In this week’s facilitator Q&A, we meet Megan Collis, who runs our Ipswich meeting on Mondays at 5.00pm.

Please tell us about yourself. What you’re interested in, what motivates you, and what you like to do with your time.

Currently I’m a full time student studying a Graduate Diploma Of Counselling at the University of Southern Queensland. I have four volunteer roles in different areas, including being a peer facilitator for SMART Recovery. On top of all that, I have just been employed by Queensland Health as a Consumer Companion, which is also a peer role, going into the acute mental health unit in Ipswich Hospital. This role involves sharing my own lived experiences with both mental health and AOD challenges, and providing help, guidance and hope to consumers that despite these challenges things can change and you can create a satisfying life that has purpose and meaning.

When I’m not studying, working or writing papers I like to garden, and in particular am obsessed with air plants.

What inspired you to get involved with SMART Recovery Australia?

As a client, I was seeking an alternative to 12-step groups, which weren’t the right ‘fit’ for me. As a peer facilitator, the facilitator of the group I attended asked if I’d ever considered facilitating/counselling as a career. I hadn’t, but grabbed the opportunity and ran with it.

What is your favourite thing about running your group?

Seeing people relax when they begin to realise it’s a safe, non-judgmental place for them to be open about the behaviours they want to change. Then seeing them grow in confidence and become leaders within the group. It is a privilege and honour to witness.

Running SMART Recovery groups can, at times, be challenging. What challenges have you faced, if any, and how did you tackle them?

Guiding people back on topic when they want to talk about every detail of their lives and reining in people who want to hold the floor for longer than their share are probably the two most common challenges I face in a meeting.

I tackle them by gently, but firmly, keeping control; acknowledging their contribution while stating that we need to move on to other people so everyone gets heard, or by reminding them that none of us can fix everything in life, and to focus on what can be controlled in the here and now.

What’s your best story, about SMART Recovery Australia, or about anything else?

My best story about SMART Recovery is mine. I walked into my first meeting frightened, defensive, emotionally broken and with no hope or self-worth, or confidence. Now my life is so, so good. If you’d told me in that first meeting how good it could get I would have laughed bitterly. But now my confidence is improving, my self worth is high, and I am achieving some great things.

I have a purpose.
I have direction.

I have value.

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