Why did you choose to become a counsellor?
My own journey enabled me to realise the power of another. I was in an unhappy situation on all fronts, be it home, relationships or work. The experience of a non judgmental and compassionate other through psychotherapy and counselling enabled me to see my patterns that had emerged out of the need to survive and now were getting in the way of fulfilling relationships and choices. Having experienced the healing with this, it’s what I wanted to do for others as well.
What excites you about your work as a counsellor?
The opportunity to be there with someone in their journey. Witnessing them, being with them and accompanying them while they look at alternative lenses and perspectives that they may have never considered. Also, the chance to be honoured by people’s personal stories in such a unique way that may not happen in everyday light hearted conversations. To grow as a person, to learn how to be there for someone, with them.
What do you hope for your clients to experience after their first session with you?
To understand that counselling / psychotherapy is a relational process. That an ethical counsellor is someone who is also doing the work themselves and seeks regular supervision. To get a sense of how I sound / look and how a session is experienced with me. To be a source of non judgemental, compassionate other for them. To make them feel at ease and welcome their presence with my presence.
What would you wish to tell a client who is thinking about seeking counselling?
Firstly, it’s really courageous to even seek counselling in a world that still stigmatises it. So, I would congratulate them and welcome them. My practice is to have a free 15 mins session with clients who are considering counselling in order to get an idea if we are a good fit for each other. I also recommend some websites that they can look at in order to understand how counselling works. If they are checking out other counsellors, I actually encourage them to take time to decide what works for them.
I generally do mention that they think about the experience, preferably sleep over it and then come back to me with a decision the next day. I also let them know that even if they aren’t choosing me, to ensure that whoever they choose, ask if they are in counselling and supervision themselves.
Describe the relationship that you would wish to build with your client in counselling.
I try quite hard to bring down any inequalities with clients because a lot of them come into sessions thinking that I am the expert who has all the answers. I’d like to build a relationship where the client is the expert of their lives and I am accompanying them with their lived experiences.
My counselling style is quite Rogerian, with the client in the centre of the session. With adolescent clients, I encourage them to call me by my name instead of “Miss”. With adult clients, I explain why I do some of the techniques such as EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) or empty chair technique. There is hence a lot of psychoeducation done in my sessions. I also encourage the use of other tools such as podcasts, articles and books.
In your counselling work so far, what has been your greatest learning from your clients?
The courage that each client takes to work on themselves, the sheer privilege of being able to witness their journeys, the vulnerabilities that they bring into the relationship with me. The fact that they decide to trust me and be willing to grow with me. I really don’t know what i would be doing if it wasn’t being there, holding, co creating the safe bonds that shape over months and years.
What are some of your strengths as a counsellor that you value and appreciate?
Counsellor or not, I really enjoy people. I am fascinated by them, feel deep compassion for the inevitable human suffering. I am a Highly Sensitive Person(HSP) and have traits of ADHD - and paradoxically are traits that have really come in useful in building alliances with not only my clients, but also humanity in general. Over time I have also realised that I really value learning and am open to almost any safe enough, new experiences. I also am open about my shortcomings when they happen and try to exercise self compassion when this happens. I also experience the world in layers and this makes my sessions very insightful.
What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
I decompress by spending time with nature through walks and working out. I have an eclectic taste in music. I am a passionate reader. I love experiencing visual and audio material that’s deeply layered and thought provoking, be it a play, show, podcast, documentary etc or simply conversations.
What are the areas of concern you address in counselling? Do you work with specific populations?
My primary areas of support are :
Abuse & trauma; Work and family Dynamics; Queer affirmative support; Grief and loss; Transitions (life and career); Gender, sexuality and relationships.
I also provide couples therapy.
What is the therapeutic approach you use? How would you describe it to someone who wants to consult you for therapy?
My style is non diagnostic and relational. This would mean that I don’t heavily rely on giving a diagnosis but look at their inner words, their inner journeys. Also, I rely on the relationship that gets built between us to gently unearth patterns, if any, to provide perspectives that may not be visible to the client. I rely on the client’s psychosocial context and lived experiences of mental health while exploring depth work within the therapeutic alliance. This also means building a capacity for self reflection. This may also mean suggesting, from time to time books, articles or material that may help supplement the sessions. But all of this is going to be from a place of empathic suggestion.
The process of reflection and growth for individuals, families and communities is a life-long quest for me. My endeavour is to co-create the space for exploring relational anxieties, transitions, difficult dilemmas and spiritual / existential questions together. In addition I am also queer affirmative, poly positive and leverage creative and expressive arts (this includes drawing and symbols, dialogue using objects, drama and movement and sand play) as modalities in my sessions.
How do you make your therapeutic practice a safe and affirmative space for queer and trans* folx?
I think this can happen with the help of both formal training, which I have done (QACP/ MHI, Mumbai), and consistent experiences of relationships with persons from the LGBTQIA+ community. As I once learned from a friend, it’s only when you start truly relating to them in your personal spaces, will the understanding of their lived experiences multiply and deepen. In addition, watching shows, reading, and listening to podcasts that depict queer lives have really helped me.
The Quote Supriya Resonates With
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.