The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people in her hometown keeps Bethina Millers motivated.

Ms Millers is a student counsellor at YMCA Vocational School’s Ipswich campus, providing support to at-risk youths.

She helps children experiencing anxiety and low self-esteem, behavioural and learning issues, trauma and even substance abuse.

“The role requires me to work at a fast-pace, think quickly and be flexible because the issues a student presents to me during one morning can be very different that afternoon,” she said.

“For example, a student might come to me in the morning and say their mum has kicked them out and they are homeless, everything is falling apart, and by the afternoon they are allowed back home but now their boyfriend has broken up with them, so their world is still falling apart.”

Ms Millers said because issues on the surface changed so quickly, the key to success was focusing on each student’s core beliefs.

“I help them by providing a safe space and challenging their core beliefs about themselves to help build their self confidence, which helps to change their mindset,” Ms Millers said.

She said involving parents was also important.

“I also do a lot of work to reach out to the parents, because that is often where issues stem from,” she said.

“A lot of the counselling I do with parents is about promoting the importance of resilience and that while it is tough at times what a child needs is for them to be positive.”

Although her days are busy, with Ms Millers sometimes seeing as many as 20 students a day in her office or during group therapy sessions, she said the work was immensely rewarding.

“I really wanted to help people but I was really bad with blood so I knew I couldn’t be a nurse,” she said.

“I also went through some stuff in my teen years and a psychology and counselling really helped, so I wanted to be able to do the same thing for others.

“I have only been here for a few months but I have already seen a huge difference in many of the students’ behaviour.

“It means a lot to be able to provide a safe place to nurture their growth and make an actual change while helping those who need it most. The gratitude from the students makes it all worth it.”

Ms Millers is a former St Mary’s College student and was the first in her family to attend university, having completed a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and Master of Professional Psychology at USQ.

Bethina’s quick tips for building your child’s self confidence

Be consistent: It’s important parents are consistent with their rules and in their parenting approach. If you say they can go to a party this Saturday but they can’t go to one the next Saturday it messes with your child’s identity and sense of self. Be clear and consistent on what they can and can’t do.

Use positive reinforcement: It’s important to celebrate with your child when they have made positive change. Positive reinforcement encourages them to continue on the same path.

Be resilient: One of the best things a parent can do for their child is to be resilient. If you are resilient and positive it will help your child when they are having a tough time.

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