#SeriouslySocial The Podcast
with Simone Douglas and special guest Dale Hicks
Our guest this episode is psychotherapist Dale Hicks.
He and Simone chat about self awareness, being present and of rejecting the one size fits all approach to wellness.
Special guest: Dale Hicks
Check out our page for updates and teasers about upcoming episodes, www.socialmediaaok.com.au/podcast
Hosted by Simone Douglas
Videography by Marie Carbone
Audio by Chris Irving
Music used in this episode is “Alte Herren” by KieLoKaz, used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence
This production is protected by a creative commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.
Chris Irving 0:00
Welcome to the #SeriouslySocial podcast with your host, Simone Douglas. Our guest this episode is psychotherapist Dale Hicks. He and Simone chat about self awareness, being present, and rejecting the one size fits all approach to wellness.
Simone Douglas 0:18
So, today, I have Dale Hicks joining me on our #SeriouslySocial podcast from Dale Hicks Psychotherapy. Excellent. So really excited to have you join me on what is now the tan chairs wondering if you can just give me the cliff notes version of how you got here today.
Dale Hicks 0:41
How I got here today. Okay, so, yes, upbringing was that my family very fairy tale upbringing. I wasn’t pushed religiously. I didn’t have any advice or any direction. So that made me asked a lot of questions about life meaning of life, from a very young age. Didn’t know what I was going to do when I finished school, joined the Air Force. From the Air Force, had a lot of questions around dying and after forty years, thought what has my life come to? And for me to figure this out, so I quit. Went overseas for a year, to try and find myself and throughout that whole period, I was looking at what spiritual/spirituality to try and understand what’s going on but that came at a cost where it’s a limit where you can’t actually – there’s no science. And so where’s the science at? So I went overseas, spent some time, came back and had the exact same questions. The spiritual sense of self wasn’t answered. So came back, went into IT for an internet company …. but had the same problem and thought what do i do? That led into trying to find or have a better way and the only thing I thought at the time was how do I make more money, so the more money you have the more successful you are. It is the myth. It is absolute insanity. So I tried to follow that track using my IT skills in my company, and I was starting to get some success, but again something didnt feel right so from that I looked into … therapy a few other modalities from short courses … and worked with a clinical psychologist. A had a couple of clients that had amazing results using this and got invited to do a lot of professional talks through that, but because of that people that are always circling and hanging around, it was very much across as a conscious mind what do I have to offer that these people who study and work in the field and seven years of experience, so after four months what am I doing, and that led me through my Bachelor of Psychology, and then from that it was too much science. Where’s the humanity? Where’s the connection model? That sort of stuff. Where is the actual therapy the one on one connection? Answers were all textbook stuff, and when my Master’s in Counselling in Psychotherapy and that really hit the nail on the head. From that, I got the rude awakening that mental health in Australia is broken and because of that, I was madly looking for work, and I wasn’t rejected on skillset or experiences I was rejected on the fact that I didn’t have … So yeah, it was I’ll look for a job, I’ll build a business in my practice, and will giving support around that, and I’ll see which one takes off first, and I got a bit of part time work there in consulting and at the same time I was putting in my practice and the practice still going.
Simone Douglas 4:08
Nice, so I think too, you know, it’s always handy if you’re building private practice, and you have a background in internet marketing that helps. Because I think what I find a lot with people in the helping space in general, and allied health is that they’re great at helping people they’re great at their skill set. They’re not very often good at self promotion, like when you’re holding space for other people, you tend not to step into this thing, ‘Look at me I’m wonderful’
Dale Hicks 4:38
Exactly right. It’s very selfless professional, and if you trying to be selfish there are connotations around that it’s very difficult.
Simone Douglas 4:45
And I think too, one of the other challenges of spaces, APRA. And so you know, like depending on which licencing body or registration body that you use, what you can and can’t say, how you can it, you know, compared to somewhere like America, where you can say whatever you like.
