Melissa Pollick, founder of Wellness Counseling Geneva
Melissa met her Swiss husband when they were both students in the US. When he had to move back to Geneva, she decided to pursue her master's degree at Webster University so they could be together. She currently provides support to other people experience this transition with Wellness Counseling Geneva.
Bonjour Geneva: Melissa, can you please tell us how you came to open your practice as a counselor in Geneva?
Melissa Pollick: I didn't want to come here without finishing my degree or without an activity, either studying or a job. So luckily I found Webster, and the course was really good. But then the challenge afterwards was finding a job.
I couldn't be hired into a clinic or a hospital because of the qualifications. Counseling is not a very big field here. That's why I created my own practice. It is a risk that you have to take.
But I'm glad that I took it because it's been four years and it built up a lot and I love what I do.
BG: Would you say that people hesitate to look for look for help when they are struggling with their new life after relocating to Geneva?
Melissa Pollick: I think a lot of people underestimate how big the transition can be and how many effects it can have. For at least half of the people I see, that's what we are talking about. The issues can be: I don't have a social network here. I'm getting anxious and depressed because I don't have a job. I'm questioning my identity because I don't know who I am here, especially women if they come here and they're training spouses and they can't get a job. They have this existential crisis: who am I and what am I doing here?
BG: How do you work? What is it that a counselor does?
Melissa Pollick: I really like helping people look at patterns. Let's just take an easy example, stress at work. Is it just this job or has it also happened in past jobs? What's the issue? Is it that there's too much work, or maybe you don't know how to say no and set boundaries at work? Is it that you have communication difficulties? It can look at other things too, like relationships with your parents or your husband or your boss.
[Check her article, What’s the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and counselor?]
BG: What are the tips that you would like to share with women who have just arrived here?
Melissa Pollick: I'd first of all learn the language. It helps, even if you just learn the basic stuff.
I think another important thing is develop your social network here. I used Meetup and Glocals to find activities that I liked. It's important to meet people other than just people at work, try to make friends outside.
Sometimes it's not possible but it would be best if you could find out about your career before you came here. Or once you get here and realize maybe that your skills or your degree aren't as marketable, find out what other skills you have to see what kind of careers that could fit into.
[Would like some help with that? Check our interview with expat career expert Isabelle Lizler and keep an eye for the upcoming article about Mélanie Blanc-Jouveaux, career transition counselor]
BG: what's your favorite place to go to in Geneva for a treat to yourself?
Melissa Pollick: I really like going to the spa. Le Bain Bleu offers so many different things so you can just do the thermal baths but you can also do the hammam where you can get massage and facial treatments.
Thank you, Melissa!