Helping live life to fullest
Tom Kernaghan - Aug 03, 2022 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

If every long journey begins with the first step, imagine how far you could go if you turned your steps into strides. For Julie Morgan, a registered social worker and the owner of Making Strides Counselling, it begins by pushing aside the stigmas of mental health, reaching out for support and confronting your fears. Morgan is here to guide you along that path that most of us find confusing and overwhelming—the walk toward our healthiest, happiest self. 

With 15 years of counselling experience and a bachelor’s degree in social work from UBCO, Morgan helps you to navigate tumultuous emotions and overcome the insecurity, depression, anxiety and anger keeping you up at night, impeding your progress, and affecting your ability to create a better, more fulfilling life—the one you deserve. It’s about discovering what is in your way, what is immobilizing you, what is keeping you from moving forward. The foundation of this mutual exploration is a solid therapeutic relationship. 

You are not alone. Morgan passionately believes in the importance of building her clients’ trust, so that they can feel safe in being open and honest about whatever it is they are going through. And her services cover the vast and varied nature of life’s challenges. Whether you’re seeking counselling for family and relationship issues, grief and loss, chronic illness and disease, career conundrums, youth struggles, caregiver strain and more, Morgan is ready to take that first step with you, no matter how small.

Julie, your reviews are amazing! Empathy and passion certainly come across. Some have this by nature, but often experience shapes, strengthens and guides these qualities. What inspired you, or compelled you, to enter social work and become a counsellor?

Ever since I was young I have wanted to be a counsellor. It began after meeting one and seeing the huge difference they could make in my life. As a person who cares deeply about people’s well-being, I knew that many struggle, and I wanted to make a difference. I realized that through counselling I could guide others to a better understanding of themselves and their emotions, so that they could create strong connections and relationships in their world and live their lives to the fullest.

I love that unattributed quotation on your Facebook page: “Learn to differentiate between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you.” I think many of us can relate to this. When someone comes to you, how does that clarifying process begin? What do you ask your new clients?

Since every client is on their own journey and has a different past, there is no cookie-cutter answer for this. I always start where the client is at and go from there. It is the client who directs the counselling process. Individuals often need to start by learning how to listen to their bodies, and by linking the mind and body experiences. Identifying experiences of trauma can begin clarifying the difference between their intuition and the traumas misleading them. There are a series of questions that guide my practice, and these vary depending on the client and where they are in their healing journey.

Your online posts are refreshingly brief and visually stunning. And I love the bridge metaphor you use in one of them. What is in that metaphorical canyon that keeps us from crossing over our bridges? How do you allay doubts and address hesitation in your clients?

It’s often quite scary to take those first steps in the healing journey. Those steps include considering changes in our ways of being, our responses and our typical ways of coping that at one time served a great purpose but now no longer seem to be working for us. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Not only are those earlier ways and old patterns no longer serving us, but they can be quite damaging to ourselves and our relationships. And yet we are accustomed to them. It is this fear of change and of the unknown that keeps us from crossing the bridge.

It is my belief that the most important role I have as a counsellor is to help to create a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship with my client. In this context, feeling guided and supported, the client is better able to begin taking steps, facing their fears, moving toward change, and ultimately crossing the bridge. 

What does the outcome look like when someone has crossed their bridge? 

The individual will feel different physically, mentally and emotionally, and they are able to identify what feels different. They will be able to describe their newly acquired strategies and how they plan to continue to implement them in their daily life. The individual will be able to express finding more fulfillment in their relationship with themselves, in their relationships with others, and in everyday life.  

I’ve explored a few counselling avenues over the years, but it was a registered social worker, back in Toronto, who quickly got to the heart of the matter and helped me. What distinguishes your work from other available options and makes it so effective for some?

Social work differs from other options in that its focus is to start where the client is at and allow them to guide their own journey, as they are the experts in their lives. Social work sees the client as imbedded in their environment and therefore influenced by what is in their environment—both positive and negative. It utilizes the understanding that the conditions into which people are born, the conditions in which they live, grow, and work, and their age are all social determinants of health that shape the way in which people live, and these need to be considered. This requires different ways of understanding and approaching problems and in turn looking at solutions and change rather than seeing the person in a vacuum. The social work practice also uses a strengths perspective that identifies all client’s strengths and helps them to utilize these for growth within themselves and throughout their lives. 

Social workers are also required to complete a certain amount of supervised field work before they are considered a professional social worker, and they are guided by a college which sets a certain level of standards. Social workers are also required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of professional development every year to maintain their registration status.

Tell us something fun about yourself many wouldn’t know—a fun fact, quirky perspective, or an engaging story. 

I am an avid concert and festival enthusiast, with some of my all-time favourite shows being Garth Brooks, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Metallica, The Tragically Hip, Billy Talent and Shinedown. 

I have also fallen in love with playing pickleball as much as possible!

Julie Morgan operates Kelowna’s Making Strides Counselling and Wellness

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays

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