Business and Innovation Courage and initiative Health People

Riding the new business roller coaster

Enjoying summer...Megan Turnbull, with guide dog Annie, in their Dunedin garden

Starting a new business can be an emotional roller coaster, however four years into hers, Megan Turnbull has grown in confidence.

“When starting in any business, you wonder if it will work out,” she says. “At the start, you jump at the prospect of a new client!”

Megan, who’s been blind since age three, took the bold step in 2018 of starting a private counselling practice, building on 20 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and social worker.

The Dunedin Gestalt psychotherapist has realised that people seeking a therapist might approach many, and only a certain percentage will become her clients.

“Initially it was a bit of a roller coaster, now I think, ‘well, this may work out, it may not’.”

She’s now more confident that there will be enough clients. She’s also learned to balance her workload, taking one or two full days off a week and starting earlier or working later if required.

Asked what more she’s learned specifically about counselling in the past few years, Megan pauses to reflect.

“I think if you’re open to it, you’re always learning. I continue to find human beings fascinating.

People are interesting: how they choose to live their lives and their choices.”


She respects people wanting to examine their lives through counselling.

“I continue to feel really privileged doing this work. You get to hear about things you wouldn’t otherwise.”

She’s added to what she’d already learned, while also realising how little she knows.

“I don’t think of myself as an expert on people. I’m more kind of respectful, and intrigued at times – [at] what people do.”

Building human connection

When the Daily Encourager first met Megan in 2018, she explained that the human connection is important to her.

Asked in late January whether the Covid-19 pandemic has provided any new ways of connecting, she says that sometimes people want connection and sometimes they don’t.

“It’s something that can’t be forced – be open to it, but you can’t force it.”

We need to be sensitive in terms of not being really effusive with people, and should gauge where they’re at, she says.

It’s kind of like keeping your own ego out of it.


“As a therapist, it’s about being able to step back and let them get on with it.”

She says that rather than counsellors doing the work for clients, they are witnesses as people explore themselves and their desires and decisions.

She hasn’t noticed the Covid-19 crisis making any difference to client numbers or what they want to talk about, although notes that she’s only one practitioner and it’s hard to discern trends.

A love of reading

Megan loves reading and finds that communicating about books is meaningful, and provides insight into people.

She’s read heaps this summer – “I would hate for there not to be books!”

She’s been enjoying novels by Canadian writer Miriam Toews, particularly All My Puny Sorrows.

Years ago, Megan used to borrow books on tape from the public library, hauling home a big bag of cassettes.

Lately, she’s succeeded in using three phone apps: Audible, the Dunedin Public Libraries’ Borrowbox and BookLink, from Blind Low Vision NZ.

While technology isn’t her strong point, she’d realised audiobooks were the way of the future and would make more books accessible to her.

They’re popular – she says there is frequently a queue for the library audiobooks.

Another of Megan’s hobbies is creating scented soaps and candles, under her Smelly Business label. She sells a few at the quaint Blacks Road Grocer and makes them for herself, friends and as gifts.

Hobbies: Megan’s Smelly Business sign, crafted by her sister’s artist friend

She likes donating them to second-hand shops near the Dunedin Botanic Garden, so customers can buy quality candles or soap cheaply.

Being productive in this way feels like a nice balance, she says.

“Being productive doesn’t need to be about making money.”

She’s not a fan of consumerism and appreciates that people used to make gifts for one another.

Helping others share the scented goodies provides personal satisfaction as well.

“It’s another way of giving to the community but not in a really public way. I’m not someone who wants to make a big song and dance about it.”

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For further information:

Our 2018 story about Megan

Blind Low Vision NZ free BookLink and EasyReader apps for people with print disabilities such as blindness, low vision or dyslexia


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