I grew up obsessed with reading and with the stories captured in the books my parents gave me. As I became older, I became more drawn to the stories of people and their lives in particular. I grew more and more curious about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of their lives, wanting to understand as much about what each person tick as possible.
Even to this day, when I begin a session, to me, the most satisfying thing has always been to ‘connect the dots’ and to end a session with as much understanding as possible, both for myself and for my client. I truly enjoy the process of both of us discussing what sense we have made of a particular event or ongoing occurrence and creating a new, hopefully more stimulating and exciting reality, together.
Answering questions that both my client and I might pose is definitely a rewarding process. Combining my understanding, a client’s understanding and an underlying theory that I might be using with that client and seeing all three blends together on one canvas has always been very rewarding for me.
The second and truly fulfilling part of my work as a counsellor is the space that I am given in the lives of my clients. I have a huge amount of respect for the openness, trust and faith that a client comes to therapy with, and I find each partnership that I have created with every client extremely fulfilling at the end of each work day.
I’ve learnt that ultimately, we (us and the people around us - our families, colleagues, companies, communities) are the biggest strength that we have, but also the places where we can be the most vulnerable.
When we’ve been hurt, maligned, judged or shamed by people, it can leave us feeling incredibly undone and lost. We equally have the capacity to remedy those hurtful experiences by learning to love ourselves and create space and loving communities that are of our choosing.
I believe that for many, therapy can be that turning point where healing begins, and as always - I remain very grateful to have the chance to play a small role in that process.
A supervisor of mine best explained mental health to me when they said that we all function along three main dimensions (with respect to mental health). These are our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. All of us are inclined towards each of these to different extents. Some of us may be more of the doing type, inclined to take action in response to an issue. Others may experience the world and make decisions largely based on our emotions, or how we feel about things.
I prefer to spend the initial sessions understanding how a client is placed on these three dimensions and then choose a therapeutic approach that may be best suited for them. I primarily use an approach that focusses on understanding a person’s perspective (cognition) on something, and how this influences their feelings and behaviour about the same, called CBT.
I also use elements of Emotion-Focussed Therapy that helps us recognize, prioritize and process our emotions and use this knowledge in coping with a variety of situations.
I encourage a client to share their preferred pronouns with me at the start of therapy via my consent form, that is sent prior to the first session.
As I mentioned, respect for anyone that chooses to enter the therapeutic space is a very important value to me, and this is something I ensure I communicate to a client to create a safe, non-judgemental space at the beginning and throughout therapy.
I also try to ensure I am learning from my client base from the community, as I believe that there is an element of real learning that can only come directly from the experiences of people within the community.
I also try to keep myself updated through structured learning like supervision and discussions with my peers who also work with the community.
To do this craft well, it will require something of who you are. You are stepping into people's lives. You are investing your humanity into another person's humanity. Always remember that where (you) trod is sacred ground. The delicate spaces in people's lives should be treated with fear and reverence.
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