The ability to talk to someone about problems in one’s life can be a huge relief for parents under stress.
At the 1-Up Single Parent Resource Centre, counsellor and educational programs co-ordinator Cheryl Dick hears regularly from clients about life’s challenges, from problems with relationships to financial stressors to simply dealing with the emotional and physical workload that comes with being a single parent.
For the most part, she says, it boils down to convincing people they have the resources within to get on the top side of issues that are causing them stress and anxiety.
“Even though people are struggling, we certainly see how resilient people are or how resourceful they are,” she says. “Often it’s just reminding people about the strength they do have. You kind of get blindered when you’re in the middle of a crisis. In some ways it’s helping them get perspective again.”
Communication issues and difficulties managing conflict are just two of the common themes with which Dyck helps clients.
“There’s a lot of people who are struggling with relationships, whether that’s with their ex-partner or someone else,” she says. “It can be relationships with family and friends, and even relationships with their kids, who may be starting to act out or are having anxiety over separating with their parents.”
Many clients using the centre’s counselling services don’t have a broad social network or family nearby to relieve some of the workload. Poverty can play a role in the mental state of single parents as well, Dyck says. If a parent can’t afford to put their kids in sports, or perhaps can’t find a job that pays enough to cover daycare costs, it can lead to isolation.
In general, seeking counselling can be a good way for any parent to unburden themselves of the pressures and stressors of daily life, Dyck says.
“It really is a place where they can feel safe to get the load off their chest, whatever it is that’s irking them or taking up a lot of energy. They get a neutral place to sort that out. We can give them some practical things to think about … that helps them explore new options, helps them undo a stuck pattern. We can help them understand that it’s OK to have a certain reaction to things.”
While the clients who receive one-on-one counselling at the Gorge Road offices must be registered members of 1-Up – the centre has a six-month wait list for the service – there are other organizations in Greater Victoria that provide low-cost or sliding scale counselling for parents in financial difficulties.
Among them are Citizens Counselling, located in Quadra Village, and B.C. Families in Transition in downtown Victoria. For more information, do a search online for counselling services, Victoria B.C.