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Introducing Hazel Benson-Dawe, whānau support/counsellor

Hazel has been the whānau support/counsellor at The Hearing House since August 2021, after graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Counselling from AUT.

She works in collaboration with The Hearing House’s speech language therapists and audiologists, and is involved with welcoming new clients and their whānau from the outset, sitting in on information sessions as they first begin to consider cochlear implants as a way of accessing sound. She offers bespoke support and counselling, working together with clients to meet their individual and whānau needs.

What can the support service help with?

I’m a trained counsellor registered with the NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC). I can offer general conversations about support. Support can look like any or all of the following:

  • Linking

Being linked with other whānau/people who have similar lived experience.

  • Advocacy

Feeling advocated for when navigating the clinical/medical environment of the Cochlear Implant/Hearing world (ie, another person to translate, mediate, communicate questions, concerns, hopes, etc).

  • Talking Therapies

If you or your whānau would like to explore deeper into how the hearing journey has or is impacting your life, we can link you with an in-house counsellor or help you to find someone that specialises in the area that you are wanting to work in.

  • Groups

Help finding a support group in your area, online or of a theme that feels relevant to you.

  • Other Services

If you’re unfamiliar with what services and organisations are available to you, we can help you find out what and who they are, and how to access them.

Alternatively, you and your whānau might have your own ideas about what support is, or maybe you’re not sure yet. The idea is that we work it out together.

What have other people who have used your service said?

People have said that they find it valuable being able to talk freely without an agenda, that they can share openly about their whole experience. This is helpful alongside the other sessions we offer which are more focused on audiology or speech and language development.

How does Te Whare Tapa Whā help with these conversations?

In the Te Whare Tapa Whā health model we can see that there are multiple dimensions of the self, so it’s not just ears or hearing. It can be family stuff, other health issues - our belief systems can become rattled and aspects of our mental health can be challenged. The model is an approachable way to explore these dimensions. It gives us all an opportunity to see that life is complex and that there’s a lot to balance and consider on a health journey.

What can I expect when I see Hazel for support?

Firstly, we need to work out what and how we’re going to work together. If I’m not the right person, then I can help find someone who is. The first step is making sure that the idea of support is accessible and available. Sometimes it’s just about finding what it is that needs supporting, it’s all part of a process. If you’re wanting to access counselling, we can arrange that. If you’re wanting to talk about other aspects of the health journey, such as how you’re finding things in general, that’s ok too.

What is counselling?

Counselling is a kind of talking therapy. It’s based on relational principles where we work things out together. I have provisional registration with NZAC and here is their website if you want to check out our code of ethics or other relevant info:

How do I book into see you?

You can contact me on one of these ways:

What are your hours?

I’m available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. I’m also available for home visits and can also see you as part of our outreach clinics outside of Auckland – we’ll just have to organise this in advance.

Is there a cost associated with your services?

My services are free to clients of The Hearing House.

Community and connection as a foundation for whānau support counsellor

Hazel Benson-Dawe has had a varied career where she developed a deep appreciation of the diversity of people and their circumstances. From this experience she chose to study a Bachelor of Counselling at AUT where she was able to channel her focus towards supporting people's health and wellbeing.

“After years of working in client-facing roles, I knew that I wanted to learn how we can look after each other in vulnerable spaces, and that I would need training in order to do that.”

Hazel has always thrived on diversity of people, the exchange of language and words, and the complexity of human dynamics, a theme well-matched to the culture at The Hearing House.

“At its core, we support people to communicate and that aligns well with my passion and values,” she says. “We’re doing incredibly meaningful work together – it goes beyond words.”

As part of her course work, Hazel spent several months working to gain experience at Wings Trust, the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Community in Mt Eden.

“It was a humbling experience that affected me profoundly,” she says. “I learnt how people can become isolated if they have a health issue that has stigma attached, and that people benefit from connection and community, that’s how we recover.”

Hazel started her role as student counsellor at The Hearing House on the eve of the second nationwide lockdown in August 2021, and her hard-fought vocation -- which relies on talking and being with each other -- was suddenly thrust onto a Zoom platform.

“At first I was a bit wary,” she says. “My main role is to listen and talk, but mostly listen. I wondered how I could possibly do that without the benefit of meeting face-to-face, but Zoom soon became one of the lifelines of connecting with clients.

“We learnt to communicate remotely, and to see that it’s still possible to connect meaningfully even if it’s through a screen.”

Hazel’s mahi takes her across the spectrum of The Hearing House’s clients, ranging from whānau with their precious newly born babies, right up to those at the end stages of life.

Working in collaboration with speech language therapists and audiologists, she is involved with welcoming new clients and their whānau from the outset, sitting in on information sessions as they first begin to consider cochlear implants as a way of accessing sound.

Hazel is also passionate about weaving te ao Māori mātauranga into the fabric of The Hearing House. Having attended kohanga reo and kura reo rua up until the age of 10, she is an ally in te reo and te ao Māori.

She will sometimes employ Te Whare Tapa Whā, a te ao Māori health model when she works with kiritaki.

The model, developed by Sir Mason Durie, advocates that the four pillars of the wharenui – representing physical, spiritual, family and mental wellbeing -- are all inter-connected and can benefit from attention.

As part of this, she has introduced Kaitautoko Kiritaki (Support navigation for clients) where she outlines different support options on offer, while at the same time catering for what individual clients want.

“We’re hoping that by offering this support service that we can create a place where people can talk openly about their hearing experiences from diagnosis through to rehabilitation and recovery, and the range of emotions associated with that.”

She is learning huge amounts about the people who walk the path of having a different experience of hearing.

“We’re constantly working on supporting a most intimate relationship between humans and technology. That comes with a lot of challenges and sometimes rewards. It’s complex, but it’s the reality.”

Representatives from Deaf Aotearoa and Deaf Connect (Australia) visited The Hearing House (THH) on their recent Discovery Tour. Pictured L to R: Genevieve Roberts (Deaf Connect), Naomi Hayman (Deaf Connect), Briana Putnam (THH), Natasha Cloete (Deaf Aotearoa), Bridget Ferguson (Deaf Aotearoa), Dr Claire Green (THH), Hazel Benson-Dawe (THH).


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