Kerrie Bannister is a women’s counsellor from Sydney. Through her work she aims to provide women with the space to explore their struggles, to have the opportunity to understand themselves and what is truly important to them. She believes that these discoveries can then pave the way for living in the world in a way that is meaningful and authentic, and in line with our own values and belief systems.
I love this interview with Kerrie. Her answers to my questions were honest and insightful. Kerrie and I both hope you enjoy this interview as much as we love bringing it to you.
For my readers who may not know you I’d love for you to start by telling us who you are, what you do and how you are making a big impact in the world right now.
I’m a woman who’s becoming more and more comfortable in her own skin the older she’s getting (fast approaching 50)! I’m very fortunate to live and work in a beautiful part of Australia; the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I enjoy walking the nearby beaches, dabbling in anything creative, having lots of time on my own (yes, you could call me an introvert) as well as with my husband and now grown up family and beautiful grandsons. In the working world I’m an emotionally focused therapist running a private practice for women. How am I making a big impact in the world? I hope through one therapeutic relationship at a time! I believe the healing of one person has the power to create a ripple effect through their life and connections and out into wider community.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you became to be a counsellor and how your own journey inspires you to do the work that you do?
As is often the case with counsellors, it began with my own experience sitting in the counselling room in the client’s chair. I remember a curious part of me observing the process and thinking “I could do this… I want to do this”. Admittedly, there was resistance for a couple of years as I knew that it would require committing to the difficult work of self-discovery which I was a little afraid to do. However, once I embarked upon it, that journey in itself is what continually inspires me to do this work. Through my own process I now know firsthand the difference it makes to understand what has impacted me, what formed those old inner beliefs about myself and the healing that can take place when you are able to move out from under those often damaging influences. Seeing this process unfold for my clients also encourages me and keeps me committed to this work.
I know that you take an emotionally focused approach in your work. Can you explain to us what that means and how this looks in your client sessions?
As it suggests, an emotionally focused approach always holds at its centre the individual’s emotional experience. It’s about learning how to heed our emotions as information; helping us to understand and recognise what is important to us, what our needs are and how to meet them. Rather than focusing on changing cognitive responses, the emphasis is on increasing emotional awareness. This means helping the client tune in to their reactions and responses; what it feels like, where it sits in their body, finding ways to express what has happened or is happening for them. This allows clients the opportunity to work through their experiences in a safe way which brings with it the possibility for relief and change.
You also do a lot of creative work with your clients. I’d love for you to tell us a little more about this.
The majority of the work unfolds through verbal exploration, however, bringing in creative elements often allows the process to open even further. Sometimes it can be hard to put into words an experience, an emotion or a sensation in the body. In these instances, with the client’s permission, I may invite them to explore it in other ways. This could be through means such as drawing, writing or using objects to represent a feeling or a part of themselves. It brings a sense of play and curiousity into the exploration and can help provide relief around painful emotions as well as deepen self-understanding.
What do you believe the ‘key’ to self-healing is?
Carl Rogers said “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change”. I believe a pivotal key is the development of self-compassion; to be able to view oneself with kindness and understanding, to be able to acknowledge the painfulness of our experiences and offer ourselves comfort and support. It’s being able to metaphorically scoop up that little person who lives inside each one of us, hug them tight and tell them that we love them. And for that little person to believe it.
If you could give my readers, who may be just starting out on their own self-healing journey, one piece of advice what would it be?
Take a moment to acknowledge how courageous you are being! Moving toward healing can be slow, hard work – be patient and gentle with yourself along the way.
What truly inspires you in both your life and your work?
How incredibly brave people are! I sit in awe at the courage I see in my counselling room; the courage and spirit that enables a person to keep on their journey toward healing, their refusal to give up.
And if my readers would love to connect with you and support you in the work you do, where is the best place for them to start?
Take a visit to my website, www.kerriebannister.com.au where you will find more information about my practice as well as my blog The She Room. Feel free to pass my information onto others and, of course, if you live in Sydney and are looking for a counsellor, please contact me – I’d love to work with you.
Kerrie operates a women’s counselling practice in Dee Why on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, providing a safe space for women to explore their struggles; to have the opportunity to understand themselves and what is truly important to them.
As an emotionally focused therapist, she has experience working with a range of diverse concerns including anxiety, depression, abuse, childhood trauma, relationship issues and life transitions. Kerrie is passionate about working alongside women; providing the space, support, guidance and safety necessary to move towards a stronger, healthier life.