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ACS Counselling - ‘Insight to Excellence’
"We have learned many lessons around a campfire. No matter where you are, a campfire can open up the door to culture, learning, and listening. Fire is one of the tools to existence."

Aboriginal Counselling Services is culturally sensitive. Our counsellors are qualified members of the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and therefore must adhere to the standards and practises enforced by the ACA. We are both accredited and have formal qualifications in counselling. ACS strives for quality and empathizes the importance of safety, confidentiality and privacy.

ACS has a structured approach and provides an environment that a person can feel relaxed, and confidently know we can relate to an individuals story or yarn. Our methodologies are based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, but will use aspects of other therapies to suit the individual.

ACS practices Cultural Safety by understanding the cultural and historic issues that we as Aboriginal people live with. We can relate to the stories that clients bring to us, through our own journeys. We have both lived and experienced strong cultural practices through our families yarns and maintain these stories through the spiritual guidance of our ancestors past and present. We feel strongly about the spiritual connection within our mob and ensure our links to Aboriginal culture is sustained through our children.

Anger Management – When the Dust Settles

At ACS we acknowledge that anger is often the reflection of deeper issues and when we have been involved in a traumatic experience, then the emotional roller coaster takes place. We feel guilt, anxious, depressed, more anger and then deal with it by either self-medicating like drug & alcohol use, isolating ourselves or sometimes involving self-harm or destructive behaviour.

When the dust settles is a model developed based on self-reflection, which incorporates a self-help strategy. When individuals develop insight into the behaviours that are associated with anger it is possible to alter the behaviour and effectively control the damaging consequences. When the dust settles I know from my own experiences I do feel sad, and sometimes frustrated with what has happened.

We have developed a method to use when we feel upset or have that gut instinct that something is about to happen. The program is developed to suit individuals or offered in a one-day training course for a group which is seen on our website under training offered.

Anxiety – Don’t worry

Like depression, anxiety can be short or long term. Anxiety can be a result of many experiences, like grief & loss, trauma, personal transitions, and chemical in-balance in the body, low self-esteem, and other influences that can then lead to a clinical illness. We also have a self-help strategy that helps with panic attacks. Panic attacks are related to anxiety and can be a very serious illness if not treated appropriately.

We are serious when dealing with this illness and will not hesitate to refer to another professional service if necessary. We have worked in mental health for eight years and have acquired professional qualifications and experience to support people who have been impacted by anxiety. ACS covers anxiety in an educational component of the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid. See the training section of the ACS website for further information regarding the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid training. We also have developed specific training that assists people understand and seek help to deal with anxiety.

Clinical Debriefing & Workplace Support

Taking time out, not time off (Self care)

We offer clinical debriefing and workplace support to people in the workplace who are confronted by workplace, family and community issues. We want to support our colleagues in various industries, as we know how vital our roles are in supporting other people particularly community workers. We have worked in construction, administration, education and the public service. Over the past twelve months we have supported workers in government and non-government agencies.

Based on my own experiences in my working life, I know the benefits of having quality time to offload and discuss issues that impact our work. We have supported numerous workers and seen them grow and benefit from clinical debriefing.

OH&S is important, so we need to be focussed on our roles and not be distracted with concerns that could cause injury or absenteeism. We offer our skills and qualities that we have developed to support the individual and the workplace. Any issue can be overwhelming and is related to family or community, is relevant to the workplace as it can impact on your work.

Depression – Getting around on Flat Tyres

Depression is an illness that can be short or long term. Depression is an illness that needs to be taken seriously as it can lead to self-harm or suicide. Depression can be a result of many experiences, like grief & loss, trauma, personal transitions, and chemical in balance in the body, low self-esteem, and other influences that can then lead to clinical depression.

ACS has assisted numerous clients who have been impacted by depression and have offered a self-help strategy that we know is successful. We are very serious when dealing with this illness and will not hesitate to refer to another professional service if necessary. We have worked in mental health for eight years and have acquired professional qualifications and experience to support people who have been impacted by depression. ACS covers depression in an educational component of the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid. See the training section of the ACS website for further information regarding the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid training.