Dale Hicks 5:05
It’s the regulations around the world that are very interesting, and then going back to the mentor one when I was studying … and I said to them I want to study psychology I want to do what you do. He said, no don’t and then he wanted me to make a professional course it might get me invited multiple risk professionals, because you can say things outside of these regulations.
Simone Douglas 5:29
I think that, yeah, there’s definitely this opportunity to be real in that space in terms of that connecting communities. I agree with you that mental health in Australia is pretty much broken. But I think to there seems to be his whole other layer layer as a business owner. So I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about what I went through during the shutdown from Covid and the people listening to this in Victoria, I can only imagine, like, the depth of stress that they’re under right now, and what that stress does to you emotionally and psychological makeup. Um, but that seems to be the conversation that’s lacking, so there’s a lot of conversation around, you know, economic constraints, and you know, keeping people in jobs, but there’s not a lot, I’m not seeing a lot of conversation, whether it’s online or digital, or even in the news around, you know, the mental health and well being of business owners who have had to stand down and their stuff. And they built up all those times that flogged themselves as we all do to grow our businesses. What do you think, you know, we can be doing in our own communities to have, like, if you own a business, you can have other business owners around, how do you lead that conversation to open up the door. So people can let off some steam.
Dale Hicks 7:03
That’s a really deep question. Say in the context of business owners, and those who are employed it goes back to that whole stigma around sharing how you’re feeling, what we’re talking about the RU OK Day, or any sort of mental health advocates promoted around. It’s in your awareness to ask people at work, how are you going, and you get the generic response I’m fine, it’s like, I know you’re fine. Tell me more what’s going on. But there’s this stigma of my own mental health, and there’s the stigma of the burden that you’ve got to put someone under you, then vent on to your own issues yet? Because again, it’s so selfish … go through all of that. So I guess to answer the question, and bridge that gap a little bit more is making it okay to, A share, to stuff that you’re going through, but also if you’re the person who is asking, don’t be afraid to push a little. Get people to draw it out, because people … are you sure?
Simone Douglas 8:11
Yeah. Not sure I want to give you all of this I’m caring all of these things.
Dale Hicks 8:16
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah,
Simone Douglas 8:18
I am, I think too one of the challenges, I suppose is, in order for someone to feel safe enough to share with you, you have to be vulnerable to them, and you have to be honest about what you’ve gone through. In business in particular, but I think even when you reach a certain stage in your career, where you’re perceived to be successful, and there’s this expectation that you havr this thing mastered … um, what are some of the things people can do maybe to practice in everyday life, just dropping that last down a little bit and letting their authentic selves come though …
Dale Hicks 9:00
So how much time have we got? So the question is, what can they do to …
Simone Douglas 9:07
What are some of the steps, so I always like to think, you know, when I first started practising kindness, mindfulness and actually being present and honest about who I am, and what’s going on, I liken it to you have to build up an empirical evidence base that the sky is gonna fall in every time you show someone new love. So what is some of the less scary things that we can maybe do or try with people that are closer to us that will help us develop some confidence to be vulnerable …
Dale Hicks 9:41
Well I think the first thing is making it OK to ask and actually share some of themselves so for that, taking that step back, you’ve got to have the confidence to ask the question, to then generate that evidence of competence. So one small things would be hey look, I’ve got some stuff going on, I cannot not go through some stuff, can I drop this mask and have a discussion with you is t hat OK? Most reasonably people would go, sure or I don’t have the time but I will make the time … half an hour
Simone Douglas 10:20
I think that brings up a really good point too, in that if you don’t have that time, right then and there and then about someone offers something of themselves, be honest. And actually, I’m drowning myself right now, but I appreciate having the conversation. Let’s do that. Can we do that? … We don’t do enough of that. I’m really busy the hands go up and off you go.
