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BISP counsellor ready to help international school students, parents and staff with all issues

Marie McIntyre is currently the social and emotional counsellor at the British International School, Phuket (BISP). The school is the only on the island to offer such services to children, adults, students and staff.


By Dalia Hilmi

Sunday 20 September 2015, 09:00AM


The Phuket News recently paid a visit to the school to find out more about Marie and what being a counsellor is all about.

Marie, originally from Sweden, had always been interested in doing different things and when she saw an advertisement for a tourism course in Cyprus at the age of 21, she packed up her stuff and headed to Cyprus for what was initially a nine month trip. Soon after she met her husband and it wasn’t long before they moved to Scotland. It wasn’t for another nine years that she returned to Sweden.

Marie spent a number of years guiding tourists in countries such as Egypt, as well as fulfilling her passion in horseriding in her spare time. While she was in Cyprus, she spent a lot of time in the stables which soon fuelled her desire to educate herself further. 

Marie enrolled herself in a Youth Training Scheme and achieved first level of instructor, followed by a Higher National Diploma in stable management. After walking out with the Best Student Award, it became clear just how driven and determined Marie was.

After finally returning to her homeland, Marie started her own equestrian centre for about a year before becoming a stable manager in a nearby stable.

After a few more roles, Marie soon began to realise that her true passion was focusing and helping those not doing so well in life. It was a natural thing for her. Her inviting, approachable personality has carried her through life and ultimately has allowed her to help people from all walks of life.

Marie’s ability to reach out to people is so fundamental to her personality that she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it.

“I don’t know how I’m doing it,” exclaims Marie, “I’m just doing it!” 

Working with animals over the years has also given Marie the ability to have a soft, yet successful approach with those who need a little guidance.

“Over the years I have come to realise that the wellbeing of students is so important, so I started to study courses related to wellbeing, including mindfulness, yoga, all those things that come into learning about how to feel good about yourself,” explains Marie.

“I always try to implement it into my teaching and my curriculum.” Marie and her husband spent four years in Singapore before coming to the decision to move to Phuket.

“You’re made to be a counsellor,” my husband said to me. I was always interested in psychology, and behaviourisms, so that’s how I came to the decision to do this full time.”

This is Marie’s second year at BISP, and she has transformed her department into a warm, cosy and family like area for people to feel comfortable and safe in.

“First of all, the students need to know I exist. If there’s something troubling someone or if it’s just someone friendly to talk to, it’s good for them to know I am here.

“Of course, there continues to be this stigma about counselling and therapy. But that’s why being available in the school helps. Part of my job is to reduce the stigma, and everyone needs someone to talk to at some time.

“People come in here for all sorts of things, from the minor issues to the more serious ones. I support the students from all year groups, their parents and the staff.

“It’s all about supporting and seeing how I can help. Everything is confidential. My aim is to figure out how to make things preventable. Going forward, I hope I can set up further workshops aimed at making people feel good about themselves. Help them feel less lonely, for example.

“My purpose is to act as a support service, educational, and even pastoral. I never know what’s going to walk through my door, I can never prepare for it. I just have to listen to the person I am meeting. I am just trying to help people find a solution to their problem. I am trying to help them find their own potential.

“I just want people to be able to come in here, into a friendly, warm, non-judgemental place.” Marie uses various methods, including two of her main tools: CBT (Cognitive Behaviou Therapy) and RTCT (Reality Therapy and Choice Theory), as well a number of years of experience and knowledge, not to mention her own natural approach.

“Counselling is not just for some people. It’s for everybody. We all need a helping hand sometimes, to manage the daily demands of life. There’s nothing strange about it, nothing is
too little or too big to talk about.

“Counselling is that friend you can really trust. Even if I saw 1,000 people, but only one walked out of my office that little bit better, then I would be happy... because it’s one more.”

“I believe that everyone you meet or every meeting you have can have an effect on you for the rest of your life. You never know what difference something can make or how you can
affect someone,” concludes Marie.

Indeed what’s clear is that Marie does love her job and it’s this passion which speaks true to her character. Her natural and friendly approach is what makes her perfect for the job and
the fact that she is so busy is a testament to how well she has fit into the school and managed to reach out to so many people there

 

 

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