Drug & Alcohol Counselling -
Gettin rid of the Gammin (Synthetic) Spirits

Yarndi and grog are not normal in our culture and communities and are very damaging to physical and mental health. For too long they have been in our communities and we see the destruction they still cause. I have worked in the mental health industry for over eight years and know that marijuana is the key that unlocks mental illness like psychosis, depression and anxiety. Other impacts of using substances are family violence, criminal behaviour, financial stress and other anti –social behaviours.

Drug and alcohol issues are one of the modern day social dis-eases that have become very prevalent in Aboriginal families and communities. As Aboriginal people our counsellors, have first hand experience of the impacts that drug use can have, not just on the user but also on whole families. ACS counsellors aim to assist with the addiction and the root cause of the issue. We recognise that drug and alcohol use damages relationships, health and finances of individuals, families and communities. From our perspective we look at how we can divorce the relationship between the drugs or alcohol and the individual. After all, drug and alcohol use is a relationship that takes away from human relationships.

ACS will assist participants if necessary or if requested to access further intensive detoxification and or residential rehabilitation. We have professional qualifications and experience in working in specific drug & alcohol services and have strong networks that can assist accessing treatment.

Family / Domestic Violence – Not Koori Love

Many Aboriginal people and communities have come to accept violence as ‘cultural’. I know that it is not cultural, but it is prevalent (common). Violence is NOT, in any way part of traditional Aboriginal cultural practice.

ACS will assist participants if necessary or if requested to access further intensive support programs, like women’s refuges, women’s legal services, Apprehended Violence Order’s (AVO) and other professional services that support victims of domestic violence. Again, we have professional qualifications and experience in working in this specific area and have strong networks that can assist accessing specialist support.

Gambling Counselling – Knowing when your on a Good Thing

Gambling has an attraction which can be seen as entertainment, addresses boredom, and riding the highs of a win, and the lows of a loss. It can be passed on through generations and seen as a normal part of everyday lifestyles.

ACS supports individuals and families who have been impacted by gambling. We have seen people affected by poker machines; card games, horse racing and other environments like casinos, and know how they impact the individual and their family. The financial hardship caused by gambling has a “ripple in the pond” affect on people, their relationships, the workplace, environment and lifestyles.

Grief & Loss Counselling – Let the Rivers Run

Grief and loss is common for Aboriginal people and communities. Grief and Loss is often referred to as ‘Sorry Business’. With larger families and shorter life expectancies, it is estimated that Aboriginal people experience loss at rates at least twice the rates of others. Often Aboriginal people have accumulative and complicated grief. As counsellors we approach grief with a view to managing the associated issues not overcoming or alleviating it. There are also other factors that can cause grief and loss such as life transitions, terminal illness and unexpected trauma.

ACS provides group and individual grief & loss counselling with positive outcomes. We have walked with participants through the emotional roller coaster and understand through our own experiences, how to support each other through challenging times. We are very conscious of our ancestors and the greater spirit during this time, so we include their guidance and strengths that we can draw upon during the whole process.

Self-care is a very important aspect of grief & loss and at all times we are aware of a person’s health and safety. Again we use a specific strategy that assists a person to manage the impacts of a traumatic experience and use individual strengths to help them cope.

Identity (Cultural, Sexual etc.) – Make you Strong and Belong

Many Aboriginal people, families and communities have experienced deep impacts on their identity since colonisation. The control over the lives of Aboriginal people has in some cases resulted in denial of Aboriginality. It is important that participants don’t have to justify themselves or their personal journeys of identity. ACS counsellors understand the history of Aboriginal people and communities and can therefore start from a position of acceptance and understanding.

ACS is very sensitive in supporting people and always offers a safe environment, and ensures strict confidentiality. We understand the journey of discovering and strengthening your identity, and know that it also triggers an emotional roller coaster like depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, confusion and the physical health that would also be affected by these emotions. ACS understands these transitions can be traumatic, and can offer assistance in supporting individuals and families.

