I have had severe depression, suicidal tendencies, and anxiety growing up. During these periods, the mental health care that was accessible to me was very poor and the professionals that I saw at the time were neither promoting a safe space nor were they informed enough about issues that queer people faced or about queerness in general. As I also realized that I am neurodivergent, I noticed how most mental health professionals do not understand the intersections between different systems of oppression and disability and hence are not good at providing support that keeps all of this in mind. This has driven me to want to be a counsellor who understands all of these intricacies and helps people accordingly.
I love that I am able to engage and be involved in my community, offering support in such a direct manner where I can see people in a real-time environment. I disliked working in office spaces doing jobs that had little to no human connection, so this is a space that I enjoy being in. I get to co-experience all the human emotions and connect with people while witnessing humanness in all its complexity.
I would like for my clients to at least feel that the counselling space is safe for them to exist in. I believe safe spaces are not just helpful but are absolutely necessary for growth, so I consider establishing that my first priority and my constant guideline.
As far as I’m concerned, counselling is help. Help is not restricted to conditions and criteria. All I can say is, help is available. You can choose to take it whatever your reasons are - you need it, you want it, it might be useful, you just want to try - doesn’t matter what your reason is, or even if you don’t have a reason.
I make sure the client knows that throughout the session, they can interrupt me anytime to say anything at all. I also let them know that they can send me messages on WhatsApp or email if they have any thoughts or queries in between sessions. I do this to let them know that this is a collaborative process where their input is not just welcome, but it is a priority.
Some of my most memorable learnings from clients has been the fact that clients from very similar communities or backgrounds from me can have extremely different reactions to similar situations, while people who I never thought I could relate to have ended up saying and doing things extremely similar to me. I keep this in mind while interacting with my clients so that I have an open mind and curiosity while approaching a client’s life and situation.
I believe my strength as a counsellor is my belief that people only do things they know how to do. People do things that sometimes hurt them or others mostly because they don’t know other ways of acting in situations or don’t have enough experience putting these helpful alternative ways into practice. This belief has helped me connect with and help so many people - they often blame themselves for not “being better”, so this helps convey to them that it’s just that they don’t know how to get where they want to.
I love having people around me, although I wouldn’t say I’m very extroverted. I crave people being around even if we’re not doing much together. So most of the time I’m hanging out with my partner or close friends. I love to play video games (mostly Skyrim, but others like Elden Ring, Hades, Divinity Original Sin 2, etc.). I also like singing with my close friends and my partner - Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi usually. I’ve lately been trying to meet more people and go to queer events and anti-caste/anti-capitalist/communist gatherings.
I work mostly with adults, but I do not focus on particular concerns. Intersectionality is something I ground myself to, so it helps me see that no issue is in a vacuum - queerness, neurodivergence, oppressive systems, mental health, family, relationships are all connected.
I mostly follow Acceptance and Commitment Therapy along with techniques from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. The way I see it, both of these approaches are grounded in radical acceptance and seeing all kinds of thoughts and emotions as a part of the human experience and rooted with the notion of trying to just experience them instead of fighting against or trying to change or get rid of them. They are also focused on putting more energy into actions and building a life according to your values.
I am queer myself (gay, demisexual, and agender). I also operate from the core belief that everyone is queer and no one is normal. Cis-heteronormativity and the gender binary are very rigid and impractical ideas that no single person can embody wholly. We all are affected by this rigidity in different ways. Although I do not know which ways each client is affected by this oppressive system, knowing that they definitely are affected gives way to curiosity and openness to any experience the client is having.
The Quote Naveen Resonates With
Any man who stands for progress has to criticise, disbelieve and challenge every item of the old faith
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