Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
It was an amalgamation of many factors, but at the heart of it was personal experience. Understanding the subject matter made me understand the complexities of my own mind, of those around me and of the bigger ecosystem in which I exist. I find it difficult to escape that lens now, something I’m also definitely grateful for. Witnessing the journey of growth and being a part of it is compelling to say the least.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
The satisfaction of a helping profession is unparalleled. It is an opportunity to be able to witness such courage and resilience on a daily basis. I find myself in awe of every vulnerability, every insight, every acceptance, every small step taken forward; and to be able to be a part of and support that process.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
The satisfaction of a safe space would be at the top of the list; and providing one, I believe, is a therapeutic intervention in itself. I hope I can provide a space in which my clients feel both heard and accepted, harboring willingness and trust in the process. I also hope I am able to rid them of all apprehensions and stigma attached to therapy; which is often a major obstacle in seeking therapy to begin with. Finally, I hope to give then hope.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
You are brave to take this step and it will be worth it. I would like to know your own expectations from the process to understand the worldview you are coming from, going into the process. It is okay to express apprehension, it is okay to ask questions, it is okay not to know what you want. The starting point of the journey is as important as the destination. So, take your time at the starting point if you need to, and once you begin, keep an open mind, along with a pinch of hope!
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
Therapeutic relationships are one of the most integral parts of the counselling process. My relationship with clients attempts to foster safety, lack of bias and unconditionality in order to build trust, motivation and further progress. Therapy is a collaboration between a client and a therapist. While the client is in the driver’s seat of their life, I would like to be the passenger (before they drop me off and continue on their journey).
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
The resilience of the human experience is exhilarating.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
I like to keep an open mind and have a keenness to learn, unlearn and relearn in my interactions with my ever-changing environment. In not just my practice, but also in the personal sphere, I value inclusivity.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
Food is my first love. I love to make food, eat food, go out for food. Working for and spending time with animals is going to share the first position spot.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I work with a variety of mental health concerns, including trauma, anxiety and mood concerns, life stressors and changes, personality concerns, adjustment issues, physical and emotional abuse, interpersonal issues, self and identity. I work with children, adolescents, young adults and adults.
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 is focused on the needs of the client, and is hence, goal-oriented. I follow an eclectic approach, which means I take from various therapeutic modalities to best fit each individual client. I am trauma informed and queer affirmative. Further, I take upon a lens keeping in mind the context each client is coming from, as for me therapy is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I keep myself updated on latest readings, researches, world news in the matter and changing terminologies. Discussions on a personal and professional level are important. Therapy must be affirming for every single individual who comes to seek it, hence, understanding all contexts is important. If the view of the community is positive, its translation into the therapy space becomes visible. Affirmation must come before solutions. I ask for preferred pronouns in the start of the session. I am open to answer any questions the client may have with regard to my practice.
The Quote Shaira Resonates With
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they are never weakness.