New type of counselling practice
Jeneba O’Connor has combined her training in three vocations to create a new type of counselling practice.
Ms O’Connor, a clinical mental health counsellor, yoga instructor and former teacher, has opened Metanoia Counseling Services in Washington Mall, Hamilton, offering adult clients the option to incorporate yoga, mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy counselling.
The result, Ms O’Connor says, is a “unique mind-body approach to effectively cope with life transitions, mental illness, anger, addiction, grief, personal or work-related stress, relationships, attention deficit disorder, and much more”.
Ms O’Connor said: “Talk therapy addresses the cognitive piece, the thinking patterns and maladaptive paths that have developed over time. But I find something is missing, particularly in cases of illnesses such as depression and anxiety. They come with physical symptoms.”
In the case of depression those symptoms can include extreme lethargy, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and tension and stress, she said.
“All this is being held in the body physiologically and needs to be released in a physical way,” Ms O’Connor said. “Yoga does that for people.”
Ms O’Connor, who said that research studies support the notion that yoga can be a beneficial tool for individuals with depression, added: “Working with people with depression, we talk but we also address the physical symptoms of the illness.
“That might mean teaching them exercises to open up and create more space in the upper body. I also incorporate breathing work with that, focusing on ‘belly-breathing’ because people with anxiety or depression tend to hold a lot of tension in the stomach area.”
Ms O’Connor, 44, attended West Pembroke Primary and Bermuda High School before earning a degree in French and modern languages at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.
She completed a bachelor’s degree in education at York University in Toronto, and taught in Bermuda for 16 years before earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health counselling from Walden University in Baltimore.
Ms O’Connor completed an internship with Court Services in Bermuda that involved 700 hours of one-on-one client contact before working at Turning Point and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.
An Employee Assistance Programme counsellor at Benedict Associates for the last year, Ms O’Connor will combine that work with her practice at Metanoia, so named she says because it means a transformation, a fundamental change in character or outlook.
She said: “I wanted my practice to mean something to people. A lot of people are looking for personal growth in all areas of their lives and that name, Metanoia, spoke to what people want.
“People want to change, to be a better version of themselves, but don’t know how to do that.
“I feel my practice truly addresses the psychological and emotional symptoms of not only mental illness, but of day-to-day stressors — and also the physical symptoms as well.
“I always dreamt of a profession where I could blend the skills that I have, the teaching piece, my skills as a mental health counsellor and then incorporating yoga with that.
“The idea for this practice came to me because holistic mental healthcare is an area that is lacking in Bermuda. I like to offer that to people who perhaps don’t have access to yoga.
“It is a holistic way of addressing both the mental and the physical.”
Ms O’Connor is available for 30-minute and 50-minute counselling sessions, and 30-minute and 60-minute individual yoga sessions, at Metanoia afternoons and evenings from Tuesday through Thursday, and all day on Friday.
She said insurance coverage is available for counselling sessions for customers of Colonial and BF&M. For individuals insured by Argus, or having GHI or Future Care coverage, Ms O’Connor said she will “work with them on a price that suits their needs”.
• Metanoia Counseling Services is located on the first floor of the private section of Washington Mall. Contact them on 704-1097, or by e-mail at email@example.com. The website address is www.metanoiacounseling.net, which includes information about pricing.
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