Meet the Therapist: Varsha Vashisthaw
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I started studying counselling in order to really understand who I was, as I felt that I was more than the negative attributes that were created by a conditioned society. Why did I not fit in? What purpose did I have in life?
I was working as a volunteer, before I decided to follow this career. I was part of a charity called Community Mums & Dads in Thurrock, Essex. I was appreciated and valued, not only by the staff, but also the service users.
In this role, we used a lot of counselling skills, so I started to get to grips with ideas of understanding confidentiality, the importance of active listening and how to take care of my own wellbeing. I won an award for Volunteer of the Year in 2013 from the NELT. This boosted my confidence and I wanted to find a way to empower others in the same way, especially others who felt they did not fit in. That's why I named my counselling service Ugly Duckling Counselling.
Where did you train?
I started doing my Level 2 in the Community Adult College in Grays, Thurrock, Essex. I continued with Level 3 and my diploma in Southessex College in Basildon & Southend, Essex. My student placement was with Women’s Aid.
What sort of people do you usually see?
Young adults aged 16; men and women who are going through changes in their lives; sufferers of depression, anxiety, self-harm; individuals looking for direction and purpose; couples with relationship difficulties; individuals exploring gender identity; individuals from BME backgrounds; those who have suffered loss and grief; victims of domestic abuse.
What makes me unique is the fact that I can speak in four languages: Spanish, English, Hindi and Sindhi so I can work with a range of people for whom language may otherwise be a barrier to seeking help.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Seeing the client grow, noticing the change in their body language, seeing them looking and feeling confident. When clients are more able to manage family life, friendships, me-time and move towards feeling really contented in life.
I love what I do, because it is who I am.
What is less pleasant?
When clients cancel or don't attend their session.
How long you have been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I've been with welldoing.org since 2017. I like the fact that this company is run people who really understand what things are like for therapists. They are always helpful and encouraging. Any time I need to contact them, they are responsive.
The price is reasonable, the website is easy to understand and access for the clients as much as the therapists. There is also a diary and message system, and confidential information is protected. Therapists also get a free Premium Calm subscription included in the price. And I really enjoy the weekly newsletter.
I think the welldoing.org Therapist Community on Facebook is absolutely fantastic
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, I do, mostly Headspace and Calm. Truity.com if you're interested in doing the Myers Briggs personality test. Some audiobooks and Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
What you do for your own mental health?
I suffer from anxiety and depression myself, so I need to manage it like my clients do. I have my supervision regularly, I write my journal, I use CBT techniques, breathing exercises, meditation. I read, listen to audiobooks, walk and have good relationships with my kids, partner and friends. I talk about my own mental health too, take my prescribed anti-depressant tablets and attend personal counselling when needed.
You are a therapist in Essex, what can you tell us about seeing clients in this area?
I see clients in their homes around Thurrock, Basildon, Laindon, Chelmsford, Benfleet. I also hire a room in Stanford-Le-Hope.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
It is for everyone – not because you have something wrong with you, or you are a “crazy or a weak person”.
Mental health problems are common and can stop you from achieving happiness and feeling complete. Sometimes I think therapy is like magic, that really works, even if it is scary.
Therapy makes the world a bit more bearable, it is like physiotherapy, but for the brain and soul.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
It is ok to be human; it is ok to be me; it is ok if I don’t understand everything. I also learnt that I agree with the ethical principles and values of counselling. It a way of just been and how to look at challenges in a different perception.