The Spring of 2020 brought with it more than a shift in season. Last year, the world became a different place. While the cherry blossoms began to unfold into the crisp sunlight, we were told to stay indoors. The fresh promise of new beginnings that lifts us out of the darkness brought the threat of the unknown, illness, poverty and death. Covid 19 saw many lose their livelihoods, their social support, their sense of safety and their sense that the world was somewhat predictable. As our healthcare system became overwhelmed and our elders in care, and people of all ages and backgrounds, started dying, it became clear that our world had changed in a way that many of us could never have imagined.
As the only child of two therapists, my sense that my profession should be linked to supporting others has encircled me my whole life. In my late twenties I went back to school. My interest in Yoga led me to complete a Master of Arts Degree with a specialization in Yoga therapy. This would become my unique offering to the helping profession; I became a busy Yoga therapist dedicated to supporting trauma survivors.
I was mindful to remain within my scope of practice, seeking out clinical supervision to ensure that I was meeting the needs of my clients. I understood the importance of relationship in building safety and trust within in the context of the therapeutic alliance and I was clear that my role was not to support my clients from the top down, through verbal processing, but from the bottom up through breath and body-based practices for self-regulation and the processing and resolution of traumatic experience. I saw my work as that of supporting the work of talk therapy to contribute to a holistic therapeutic approach to healing. But I often struggled with this limitation and regularly contemplated being able to provide both for my clients. For close to a decade, I set aside this aspiration and carried on with building my business and private practice.
This global shift has meant a professional shift for me. I lost much of my work, and thankfully, kept enough to stay afloat. The loss was jarring enough however to have me reflect on what I was passionate about and wanted to create for myself for the future. With the support of my family, friends and partner, I applied and was accepted into the Fall 2020 Semester of the Master of Counselling Program at City University.
My transformation has taken the form of realizing my dream of becoming a counsellor. I wish to take this step now because, at the age of 48, I feel that I have the energy, experience and knowledge needed to make a significant contribution to the counselling community and to my clients. There is a great deal of privilege in my life and in being able to make this choice and I am grateful and committed to continuing to create equitable access to my services and to stand for anti-oppressive, community-based approaches to well-being. In this upcoming series of blog posts, I will be exploring the importance of community-based responses to mental health emergencies. I hope you’ll join me in the exploration.