Betrayal. Rejection. Heartbreak. Tears. Vulnerability.
In the quarter-century since she helped found the Archway Counselling Association in Truro, therapist Paula Weaver has seen a great deal.
“This is going to sound corny, but literally every day we talk of vulnerability, we think of children who can’t wait to grow up as then they’ll be less vulnerable,” said Weaver. “Vulnerability is a condition of just being human. It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 or 59. The fact is we’re all vulnerable and we can easily be hurt or betrayed.”
As Archway marks its 25th anniversary with a celebration and fundraiser today (Thursday), Weaver reflected on one case that impacted her the most, of the roughly 37,000 sessions she’s held since 1994.
It was one person who suffered from debilitating anxiety, their face so lined with worry that Weaver had to double-check her client’s birth date.
“They looked 10 years older,” recalled Weaver.
However, over three years this person sat with Weaver in counselling sessions, talking about their issues and finally getting to the root of the anxiety.
Weaver and the client recently finished counselling successfully – and the person’s once-aged face now looks much younger.
“This person now has exceeded any thought of where they would be three years ago,” said Weaver. “They now live alone, function well, are in a stable relationship and work in a management position.”
Weaver has worked with individuals, couples and families to help resolve their issues. With couples and families, there is often much hurt built up over the years, as well as children, mortgages and loans involved.
“There’s usually a lot at stake,” said Weaver.
Such obstacles can be overcome if a therapist can build a strong rapport with his or her client, who will then more easily trust that any personal or relationship problems can be solved.
“It’s a privilege but also a challenge to sit with people and face whatever challenges they are facing,” said Weaver.
Since they began in 1994, Archway’s mission has been to offer affordable counselling services to people in Colchester County.
Weaver originally began Archway as a two-year startup project after she moved to Truro from Pennsylvania. Her spouse and fellow therapist Brian Schrock is from Colorado.
Today, Archway has six therapists, one youth worker and an administrative worker based in Truro. It also runs satellite offices in New Glasgow and Lower Sackville.
“Truro has been good to us,” said Weaver. “I think it’s deeply gratifying. Bottom line, I think that’s why we’re here 25 years later.”
She added Archway fills a gap between the overstretched provincial mental health services and private practices.
As of Dec. 18, 2018, people facing mental health or addictions issues waited an average of 70 days for an appointment in the provincial system, according to Weaver.