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Coping during COVID: One Student Counsellor's story about adversity and building resilience

Published:28 May 2020

Bachelor of Psychology alumnus Clare Bond is an Indigenous Student Counsellor who supports students with tools to overcome adversity and build resilience.

As a mother of five children, a graduate of one university degree and a current student of another undergraduate degree, Clare Bond can relate to students doing it tough.

While student life brings a unique combination of personal, social, emotional, cultural and academic challenges, according to Clare resilience is key to student success regardless of the crisis.

“An individual’s resilience is directly related to wellbeing. Having the ability to cope in tough situations is a crucial skill for us to adapt to the ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19.”

Employed as an Indigenous Student Counsellor at CQUniversity Gladstone, she is in the advantageous position of being able to draw from personal experience in combination with her psychology studies to support students through these tough times.

I work to aid students experiencing mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by past experiences interacting with learning content.

“This is extremely relevant during the current pandemic as we are exposed to new stressors which can be a trigger for some students - if undertaking tertiary study isn’t overwhelming enough, add the disruption, uncertainty and changes caused by COVID-19 into the equation,” she said.

“Everyone is different and has a different narrative. Any event can cause trauma in a person’s life. It’s not just what the event is, it’s really your interpretation and what the event causes for you.”

Building resilience doesn’t happen overnight but Clare claimed the challenges she has overcome as a proud Indigenous woman has led her to the position she is in today.

“I left school before I completed grade 12 because of racism experienced from several teachers.

“I had no opportunities to further my education while being a full-time mother and eventual carer for my father with advanced dementia for over 12 years – one of the biggest challenges of my life.

“I was tired of being overlooked for job opportunities because of my lack of education so decided it was time to show these people that they were wrong.”

A Bachelor of Psychology and almost complete Master of Research degree later, Clare has worked her way into a career she loves and will graduate alongside her two sons who are also in their final year of study at CQUni.

“I take the same approach to my counselling career as I do a mum. I help students understand how different things impact their life and guide them. I provide them with resources to learn, accept and change situations to benefit their future,” she explained.

Alongside the other CQUni counselling team members, Clare works to build individual coping strategies for students and restore a new sense of control in their lives.

“I have learnt to communicate on many different levels, to appreciate and understand the different ways that people react to a similar experience, with no two being alike.

“Due to my personal experiences and knowledge of cultural awareness approximately 95% of the students that I counsel are Indigenous referrals but if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that ‘we are all in this together’ during times like this.”

“We all need a little extra support during this time and counselling services are open to all students.

“I cannot ‘cure’ students of their issues, but I offer support and resources to build their resilience so they can eventually ‘cure’ themselves.”

For any students that require professional support call counselling on 07 49 30 9456 or email counselling@cqu.edu.au to make an appointment. Counselling is being offered via phone, Zoom and email currently.

For external services call: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36, Headspace on 1800 650 890. If you're in immediate danger, call 000