I'm Soetkin, a Connection & Rewilding Coach in Bass Coast!
ABOUT ME, MY WORK & LIFE EXPERIENCE & MY "PROFESSIONAL TITLE"
I am Soetkin.
I am a Mum, a Wife, a Friend & a Professional, an Artist, an Activist, a Idealist and Realist, a Changemaker, a Helper, an all-round lover of Nature & People, an Outside-The-Box-Thinker, a Critical Analyst,
a Hard Worker, a Creative Problem Solver, a Survivor, an Advocate, a Coach, a Woman who loves Authentic Connections with mySelf, with Others & with Nature & much more!
I live with my family in Bass Coast - VIC - Australia, where we built up a life since 2012
after emigrating there from Belgium.
I completed my training as an Occupational Therapist in the year 2000 in Belgium.
I have since then accumulated almost 25 years of working experience, continued professional development (including an average of 30 hours of accredited OT-related training per year, in the past 10 years) & mentoring/training experience in the field of Occupational Therapy - across 2 countries - working with people of all ages and abilities - as a registered OT in both Australia and in Belgium.
I worked in Physical Rehab (post CVA, car accidents, paralysis, MS, neuro-rehab etc) for a short time after my graduation & mostly in the area of Mental Health in Belgium for 12 years in a Psychiatric Hospital, mainly with a population of adults diagnosed with Schizophrenia and double diagnosis (eg drug induced psychosis), but also with adults who were diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, Trauma and with a Forensic Male Population, People with Dementia and more...
In the hospital, I ran Projects and organised Art & Creative Therapy group sessions, Social Skills group sessions, ADL Skills Building sessions, Group & Individual Coaching type sessions as well as social & community integration type sessions.
My additional training includes an additional 1 full year specialisation training targeted towards working as an OT with children with a developmental delay and learning difficulties which I completed in 2007, after which I started working in Private Practice in Belgium, with mostly a Paediatric Population,
alongside my main job in Mental Health.
In addition to my professional experience in Belgium, I started babysitting there as a responsible 12-year old in 1991 and continued that until I became a mum in 2009, I started professional facepainting in 1994 as a 15 year old, started volunteering work with people with disabilities on a regular basis in 1995, when I was 16 years old, founded a local youth group with friends (which continues to exist to this day) and became a youth leader for young girls (age 6-17yo) and continued to do all of these things into my adult years, alongside studying and working life.
I emigrated with my husband and then 2.5 year old child to Australia in early September 2012, and we arrived here with only our suitcases and a shipping container with a few of our belongings on the way.
We stayed with a host family in an isolated location in a rural town in VIC, while we were looking for jobs and a place where we would settle down - pending on where we could find employment.
We lived off our savings for about 2 months as we did not have an income and were not entitled to Medicare or Centrelink at that time.
We had no job prospects, although both of us started looking for jobs from before we left Belgium,
but we were extremely motivated to make everything work out and we had only our savings to get us by until we would find work to sustain ourselves financially.
Within a month after arriving in Australia, we experienced domestic violence in/by a member from our host family in the house that we were living in. We needed to call the police to become involved for fear of our lives, and they advised us that if we did not leave the host family, we were at risk of losing our young child to DHHS Child Protective Services as she would be considered at extreme risk if we stayed - even though we were not at fault ourselves at all!!
We were disappointed and confused with the limited amount of assistance we were offered, and we had a very limited amount of knowledge and experience around what to do in this type of situation as we had never been in such dire circumstances before.
With no social network and no friends in the area where we lived, it was a struggle to deal with all of that.
We found ourselves extremely isolated and traumatised by these events
so early on in our emigration journey.
Fortunately, both my husband and I had started our job application processes and I was offered interviews for 2 OT positions: one in Shepparton in Community Health, and another in Wonthaggi in Early Intervention.
After attending both interviews I was offered both positions. This good news came about 2 days after we were given the ultimatum by the police, to move away from our host family asap.
We decided quickly to go for the Wonthaggi option for our family - which was the furthest away from the host family and the most appealing job for me. A few days later, we had packed our few belongings back in our travel suitcases, hired a trailer to move our beds and bedside cupboards (the only furniture we bought straight away after moving) and we travelled 5 hours away.
We were fortunate enough to be able to stay with another host family, closer to Wonthaggi,
during this transition period, while we looked for our own place to stay locally.
