Raissa Donadon Berne has travelled a long way to be where she is today – from studying Law in Sao Paulo, to Psychology in Melbourne.
But it was through her own mental health journey that Raissa realised how one person could make their mark on the world.
Now, she lives to help our clients recover from Benzodiazepine prescription medication dependence.
Be the change you wish to see
Raissa Donadon Berne was born with a strong sense of justice. She says she’s always known her deep-rooted passion for human rights would help her make a positive impact on society. A warm and fiercely motivated professional, Raissa is confident she’s found the place where she can be the change she’s longed to see – as a Counsellor at Reconnexion, a service of EACH.
Since September 2020, Raissa has worked on the front line of our Benzodiazepine recovery service, Reconnexion. But her work with us didn’t start there. Rather, it began when she walked through our doors three years ago – as a Psychology student eager to use her recently learned skills as a Helpline Counsellor.
“I knew my passion was to provide treatment for people experiencing anxiety. And when I first read EACH’s values, I was thrilled to see how they aligned with mine. I became fascinated by Reconnexion’s dual service offering, which supports people with a Benzodiazepine dependence, anxiety, depression and panic disorders. Reconnexion is the only program of its kind in Australia. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that!”
Growing up in Sao Paulo, Raissa observed opportunities afforded to some, and the injustices endured by many. Yearning to empower individuals to take control of their lives, she began studying to become a Human Rights Lawyer. Yet she couldn’t help but feel something was missing.
It was only after experiencing anxiety and undertaking therapy herself that she realised what was lacking for her in the courtroom: passion. Raissa knew she had found her true calling in Psychology – not Law.
“As a child, I saw a lot of unfairness in society. I wanted to be part of the solution – not just another person who ignored the problem. When I had my own experience of an anxiety disorder, I decided to seek professional help. Through therapy, I realised that treating a person’s mental health can help them to thrive. It completely changed my perspective.”
So after two years studying Law, Raissa travelled to Australia and began a Psychology degree.
Support to succeed
After wrapping up her work as a Helpline volunteer, Raissa moved to another organisation. But her time at EACH was never far from her mind. And when she saw a Counselling position open within our Reconnexion service, she leapt at the opportunity to return.
“I always wanted to come back to EACH because of the amazing experience I had as a volunteer. I know I’m meant to be here because every team member is passionate about promoting human rights, diversity and inclusion. All my colleagues want to make the world a better place – and through collaboration and support, we know anything is possible.”
Raissa beams with pride as she describes the highlights of her role.
“One of the best parts of my job is the diversity. I’ve engaged in research projects, headed individual and group counselling sessions, and educated healthcare workers on best practice client support. Other counselling roles don’t allow you to experience any other fields – but at EACH, I have so much opportunity for professional development. And I’m supported by my manager every step of the way.”
A culture of respect
One of the most important things Raissa has learned as a Counsellor is to keep the focus solely on her client. She says maintaining that focus builds the trust necessary to help a client throughout the program.
“I could sit here for hours and share what I’ve learned – because I learn more and more each day! You have to meet people where they are, rather than having expectations about how things should go, or how they should be coping. Being completely present with your client will build their confidence in you and the process.”
When asked if she would ever consider returning to study Law, Raissa laughs and points to her experience with EACH.
“No! I have found my calling in Counselling. We have a wonderful culture here at EACH – and I feel such a sense of pride knowing that I’m a Counsellor in the Reconnexion service. The staff show compassion and respect for each other, and I know I can rely on my team when we encounter a new or diverse situation. Having that relationship with my colleagues means the world to me.”
Are you passionate about social justice? See where a career at EACH could take you.