Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
I have struggled with what I now understand as complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Growing up I had no idea what was going on, and I struggled to make sense of my emotions, behaviours and relationships. It was only when I was introduced to psychology in college that the world suddenly started to make some sense to me. I believe that studying psychology saved my life, and I’m so grateful to be able to support clients in their healing journeys.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
I love connecting with people - holding space for their vulnerabilities, learning about their lives and the ways they’ve survived. I also thrive in situations where I’m challenged to learn and grow, and being a therapist gives me that opportunity.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
I want my interactions with clients to help them feel understood. I believe that feeling understood and accepted for who you are is a powerful experience. I want my clients to feel empowered and have an understanding of the process, and I strongly believe in providing my clients with psychoeducation. I want the process to be collaborative and have them know what we are doing and why it’s important for us to do it.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
Healing happens in safe relationships, and building that therapeutic relationship can be a life changing experience. If you’re thinking about therapy, I would recommend looking for a qualified therapist that you feel like you can vibe with. While qualifications are important, it’s also vital to find someone who is the right fit for you. Look for a therapist who shares your political ideologies and value system. Know that like any other relationship the therapeutic relationship will take some time and patience to build. You’re allowed to discontinue with a therapist if you feel like it isn’t a good fit, and you’re also allowed to ask for more information on the process, give feedback and be an active participant in the process.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
I really value the therapeutic relationship and my process involves a preliminary call to first understand if the client and I are a good fit. While it’s important to build a safe relationship, I also think that therapy can be fun, and I like to spend time understanding my clients so that we can build an intimacy that allows for moments of laughter while we work through the tough parts. The client and I work together to understand their nervous system, non-verbals, thoughts, beliefs, goals and aspirations. I believe the client knows what’s best for them, and I allow them to direct the process of therapy while I contribute with my skills and knowledge.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
I’ve learnt that clients truly do know what’s best for them and it’s your job to help them explore the different parts of themselves so they can take charge of their lives.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
I really appreciate my ability to build strong relationships. My ability to pick up on non-verbals and body cues has been a huge strength, and I’ve often been surprised by how attuned I am to a client’s body, even during online sessions.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
I am working towards building a rich non-work life, and I spend my free time doing yoga, crocheting, playing with my dog, reading, writing, walking, performing skits for myself and tree watching (yes, I spend time just looking at trees).
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I work with adult clients who present with a range of concerns. While I have been able to work with a variety of issues, my strengths lie in working with clients who present with anxiety, depression and adjustment concerns. Most of my clients tend to be in their 20-30s, and as a queer person I love working with clients exploring their queer identity.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
I bring my understanding of the nervous system and how it’s shaped by stress and trauma to the therapy session. This means that I work with clients to create a sense of safety with me and their bodies, to build a relationship with their mind-body systems, help them learn to tolerate “difficult emotions” (e.g: sadness, anger), help them understand why they’ve been coping the way they have, and I use this awareness to propel change.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I create a space of acceptance for clients by disclosing my queer identity, sharing resources (media, readings) that have helped me learn and cope, and help clients find safe spaces outside of the therapy space where they can show up as they are. I encourage client to show up as they are, and I work on building self compassion to work through internalised queer and transphobia that often comes up in sessions. I also have certification from the Queer Rights and Allyship course by One Future Collective, and I actively consume queer media.
The Quote Rahat Resonates With
A poem called The Orange.