Upasana: Have you ever sought support from a counsellor or therapist?
Upasana: What issues were you facing at that time?
Lianna: Poor self image which was reflected in many areas of my life and poisoned my thoughts. I thought it may have a lot to do with being abused as a child – sexually, physically and psychologically.
Upasana: Were your experiences of therapy positive or less than positive?
Lianna: Actually, most of my experiences have been less than positive.
Upasana: How have you found counselling to be helpful or supportive for you?
Lianna: The Counsellors I have found helpful and supportive have been very few. A couple of years ago I came across one who was only available for a very limited time. She was the first Counsellor who pointed out to me that I was laughing about something that was very serious. I was laughing out of discomfort, to make myself feel better by attempting to trivialise my problems and to ease the discomfort (in my mind) of the Counsellor. She saw all that and I was surprised because I didn’t realise I was doing it. She also understood how my cultural background had impacted on my life.
Recently, I have been accessing Counsellors who are also very professional, very astute and incisive and who are helping me to develop the courage to understand who I am.
Upasana: What sort of approach did your therapist use in counselling?
Lianna: It’s hard for me to identify… The first counsellor I referred to above helped me to find the voice to articulate my feelings and made me feel respected and valued. She also used art therapy which, surprisingly for me, clearly showed some aspects of my thinking.
The Counsellors I am accessing at the moment: I’m not sure what the term is but they tend to use visuals, eg, a whiteboard to illustrate a scenario so that I can see connections and patterns in a particular area of my life. This method also helps me to remember what we’ve spoken about.
Upasana: In what way have you found counselling to be less than helpful for you?
Lianna: Because of my own discomfort and because I was trying to protect the Counsellors from feeling uncomfortable, I made light of my problems, laughing at my own situation and the Counsellors were happy to jolly me along and laugh with me which resulted in the session turning into a friendly chat. This is not to say that I don’t see value in laughing at myself and at the misfortunes in life. The other unhelpful aspect was the Counsellor giving me the impression that everything I did was right therefore not giving me room for reflection or for taking any responsibility for things that were going wrong in my life.
Upasana: Do you think you would ever re- engage in counselling after your experiences?
Lianna: Yes but I would very quickly assess whether the Counsellor was going to be helpful or not. I think I have wasted a lot of time having a nice chat with Counsellors probably trying to impress upon them what a nice person I am.
Upasana: What would you look for in a counsellor next time?
Lianna: I would look for someone who thought deeply about the human condition, ie, someone who was well trained and professional in their approach and prompted me to think, not someone who agreed with me all the time.
Upasana: What other ways have you found in your life to find healing, support and peace?
Lianna: I have done a lot of yoga at different times, tried to do meditation, attended seminars and talks on various topics and have enjoyed the company and wisdom of various friends.