We were lucky enough to rely on our good rental references from Belgium and my new employer who put in a good word for us with the Real Estate Agency and we found a good rental home within another few days.
We moved to the Bass Coast area, not long after this chain of events took place, early November 2012.
That is how we ended up in the Bass Coast area.
The reason why I am being open and honest about these events is that Domestic Violence is a (much too) common occurrence in Australia - as I have since learnt through my professional experiences and in friendships - and it is important to talk about it openly & honestly. This also shows our own lived experience of having to deal with services and needing to escape a dangerous situation.
My first job in Australia was as an OT in Early Intervention, focusing on working with families with children aged 0-12 years old with a diagnosed disability or developmental delay or challenge.
I did this job for about 4 years.
To be able to work in Australia - I had to go through an extensive and expensive audit procedure where all of my Uni OT study syllabi (multiple years!!) needed to be translated (thousands of pages - a costly affair!!) and sent off to AHPRA for review to see if I was qualified enough to be able to work as an OT in Australia - prior to being granted a skilled workers visa and travelling to Australia. Then once I had my first job - I also needed to do a year or 6 months (pending whether I worked PT or FT) of a Practice Audit which basically was supervised practice. Fortunately, I was given a FT position and after 6 months I was "granted" "Full Registration with AHPRA" so I could practise as and use the title of "Occupational Therapist".
After 4 years working of with families who had a lot of challenges going on - I felt the need to use my experience in Mental Health with these and other families - as I had learnt over the years of working in Australia, that Mental Health services were scarce and often had long wait lists.
This is when I decided to dip my foot into private practice again - this time in Australia.
My main motivation was to help people in need where I saw a that a need existed.
My aim was not to earn large amounts of money -
as has been presumed by third parties & of which I have been accused (!) previously.
In fact, the first couple of years of working in private practice set us back financially as a family - rather than that it advanced us. I was earning less on a yearly basis than when I was employed as an OT in my first job.
Initially, I was keeping my fees much lower than average & was offering heavily discounted options,
because I wanted to show people what my skills set was and I wanted to help the general public
understand and value my skills set and what I had to offer.
During that time when I stepped into Private Practice, I became registered as a Healthcare Professional Practitioner with Medicare and was able to work under a Chronic Disease Management Plan and later I also went through lengthy and extensive endorsement process as a Mental Health OT with OTA & Medicare Australia (at that time there were only about 500 registered MH OT's in Australia!) to be able to provide support under the Better Access to Mental Health Care Act for both adults & children in 2016, which made it possible for clients to see me under a Mental Health Plan.
Later on I also became registered as an NDIS provider.
I let this registration lapse once the requirement became that I needed to go through yet another extensive and expense audit procedure that would not add any value to the way I was practising or to the clients that I was helping at that time. Without that additional registration, I was still able to see clients under the NDIS.
Since starting work in Australia, I have completed many trainings in the field of many Mental Health Conditions & Developmental Challenges (such as but not limited to Sensory Processing, Neurodiversity, Autism, Self-Regulation, Challenging Behaviour, Trauma-informed Practice, Acquired Brain Injuries & Cognitive & Executive Functioning).
As a registered OT I needed to complete 30+ hours (!) of accredited training per year to be able to keep my AHPRA registration and maintain the right to continue practicing as an OT in Australia.
I complied with these requirements for 10 years in a row and completed a minimum of 300 hours of PD during that those 10 years, as a registered OT, almost entirely paid for by myself, with the exception of some trainings I did while I was employed in my first job.
I also chose to go the extra mile to advocate for more and better services and strive for changes in the operations of health services and community services locally, through a voluntary membership of the Bass Coast Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee and through an elected paid position with the PHN in as an Advisory Member of their Clinical Council.
I have recently - from 01-12-2022 onwards - after long, extensive & careful consideration - very consciously chosen to not renew my registration with AHPRA here in Australia.
I will write about my reasons behind this decision later on this website,
once the right to free speech has been reinstated in VIC - Australia.
By all means, If you are interested in knowing more about my reasoning behind this decision,
contact me and ask me about it in person.
I am more than keen to connect with you and share my reasoning while we connect face to face
as 2 human beings with a heart and a soul and with their own viewpoints and experiences..
