+61 411 899 175 karen@karenbieman.com

Karen Bieman

Grief and Bereavement Counsellor in Melbourne, Australia

Sometimes life just isn’t going the way you’d dreamed it would…

Is there a big gap between the life you expected, and the life you got? Are you struggling to accept the reality you’re faced with? Are you feeling overwhelmed with grief and sadness? Is it hard to imagine a day when you might smile again? Not just the turned-up-lips-with-hollow-eyes-smile, but the kind that comes from a warm, contented heart?

If so, you’re just the kind of person I love to work with. There is a way through the pain, challenges and overwhelm. There is hope. I know this because I have endured and survived challenges I would never have thought possible, and I am now thriving in a life that seemed, for many years, to be out of reach.

Hi, I’m Karen

I’m a registered counsellor based in Melbourne, Australia, and also working online. I came to counselling later in life, with my personal experience adding depth and richness to my professional training, allowing me to offer you a therapeutic experience that is grounded, supportive and empowering. My lived experience underpins what I offer, but it is your unique experience that is centred in our work together.

My passion is to provide a safe space for you to be heard, to process your pain, find hope in your grief, and create a life you can love again. I use a variety of approaches depending on what is best for you. At my core, I work from a person-centred approach, as I strongly believe that you are the expert in your own life and you have what it takes to heal and recover. My role is to support you in that process by brining my professional training to our therapeutic relationship and helping you reconnect to your internal resources, also drawing on additional external resources as needed. I seek to provide a warm, empathic, non-judgmental space in which you can find hope and meaning again.

Where it all began…

When I was five years old, my parents opened our home to a little boy, who became my permanent foster brother, joining my two biological brothers and me in our growing family. When I was 9, we also fostered his biological sister and I suddenly had a ‘big sister’!

Living alongside people who had suffered serious early trauma opened my eyes and heart to adversity I could never have imagined. I knew from the age of about 12 that I wanted to work in some kind of helping profession. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. I was going to make a difference in the world.

After school, I deferred my teaching degree to do “more important things”, founding a youth outreach program and then spending a year in Asia doing volunteer work. I cried all the way home on the plane, which was a pretty clear indicator of where my heart was! Yet again, I got accepted to uni but deferred because I wanted to return overseas and do my bit to make the world a bit of a better place. Things took an unexpected turn, however, and within 12 months I was engaged to be married! My travel and volunteering dreams were overshadowed by new priorities. I kept volunteering in my spare time, but my priorities had shifted.

Where it all began…

When I was five years old, my parents opened our home to a little boy, who became my permanent foster brother, joining my two biological brothers and me in our growing family. When I was 9, we also fostered his biological sister and I suddenly had a ‘big sister’!

Living alongside people who had suffered serious early trauma opened my eyes and heart to adversity I could never have imagined. I knew from the age of about 12 that I wanted to work in some kind of helping profession. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. I was going to make a difference in the world.

After school, I deferred my teaching degree to do “more important things”, founding a youth outreach program and then spending a year in Asia doing volunteer work. I cried all the way home on the plane, which was a pretty clear indicator of where my heart was! Yet again, I got accepted to uni but deferred because I wanted to return overseas and do my bit to make the world a bit of a better place. Things took an unexpected turn, however, and within 12 months I was engaged to be married! My travel and volunteering dreams were overshadowed by new priorities. I kept volunteering in my spare time, but my priorities had shifted.

Newborn death perinatal neonatal loss

Touched by grief & loss…

Remember those foster siblings I told you about? It didn’t end well, sadly. They both ended up leaving our family when I was just 13 and I’ve never seen my foster sister again. My foster brother made a few appearances that left deep scars on our family, and it’s been many years since there was contact. In the counselling world, we call this non-finite or ambiguous loss.

I still remember exact details about the moment I got the call telling me my father had cancer. We were living in the Australian outback, far from my parent’s home in Sydney, and I had 4 young children, so was torn between Bourke and Sydney for the 3 months of his illness. I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend with him before he died, as he made peace with his life, his death & the people he loved.

