AIPC Graduate Jodi-Anne Smith shares her story…

“My name is Jodi-Anne. I am a 2009 graduate of the AIPC Diploma of Professional Counselling. It took me a lot longer to complete the Diploma than normal as I stopped and started my study several times. I followed my intuition and read in greater depth in the areas that I really loved like person centred and gestalt approaches. I really appreciated the self-paced learning style and the support available.

I completed the abuse major back in 2005 knowing that this is the field I wanted to work in. I have spent most of my life healing from an abusive childhood — full of parental neglect, alcoholism, emotional and sexual abuse. I have undertaken a lot of healing through self-analysis, being a client of a counsellor specialising in art therapy and doing sessions with a wide range of alternative therapists. I thrived on learning about the healing process. I did the Diploma principally to help myself, but I knew that once I’d reached a certain point in my own healing I would share my story and support others on their healing journeys.

What I have discovered in working with survivors is that most people who suffer abuse do not know how to heal and are too scared to embrace, feel and release the painful emotions. They fear being swallowed up by them and never resurfacing. They fear discovering further abuse buried within and not coping. They fear taking the risk to open up and look within. Many don’t believe that they can heal and they don’t believe they are worthy of love and of kindness. Their early treatment and conditioning is so negative and so strong that healing and breaking free from it seems an unachievable goal.

Trusting others, God or themselves is too foreign, too much of a stretch. It’s a massive undertaking truly facing all your conditioning and healing from child abuse. Many people don’t do it and end up repeating painful patterns throughout their life as those issues try to surface to be healed. It is very sad seeing people trapped by the past. It is my privilege to be a guide, a role model, showing people how to heal and supporting them through the process.

Many years ago I started running short workshops at a community college — ‘Overcome your fears’, ‘Break free from repetitive patterns’, and ‘Heal from painful families’. Class size was set at 27 and involved providing information, doing exercises, sharing and self-reflection. The content was mostly theoretical containing lots of information from books that I had found useful in healing those issues in my life.

It was very mental and quite impersonal. This suited many people as they weren’t yet ready to open up too much themselves, especially in such a big group of strangers. Some were ready, some weren’t. I shared examples from my healing journey and people told me that they found this inspirational. It gave them hope that healing was possible and most importantly it helped them to accept themselves more, to see that their experiences had led to their behaviour and low self-esteem.

While this is a great step forward I felt the workshops were only an introduction to the process. More was needed to support them to actually make the changes in their own lives. I now prefer to run workshops with fewer participants where people can share more of their own experience and speak from their hearts about their process. I still provide handouts so that people can read the theory on how to heal, but I focus more on creating a loving and supportive environment where people can get in touch with their pain, their intuition and what they need to do next. I prefer to provide ongoing opportunities for such sharing through regular group work.

I have recently published a book titled ‘The healing journey demystified: achieving sustainability one heart at a time’. This book contains both information on the steps involved in healing from child abuse and my process through the stages as a real life example. I explain all my conditioning, my addictions used to avoid my pain and try to prove I was okay (study, work, relationships), my defense mechanisms and repetitive patterns, the projections I used and the realisations I had as I healed. I have included appendices showing how art and dream analysis can be used as powerful healing tools.

The feedback so far has been very positive with people saying that the book has helped them to understand their behaviour and provided insights as to the next steps for them to take. If you are a survivor of child abuse or you work with survivors I’d like to invite you to explore my website?www.jodiannemsmith.com. There are links to a range of free e-books on personal development and manuals on healing from child abuse. There is also a link where you can purchase my book if you feel drawn to do so.

I am very grateful to the AIPC for all their support and for making the counselling study available in a way that is so flexible. It was a great starting point for understanding human behaviour and counselling approaches. It was an important part in my healing journey.”