Dale Hicks 10:52
That’s right, that extends across a bunch of different areas of …. and underneath it all so if you’re going out there and being vulnerable, and that person just twists a knife, yeah, well, then you’re not going to be vulnerable again. But if you’re one of the one that person acknowledges the vulnerability well then and they you do it in the right way by saying shorten this talk or I’m going to make the time, after going through the stuff, can you give me a few minutes because we know it is important to you. Well most people would go, well you can take a week off and come back to me, because I know that you’ve understood that I’m going through something. Yeah. So extend that into a relationship, and … bunch of other situations that as a counsellor … So it’s a huge thing.
Simone Douglas 11:47
Well, that that thing about being seen and heard, too, and I think if you bring that back, again, like, from a personal context, we live in a world right now where we’re increasingly invisible, really, as much as with digital and other things, that we’re increasingly invisible as human beings and not acknowledged, we’re not fully present with each other to the point that you almost have a fit if you leave your phone at home, … So I think if you bring that back, that fully being present, the minute that you say to someone, I would actually like to give you my full attention. So let me get this stuff out of the way, so that I can come back to you. I mean, that’s a really powerful thing to do in a business relationship, in your personal relationships, but it takes practice again.
Dale Hicks 12:45
I think a lot of people would say I’ve never been the one to be like that, and I wouldy disagree with that. I would say that a lot of the things that we aspire to be we always got it’s just under developed, so everyone has the tools if they’re compassionate, acknowledging each other ….
Simone Douglas 13:12
Or, you hold on to a story that, like gives you an excuse not to develop those things. Yeah like some people just go nuh I’m just not interested. When you were six. If you’ve ever met a six year old for the first time? Like, they come into a roon and they tell you exactly what I think what’s going on for them Yet, like my biggest challenge as a parent has been trying to keep that six year old honesty and vulnerability in my now 10 year old and 13 year old without the world breaking it, … If they can carry that second carry that into adult life can be really powerful place.
Dale Hicks 13:49
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.
Simone Douglas 13:51
Um, but yeah, my challenge is always you know, I went through whole a stage where you either love me or you don’t, which is common.
Dale Hicks 14:03
That’s exactly the point you get those people who are apologetic about who they are, but tempered with empathy for the other person.
Simone Douglas 14:12
So I think that that’s actually a really good point because I’m, I talk a lot about being unapologetic, but that doesn’t mean to be an ass. You know what I mean? So I think that there are people out there who are like, assholes and don’t want to be nice human beings, they generally don’t stay in my life for very long. But, you know, they, they use that unapologetically you as a power dynamic. But then you’ve got other people who go, No, this is who I am. This is what I’m about and so for me that unapologetically me is about you know, this is who I am in the world. This is what it is that I’m trying to achieve and If this is what’s important to me, you don’t get to overlay your reality on to my … You got to try and I can’t help but do that. However, it’s, I’m not going to change who I am in order to make you okay? But I can empathise with the fact that maybe a if I am making you for a comfortable or is difficult to be around because it’s challenging your story about what you can do.
Dale Hicks 15:31
Exactly right, as you have awareness around your own responsibility. And exactly the same stuff that you do in that mindset it should be celebrated. It should be celebrated. You’re not treading everyone elses toes, you’re going off and doing the right thing. And that comes along and tries to take that away all the way out of … What’s going on…
Simone Douglas 16:02
Make you small?
Dale Hicks 16:06
Two people on completely different paths should be a celebration from each other.
Simone Douglas 16:17
No. And I think too, it’s, um, you know, I find it fascinating because there is a place for every single human being in this society that we have I think the challenge that we’ve got right now is that there still, you know, and I use this as well, because that’s where I live, that translates into life. But, you know, there’s still two schools. There are the people who need feel like they need to jump on everybody else’s heads in order to go look at me, I’m amazing your terrible, you’re terrible, you’re terrible, and you’re subpar, and you can do so much better. Which is that? I call it a culture of judgement, so one of the hardest things I ever did was when I was about 23, is I had to go two days without passing judgement on anyone or anything. It’s a very interesting exercise to put yourself through. Because the first like two weeks, you go oh my God, I’m the most judgmental on the planet. Yeah, yeah. Um, but yeah, it’s, you know, towards the end of it what I found was, I actually had got to a point where I was much more accepting of people so that I would have previously noticed. I sensed, like, what they were wearing or the hair, body composition, or any of those things, used best to be a factor in who I saw or how I saw them. So like, in the scheme of things with your own business, what have been the biggest challenges for you? Because, I’m guessing that a lot of your clients are much more stress.
