We are thrilled to share our new series, ‘Our Local Stories’ with you.
It is very fitting that our first story is with owner and local Counsellor Bree Baxter from Cultivation Counselling. This was a perfect place to start, with the current pandemic and people needing more support than perhaps they have ever needed before.
We will learn what inspired Bree to start her business, her incredible experience in her first twelve months of work, her passion for Relationship Counselling, her role model and a surprising aspect to her business.
I am very lucky to have worked in two rewarding and fulfilling professions over the last 15 years, teaching and counselling. After teaching in both Primary and Secondary school and taking family leave to start my family, I decided to explore further study into the area of teaching I enjoyed the most – student wellbeing.
Following my education in Counselling, I was lucky enough to obtain placement at United Minds Community Services at Yarrambat, where I worked as a Student Counsellor for twelve months. United Minds is a Not-For-Profit charity offering affordable mental health services for the community. During those twelve months I was able to work with some of the best Psychologists in Melbourne and gain experience counselling a range of clients through all ages of life. In the space of twelve months, I had worked with clients with eating disorders, chronic pain, grief and loss, anxiety, depression and even paranoid schizophrenia. The supervision and support United Minds provided, gave me counselling experiences many Counsellors take years to encounter.
At the end of my placement, I was lucky enough to be offered a contract to continue working with the organisation. Noticing a lack of trained Couples Counsellors in the area I furthered my training by obtaining my Levels 1 & 2 Gottman Couples Therapy Training as well as becoming a Bringing Baby Home educator. At the beginning of 2021 I decided to take the leap and begin my own private practice which is when Cultivation Counselling was born.
The main objective I have for Cultivation Counselling is to take the stigma out of counselling and opening up about Mental Health, especially in the area of relationship counselling. Relationship counselling is not just relevant when things are too hard or overwhelming, it can be about improving connection or establishing better communication habits early in your relationship. Providing couples and individuals with strategies early and for the future is the best therapy I can provide.
Inspiration to start…
After I had my son, as many parents do, I went through a really challenging time with re-establishing my identity and confidence. A Therapist introduced me to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and it changed my whole view of life. It opened up my confidence to try things I previously felt was out of reach. My greatest role model is my mother who ran her own business for most of my childhood, this has left me with very strong work values and a drive to set the same example of perseverance and determination for my own children that she gave me. I am so lucky to be in a business where I am able to connect with people on such a deep and meaningful level.
More about Cultivation Counselling
The name Cultivation Counselling came from the idea of mental health being like a garden which needs continual nurturing and cultivation. The main values I base my counselling work around are Acceptance, Vulnerability and Growth. Acceptance to embrace the challenges life inevitably brings. Vulnerability to show true emotion, open-ness of one’s self and trying new approaches and growth to develop changes in thinking, strategies and mindset, building resilience and strength. My logo has a plant creeping out of a wall which to me represented the growth that can happen in the most unexpected of times and places.
My business has grown as my experience and confidence has grown. Completing my training in Gottman Couples Therapy and the Gottman Bringing Baby Home Program has been my greatest area of development for my business and I look forward to incorporating these more into what I offer in the future.
Managing business and family
The beauty of running your own business is being able to set your own time and hours. This means lots of evening and weekend work. This works well for my family. Lockdown however has made things more challenging and I’ve found much of the time I would have spent creating educational workshops is being put into individual sessions. With the waiting list for Psychologist appointments so long at the moment many people are seeking Counsellors instead.
Challenges and Rewards
My biggest challenge has been changing the way I work to suit the Telehealth setting. I use many games and art resources that haven’t been easy to use over Telehealth so it has meant exploring other options to offer the same experience for my clients. Every session is rewarding for me as I see my clients feel validated and strengthened when dealing with challenges, they previously felt overwhelmed by.
I truly would not have changed anything on my journey so far, every mistake I have made has led to learning and development.
Supporting Bree’s business
Cultivation Counselling is always open to new clients with varied and flexible session times. The Nillumbik community can also support United Minds Community Service Program with donations to their foodbank, material and financial aid programs. I have public Facebook page and a website where anyone can find more information for themselves or someone in need.
Did you know…
Something surprising about my business is that it is usually men who enjoy couples counselling the most. In fact, it is often the men who are most eager to rebook.
Bree says counselling does not have to be a weekly session, many of my clients, especially couples, book a session once a month to check in, debrief recent challenges and successes, set new goals, review their values and reflect on their life with a completely unbiased listener. Counselling should be incorporated into your self-care regime, like a garden nurturing your mental health leads to a full, rich and thriving future.
Thank you Bree, we loved getting to know you and learning about your business!
Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed learning more about this supportive local service.
Feel free to leave a comment for Bree below.
Click here to see other local businesses listed within our online directory.