The deep-diving counsellorJason's story
Jason uses his own lived experience to help men and parents create real connections and change. The Gold Coast-based Case Manager and Counsellor shares his journey… and why he’s taking it one wave at a time.
I feel I have a great empathy when it comes to the challenges that others are facing, because I’ve struggled as well. It helps to relate, and to build rapport
Putting experience to use
When Jason isn’t facilitating workshops or out in the community supporting his clients, he’s spending time with his daughter. And when he’s not doing that, you’ll probably find him at the beach. Sitting in his car at Currumbin before going for a dip, Jason shares his story, and why he felt drawn to this challenging work.
“Something inside me just wanted to be a part of people’s journeys… or to help people explore what their journey is. I guess it’s because I’ve been there. I have this lived experience and I want to put it to use to help other people.”
Indeed, like many others, Jason experienced challenges at a younger age, relating to problem substance use. He speaks openly and with quiet pride about his journey to sobriety. And it’s easy to see how this has guided his career path. Jason joined us in 2014 in our Young Families and Kids in Focus Program, following a successful university placement at Lives Lived Well. And he hasn’t looked back.
“I feel I have a great empathy when it comes to the challenges that others are facing, because I’ve struggled as well. It helps to relate, and to build rapport.”
The power of conversation
Jason’s a busy man. He works daily with residential clients at our live-in recovery service, Mirikai in Burleigh Heads, providing outreach and general support. On top of that, he co-facilitates the Parents Under Pressure group, as well as a local group for dads.
For Jason, helping to run those groups is a huge highlight of the job. It’s a space where parents get together and turn the focus away from the stigma and shame of being a parent living with an alcohol or other drug problem. There, Jason says, he’s in his element.
“I’m the question guy,” he shares with a smile. “I love to peel back the surface of what’s being said and get to the heart of a topic or issue in the group.”
In his work with men, Jason’s own experiences again help shape his approach. As a father to a teenage daughter, he’s passionate about connecting and discussing the important stuff.
“I love that we can have conversations about what it means to be a ‘good man’ and topics like toxic masculinity. I had eight guys last year having such great conversations about being a dad and a man. It’s a privilege to be part of the conversation and to support someone’s journey.”
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Salt water for self-care
Before emigrating to Australia from England in 2004, Jason took up surfing to help keep him focused on his journey to sobriety. He learned to feel at one with nature through surfing, swimming and diving, and it soon became his safe place to focus and recharge.
“In this role, self care is paramount. You have to come first because if your cup isn’t full or even half full, how can you give to others? When I dive underwater, the quietness is like a meditation for me,” he said.
And when your cup is full, amazing things can happen. It’s enriching to hear the level of belief and hope Jason carries and helps to instill in the people and clients he interacts with every day.
“There’s always hope for someone to move forward. I created hope within myself and stuck to that. I overcame adversity and created a different life for myself. It motivates me to help others to find their own hope – even if it’s a small piece. They can set a goal wrapped around hope, and from there, so much can be built.”
Eyes on the horizon
Looking to the future, Jason says he’s excited to keep growing with Lives Lived Well, as a person and as a professional. More than anything, he wants to keep facilitating those vital discussions between men and parents in the community.
“Love what you do and do what you love. There shouldn’t be an element each day of ‘Oh no, I’ve got to go to work.’ There should be a ‘Yeah, I can’t wait to see what happens today!’,” he shares.
“We all have difficult days. But being excited about your job gets you through those challenges. It’s important to remember to find space to have a laugh.”
And of course, remember to also spend time in your happy place. Keep on swimming, Jason.
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