Healing Hearts and Minds: A Glimpse into the Inspiring Work of Volunteer, Sandy Beech, Therapist at Quest for Life Foundation
(712 min read)

Helen McLucas

Helen McLucas

There is a time and a place, where few want to enter when invited in. Any life-threatening illness or life-changing event can have a profound and wide-ranging effect on individuals and their loved ones. Quest for Life is a not-for-profit healing centre in Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia that offers peace and hope for those experiencing life's Ds: diagnosis, divorce, death, despair, depression.

Sandy Beech at Quest for Life
Sandy Beech and The Quest For Life Foundation, Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia.

To step into this time and place as a Quest for Life volunteer is heroic.

Meet Sandy Beech, a Holistic Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist, who has been making a significant impact in her community as a dedicated volunteer at Quest for Life, Online Business Affiliate Ccoach, and Lifeline Ambassador for the South Coast of NSW, Australia.

In this post-interview article, we delve into Sandy's compassionate journey and the difference she has made in the lives of individuals as an unsung hero working quietly behind the scenes, offering solace and support to those in need.

A calling to serve

Sandy's journey as a volunteer therapist began at Quest for Life in 2013 when, as a student with Metavision Institute of Holistic Counselling & Psychotherapy, she undertook a five-day placement.

During her placement, Petrea King, the founder of Quest for Life, noticed Sandy's professionalism and gentle connection with the clients. On Sandy's last day of placement, Petrea sat next to her at lunch and casually asked Sandy what was her dream. Up until this time, Sandy thought dreams were silly and irrelevant, especially as an adult. You are supposed to work hard and be rewarded with a comfortable retirement at the end, aren't you?

Sandy's placement week had been exciting and at the same time extremely challenging. She was taken aback by Petrea's question. It caused her to pause and look at the question of 'What was her dream?' for the first time.

Sandy thought, 'What am I here for?' She told Petrea that she wasn't sure, but she knew her dream was about being around people and helping them where she could. She didn't know it then, but for her this evolved into 'being of service to others'.

Sandy started at Quest for Life as a volunteer and, over ten years has moved through the roles of Senior Support to Counsellor/Facilitator on contract. She feels overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunities she has been given.

Creating a safe place

Sandy's role at Quest for Life is to provide a safe and confidential space for clients and their families to express their thoughts and feelings. With a warm smile and a compassionate ear, she listens to their fears, anxieties and hopes and understands their need for peace.

'We often underestimate the power of simply deeply listening', Sandy reflects. 'Many clients feel isolated, burdened and even fearful of their emotions. Knowing someone is there to hear them without judgment can be incredibly healing'.

Tailoring therapy to the individual

No two life journeys are the same, and Sandy understands this well. She customises her therapeutic approach to meet the unique needs of each client. Whether it's counselling, relaxation techniques, or mindfulness exercises, the goal at Quest for Life is to empower clients to cope, and support them to find their own answers in their own way.

The impact of compassion

For many clients, the support of a therapist like Sandy can be a lifeline. Her presence not only alleviates emotional distress but also helps in the overall healing process. People often speak about feeling more in control, hopeful, and better equipped to cope with their situation after therapy sessions.

A client, Linda, shared: 'Sandy made me realise that my feelings are valid, and it's okay to be scared. She taught me ways to manage my anxiety and find strength within myself'.

The ripple effect

Beyond the individual people she supports, Sandy's work extends to families and caregivers, who are often deeply affected by a loved one's healing journey. By helping clients to cope, she indirectly eases the burden on those who care for them. Sandy's dedication and the positive outcomes she facilitates highlight the profound ripple effect of compassion and support.

The magic of language

At Quest for Life, there are simple but profound phrases that are important anchors for individuals. Three examples are:

  • Hope
    Hope is a fantastic word, although we often use it as a plea, without belief, e.g. 'I hope it comes true/works/happens'. At Quest for Life, Sandy says that hope is a founding principle for change. We support people to understand and embrace hope and for this to happen, we need hope to have legs! And, in this case legs equals action.
  • Up until now...
    When we ask a client to reflect on old patterns of behaviour, we often suggest they use the phrase 'up until now' to gain a deeper awareness of what needs to shift for them to move forward in their life. Examples of responses include, '... this is how I've coped', '... I believed I was depressed', '... I would say yes, when I wanted to say no', or, '... I had no boundaries'. This language and beliefs are often automatic. Challenging them can be life changing.
  • I get to choose

    There is a basic tenet in life that once you practise it can become the driver of your own life, and that is, 'I get to choose'. This belief is at the core of personal agency and self-empowerment, i.e. when we believe that 'I get to choose... ' it's empowering. We know and truly believe that we have the ability and freedom to make choices and decisions in our lives.

