Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
The desire to make a difference in the lives of those around me has been central towards my journey in becoming a therapist. When I was introduced to psychology during high school, I felt that I found my calling, as I could finally articulate my interest in human behaviour and what makes individuals act the way they do. This curiosity, coupled with my journey into self exploration, led me to pursue this career.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
My journey so far, as a counsellor, has allowed me to take a closer look into the richness and intricacies of people’s lives which I find ever so intriguing. To hear about their challenges, struggles, opportunities and experiences, that ultimately reveal the narratives of strength, resilience and courage that lie just underneath the surface. This uncovering of their inner potential and highlighting how the clients have consistently shown up for themselves, excites and humbles me.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
The first session is usually heavy with information and experiences that have led the client to where they are now; it sometimes feels like there’s a lot to explore in the limited time we have, which can be overwhelming. Within this, my aim is to firstly create a holding space for the client, a relationship which they can slowly trust and feel safe in, where their experiences are heard. The key idea is to facilitate a sense of understanding between us, and start to make sense of the experiences they have had so far. This containment is coupled with one or two tools or takeaways to help the client feel grounded till we meet again, and they get into the rhythm of therapy.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
Clients come with diverse experiences and concerns, and are usually confused about whether therapy would work for them. To this, I would highlight the different modalities that therapists operate from, such that the client can make an informed choice as to what sounds like a good fit for them. For first time therapy-seekers, it can seem overwhelming and confusing, but I encourage them to try. This is a space that ensures safety, confidentiality and security, where the client decides the pace and has full autonomy in asking questions, giving feedback and ensuring that their needs are met, be it from managing symptoms to making sense of their experiences.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
The client-therapist relationship is collaborative and genuine, where we co-create meaning. Through this journey, the client is the expert of their life, and I present my expertise via hypotheses that the client can accept, reject or modify. I envision this as co-travellers on a journey, where the client may no longer feel alone or misunderstood, through a space that is equal, affirming and safe.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
How beautiful yet subtle resilience is, and how easily it can evade the client’s narrative. With some attuned listening and genuine presence, this resilience comes through, and clients are themselves surprised by their strengths. This is made possible with their willingness to be vulnerable, which in itself requires courage.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
I truly believe the space to be collaborative, where the client feels empowered to exercise their agency and autonomy. Along with this, the space is made safe with emotional attunement, empathy, positive regard and unconditionality towards their experiences, within the scaffold of ethics and client rights. The collaboration is further ensured through presenting neurobiological evidence and resources to facilitate their understanding into the concerns, which they can use to educate themselves and others around them.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I would either be found curled in a quiet corner reading or watching movies and TV shows, or in the outdoors, hiking and exploring new places.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I work with adolescents, adults and families, focussing primarily on any emotional dysregulation that typically manifests as depressive or anxious concerns. This dysregulation might cause a plethora of issues such as troubled interpersonal relationships, difficulty with motivation, problematic patterns in work, study, family or general day to day life. Hence, my purview of concerns ranges from trauma, grief, interpersonal relationships to self-development and awareness.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
I adopt a client-centred, strengths-based and trauma-informed approach. This simply implies that the client is always the expert and the therapeutic process is tailored to meet their individual needs, with emphasis on respect, client autonomy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness. I understand present symptoms as originating from past experiences, and the distress we face are ways of coping that we have learnt in certain circumstances. Hence, my work is to draw out the strengths and resilience of the client, when all they may see are their life stories as saturated with problems, and together we work to co-create healthier ways of coping and being.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
As part of my Masters curriculum, I have had extensive training in queer affirmative counselling practices, which I keep honing through supervision and being in touch with literature. In general, I adopt an inclusive and transparent stance whereby I keep a healthy curiosity about lived experiences and am open to client’s knowledge and wisdom of the unique challenges they face, and try to understand this through the context that they are a part of.
The Quote Radha Resonates With
“If you know the why, you can live any how”