Our NewAccess program helps Australians recognise problematic patterns of thinking and behaviour as a first step to finding more helpful ways to think and act.

It is driven by ‘coaches’, ordinary Australians who give once-a-week half-hour coaching sessions.

“I’m not a psychologist and I’m not a counsellor,” says NewAccess coach Chris Tully. “I’m a coach and I think that title is just one of the many things that makes the NewAccess program so appealing.”

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Brisbane-based Chris has been involved with NewAccess for the past two and a half years. Our coaches, who are highly trained using an evidence-based approach, come from all walks of life. Chris is ex-military, and a former sales rep.

“Coming from non-clinical backgrounds means we’re able to relate to people really well and have so much empathy for whatever people who reach out to us are experiencing,” he says.

Fellow NewAccess coach Jo-Anne Rechner, a former high-school teacher, agrees.

“For many people, seeking help from a NewAccess coach isn’t as big a deal or perhaps as intimidating as approaching a psychologist,” she says.

“Plus, the feedback we get is that it’s how soon we’re able to see people [who refer themselves to the program] that’s so helpful, particularly compared to other avenues of support, where getting an appointment can sometimes take months. Combined with the fact that it’s free and low-intensity means we’re able to reach so many people.”

A self guided approach

Seven out of 10 people who participate in NewAccess report a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“When people thank me after the six sessions, I always say to them, ‘Don’t thank me – it’s you who’s done the work!’,” says Chris.

“Sure, I’ve been there, and we’ve processed things together, but it’s always the person who’s getting their own answers because it’s self-guided help. That’s so important.” 

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Toowoomba-based coach Nicholle McEwan has one word for that: collaboration.

“As coaches, we don’t have all the answers, we work together,” she says. “It’s a true collaboration every step of the way, including sharing weekly progress with participants. 

“And while we’re always very mindful of the road people have travelled, we’re more focused on working to find tools to address the issues that are occurring now. Because that’s where we’re trying to make the changes and turn circumstances around.

“My favourite thing about the whole process is when someone has what I call their lightbulb moment – when they start to view whatever it is they’re struggling with from a different point of view for the first time.

“That’s when they begin to understand the behaviours that are keeping them stuck. NewAccess is a person-empowering approach. People really connect with their own learning.” 

An honour and privilege

NewAccess coaches might have different backgrounds and life experiences, but they also have one thing in common: they love what they do. 

“This is the first role I’ve had where I feel a genuine sense of purpose,” says Chris. “I’m so passionate about the program.”

Nicholle says she knew she wanted to become a NewAccess coach as soon as she read the job description.

“And I was lucky enough to get the position. The people I see are incredibly diverse – 12-year-old children, 89-year-old men and every person in between. It’s an honour to hear each one of their stories.

“And getting feedback from someone that it’s turned their life around is immensely rewarding, but I also learn from every single person I work with.”

As for Jo-Anne? It’s a very similar story. 

“As coaches, we love the program. We not only love being coaches, we love what NewAccess does for people. We see some amazing things. To have someone trust you as a coach and go on to achieve what they do is not only incredibly gratifying, it’s a real privilege.”

You can learn more about how the NewAccess program works, including finding answers to frequently asked questions, by visiting: beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess

At the site, you can also find out whether there’s a program currently available in your area, submit an enquiry online or make a simple phone call to start the ball rolling.

Related reading: NewAccess and me: “Learning about anxiety was incredibly powerful”

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