why I became a therapist _ Yasmin Shaheen

We can all feel at times as if no one will understand us

When we are going through a tough time - it is easy to feel that no one will understand us, no one cares or there's no way out. As a therapist we are taught a lot about "disclosure" - do we or don't we? Do we tell a client about our own personal experiences. The verdict's still out as a therapist to disclose or not to disclose?  There's lots of discussion about it in the therapy world. Many research papers have been written on this topic. Obviously when I am with a client I don't talk about myself. Some clients may see that as cold or elusive - I view it as my client is paying me, it's their time. I wouldn't be much of a therapist if I spent your therapy session talking about me (again)! But then again some common sense should prevail.

Professional & Personal Expertise

It's reassuring for clients to know I belong to a professional body & I am qualified. I can list my qualifications but the truth is not many people know or care deeply what an integrative humanistic counsellor or a Gestalt therapist or a Psychodynamic therapist really is nor know what MBACP or abbreviations of such kind stand for. I certainly never knew until I got qualified. And what's the difference again between a counsellor and a psychotherapist? Someone please remind me. In my opinion clients want to know questions such as - Can I help them? Will I understand them? Will I judge them? I want clients to know - that I do understand. I do get them. And no I won't judge them. I'm someone who's become a qualified therapist - learning theory and ethics, is needed but my personal life experiences are just as valuable. So I wrote this short piece about how & why I became a therapist. Hope you enjoy it!

The question - why did you want to become a therapist?

So recently I was being interviewed by a radio station about using creative writing in the therapeutic process (I'm a published secret poet!) and I was asked "the what & how which led me to train to be a counsellor, psychotherapist, coach, supporter of emotional wellbeing???"
Now there's a loaded question if there ever was one. There's no real easy answer apart from I've always wanted to help people, to improve people's lives, to live better, to understand themselves better, to be better understood, to break free from damaging patterns and toxic relationships. To just live easier and contented.

Growing up in chaos and drama

Errrrrr .... if i'm honest saying those words ... well it was like looking at my reflection in the mirror. These were all the things I wanted in my life. Which I now have - but it's been a long old fight to get them in my life. It seems since being a child I was surrounded with individuals suffering from emotional health issues. Only I didn't know it at the time. I grew up just wanting to be accepted for "me" and feeling never good enough or fitting in anywhere. Growing up was a lonely and sad time for me. 

Thinking I was all good

I remember one memory in my early 20's with clarity ... I was reflecting on my life thinking oh wow ... so much has happened to me, finding my father's dead body at thirteen years old, coping with a mother with diagnosed emotional challenges, a sibling finding himself on the wrong side of the law. And I haven't been affected by this at all. That was my thought - this had not affected my emotional wellbeing in any shape or form. I was O.K. Perfectly fine. All good. Hmmmmmm. 

Realising the consequences

All I can say fast forward 25 years ....... how bloody wrong I was !!!!!!!!!!!! I mean now I find myself chuckling away at my own naivety. I guess it's easy now I've done the hard work. So years of falling for the wrong relationships, suffering emotional & physical abuse, jumping in from one crisis to another. Perhaps some dissociation from reality there also. In hindsight it was a rock & roll lifestyle around me. That was my life. About to come crashing down - only I couldn't see it. Then it happened. It crashed. It really crashed. Someone I loved very much committed suicide. I had thought I somehow could save him. But I couldn't. In some ways I feel that experience was worse than my fathers death. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't stand & I couldn't speak. But somehow I found the strength to say - enough is enough. It was alike to clawing my way out of a dark pit. 

So what saved me?

Just one simple answer ....... my child. I didn't want to give my child the type of childhood I had. Because I know first hand how it can damage you. My life up to that point was living proof. I didn't want chaos and drama as a way of life for my child. Nor did I want to become an abusive mother drowning in her own pain. I was determined to bring my child in a stable and loving environment. I had to find a different way of being for my child's sake. Because there was a real chance I could become an abusive mother or an addict of uppers & downers or find damaging ways to numb my own pain. If I went down that route - the people in my life would suffer also. 


So what did I do?

I did what any sane woman who is suffering a traumatic shock does. I packed my car, strapped my child in asked the aupair if she wanted to come with us on our road trip. And I drove. And drove. And drove. I ended up in Sweden. I didn't know anyone there, it turns out that country was good to me. Good for me. I healed and returned home 5 years later. That was 10 years ago. That's when I knew whatever life throws at you - you can survive, you can change, you can heal, you can make things better. I am blessed greatly - I have an amazing life now. I believe my past experiences have taught me who I am.
And that's how I decided to become a therapist. Through sorting out a big holy mess, getting through it and learning to embrace life. I am determined not to use that old cliche - if I can do it, you can too. All I know we all have different problems which affect us in different ways, but I believe the biggest relationship we have is with our self. Conquer this relationship and everything gets easier.  I can't tell you how much joy it brings me using my professional and personal expertise to support people make progress in their lives. For me it's the best job ever.
Best Wishes Yasmin

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Hello there I am  Yasmin a qualified counsellor, registered with the BACP and I follow their ethical guidelines. I am available for counselling sessions in North Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Otley. I am also available for online counselling via secure video calling.

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