Mentoring / Buddy Program – I gotch ya Back

ACS understands that it is often challenging for Aboriginal people to transition into work or workplaces particularly mainstream workplaces and/or government departments where there are strict policies and procedures.

One-on-one mentoring/ buddy aims to assist people in a cultural sensitive and safe way, to transition into a workplace and beyond. Mentoring can also assist to attract and retain Aboriginal staff.

Often Aboriginal Employment Strategies are highly successful in the area of recruiting Aboriginal staff but struggle to retain their Aboriginal staff. ACS’ mentoring/buddy program has been had a positive impact on the attraction and retention of Aboriginal staff where it has been used. Aboriginal people naturally support each other and this program aims to give guidance to enable appropriate support to take place.

Parenting Counselling – Looking after you Mob

Parenting skills do not come naturally, despite what messages society gives about the roles and expectations of mothers, fathers, nans, pops, uncles and aunties. ACS appreciates that Aboriginal parenting has been impacted upon by many factors including; identity, health, mental health, drugs and alcohol, violence and other historical and social influences.

ACS staff are very strict regarding child protection, and we have a duty of care to ensure a child is safe. We have personal and professional experience with working with children and their families, and know there is outside influences that can hinder our skills as parents. We offer parents an opportunity to grow with their family and also know it will be an emotional roller coaster, but enjoying the journey and consider life will present challenges.

ACS staff have qualifications in PPP, Child Protection and life experience of rasing kids for fifteen years. We also have great insight into foster care and children with high needs and are able to access resources or further specialist support if needed.

Relationship Counselling - Working together / Walking together

Relationships are essential in all of our lives. Just about everything we do impacts a relationship, whether it’s a personal, family, social, or professional relationship. Realistically all relationships have teething problems or a negative experience can influence the emotion in a relationship. All the pressures of life like, health, finance and work, can upset and change the emotional climate in a relationship.

ACS has supported couples in developing a stronger connection with each other through improving communication and working on individuals qualities like trust. We offer individuals strategies to deal with the stressors that are presented to use in meeting the demands of everyday living. We are realistic in our methods in supporting couples and provide a safe environment to offload.

Telephone Counselling -
Don’t have to be here to be listened to!

Aboriginal Counselling Services understands and acknowledges that in some instances and for a variety of reasons (eg time, distance, work/family commitments) clients are not always able to attend face-to-face counselling sessions. In most cases we do require that at least the first session is face-to-face.

ACS has successfully provided relationship and individual counselling for people who needed crisis intervention from a person they can relate to culturally with our realistic approaches. We have experienced success and please see our testimonial that demonstrates our success.

Vocational Guidance – Turn your Dreams into Actions

From my personal experiences we have been in and out of various jobs in our careers and understand what its like to work in a place that is not suited to you. Most people come out of school not knowing what they want in a career. ACS offers support and encouragement for prospective employees and students who need assistance with deciding their pathways.

We have worked in the past with people who would like assistance and support in turning their dreams into actions. ACS will assist participants if necessary or if requested to access further employment or training/study opportunities. We have professional qualifications and experience working with the employment industry and we have strong networks that can assist accessing work or study.

Youth Counselling – Being seen and Heard

Youth are confronted with life transitions, and often their behaviour is challenging. Aboriginal youth in some cases have a few more challenges because they also have to deal with social dis – eases like racism and discrimination. As we know as adults, we were teenagers too and sometimes are challenged to set boundaries and enforce rules. Knowing where we come from helps us to understand where we are going. With understanding our cultural identity, gives us a stronger direction in our personal pathways.

ACS understands that youth are at a point in their life where they require extra support in choosing a direction and forging their own way in the world. It is at this point that the values and beliefs that have been given to them are reflected and surfaced in the behaviours at school, social settings and at home.

ACS is working with large organizations like Australia Post and IPS Worldwide. We aim to satisfy and meet the needs of all clients and emphasize a commitment in achieving mutual goals. Our service standards are high and we assert quality principles and values. We are a family orientated service so we are flexible and will work in within reason to work in with, your family and or work responsibilities. Please go to the contact page to seek our assistance.

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