I personally benefitted from counselling during my turbulent teenage years. The non-judgmentality of the space allowed me to explore and embrace my identity better and I decided then to learn to offer the same kind of space to others.
One of the many things that excites me to work as a counsellor is to observe, over time, the progress clients make and how they come into their own, being more confident and sure about themselves. On a macro level, I enjoy meeting and observing the different human experiences and narratives that we author for ourselves; some being so similar to others, up to a point, and how the choices we make, present unique stories.
I hope my clients are able to experience a safe and non-judgmental space that they know is dedicated for them. I would like for my clients to go back from their first session with a feeling of being understood and welcomed to share their challenges, and with a certain sense of optimism in eventually overcoming them.
Among the things I would inform my client who is considering seeking counselling, I would let them know:
- That the counselling space is theirs for them to decide on how they wish to gain better mental health
- That counselling isn’t advice-giving and that I, as their counsellor, would not be providing solutions or directions on how to live their life
- That it is a collaborative attempt they would be engaging in with me as someone who would help them to achieve their set goals
- That confidentiality is paramount to the process of counselling and, barring some reasonable limitations which I would be notifying them about, will be observed throughout
- That therapy is a place of no judgment
- That counselling isn’t always a comfortable space and that they may require to choose to go through some emotionally uncomfortable moments in order to make progress, at their own pace
- That counselling can be a long-term process that requires as much effort and forthcomingness as they can invest
- That they have a right to hold me accountable for any transgressions that may occur
- That counselling isn’t only problem-solving or illness-focused, but the approach can be more thriving or wellness-based
I wish to engage in a collaborative, professional, and ethically-bound relationship with my client. I aim to work with my client on their challenges and goals and to help chart out their vision of achieving them, and I envision myself as someone who would be there to assist with skills and techniques so they can continue focusing on their plans
When listing out challenges, I work with the client to understand what are some approaches and techniques that have already worked, which ones haven’t, and what they are comfortable with. In instances, I also employ the “what would you tell a friend who was experiencing the same?” technique which allows them to bring in some objectivity in their narrative
An important aspect is to value the client’s narrative as important and I communicate with clients that they are the experts of their experiences. Some important elements include listening to client’s narratives and inviting them to see the same through different perspectives and to emphasise, through interactions, that I am not an authority figure on their mental health journey and that they are in control of coming up with solutions to better their circumstances
The human capacity of resilience and willpower is one of my best learnings from working with clients. I had a client come in with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal ideation with active self-harm tendencies. Working with the client for over a year has given me the privilege to see them now thrive and be super-functional, purely by the amount of effort they put in sessions and medication
Some of my strengths that are applicable in counselling include being non-judgmental; welcoming; maintaining a poker-face; compartmentalisation; adherence to ethics; bringing humour into the space when permissible (usually with forgiveable dad jokes)
Mostly, I work in areas of anxiety, depression, stress management, identity and self development, interpersonal relationships, and gender and sexuality concerns. I intend on learning to work with trauma in the future.
I work with a general population between the ages of 18 and 40.
My approach in therapy is person-centered, feminist, queer-affirmative, anti-caste, sex-positive, and social-justice oriented, and I use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) modalities. This means that in the therapy space, we can explore how each social location affects one, and how having marginalised identities require a more thorough understanding and work, while placing the client in the centre of any decision-making. While some systemic problems cannot be solved by oneself, it could be possible to try to be as okay as one can, and wherever possible, to healthily challenge perspectives and thereby attempt to bring about behavioural changes for the better.
As a gay non-binary person, I am passionate about making the therapy space I offer as queer-affirming as I can. I share with clients that I am a queer-affirmative practitioner, and I do disclose my queer identity with clients who are queer and questioning, in the hope that they would be able to feel safer and to be more forthcoming about their identities. Although each individual has a unique journey, the queer kinship is a powerful feeling. I share with clients that it could be vital to discuss how one’s queer identity affects other aspects of life, especially with respect to identity, self-development, and agency, so that their journey to better mental health is more holistic.
In addition to reading up on basic affirmative therapy literature (Saksham, 2013; North Dakota State University handout), I am also enrolled in Mariwala Health Intitiative’s Queer Affirmative Counselling Practitioner course, scheduled for next month
The Quote Anurag Resonates With
So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe well never know most of them. But even if we dont have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
Charlie Kelmeckis, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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