For as long as I can remember, I had always been called the ‘agony aunt’ of the family; someone who always had the listening ear, the one to give advice to family and friends, the one who never actually shared her own problems but always took on everyone else’s. This role seemed so natural to me, caring about my friends, trying to help them through their teenage breakups or issues they had at home.
So leaving school it should have been obvious to me that a career to enhance these skills would be a natural thing; maybe a nurse, carer, or even to study psychology at University. Oops no!! My immature self instead was driven by the bright lights, smart suits, money (and not forgetting the long lunches!) of a career in the City, so I found myself working as a trader for a Commodities Broker in London for 14 years, a career that I loved (at the time) and brought with it travel, friendships and so many opportunities and memories.
However, in the year 2000, I left the City behind me to begin my more important challenge, the role of becoming a mother. The overwhelming feeling of maternal love towards my beautiful daughter had me once again nurturing a desire to care for others, looking for ways that I could help and support others in the future, and especially children and families.
Being brave, I signed myself up to train as a person-centred counsellor, but tragedy struck six weeks into the course when my beloved Mum suddenly died. I was left heartbroken, grieving, with an 11 month old baby, and a plethora of emotions. Nevertheless, I stuck with the course, even though I was struggling through my intense grief, as I found the support from my fellow trainees to be hugely beneficial. At last I had found a place where I was the one being listened to, and not feeling judged; I was the one offloading my emotional turmoil trying to understand my innermost self; I was the one battling with my emotional wellbeing , discovering my strengths and weaknesses and what I needed for self care. It was here that I discovered how special the counsellor/client relationship really is.
Over the next few years, my life was a rollercoaster of emotions; jubilation with the birth of another beautiful daughter, but further tragedy and grief with the death of my mother-in-law, alongside unexpected challenges in my personal life. To become a counsellor you must be a client, and my own counsellor became my saviour, taking me on a journey of self discovery (and endless packets of kleenex!),where I learnt the power of emotional resilience and the uncovering of my authentic self. I was determined to carry on and reach my goal of becoming a counsellor, with the added resolve, that from the emotional challenges I had experienced through my life and especially with a young family, I felt passionate that my therapeutic career needed to lead me in a certain direction; again to work with children, young people and families.
Fast forward to today, I look back with a smile that my reasons for becoming a counsellor have remained unchanged; my central and most fundamental desire to help and support others is still what I am most passionate about. However as an individual, I have changed enormously. I see my own life and personal development as a journey, not a destination, and this is how I work with my clients. I love the power of the relationship, building a trusting bond with another individual however young or old they are. The life stories, difficult emotions and pain and suffering I have been entrusted to hear, makes me truly feel I have been privileged to do the job that I do. My clients let me into parts of their lives which are often the most secret and painful and it always amazes me how resilient human beings can be. I LOVE my job and never wake up in the morning not wanting to see my clients. It’s not always easy; working with mental health issues, especially with children, certainly comes with its challenges, but the constant learning and exploration of a clients world is so empowering and, as a counsellor, is so rewarding.
So reflecting back on my own journey, my natural caring role has simply grown deeper and my inborn passion to listen to others has never changed. Becoming a counsellor has supported my belief that as human beings we are all unique and have the potential to grow and develop healthily. Just sometimes we need the right support to help us on our personal journey and to remember that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.