From client to counsellor to creative: Natasha’s story
After personally experiencing the benefits of therapy, Natasha decided to make the switch and become a counsellor. Then she had another brainwave – a way to help people who have doubts or fears about face-to-face sessions
My journey to becoming a counsellor and psychotherapist started when I was in my early 20s. I went through a period of low mood and depression, to the point where I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I was struggling to feel motivated, and there was a deep feeling of sadness within – which I know now is a symptom of depression.
At that time, I didn’t really communicate with people about how I was feeling. I often kept these feelings of sadness inside. I can remember being self-critical, and not feeling good enough. In my busy job as a receptionist, I often felt people took advantage of me, and that I was given task after task, with little regard or respect for me as a person.
On reflection, I now recognise that this, again, was a symptom of the depression, and that there was a constant internal negative dialogue playing in my mind. It is now something I work with daily in my role as a counsellor, helping my clients to challenge automatic negative thoughts.
I am of mixed race, and throughout my life have battled feelings of difference and not being good enough, which stemmed from bullying. But back then I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, or why I felt that way.
However, on reflection, I now realise there were multiple reasons – including my low paid, stressful job, and being cheated on in my relationship – which led to low self-esteem and lack of confidence. I knew something had to change, but I didn’t really know where to start, as the feelings were overwhelming and I couldn’t make sense of how or why I was like this.
It was my dad who suggested counselling. I was lucky enough to work for an employer who provided free counselling for their staff. These days there are many more employers who offer Employee Assistance Programme counselling (EAP), and I now work with many of them.
I didn’t have a clue what counselling was, to be honest, or how it could help me. But in my despair, I thought it was worth a try. I remember my first session very clearly; I sat and cried, and started to tell the therapist how I was feeling. He really helped me feel listened to and understood.
It was through my own life-changing experience of attending these sessions that I started to understand the value of therapy, and how it supported me, and others.
There is something truly special about the relationship you build with your therapist. For me, the fact that this professional is unconnected to your day-to-day life, the time you are given to talk freely about yourself without fear of being judged, the safety of the counselling room, and the way you are able to offload your emotions and leave them there, are the most powerful aspects of counselling and psychotherapy.
Having therapy did literally change my life, as I not only benefited from the sessions, but they made me want to help others, too. This was the start of my journey to become a therapist.
“Having therapy did literally change my life, as I not only benefited from the sessions, but they made me want to help others”
As a human, at some point in life you may struggle with low mood, depression, or anxiety. This could be in relation to issues such as a job loss, relationship problems, or bereavement – the list is endless. Life throws things at us that have an impact on our mental health.
I love working in the field of mental health, and supporting people from every walk of life. I believe that everyone should experience the benefits of counselling at some point. From my role as a counsellor, I have become aware that not everyone is ready or sure if they want to start counselling sessions, or they may not be able to afford private therapy sessions.
This led me to think how people like this could gain support that may feel more comfortable and accessible for them, or to help them explore their emotions further on their own. With this in mind, I created My Little Therapy Box mood cards – derived from my many years of experience working with clients, and designed to help people who may be struggling with feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, and who want to gain more clarity about why they are feeling this way.
The cards have not been designed to replace counselling or psychotherapy, but are intended as a therapeutic tool to help gain understanding about what areas of your life you are struggling with, to explore your feelings, get insight into your emotions, and build the strength and resilience to move forward, positively, with life.
Some clients really struggle to articulate how they are feeling, so having aids like My Little Therapy Box can help make communication less daunting and more meaningful. The mood cards differ from others as they explore actual themes that may be impacting on someone. Within the resource are 40 individually designed and beautifully illustrated mood cards that cover a broad range of common topics that arise in the therapy room.
I have worked with all of the themes on the cards in my work as a counsellor and psychotherapist. On the back of each card are questions or prompts to help the individual explore that theme further. They also have a little note of encouragement or guidance on each card. Each one has had a lot of thought and love put into it. I hope that many people will benefit from using My Little Therapy Box.
Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred) says:
Natasha’s story touches upon difficulties we can all experience in life, such as understanding how we’re feeling and what the reason behind it may be. This may not always be clear and, often, we need help to find clarity as it can be very challenging to experience. For Natasha, this meant accessing therapy and receiving support. It’s by this very experience that Natasha has been able to grow and work through her emotions. This has led to her offering therapy to others and developing a tool to support the process. The very challenge Natasha faced is now her source of passion and motivation.