Perinatal loss came to visit more than once. First, an early miscarriage and delayed conception, then tragically, my second child died just 9 hours after he was born. An investigation found that his death should not have occurred and was due to ‘gross negligence’, which added a layer of complexity to the grief I could have done without! I thought I would never smile again, or feel hope for the future. My heart was deeply, painfully broken.

Some years later, after a long and at times complex marriage, my husband came out as gay, catapulting me into a traumatic grief I never expected. The marriage I thought I had was gone, my future was uncertain & I was bereft.

My Recovery…

I pursued healing through a variety of approaches including counselling, prayer, meditation, social support, reading, music and journaling. I learned to sit with my grief, work with my pain and look deep within to discover more about my responses and my recovery journey. I gradually rediscovered my sense of self, my identity that had been lost under life’s challenges and responsibilities, and my capacity for courage, strength and growth. I moved from resistance to recovery, from grief to growth, and from trauma to a grounded, centred calmness. I found hope again.

I truly believe we can find our way through deep pain and sadness, and discover immense growth along the way. I believe we can learn to live with loss, integrating it into a life that is meaningful and hope-filled. We can rewrite our life story, moving from striving and surviving, to thriving and flourishing. Resilience grows in adversity and our destiny does not have to equal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We can, instead, experience post-traumatic growth.

Ultimately, the traumatic challenges which threatened to destroy me have led to my greatest growth and helped me become stronger, wiser, more empathic and even more passionate about helping others. The desire that was planted in me from a very young age, when my foster siblings opened my eyes and heart, has been calling to me for a long time and led to me finally pursuing my professional training as a counsellor. Working alongside you in your very own hero-journey is a privilege and an honour.

My Recovery…

I pursued healing through a variety of approaches including counselling, prayer, meditation, social support, reading, music and journaling. I learned to sit with my grief, work with my pain and look deep within to discover more about my responses and my recovery journey. I gradually rediscovered my sense of self, my identity that had been lost under life’s challenges and responsibilities, and my capacity for courage, strength and growth. I moved from resistance to recovery, from grief to growth, and from trauma to a grounded, centred calmness. I found hope again.

I truly believe we can find our way through deep pain and sadness, and discover immense growth along the way. I believe we can learn to live with loss, integrating it into a life that is meaningful and hope-filled. We can rewrite our life story, moving from striving and surviving, to thriving and flourishing. Resilience grows in adversity and our destiny does not have to equal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We can, instead, experience post-traumatic growth.

Ultimately, the traumatic challenges which threatened to destroy me have led to my greatest growth and helped me become stronger, wiser, more empathic and even more passionate about helping others. The desire that was planted in me from a very young age, when my foster siblings opened my eyes and heart, has been calling to me for a long time and led to me finally pursuing my professional training as a counsellor. Working alongside you in your very own hero-journey is a privilege and an honour.

Qualifications
  • Diploma of Counselling
  • Bachelor of Counselling
  • Specialist Course in Integrative Couple Therapy
Volunteering
  • Student Mentor (Cornerstone Community)
  • Sands Australia (working with bereaved parents, providing telephone support and facilitating a support group)
  • Griefline (telephone grief counselling)
  • Uniting (community worker)
Ongoing Professional Development
  • ASIST (Suicide Intervention)
  • Australian Online Therapy Training (Levels 1-3, Level 4 in process)
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy for Anxiety & Depression
  • Grief and Liminality
  • Grieving Loss Mindfully
  • Non-Death Loss: Grieving the Assumptive World
  • Grief After Suicide
  • Working with Trauma & Hope
  • Tapping for Negative Emotions
  • Griefline Loss & Grief Course

Are you ready to take the next step?

I provide online counselling through video, phone, email or live chat, and also see clients face to face in Melbourne, Australia.

If you’d like to inquire about counselling with me, you can schedule a no-obligation, free inquiry call by simply clicking the ‘Book Now” button below and selecting the ‘Inquiry Call’ option for a time that suits you. This is an opportunity for you to ‘meet me’ and ask any questions, and for me to share a bit about how I work. The inquiry call also gives you a chance to ensure you feel comfortable with me and for us both to get a sense of whether to go ahead and book your first session. 

If you’re not yet ready to proceed and would like to find out more or have any general questions, you are welcome to fill in my contact form or email me at karen@karenbieman.com 

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