Sandy's approach has earned her the trust and respect of clients, her team, and staff at Quest for Life. Her work has become an integral part of the holistic care she provides.

There is more to Sandy's story...

In 2012, Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer and her life as she knew it turned upside down. She experienced the emotional and psychological rollercoaster of her cancer journey and also witnessed the toll it took on loved ones and those travelling the same path.

'Being a therapist, I understand the importance of mental and emotional well-being, especially in times of adversity', Sandy explains. 'Cancer not only affects the body, it affects the mental, emotional and spiritual self'.

Sandy shared:

My cancer journey gave me a chance to stop and take a long hard look at the life choices I had made and to take a deep dive into my beliefs and experiences. I looked deeply inside of myself and pondered the purpose and meaning I would make of this experience. I realised it was my being of service to others that gave me peace in my heart.

I found solace in taking time to reflect on how far I had come, with so much loss and grief in losing a part of myself. This experience did not define me as a person, it only helped me see myself more clearly and understand that even when life is busy or chaotic, I remember to prioritise my own needs and self-care.

Being a busy mother of four children and a new grandson to concentrate on, as well as helping my eldest daughter, Sarah, with her new baby, really helped me get through the darker times throughout that year of cancer. However, at the same time, I knew I had to change my life going forward. I started by saying 'Yes' to myself before everyone else. I began using meditation, mindfulness and exercise to calm my mind and body and committed to the daily practice of a new way of being. I also began cleaning up my language, and accepting my feelings instead of judging them as right or wrong, good or bad.

Sandy's cancer diagnosis led to another transformative experience. She decided to fundraise for Breast Cancer Australia (BCA). She organised a golf day and raffles with donations from the local businesses in her area and received fantastic support from her community. Sandy's daughter, Jemma, performed as the entertainment on the day, with many men having their hair shaved for the cause, along with her husband and two sons, Daniel and Liam.

From there, Sandy, who is not a cyclist, began organising another fundraiser for BCA joining other like-minded women over in Vietnam and Cambodia for a ten-day fundraiser to ride and raise awareness of breast cancer. An extraordinary achievement.

Raising money, hosting events and getting up on stage were well out of Sandy's comfort zone pre-diagnosis. The old Sandy would have questioned whether people would want to hear her story, and perhaps be fearful of what they'd think of her. Sandy told me that fundraising, breast cancer awareness and everything that went into that was, for her, life-changing. It revealed strengths and skills she had no clue she possessed and has given her the confidence to keep trusting her own inner voice, no matter what. Knowing that she has a choice in responding instead of reacting has given her amazing growth and wisdom. She is so much more content these days, much more in control than ever before. She says, 'This is my time, and I am choosing what I do each day. I am more aware of who I am and what I can accomplish in life as I go forward in this wonderful world'.

Sandy feels a lot of joy and confidence and also accepts the pain and sadness she experienced. She has a much better appreciation of what it means to live well and be peaceful.

Importantly, her experience at Quest for Life also benefits her clients in her private practice, Sunrizer Therapy, on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It has also guided her to explore the world of online marketing as an Online Business Affiliate where she inspires, educates and mentors women who want to work in a conscious online world.

Sandy gives selflessly to uplift the spirits of those in need. We are reminded of the transformative impact of kindness and compassion through volunteering. Her work is a testament to the fact that sometimes, the most profound healing happens in the heart and mind.

Sandy's story is an inspiration for us all, encouraging us to reach out and offer support, even in the most challenging of circumstances. It is a reminder that in the face of adversity, the human spirit can shine brightly, making the world a better place, one heart at a time.


Helen McLucas (JP, MBA, Dip Counselling, Dip Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, ASCH Board Member, Counselling Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist | Community Leader | Mental Health & Disability Advocate), is passionate about unlocking the potential within individuals through the transformative power of a range of therapy tools, especially hypnotherapy. As a community leader and advocate, Helen actively engages in initiatives that promote community health and wellbeing and inclusivity. Helen's advocacy extends to championing the rights of individuals with disabilities and mental health issues ensuring their voices are heard and respected.


2 Comments
Kyssanda Robinson
4 Feb 2024
Such an inspiring therapist and pillar in our industry. Thank you for sharing.

 

Karen Phillip
1 Feb 2024
Loved it, thank you. So inspriational indeed.
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