The Secret Keeper. Emily Beeckmans listens and offers a safe, confidential space to talk.
Emily Beeckmans is there when you need more than a shoulder. Her speciality is trauma and life transitions. She's been there and back herself. With 17 years experience in as a therapist and advocate, the single mom has also recently (and successfully) battled cancer under the worst of circumstances.
Emily earned her chops on the front line. Now she consults for companies when they need help – from individual employees navigating a personal crisis, to an entire company dealing with situations like restructuring, industrial accidents, or an unexpected death of an employee.
Mental health can be overlooked by companies, but being proactive is good business. Burnout, overwork and exhaustion are common these days, and employees who utilize a company's counselling resources are far more productive. "It's WIN-WIN for everyone. The best employers recognise that this is an important part of overall health. Employees are more productive if they have a safe, anonymous place to talk about workplace or personal issues and offered the tools to help cope."
However, there are obstacles that prevent people from picking up the phone. "There is a perception of stigma, and a general misunderstanding of what psychotherapists and social workers do," Emily explains. "But people are starting to open up. The #LetsTalk campaign is making a positive impact. Yet even employees with counselling as part of their insurance package may feel reluctant to approach a social worker. While dental and prescription drugs are routinely claimed, getting counselling can be a different matter. "A person with a broken leg wouldn't hesitate to seek help, but if a person is in mental distress they are sometimes conditioned to feel that they should not burden others with their "drama". They think that they should be able to 'handle it' or should "suck it up." " Emily notes, " 'Should' is one of the worse words we have ever created. It makes us feel inadequate."
Another concern is confidentiality, Emily observes. "Clients want to know who they are dealing with. Trust is huge. Nothing leaves my office without their consent. I see people from every walk of life. Everyone is different and there is no one approach that fits all. There has to be a good fit with trust, and that's why the initial consultations are so important."
"Most people come to see me when they are already struggling," Emily says. "But you don't have to be in a tough spot before you ask for help. It's better to tackle problems before they become overwhelming."
So what are some common signals a person is not coping with a situation? "Not eating or sleeping enough or way too much as well as little things trigger huge emotional responses. People often say they feel raw and crazy, that they cannot focus or get anything done."