A MELBOURNE hair salon has brought in a counsellor to help its staff cope when their clients offload their often troubling or distressing life stories.
Melbourne salon owner Lauren MacKellin has taken the big step of hiring a counsellor so staff can deal with some ‘over-sharing’ from clients.
RECOGNISING her customers pour their hearts out to her staff on a daily basis, Melbourne hair salon owner Lauren MacKellin is enlisting her staff into a counselling course on how to manage the emotional needs of her clientele.
The Vision Blonde salon owner has decided to take action, sending her staff to a course on how to deal with others’ problems.
“Every day my staff are taking on my clients’ problems and each day is an emotional rollercoaster for them,” says Lauren.
“What my staff need is a hand in how to effectively help, to know how to nurture our clients’ emotional needs along with their own.”
Hairdressers and their clients share a very close and trusting relationship, and thanks to social media, social interaction with your hairdresser is now becoming even more valuable.
“At the end of the day, my employees are as important to my business as my clients, and I need to look after the needs of both. It’s not just about the needs of their hair”.
According to clinical psychologist Georgia Foster, being in “the chair” while someone is nurturing you not only makes you look better, but it also makes you feel good.
Counsellor and hypnotherapist Georgia Foster
And the mind enjoys the attention; off-loading can be a way to release tension with someone who is not in their everyday life.
“A hairdresser, like any other profession that involves a one-on-one interaction, can often trigger burnout due to the demands of being a ‘free therapist’,” says Georgia.
“The best strategy is to find ways to ‘brush off’ clients’ problems by taking proper breaks when possible, going off-site or after work, finding ways to break the state such as a big walk or an exercise class.
“Any profession where you are one-on-one for a period time similar to a hairdresser can have client burnout too, such as beauty therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, pilates and yoga teachers.
The Blonde Vision salon in Melbourne
“They all – to a certain extent – have to expect some level of being a ‘friendly’ therapist, but equally need know when to stand back and not take on board too much.”
Georgia really commends Lauren for her efforts as an employer in contacting her to counsel her staff over Skype.
“Employers need to put in place tools and strategies that give staff the right communication to know when and what to say, and when to retreat or change subjects,” adds Georgie.
“It’s important that when the staff feel supported, the domino effect means the client is happier too.”
A few helpful tips from Georgia:
Listen and be non-judgmental
Don’t act surprised if you hear anything that shocks you
Let them know you are not a qualified counsellor and suggest an appropriate support system
Never commit suggesting a way forward, as you are not trained
Encourage outside stress management tools such as a yoga class or meditation class
Find a worse story to talk about that makes them become more grateful
Try and turn a positive spin on the situation
Find funny things to talk about that breaks their emotional state
Get Back On Top of Your Life! Knock Alcohol and Anxiety
I had an American client some years ago, who came to see me about her drinking. She was and still is a very high profile board member of an international corporation. As she spent a lot of time in London, she said she had become accustomed to the British drinking culture and felt concerned that her one bottle of wine a night was starting to creep up to open up the second bottle and drinking half of that too.
Her life in New York was pretty similar, where her ‘Sex in the City’ lifestyle was, she felt, starting to catch up with her. So by the time she came to see me she was in a very negative state.
Whenever she was in London she would book an appointment. On her last appointment she told me how she was really enjoying having alcohol free days more often. She said her self esteem had dramatically improved, however the one thing that she recognised is that she drank because she was anxious.
As I have always said drinking can mask anxiety until you wake in the morning and it can come back to bite you! Alcohol and anxiety do not mix.
However, as my client had successfully reduced her drinking, this got her thinking that she wanted to work on what drove the anxiety.
There was something she said that has ‘forever resonated with me which I would like to share with you’.
She said that in Britain we have a pub on every corner, in America we have a pharmacy on ever corner! She then went on to say that most of her friends were not big drinkers but most of them were on some sort of anti-depressant to alleviate anxiety and general low self worth.
So my point is that we are all susceptible to anxiety and how we deal with it culturally can be different but I can assure you that alcohol and medication are both great ways to escape fears and self doubts about life.
Some would suggest medication is socially more acceptable because it is easier to mask but I think that what is key to anxiety is understanding the thinking behind it before it takes hold and becomes a habit.
As I always say it’s the thinking that drives people to do things in a repetitive way such as medication, alcohol, sleep and often just good old depression.
The problem is we i.e. Americans, British, Australians, people from all over the world suffer from challenging thoughts and we must start to communicate these fears before addictive behaviour takes hold.
We need to hold our heads high and acknowledge that life can be an absolute nightmare sometimes but if we share our negative thinking and fears it really does help.
Anxiety is a curse for many people and can become a way of thinking and life but it shouldn’t be.