Helping hurting people is what Sonya Cavanough does for a living. 

Sonya, the 171st person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a counsellor who helps people overcome pain and trauma.

Many of her clients feel isolated. They need to talk to her because there’s nobody else – maybe their partner isn’t paying attention to them or their friends are sick of hearing about their issues or they don’t have friends.

Part of Sonya’s job is to listen – to really listen – so her clients feel valued and understood. She reassures them they’re not the only one with this problem. She asks questions that make them think about the problem in a new light. And she provides practical advice to help them take a step forward, however small.

Sonya is an incredibly warm, caring person. That’s why, before she became a counsellor, many people suggested she make it her profession.

Sonya also has a great sense of humour; we seemed to do as much laughing as talking during our lunch.

If you live on the Central Coast and need somebody to talk to, email Sonya at