My not being registered with AHPRA anymore, has as a direct consequence that I am
no longer "allowed" to use the professional title of "Occupational Therapist" and
that I no longer fall under the category of a "Registered Health Professional" in Australia.
Meanwhile - I continue to be registered as an OT in Belgium and able to practise as an OT there.
The accumulation of knowledge & skills that I (as a breathing and living woman) have gathered over the almost 25 years in the field as I described above, however, are not related to any type of registration in any country. They are connected to me, to my body, to my brain and to my life experiences.
I am now offering my wealth of knowledge, skills & prior experience in the field,
under my new & more fitting & encompassing and most importantly chosen (!) "professional title"
"Connection & Rewilding Coach".
ABOUT MY OFFERINGS
A large part of my expertise comes in offering developmental supports and learning supports for children & teenagers (and their families) with a range of challenges (sensory, motor and behavioural challenges, emotional regulation, focus & attention, learning difficulties, diminished sense of agency & wellbeing, cognitive and executive functioning ...) and diagnoses (ASD, AD(H)D, anxiety, depression, PDA, sensory processing disorder, psychosis, ODD, communication challenges, social skills challenges, school refusal, ...) by offering direct interventions with the children and/or offering coaching opportunities with their parents & caregivers and the services they might attend (eg. Kinder, School) or use (eg. Support Workers).
Another major part of my expertise comes in offering adults assistance, regardless of whether or not they have a formal diagnosis (which may be similar but not limited to the range of diagnoses mentioned above in the children & teenager section). I can assist in working to increase their sense of wellbeing (mental health, productivity, trauma, everyday life, work capacity, social life, relationships with significant others, specific skills development, cognitive & executive functioning, sensory processing, ...) and their sense of belonging & control in life in general.
I have a passion for empowering individuals & families to find their authentic sense of belonging & connection in this world & with their tribes, by using a range of Connection & Rewilding approaches.
I am trained and experienced in using a pragmatic mix of Psychological Techniques, Occupational Interventions, Eco-Therapy-based approaches, Mindfulness, Meditation, Breathwork, Coaching, Training and many other approaches when working with individuals, groups and organisations, which can be tailored to the specific individuals and situations they are in!
I can work with clients who have NDIS funding available (depending on their individual NDIS plans) and with privately funded clients.
I can connect with you both in person & online - with a STRONG preference
for connecting with people in real life!
ABOUT THE FOCUS ON CONNECTION AND REWILDING
In our Western Societal Structures nowadays, and increasingly so in the past four years
many people like you and I have noticed & described a
tendency within and between people to disconnect from Self, Others & Nature.
This tendency has been confirmed by many researchers
and has mostly been attributed to an increasingly mechanistic world view and the overwhelming fact that technocratic & transhumanist ideologies are imposed onto the governing of our lives.
We have been taught & encouraged to use many different technologies to learn, work and socialize and to do daily occupations like meeting friends, playing, cooking, washing, gardening with the help of these technologies... This probably - in many ways - has increased our feeling of "having a world of possibilities at our fingertips", bridging distances that were too wide to cross on foot/in person and allowing us to access global information, "meet" people via our devices from all over the world and make "virtual excursions" to tropical paradises, museums and sci-fi type landscapes.
We are encouraged to always aim for more - to buy more - to study more - to work more - to use more technology - to have more than one device, more than one tv, more than one phone....
But in many ways we are further away from ourselves, others and nature than we ever were,
from being really connected to what we learn, how we work,
who we socialize with and the natural environment in which we live.
I have spoken with many Adults who feel alone, not understood and trapped in a situation over which they (feel they) have no control. They often describe that they don't have an "instinctual drive" anymore and feel like they are being lived, rather than that they are living a true and meaningful life.
They feel disconnected from life itself and the people in it. Often they find it hard to even leave their homes or meet up with others.
In Children and Teens this disconnection can show up as challenges with general occupations, like self-regulation, building meaningful relationships and friendships, self-worth and self-esteem, learning, general skill development etc...
In summary - when disconnection occurs in one or many ways, occupations that are typically part of an Adult's or a Child's or Teen's life, can be disrupted, not give them the fulfilment they seek and thus can pose challenges on an everyday basis which needs external support.
If those challenges are identified and supports are needed, I can be of help - through any of the interventions outlined below!
If you think I can assist you in some way,
please click on the buttons below to find out more about what I can offer!
In Authentic Connective & Rewilding Collaboration!