrace life fearlessly. Helen gave me that. Every painful session gave me skills I could take forward. For me, Gestalt therapy was a perfect fit. I needed a skilled, gentle practitioner to help me touch, taste, see and feel it. The session with the figurines was particularly enlightening for me. As I reflected on it later, some absolute truths were revealed and will continue to provide the understanding and acceptance I desperately needed. Authenticity. I believed Helen genuinely cared about me. I mattered to her and if she thought I was worthy of her care and concern, over time I believed it to be true. I started listening to lectures on different psychologists and philosophers, daily meditation practice, writing notes and journaling anything I read that particularly resonated with me and over time I’ve found me.
Turns out I’m ok. Life will always present trials and conflict and that’s ok. Because that’s what living is. The difference now is I remember who I am, why I matter and what I need to do on a daily basis to take care of me. I’m deeply and sincerely grateful to Helen. She led me back to me. Louisa, retired school teacher, mother and grandmother
One on one sessions
When I first came to Helen I was struggling with the changes in my life. I had taken over the care of my aging mother who had had a medical emergency and I had moved in with her. My son was in the process of leaving home and I had redundancies at work. As well, I had my own medical struggles. My partner had relocated with a new job. I was feeling completely isolated, taking care of mum.
Coming to see Helen is like a haven. My awareness is raised, I have my feelings validated, ideas are explored, I’ve discovered new ways of seeing and feeling, and I feel nurtured and supported.
Now I am much calmer and peaceful. With a clearer, broader perspective I am not so entangled emotionally. I am not nearly so fractious and feeling pulled apart and entangled by life events. I feel doing therapy with Helen has created more space inside me. I feel so much better.
More conscious; comfortable in my own skin. Aware. This is who I am. I have a big space and am open and aware of others and not drawn into their stuff and see it for what it is. Rhonda, teacher and much more!
Comments from participants at a recent workshop with art and fairy tales
I was both sceptical and excited about the workshop beforehand as I have done a lot of self development work and wondered what Gestalt art could bring that was any different. Helen is a wonderful facilitator - warm, supportive and provides a really safe space. She also asked questions that really made me think and challenge my perceptions. The circle of women who also attended were open, friendly and non-judgemental.
The process of creating art based on the theme and story and then sharing with the group was cathartic, healing and, also, a bit confronting in terms of what it brought up.
It was so interesting how all of us interpreted the theme and the creative process so differently. I learnt a lot just from that.
I’ve had a number of revelations specifically relating to this workshop, both on the day and since. If anything I’ve learnt my ‘story’ does not define me and, while it does need to be honoured, I have the power in myself to let future chapters play out however I want. I’m not that powerless child anymore, I get to choose now. I had been feeling stuck before the workshop but it helped me realise that I don’t have to be.
Thanks Helen and to the other women who attended. I look forward to the next one! Fay, self employed
At the workshop before- I was curious, a little apprehensive
after- I was energised, more relaxed. Anna, 72, joyful, playing music and helping out with the grandchildren!
I arrived flustered, yet eagerly ready for the day. Upon leaving I felt nourished. It was a beautiful experience and a well rounded day. I really enjoyed the alone time with the story and my creative process. Dita, academic
I had a transformational day at Helen's workshop, filled with activities that opened up some closed internal spaces for me. I got to know that we are all connected in similar archetypal experiences which the fairy-tales facilitated so well. Making art in a supportive feminine environment was a bliss. I cannot recommend this highly enough! Tina, researcher
Couples therapy - the partner of a couple who came for several sessions
I was so frustrated in my relationship when I first came to see you. I was experiencing very poor communication, not being heard or understood. I had become a nagging housewife. Even being diplomatic, using I statements was not working.
During the last session with you, Helen, when my partner did sand play together, something shifted. I knew we are meant to be together.
We have both changed. There is much more balance in our lives now. We can now appreciate each other. Louise, disability worker