Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
I walked into the mental health space with specific values (of empathy and kindness) and found the space, people and experiences to explore these values with more nuance as I continued to practice. My work also opened up pathways to build on these values with people and systems and helped translate them into tangible ideas and actions of change. This is also something that helps me stay close to my work and myself.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
I see my work as a counsellor existing in the intersection of my values, my skills and how I view and experience the world. I see it translate into practice as a shared canvas that I can keep working on, expanding and changing with the people around me. Some of my most exciting moments have been to see a conversation shift ideas, thoughts and actions and pull on the thread of what they imagined was impossible. I also find it endlessly exciting that people walk into therapeutic spaces and have their reality acknowledged and honoured safely.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
I hope for clients to take back maybe a fraction of what they were hoping for from therapy - relief, feeling heard and acknowledged, clarity or action steps. Through my conversations, I’ve realized that people walk into therapy with specific expectations, but I do hope they take back feeling safe in a conversation.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
Counselling is a form of care that might involve unlearning, processing, learning, letting go and re-framing. While it is care, it can also feel difficult or frustrating because the process is sometimes long and slow. Counselling is also a choice that people need to make on their own when they feel ready. There is no timeline or framework to how it can look like but if the counselling space has the foundation of safety, the scaffolding of change has a solid bedrock on which it can be built.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
I hope to build a relationship that feels safe and allows for open communication and trust while acknowledging the more often than not uni-directional nature of vulnerability. I hope the relationship honours boundaries and acts as a mould to shape the conversations towards what the client hopes for in therapy.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
I’m not sure if there has been a single greatest learning, a lot of my conversations stay with me and allow for learning and reflections in different ways. Some of my learnings over the years has been to trust the process and the hard work that clients put in both in the session as well as outside, even if it doesn’t appear tangible to both of us sometimes. I also keep learning what ‘hope’ means, I have learnt to lean on humour and alsp to keep negotiating a midpoint where experiences and expertise can work together for change to happen.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
I am constantly engaging in the process of building on my strengths through feedback from my clients, peers and my supervisor. Through them, I have understood that my ability to support my clients to make sense of their concerns through listening, visuals, metaphors, words, and resources is helpful to make the space accessible, comfortable and helps facilitate thinking. I am also able to hold onto my hopes and ideas as a therapist across different settings (individual and group work and advocacy work) and pivot based on what the context offers.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
I love cooking, reading, consuming content and theorizing about it, stargazing and cycling. I’m also exploring music and writing a little more every year and am trying to get back into photography.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I have been working with adolescents, adults and families since I began my practice. Through my practice I have worked with experiences of anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, abuse, interpersonal relationships, workplace dynamics and socio-emotional concerns in day to day life. My work is very strongly grounded in queer and neurodiversity affirmative stance and I follow a trauma informed approach.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
I follow an eclectic model, which draws from different schools of thought and involves using different approaches. This allows for a wider understanding of the client and their concerns and can help in building a rich toolkit. My work is also heavily influenced by understanding the client, their relationships, their context and how they interact with one another.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
By never assuming heteronormativity, drawing from my experiences, constantly reading, advocating through conversations outside of therapy, curating safe resources and support systems, engaging with peers, supervisors and accessing training and sharing circles. Within the therapeutic space it would involve honouring the queer and trans clients’ stories and holding space for them to explore safely.
The Quote Deepika Mahesh Resonates With
You live through that little piece of time that is yours, but that piece of time is not only your own life, it is the summing-up of all the other lives that are simultaneous with yours... What you are is an expression of History.
Robert Penn Warren