crystal hardstaff the gentle counsellor

Hi! I’m Crystal

MEdC, GDPsych, & Registered Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) Facilitator.

Registered Counsellor specialising in Perinatal Mental Health, Trauma, Attachment Styles, and Parenting Support.

Podcast host of More Than Mothering.

Author of ‘Tricky People” and ‘Is Santa Real?

I’m a registered Counsellor in Australia, providing individual and couples counselling services online and in-person, with a background in Child Development, Education and Psychology. I specialise in Perinatal Mental Health, Trauma, Attachment Styles, and Parenting Support.

In my personal life, I am a mum of two and married to my best friend. Sadly I am part of the percentage of women who have experienced miscarriage so we also have children who are not Earthside with us but live in our hearts instead. I live on Yugambeh Country (Gold Coast) although I grew up overseas in Abu Dhabi, Papua New Guinea, Dubai and Nigeria. I went to boarding school here on the coast when I was 11. I used to work as a Primary School Teacher but continued with my studies because I was so drawn to supporting my students more emotionally. I then worked as a School Counsellor and again continued with my studies originally with the goal of becoming a Psychologist, but I quickly realised the way I wanted to support my clients did not fit in the medical mental health model and decided to become a Counsellor. I offer other products and services which you can find on my site here, such as books, courses, and freebies.

Jenny Cuerel Photography
Jenny Cuerel Photography

When I first became a mother, that moment when you hold your newborn baby in your arms for the first time was absolutely life-changing and soul-changing. I rode that brilliant oxytocin and adrenaline train for weeks. I had wanted a child for so long, and there she was. I was so unbelievably happy. I would stare at her for hours as she breastfed and slept in my arms, studying every little detail of her face, breathing in that intoxicating baby smell, and loved up with every little coo.

However, sleep deprivation kicked in hard around that notorious 4 months mark. It felt like there was no true ‘support’ for the very normal parenting, mental health, and relationship problems we were having… or at least none that suited our parenting style, what we believed in, and the choices we wanted to make. People ask you how you are, but you simply respond that you’re ok, and there is never follow up. Or you admit some struggles but no one seems to take it seriously. I had listed my history of depression on the forms, yet no actual or adequate support was provided or suggested in the short term let alone the long term. Sure, we have family and friends, but who is actually coming over to clean your house, or bring you food, or hold the baby so you get an hour of uninterrupted sleep or have a shower to yourself without hearing the phantom cries of a baby.

Then the reality set in for both my husband and me of just how selfish we had the privilege to be before having a child, and just how selfless we had to become. But of course, she was worth it. It will always be worth it. Although, now I realise how much giving birth is also our own rebirth. That transition to motherhood is all-consuming and somehow both completely natural on an animalistic level yet so abnormal that you feel unrecognisable.

I understand how difficult the transition to parenthood can be. Not only do you feel like you lose a part of yourself, but now you are aware of being there to support the growth of your child’s mental health and wellbeing, let alone your own.

So what did I do? How did I get through it? Why am I here?

I absolutely love continuing to learn and grow both professionally and personally. I have read the books, studied the university courses, taken the notes, written the papers, and I found my love in Attachment Theory. I am so passionate about it and how it can help us provide explanation and understanding in so many areas of our lives. I learned how to use this gained information to help others experience self-love and healing that then ripples throughout their relationships and positively influences their children’s upbringing. I wanted to make this easily accessible and understandable for you. I work from an Attachment/Gentle Parenting approach and link this in a holistic way to empower parents.

I’m here to support you.

Here at The Gentle Counsellor I hope to alleviate some of the day-to-day stress, as well as support you through the deeper inner work that needs to be addressed in order to make radical change. In addition to my counselling services, I provide online resources and support to help you learn, understand and navigate this journey of parenthood, through all the ages, supporting your child’s needs, and healing yourself along the way.

Please come join me on Instagram @thegentlecounsellor and tune in to the More Than Mothering Podcast.