From the Page to the Couch: Integrating Life Lessons into Therapeutic Practice

Content Warning: This article discusses themes related to mental health, personal growth, trauma, domestic and family violence, and therapeutic care. Reader discretion is advised, especially for individuals who may find these topics triggering or distressing. If you are in need of immediate support or assistance, please reach out to Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14 or emergency services by dialing 000.

In the landscape navigating mental wellness and personal growth, it’s a unique delight to encounter someone like Franchesca Isla, whose journey melds personal transformation with therapeutic expertise. A familiar voice from our 2022 Community Lead(her)s Seminar and our blog, Franchesca’s story began with penning private journal entries, then becoming a celebrated author, and most recently launching her own counseling service.

Winning the Lifeline Rising Woman of Spirit Award in 2023, she saw this recognition as more than an honour; it was a call to deeper advocacy and mental health reform. This accolade celebrated not just for her survival, but for her impact on society, inspires hope and resilience among others.

Franchesca’s writing journey began amid new motherhood’s challenges and the solitude of a global pandemic, birthing ‘notes to my daughters’. This book, a treasure trove of fears, dreams, and wisdom, is her heartfelt message to her daughters—and indeed, to us all. It’s akin to a sit-down with a wise friend who assures you that, despite everything, it’s going to be alright.

In early 2024, Franchesca channeled her insights into founding Evergreen Therapeutic Services. Offering both Telehealth and in person sessions at Canberra’s The Psych Hive, her practice is rooted in empathy and understanding, particularly for those affected by domestic and family violence. With a rich background in psychology, counseling, social work—coupled with her lived experiences—Franchesca delivers trauma-informed care that emphasises holistic healing.

Image shows Franchesca Isla, Lifeline's Rising Woman of Spirit, 2023

Franchesca believes in the power of words to foster self-understanding and safe action. “Words,” says Franchesca, “can help us understand ourselves better. When we have the words to describe our experiences, we can act upon them in safe ways.” 

A few years ago, Merriam Webster assigned “gaslighting” as the word of the year, and suddenly, women everywhere could now recognise and address their experiences. “In psychology,” she continues, “We are now coming to understand that there are not just the three trauma responses—fight, flight, freeze—there is a fourth, fawning. Fawning is when you do what you can to appease your perpetrator, to de-escalate and to give the perpetrator a sense of structured control to reduce violence in the household. It is a fourth survival tactic born from assessing risk and aimed at de-escalating danger”.

This understanding of the nuanced human experience underpins Franchesca’s therapeutic method at Evergreen Therapeutic Services, where the insights from notes to my daughters enrich her practice, exemplifying the transformative journey that can take place from the page to the therapeutic couch. This blend of personal and professional wisdom highlights a seamless transition where personal insights and professional expertise converge to foster an environment of healing and understanding.

Franchesca’s notes to my daughters is a beacon for anyone navigating dark times, offering guidance, vulnerability, and the affirmation of resilience. Franchesca’s therapy practice extends these themes, offering a space where clients aren’t just seen but understood, where stories are not just heard but felt, and where healing begins with connection. This connection between Franchesca’s written words and her therapeutic work emphasises the impact that personal understanding and vulnerability can have on mental health and healing, illustrating that our deepest insights often come from our own narratives.

To discover more or to book a session with Franchesca, visit Evergreen Therapeutic Services. ‘notes to my daughters’ is available on Amazon for those seeking hope.

Rae Knopik
Author: Rae Knopik

Rae Knopik is the founder and current Board President (2019-2023) of the CBR Gals Network. She is a regular contributor to the Network's blog.