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Counseling Is About Recovery

When farm and ranch families are stressed out for long periods of time -chronic, prolonged stress -they may experience a number of signs and symptoms. Watch for the following effects in farm families you see on a day-to-day basis: PHYSICAL COGNITIVE EMOTIONAL SELF-ESTEEM BEHAVIORAL





Sleep Disturbances

Frequent Sickness


Memory Loss

Lack of Concentration

Inability to Make Decisions Sadness





Loss of Spirit

Loss of Humour

“I’m a failure.”

“I blew it.”

“Why can’t I…? Irritability


Acting Out





At Ag Days in Brandon last month I was privileged to hear my colleague Gerry Friesen share his depression story with a room full of farmers. Gerry is part of the group in Manitoba who, along with the Manitoba Farm Stress Line (1-877-367-3276 and are promoting Farmer to Farmer workshops in Brandon on February 16 and 18. Gerry Friesen and I are mediators for the Farm Debt Mediation Service. We also both have experienced

By Robert J. Fetsch, Human Development & Family Studies Colorado State University and Roger T. Williams, Professional Development & Applied Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison

depression and aren’t afraid to talk about it. As mediators, we witness the depressing effects of long-term financial strain.

As a farm family coach this winter I have referred clients for counseling. Counseling is about recovery, and coaching is about discovery. My role as a coach is to facilitate tough conversations about new choices, options and scenarios for the farm family’s future communication plan, succession plan, and lifestyle plan. I am not a therapist or psychologist.

Just this morning I worked with a cattle producer who conceded that counseling is what he really needs to be able to cope with his business partner and the lack of courage to stand up for what he needs.

“Counseling is not what I am willing to do!” you say. Fine. Stay stuck where you are. Quit blaming others for your anger, sleeplessness and lack of joy in your life.

When Gerry Friesen was pouring out his insights he thanked his best friend for sticking with him and helping him see that he needed counseling for his depression.

Some of you don’t know who your doctor is because it has been a very long time since you have seen one. Why are you not taking better physical care of yourself?

Doctors can diagnose depression quickly with a series of questions. My doctor friend also is a healing counselor, and she counsels patients while she also deals with their physical needs.


Professional counselors follow a code of ethics. As a certified coach, and a member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (I also follow a code of ethics.

I would encourage you to talk to your friends and see if they have found success with counselors. You can also go to to search for a Christian counselor near you. One of the farmers at Ag Days confessed that he wasn’t “religious” like me, but he felt I still had good things to say! Here’s a list of possibilities to seek out counseling:

Your clergy or pastor. Our pastor has a Masters in counseling.

The Mental Health Worker. I visited ours in the fall when I had a grief and loss issue that was

About the author


Elaine Froese is a Manitoba 150 Woman Trailblazer. She is passionate to guide farm families to find harmony through understanding. Her mission is for you to have rich relationships on your farm. Visit to learn more and book her for speaking engagements at



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