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Printed in The Evening Telegram, September, 1998


Treating the whole person

We all have the power to be content and fulfilled with our lives, no matter what age we are, how much money we have, how attractive we think we are or are not, or what illnesses we have. "It's up to us to learn how to take care of ourselves and to feel good about who we are."

These basic beliefs and challenges reflect the holistic counselling, that is, therapy for the whole person, provided by Jamille James of the Heritage Health Centre, St. John's. Her varied training as a social worker and different experiences since have brought Jamille to her fifth year in private practice. She has helped patients with serious personal problems in various hospital departments and has advised on the custody of children in divorce cases for the Unified Family Court. Jamille has also assisted families containing children with special needs, counselled young offenders for the John Howard Society, and has provided service in a half-way house for distressed women.

The project for her master's degree in social work is on re-educating ourselves in the real meaning of adult relationships. "The stress that I see frequently," says Jamille, "is that of the caregiver who looks after a parent, child or life partner. I see many serious problems arising in marriage and life partnerships that often lead to traumatic separation and divorce. Bereavement brings many distressed people to me. Of interest, after the person has coped with the death of the loved one, there is often the request for help with personal development to adjust to a new life."

"In treating the whole person," explains Jamille, "there are the emotional, physical, psychological and holisitic aspects. Holistic therapy in this way is not based on any one religion. It aims to give us a good feeling for ourselves and others. We are encouraged to realize personal strengths. In providing treatment it is important to help clients to identify negative thoughts and recognize emotional blocks that prevent them from experiencing their full potential. "

Jamille recalls many other types of problem for which people seek her help:

  • Continual anxiety becoming disabling can stem from conditions as varied as having insufficient money to get by to not getting along with people at work.
  • Depression can be so crippling that sufferers just shrink from commencing each day. Many show a lack of self love with a low opinion of their worth.
  • Stress can mount to a critical level in having the continual management of a very difficult child.

Reflecting her extensive social work training, Jamille recounts "Two major principles impressed me. I should never be judgmental in reviewing clients' actions. At the same time the study of ethics or morals indicates that people should act fairly, being accountable to each other. For example, parents should use their own parenting skills to do what they think is right for their children within the law."

"Peggy Marston, we'll call her, became overwhelmed with other people's problems. "I was another Dear Abby for everyone around me. Unfortunately, their concerns became mine and I would sit up at night, tearful and angry. It was as if I was carrying around a heavy weight. I couldn't have stood it much longer. I soon knew that Jamille with her quiet personality and peaceful, calming voice would help me. Above all, she was clearly someone who cared about me and she taught me to care about myself, to realize that I couldn't take care of the world. Now I am healed, Jamille remains in my mind to support that."

Jamille's therapy sessions last at least one hour and she counsels families or groups together. "As many as it takes," she says, smiling. Physicians and other professionals send her clients while she will send people to others for care if she feels it indicated."We all want peace and happiness and if we wish to feel better, we can," sums up Jamille. "We must relax, let go of past times we didn't like, stop fearing for the future and enjoy the wonder of now."

Dr. Paddy Warrick's experience has included medical practice as well as health care management, accreditation and consulting