‘Reflection’ is a word that I’ve heard way too many times in the past two years. My friends and I sometimes joked about how we have become walking mirrors, reflecting upon our own as well as other people’s inner worlds. I look back in gratitude to all the reflections, for each time I have sat myself down to reflect upon something, new learnings and fresh realisations have surfaced. The ability to reflect upon ourselves is perhaps one of the many intellectual gifts given to humankind.
I have, over time, learnt to appreciate this skill of being able to reflect deeply upon words, objects, events and circumstances, arising from inside and outside of me. So, upon the completion of my Masters course, as the realisation dawned upon me that I can finally call myself a ‘counselling psychologist’, I sat down to reflect back on the journey. Why is it important, you ask? Well, personally, reflecting upon events has always helped me to process the events better and become more aware of what’s been going on. It gives me insights about my experiences and the way I am feeling, thinking or behaving in the present which helps me determine where I need to go from here. It is perhaps this clarity about my internal processes and the future course of action I need to take that makes this skill so valuable.
I started my Masters in 2020 in online mode while the world was in lockdown. It was a new format and despite the many conveniences, I missed the classroom setting. To maintain focus in class through the screen, to interact and connect with classmates online and to form friendships online, all of this while dealing with the fact that there is a global pandemic out there, was a huge challenge. Moreover, we shifted back and forth between online and offline modes of education multiple times, adding to the adjustments. On the brighter side, I believe that the online to offline shift has given us the skillset and apt training for taking both online and in-person counselling sessions with clients.
Despite the complications in the journey, we learnt, adapted and found ways to enjoy and laugh through it all. We understood the value of social support and lending a hand to someone in distress while also reaching out for help. Not to mention, we became more comfortable with expressing emotions and acknowledging the difficulties, rather than overlooking or discounting on it.
With the beginning of the second year, when we were expected to turn all the training into practical and start taking pro-bono sessions for clients, it felt like everything became too real. There was nervousness, excitement and way too many questions. Questions about my competence, questions about what to do in certain situations during sessions, questions about my personal style and so on. Looking back, it went beautifully. The experience was laced with learnings and realisations. Here is how I sum it all up:
I sit here wondering how to begin
Talking about the lives, that did unfold
In this time, where we took a walk within
The inner world of stories, yet to be told.
And how this journey slowly transformed
Something in me each step along the way
The grief, the courage, the thoughts deformed,
The acceptance of change or the running away,
How each of these stories brought lessons to learn,
Fresher perspectives, setting emotions free
How despite the context, despite the concern;
The most wondrous art is to just listen and be
I came across many situations and experiences and it has been a pleasure to be a part of so many people’s stories, even if for a little while. As I stand here now, holding positive feedback from my clients, supervisors and peers as well as the many experiences where I understood my shortcomings and areas of improvement, I feel ready to step into the role of a counselling psychologist, a chance that Katharsis has given to me.
With this reflection, I know exactly where I stand, what I have, what I am yet to learn and things I need to think about for the future. The power of reflection is that it can organise information in our minds, bring in new insights and help us see the bigger picture more clearly, just as it helped me as I wrote this article. I am certain that it can help you too. So go ahead, ponder upon your experiences, ask yourself those difficult questions and accept the insights that arise. If you’re still reading this, I am grateful for your interest and time and I hope you can take some time off from your days to engage in deep reflection. I hope it brings peace and serenity your way!
Zainab Batool is a Counselling Psychologist at Katharsis Counselling. Spearheading the "Pro-bono therapy" vertical at Katharsis, Zainab's expertise lies in working with issues of anxiety, relationship concerns, identity and role confusion, burnout, low moods and conflictual family relations. She strives to be trauma-informed in her practice and has a
keen interest in understanding human behaviour from a social psychology lens.
Besides taking sessions for clients, you can find her spending time taking nature walks, praying, reading, immersing herself in imagination (which sometimes takes form of poetry), or enjoying a good cup of coffee!