I do this work because I want to help people find hope. Without hope, life is very difficult.”
Magdalena Kuyang, Counsellor/Advocate with QPASTT
Magdalena Kuyang has worked for QPASTT since 2006 as a Counsellor/Advocate and community development practitioner. She shares her reflections on supporting clients and families.
“As a counsellor working within a bicultural framework, you need to be culturally sensitive and patient. You need to build a strong rapport and have a very strong sense of compassion and acceptance for your clients. You must be non-judgmental and respectful – taking the time to really get to know your client and understand how they are presenting.
I do this work because I want to help people find hope. Without hope, life is very difficult.
I’ve been working in this field for 15 years in Australia. Before that I was a counsellor in Uganda for about four years, working in a refugee camp. I’m originally from South Sudan but we moved to Uganda when I was a teenager because of the war. I started my counselling training when I was living in a refugee camp, working with refugees from South Sudan, Somalia and Congo. Clients often want to be supported by counsellors with a lived experience of being a refugee or a counsellor who speaks their language and comes from a similar cultural background.
One of my personal motivations for doing this work is helping people to understand the importance of counselling. Everybody can benefit from someone to talk to and it doesn’t mean you are sick or unwell. Many cultures, particularly from Africa and Southeast Asia, don’t talk very openly about emotional problems or are not familiar with the Western approach of counselling. In many cultures, people seek support or guidance from family members and elders, but here in Australia they might not have that support network. Every person in life needs someone that they can talk to, someone that can listen to them without judgement.
I do a lot of family counselling. If nothing is done to address trauma, it can keep on impacting future generations. If children haven’t received enough emotional support because their parents are struggling with trauma, it can create issues of children self-harming, dropping out of school, becoming involved in crime. Helping parents understand how important counselling is, especially in preventing intergenerational trauma, is something I’m personally passionate about.”