1 October 2023

Griffith singer-turned-psychotherapist to launch online course on understanding trauma

| Oliver Jacques
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Rayma Torresan sitting on a couch

Rayma Torresan says singing and counselling are more similar than people think. Photo: Supplied.

Rayma Torresan seems to have had a remarkable career transformation. Having been a singer and music teacher, she went on to run Griffith’s Area Hotel pub with her husband Jason before becoming one of the Riverina’s leading psychotherapists. But she says her life has followed a certain destiny and the world of music and therapy are far more similar than people imagine.

For the past six years, Ms Torresan has run her own private practice, offering counselling to individuals, couples and families, as well as specialised services that help people overcome trauma. She’s also an accredited clinical supervisor, qualified to train other therapists.

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She is now planning to launch her own online course, which seeks to educate people on understanding trauma, their brain, triggers and what psychotherapy can do for them.

Region caught up with the 45-year-old mother of three to find out more about her life, singing, therapy, trauma and her latest venture.

A singer and a therapist seem like very different jobs. How are they similar?

When you’re a singer, you are exposed to people from all walks of life. I was 14 years old when I began singing in pubs and for events and I became an observer of humanity. People think you’re singing, but you’re watching.

When I taught kids how to sing, they would sometimes start to cry and tell me their troubles. Music elevates your soul; a lot of emotion gets evoked. I found I connected well with people and became part of their journey.

When I was very young, all I wanted to do was become a therapist. Life took me on a different path, to music, but it feels so right I’ve ended up here.

You’ve sung at some big events and in competitions. What’s your all-time favourite performance?

When my daughter Claudia did her HSC performance for her music class, I was her backup singer. She ended up acing it and getting 98 per cent. We put together a band, that was my favourite thing ever, something that will be an everlasting memory.

Claudia Torresan singing on stage

Claudia Torresan takes after her mother in many ways. Photo: Supplied.

What sort of advice do you give as a therapist?

I don’t give any advice to people. The best advice I can give is all the answers are in you. Therapy isn’t like how it’s shown in the movies. It’s about learning more about yourself, increasing your emotional intelligence, understanding what triggers you and how to adapt and overcome trauma.

What is trauma?

It might relate to something big like an assault or an accident, but a lot of people come here and don’t know they’ve had trauma. But everyone has, in some way, at some point in their life.

The most common issue I get in my practice is relational trauma. Parent-child, husband-wife, the most complex relationships we have. The seemingly small can be impactful and the trauma can bring us back to a certain age. I help people adapt and break patterns.

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How do you approach helping kids in the child protection system?

When I first started, I was told to ‘work with the child, they are acting out’. But I found it was like patching them up and sending them back into a boxing ring. They are the most powerless person in the family system. I told [the child protection department] that I wanted to start with whoever is flying the plane – the mother and father. I have changed the way it’s done, and I now work with the whole family.

Why are you launching an online course and who is it for?

There’s often a long wait to see a therapist in Griffith, so I want to give people the tools to start immediately. My course will take you through the initial stage of therapy and understanding what the process is about.

It will teach you about psychoeducation of the brain, how memories get stored, what beliefs we store about ourselves, how we interpret what’s happened in our world and the impact of what that’s done to me. By the time you start face-to-face therapy, you’ll know what it entails and have a much better understanding of yourself. But you may also find the online course is enough for you, which is perfectly fine too.

Rayma Torresan Counselling is located at Level 1, 440 Banna Avenue. More information on her services can be found on her website.

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