Even from a distance I could see the bright and bubbly aura of Tricia Hercules as I walked towards the park bench we’d agreed to meet at. The young and vibrant director of Bright Life Family Centre has recently been expanding the Bright Life Team and couldn’t help but gush about her new public relations officer who had been helping her prepare for this interview. Her genuine enthusiasm was contagious and I was eager to learn about her and all that she had to share.
A social worker by profession, Tricia’s first internship in 2011 was at the Barbados Family Planning under the supervision of Keriann “Sirrah” Hurley. During her internship period, opportunities to counsel others always seemed to present themselves; from there, the love and passion for counselling began to grow.
It wasn’t too long until she realized that she was a ‘sucker for counselling’, she said. And it all made sense too.
Tricia always enjoyed finding the solutions to problems, especially when she worked in event planning for the Kingdom Arts Festival, where problem solving skills were essential. The ‘finding solutions’ aspect is what she loves most about her counselling experience.
Although she discovered what she loved and was passionate about, Tricia found herself in a position where she couldn’t find a job in Barbados. At this time when the prospect of finding a job in this field was bleak and returning to school again was not possible financially, her entrepreneurial skills sprung forth and she founded the Bright Life Family Centre.
“It was something I felt God wanted me to do and he reminded me that I always wanted to own my own business”, she said.
It started online as a blog page where she’d post and send out encouraging words, create the graphics and everything else that was needed. “I was the chief cook and bottle washer”, she said. Everything was still so new with no revenue for a paid staff. Additionally, it was like her baby and she advised that you needed to be careful with whom you share your vision with.
Well, the vision for Bright Life is definitely growing. Tricia has raised this ‘baby’ from an online page to an organization that provides professional counselling and educational services and events. One of the services in particular caught my interest right away, art counselling.
Tricia describes it as an untraditional method of counselling. She uses art as a tool to make persons more relaxed, calm and receptive towards counselling. Once that is achieved, it helps with the sharing process and persons are able to better express themselves.
The idea first came about during her internship; she used art in a session for the first time and that sparked the idea. She said, “Not everyone in our society may have been socialized to share and even though some persons may want to, they may find it hard to”.
This is a prime example of where she could add art to the counselling process. It allowed her to smoothly guide the conversation to what they had come to talk about.
She finds the use of art in counselling and the power that it has fascinating. An artist at heart, she loves art in general and it has always been a part of her life, as she is a visual and musical artist. Combining both of her loves, counselling and art, Tricia found a great solution to ease the tension for some of her clients. But that wasn’t the only function it served.
She found that it could also unlock and reveal certain things about the client without them verbally saying it. The lines, textures and colours all convey something on their own, even how we write can reveal things about our personalities or emotion at that time.
I got a little preview of what may occur in a session when she asked me to write my signature. Tricia wrote hers underneath mine and we looked at the two contrasting signatures on the paper. She looked at mine, as I nervously chuckled, and described how the lines were all moving in one direction with everything precise and very focused and all combined, talked about a quiet nature.
Well, that wasn’t a bad analysis, I thought. And it was pretty accurate honestly. Tricia’s signature, she said was kind of all over the place but at the same time it flowed. Which could speak to liking a lot of different things which could seem a bit all over the place but it also spoke to her free spirited nature.
Not every session would involve you writing your signature, however. There is no set procedure for a session, she said. Simply because everyone is different by age, issues they bring, background and many other variables. In some sessions, she may realize that a client is in need of educating in order to prevent the same problem from reoccurring. In this case, some of the educational services she provides would be implemented as a part of the session.
She recalled a moment at one of the Adults Art Express workshops where persons thought they were just coming to do “a little painting.” But it turned out to be an emotionally cleansing and revealing experience. One of the participants exclaimed “I didn’t expect all of that to come out!” while others were requesting it be much longer.
Adding art to counselling can make it a very revealing session but she wanted to make it very clear that it is not in an intrusive way in which one would feel victimized. What persons experience is an empowering feeling. Empowering because they get to understand what was happening inwardly, how to handle it and how to work on it as well.
The type of art she generally uses is visual and abstract, but it is not limited to that form of creative expression. It depends on the person and their likes and dislikes; some may not want to use art at all and some may already be artistic. Once she gets an understanding of the person, she works to suit. She recalled a client whom she realized was very poetic and interested in creative writing and was able to use that to help them express the feelings they were bottling up.
Though it is a great service, everything comes with its challenges.
Tricia said that at the moment art counselling is not a widely known or performed counselling service and so the demand for such sessions, for now, is not very high. Persons may have seen it and it is creeping in, but culturally, it’s not the go-to form of counselling. Then again, she found that counselling on the whole is generally not the go-to solution for persons in our society; it is more of a last resort or something enforced by the law for a particular case.
This shouldn’t be the norm though.
Tricia added that you don’t need to find yourself at the breaking point to go to counselling and you shouldn’t let it reach that point either. She wanted to encourage persons that if there is something they need help sorting through, even the smallest of problems, if the solution doesn’t seem clear you can go to counselling. Talking about it with a professionally trained person is a much faster way to reach results than trying to figure it out on your own. She adds that sorting through things on our own can sometimes add to the issue by making conclusions that are totally off course.
The stigma attached to counselling or therapy is a contributing factor to why it isn’t seen as the norm, she explained. Tricia believes what may deter persons from seeking counselling is the distrust persons have in the society’s “malicious” nature; persons may think that if they go to counselling in Christ Church they would return to St. Lucy and hear all of their business. However, Tricia stresses that this not the case, especially not at Bright Life Family Centre.
The team is well trained and each member has to sign a confidentiality form before they are allowed to work with their clients; whether a volunteer, an intern or a counsellor. Policies and clauses are also put into place and in the instance that someone feels as though they were violated, they have the right to take it to law enforcement. But the sharing of information is something that they are very strict about. The entire practice has modernized its way of information processing and she hopes that knowing this will ease some of the worries persons have about seeking counselling.
For the future, Tricia says she is not limiting herself and is open to creating more businesses, collaborating with other organizations and all that is to come. She plans to continue doing what she loves, which is helping people and solving more problems prevalent in our society.
Currently, she is developing a family community called Parent Tales as one of her problem-solving initiatives. This was inspired by recent news and talks about the behaviour of our children in society. After hearing many complaining, she thought, where else was better to start than the roots and began a parenting focused educational forum.
She has created an environment for parents to share, grow and learn. The current series of events called the Parent Lounge is about encouraging self-care and personal growth and development for parents. Parents have been able to go and be served and rant freely, while at the same time learn new and healthy methods of parenting. By the end of the night, she wants parents to be encouraged and be able to leave feeling like they have released some sort of stress.
It was a great opportunity to learn all about the good work Tricia Hercules is doing with Bright Life Family Centre. Learning more about her was a joyous experience. We hope that she continues helping others and sharing her contagious smile and laughter with the world.