Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
Rumi once said, “What you seek, is seeking you.”
In retrospect, all my life experiences/circumstances were shaping me and calling me out to this path!
There was never an alternative, especially, after experiencing the power of unconditional acceptance by my school counselor in standard 2, which entirely changed the script of my life. School no longer felt foreign & unsafe; I stopped throwing-up everyday due to anxiety (which was misinterpreted at all levels leading to judgements and isolation).
The Mental Health field and I, both chose each other! Together we are a power; pushing hard to facilitate empowering identities and a new lease of life to the lives we touch.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
It is one of the most meaningful alliance, that can fuel life! I speak as an experiencer of it’s strength from both ends, as a therapist and client! Witnessing clients re-define and re-instate their relationship with self and surrounding is like seeing the journey of a new being born…and how exciting and humbling that can be!
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
I believe therapy helps in coming closer to self; align/get centred in order to access the ‘Intuitive Wisdom’ we all carry, which can then be our compass to life. I like to keep my first session structure-less to let clients receive a glimpse of themselves again in the form of hope, safe space for vulnerable parts, reconnect to their strengths, values and needs, and an allowance to just be for once. That’s how they will know if this is a right fit.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
Counselling is synonymous with ‘mental health issues’/ ‘disorders’; whereas, in reality, it is an act of self compassion/commitment one makes towards self just like nourishing and cleaning oneself.
If any part of you voices the need towards enhancing overall well being in the form of counselling, it deserves to be honored.
Therapy process is subjective and experiential, I would not like to define it for you. However, I will definitely encourage you to pay heed to your own nudges.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
Any relation is built upon being seen, heard and understood. Thus, the therapeutic relationship will be laced with-
Genuine interest and intention to explore and secure wellbeing;
Ample space and respect for all parts human; and
Patience and trust in the therapeutic journey undertaken against all odds.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
The irony that when one wholeheartedly accepts parts of themselves, hold it together tenderly and feel no need to run, no one to become…the magic unfolds! Nothing around has changed but a new, more resourceful self has emerged.
I have been privileged to witness this transformation and also receive such unconditional acceptance from clients which has led to better intregation of myself towards being authentic.
The power of self awareness, compassion, forgiveness and responsibility is my greatest learning!
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
My uncompromising authenticity- I show up with all my humanness because therapy is not about techniques and theories. It is the relational template the client and therapist share which facilitates healing. When I enter with my flaws and strengths with full ownership, the client models after it and give themselves the permission to be authentic. I believe this to be a great strength because from the very beginning of our lives we are socialized into how we should be and in that we tend to slowly shed our most natural and spontaneous parts. Reconnecting and welcoming back those lost parts, I believe is a responsibility we owe to ourselves.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
Read, Write, Latin dance, Watch Parallel Cinema, Swing in my Garden and Practise Yoga.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
I work with Adults, Couples and Families who are dealing with the following- Complex Trauma; Depression; Anxiety and it’s spectrum (eg-OCD); Stress; Life Transitioning Phases; Family and Relationship Conflict; Self Concept + Gender and Sexuality; Value Clarification & accessing Higher Self.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
Therapy is not a ‘Treatment/Cure’ rather it is an ongoing process of ‘Healing’ which occurs with greater Self Integration- Acceptance, Compassion, Forgiveness and Responsibility towards oneself. I help in fostering these by drawing from spiritual practices such as Buddhism along with a pool of eclectic modalities such as Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Inner Child & Attachment Pattern Healing, Narrative Therapy, Parts- work and Existential Therapy.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I have seen my journey from intellectual acceptance to emotional wholesome acceptance for the queer community once I truly began to empathize. This was possible by being constantly in touch with their lived reality through reading/hearing their narratives for what it is.
When the client senses the integrity in the therapist’s intentions and actions towards securing their Wellbeing, it creates a safe and affirmative space for them.
Adopting and spreading inclusive and gender- neutral language; Collecting and sharing resources in order to support their empowerment etc are some of the micro and macro ways in which I advocate for their needs and rights.
The Quote Snehal Saraf Resonates With
Every Human Heart-Beat is a Universe of Possibilities!