Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
My choice to become a counsellor stemmed from my own personal experience with a counsellor when I was going through a tough phase. It helped me understand what potential therapy and counselling have in helping people navigate through life, and it was something I could see myself doing.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
The personalities, the stories, the emotions, the thoughts that clients come in with. Every client brings adds a unique touch to the sessions, which I really like engaging with.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
I want my clients to feel safe, heard and validated in the therapy space. I aim to co-create a space wherein they feel confident enough to share things which they have been unable to share in other spaces, and a space wherein they feel comfortable in being themselves.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
I would say, Go for it! You need not seek therapy and counselling only if/when you are going through a major crisis. These processes are for everyone to explore, irrespective of age, gender, sex, caste, class, sexuality, religion etc., and can address most concerns, including things which may be perceived as “small” issues.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
For me, therapy is a two-way process. As a therapist, I do not just tell the client what to do, how to do things etc. I prefer having a discussion about possible goals that we can meet, and the options or choices we have that can be used to reach those goals. I believe in client agency i.e. their ability to make their own choices, and I highly value this in our therapy process. In case of any disagreements, I approach the topic with a curious, rather than a critical, lens.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
I feel that the amount of learnings I have had from my experience with clients is far more than what I have learnt from books and other resources. Perhaps the most important learning I have had is that every client is different, and therapy is not a one-size-fits-all. My equation with every client is unique, so I cannot always generalize using tools/techniques used with one client to another.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
Definitely my sense of (dark) humor, curiosity and interest in the client’s life beyond just their concerns, ability to reflect on my skills as a therapist and take accountability for my actions in case I, or my client, feels that I should have done things differently.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
I am a huge foodie so I love exploring different cuisines. I am huge fan of dancing, so I play music at times and just groove. I also enjoy cooking, painting, travelling and spending time looking for memes to share with my friends, colleagues and sometimes, my clients.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I specialize in working with adults and adolescents, many of whom present with anxiety, depression, concerns related to self-esteem and self-image, relationship issues, inability to cope with stress, traumatic childhood and past experiences.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
My approach to therapy, as you would see with many other mental health professionals, is an eclectic one. An eclectic approach draws from multiple schools of thoughts, and helps in tailoring therapy sessions according to the client’s personality and need. Typically, a session would look like us working towards identifying certain behavioral, emotional and cognitive patterns and their origins, and look at ways in which these can be altered. I sometimes include body based work in sessions too, as an adjunct to talk therapy.
I have a intersectional feminist approach, which is trauma-informed. Simply put, it means that your context beyond just your individual life, such as what gender you identify with, which religion you practice etc. will also be considered in the therapy space, and how systemic issues concerned with these aspects may lead to distress and trauma.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I refrain from making assumptions about a person with respect to their gender and sexuality, I respect and use pronouns which clients prefer for themselves. I also make sure to read up and educate myself on queer and trans issues. In case I am unsure/unaware about something, I make sure to ask in a non-judgmental manner, and not assume.
The Quote Lavanya Resonates With
I remember asking him (his teacher) once- What would you call this patient, schizophrenic or schizoaffectiive? He paused and stroked his chin, apparently in deep thought. He replied- I think I'd call him Micheal McIntyre
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score)