Counselling is so important, in my eyes, because it is a field created to care for those people who have been hurt by life. Though not always apparent to me, looking back, it has always been my calling. From my early work coaching childrens’ sports teams to my current work, unshrouding peoples’ authentic selves, I’ve always been drawn to supporting those around me, and today, I’m very proud to be part of a field of professional caring.
My journey to becoming a clinical counsellor really began when I was about 10 years old. Living abroad in the Middle East, my mother taught swimming lessons to children living with developmental disabilities at a local school. Here, I gained friends from all walks of life from around the world, who had myriad different existences, but I discovered that caring and empathy were universal. That was my first introduction to supporting others to achieve their potential in a non-judgemental, genuine way.
Fast forward 15 years, I found myself directionless, spinning my wheels but not going anywhere. I could not understand myself, so I tried hard to be someone else and when nothing fit, I turned to substances. Fortunately, I recognised that substance addiction had become an issue for me. I tried all manner of supports but nothing stuck until, I found myself in a treatment center searching for, among other things, a way to truly feel better. What I found was someone who provided me with something both profoundly helpful and counter-intuitive: they listened to me and celebrated me for being me.
Having received this incredible gift, I was excited and instantly committed to listening to what other people had to say and helping them find their true selves. I had always enjoyed supporting others, but I finally had a focus: I wanted to become a responsible, ethical, professional counsellor. I completed my bachelors’ degree in psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and my Masters’ degree in counselling psychology at Adler University with a drive and ambition I’d never known. I fell in love with humanistic psychology and the works of Carl Rogers, which combines humanistic psychology with existential philosophy to create the Person-Centered Therapy (PCT) framework. It speaks to me because it is based on the very things that helped me so much: genuineness, empathy, and non-judgement.
Now, practicing from a PCT perspective, I am able to pull different techniques and exercises from other psychological theories, relative to what may help each individual I have the pleasure of working with. For example, I am able to offer something from a Cognitive-Behaviour (CBT) lens, or borrow an exercise traditionally used in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), trying various approaches until we find the right fit for each person. It is an honour and privilege to be allowed to accompany someone on their journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, so it important to me to be able to act responsibly and to connect with integrity and authenticity.
When I really think about it, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else and truly enjoying it with the same level of passion. I’m passionate about people, hearing what they have to say and offering support. To me, there’s nothing more genuinely rewarding than being a part of the process of someone uncovering and learning to like who they really are.