Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
I was somatically drawn to becoming a counsellor! Yes, when all the medicines failed to cure my psychosomatic pain, I got to know that this pain is not just physical but emotional as well. Later it was uncovered that the pain is due to trauma captured in my body. Also, I found myself feeling helpless often due to the constant invalidations I received from the world in so many ways (Ex. brown skin stigma). My subjective experience was not fitting into what the world demands, I observed there are many people like me and I can be a help to them. I was on the corrective journey, constantly correcting myself to fit into capitalism. Finally, when I came across counseling I was fortunate to find my belongingness and I got to know what does being authentic truly means.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
Holding a safe space for my clients where they feel validated, and the process of my client acknowledging the richness of their emotions excites me.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
That they are not wholly and solely responsible for their sufferings, various systems around them are responsible too.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
If you are thinking about counseling go ahead and take up the first session or connect with therapists for a consultation call. In therapy you own the space, your therapist will let you decide which area you wish to work on and how you want to work on it. Let your body guide to towards making a decision, check with your intuitions does it tell you to opt for therapy? Because often our conscious mind is overwhelmed with tons of information/misinformation and you may find it difficult to make decisions for yourself (Ex. stigma adhering to therapy may stop you to approach a therapist)
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
I maintain a professional therapeutic relationship with my clients. I do exercise flexible boundaries to offer help to my clients beyond the therapy sessions, as per my emotional bandwidth. The therapeutic relationship is highly collaborative with clients taking ownership of the session to make the process at ease for them. The decided treatment plan can be revised as per the client’s comfort, I regularly check in with the clients as to how the counseling process is going for them. The changes are done based on the client’s feedback.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
The greatest learning is just being with our true emotions is so powerful. You will figure out all the solutions that you are looking for but first let us be with our emotions.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
One of my best abilities is to emotionally resonate with my clients. That is to feel a similar emotional experience as they do in their body.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
Reading books, sitting near the beach, coffee dates with myself, spending time with loved ones, and finding ways to recycle things.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
Emotional issues, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, relationship issues, eating disorder, body image, addiction, psychosomatic concerns, sleep issues, adult ADHD, sexual issues, kink positive, self - harm, and attachment issues. I work with adolescents to elderly.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
My therapeutic approach is divided into two parts, first is short-term therapy support that involves working on the present concerns that involves thought, cognition, and behavioral modification. It doesn’t involve a deeper level of work. Second, long-term therapy support mostly involves depth work, bodywork, trauma-based work, behavioral management, and attachment work. Often, the integration of short-term and long-term therapy processes is used. In collaboration with the client, the treatment plan is developed. Although the treatment plan is modifiable based on the client’s feedback. The initial part of the sessions involves exploration and along with that immediate emotional management techniques are suggested. The above is to simplify my therapeutic approach, the client’s need and natural flow of the session stay at the core.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I have trained the staff at the clinic to be inclusive. A few things that help me make the therapy space safe and affirmative at the clinic are, my visiting card with a rainbow, LGBTQIA+ flag, books, and inclusive therapy-related forms/documents. Using the name and addressing my clients with their affirmative identity. I am mindful of my privileges, and not letting that impact the client. I attend workshop/training that helps me update my knowledge to ensure my practice is safe and affirmative. I update myself by constantly unlearning and relearning. For me lived experience, unique life stressors and the context of a person are of utmost importance than objective diagnosis. I also advocate for gender and sexuality in spaces like social media, institutions, organizations, and in regular conversations with people around me. I never give labels to my clients about their gender and sexual identity if they are in their questioning phase with the intention “there can be as many identities as many people exist in the world” - learned from Mariwala Health Initiative. Even though I may know certain terms giving labels is just not right, I can support them in their process of discovering their identity.
The Quote Kajal Resonates With
My first responsibility is to take care of my body!