Dale Hicks 18:04
It’s interesting. I had a friend asked me so what clients are you seeing the most of, and strangely enough, well not strangely and … ? That’s almosyt not a surprise, but also relationships not related to Covid at all, but I guess the main thing that I’m seeing and the struggles that I’m saying for people, is it I guess it’s that development that the lack of knowledge or self awareness around where they come from, it’s very difficult to highlight that for some people. Also want to go to certain places because by a psycho therapy, compared to counselling is much more opportunity to expand your mind. So looking at a bunch of different areas, and trying to tease out the knots of complexity. When people are having these issues. Yeah, I guess, from my perspective, I struggle to see, or I guess, I struggle to see I can see very clearly the difficulties that everyone’s facing.
Simone Douglas 19:23
I like to call it the band aid effect when it comes to psychotherapy, in terms of coming when it’s most painful, seemingly slowly. I really, yeah. So generally speaking, I used to find my practices, but people stopped at the most painful point. So I used to have to have a verbal contract with them at the beginning and say, at some stage on this journey, you’re going to get to a point where it’s just not fun. And so what I need you to do is to choose some kind of a word so that when you go to cancel and appointment. And it’s because it’s just not fun. Exceptionally fun day or, you know, whatever else it might be good, which is quite for me to follow back up with you and try and get you back to your appointment to keep moving because we don’t want you to live there.
Dale Hicks 20:17
It’s because you look, the other end of that spectrum is, as a counsellor, you can see very quickly what someone’s issue is, but it’s not for me to point that out. Now, the mentality that would come in, especially coming from medical from psychiatry or psychology, where they sort of sit down and go on this to this test, or you have XZY. OK cool go do this. And a number of clients come through and I will ask them. These practitioners did it work. No, that’s, that’s Yeah. There’s been quite a few that they get sort of very generic one size fits all approach is square peg round hole, so it’s not … depression, exercise diet type course … go through this nice session
Simone Douglas 20:22
Starting from the beginning.
Dale Hicks 21:14
Yeah, that’s right. It’s kind of what it feels like it’s, sometimes it turns into psychoeducation. Yeah. And a lot of it comes down to … they sort of feel judged when they come in, and then god they must think that I am crazy, but your actions and are normal based on my circumstances, don’t you feel yeah don’t feel bad about that.
Simone Douglas 21:48
I think that’s actually a really good point to finish on, which is, you know, in the scheme of things, we don’t teach, and, like growing up generally, to have an internalised like to some control. And so what happens is, look externally for this meaning, the checkboxes to tell them that they’re a good human, a successful human, all these things. But people who are comfortable in life, have an internal barometer for those that are … so often working with the right therapist, and explore those things and starts cultivating and building that internalised pleasure.
Dale Hicks 21:50
That’s right yeah, yeah. For a lot of us it’s pulling down those cultural and societal barriers I guess to fit into certain things …
Simone Douglas 22:48
And it’s not your last chance
Dale Hicks 22:49
Well that’s right
Simone Douglas 22:55
Well, thank you very much for joining me today on the #SeriouslySocial Podcast, you will be able to find Dale on all of this social and digital links that you will find in the description above, and I will talk to you soon. Thanks very much.
Chris Irving 23:23
Thank you for listening to the seriously social podcast. See our website for more details at www.socialmediaaok.com.au/podcast. Check the show notes for credits music used in the program and more details about our guests.