Conversation With . . .
Photo provided by Rajinder Hodge
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. In the current pandemic, more and more individuals are being affected by Mental Health Disorder. We are in Conversation with Rajinder Hodge, a counsellor who gives us an insight to counselling and Mental Health.
What inspired you to pursue counselling?
I suffered from depression from a very young age and when I came to the UK (from Kenya), my doctor suggested that I see a therapist. I had sessions with an NHS therapist and private therapists. I felt so blessed that I had got the help I needed at the time that as soon as I got an opportunity to train as a counsellor, I decided to do so.
Have you had counselling sessions yourself?
I have had a lot of therapy myself over the years. I still go for therapy now if I feel that something has come up for me that I have not yet resolved.
What do you consider the most important trait for a therapist to have?
Personally, from experience, I can say that sitting with a client in complete awareness, focus, compassion and be able to hold the space for the client is the most important quality to have.
How many years have you been practising counselling?
I started volunteering at Basingstoke Rape and Sexual Abuse Crisis Centre in the late 90’s but since then I have started up a private practice. I have been in private practice for about 20 years now.
What are the common circumstances clients visit you for?
Sometimes clients come for one issue but once we start working together and go deeper into the emotions and feelings, the client might have some unresolved issues that are causing the issue they seek help for.
What sort of people come to you for counselling? (age, sex etc)
I only counsel adults of any age, sex, religious denomination, culture, race, etc.
What is a typical session like for a first-time client? How long does a session last for?
A first-time client may be very nervous, might not be trusting of the therapist, might feel like they are wasting my time and their money, and sometimes even wondering what they are doing seeing a therapist. A typical therapy session lasts for 50 minutes but I will go up to an hour if the need be at the time.
How does it differ from a session with regular client?
Once the client has been for a session or two, they start to feel ‘comfortable’ with the counselling relationship and may start to open up more, but this is really dependent on the client and their issue/s. Sessions are always only 50 minutes long.
Is there a structure to your sessions?
As I trained as a Person-Centred Counsellor, I usually let the client lead the session. I do work in an Integrative way to accommodate all clients so that they can get the best out of the sessions.
What kind of homework or reading do you give your clients after a session?
Unless requested (and after exploring more with the client) I do not offer any homework or reading as a rule. However, if I feel that the client might benefit from meditation and/or mindfulness, I might recommend it.
Mental Health issues are on the rise, due to the pandemic, what top 5 tips would you give to individuals out there?
The tips that I personally use and find helpful are:
- Eat healthy home cooked foods
- Get some exercise by going out (if possible) into nature
- Practice meditation, be it only for 10 minutes a day.
- Keep in touch with family via Facetime or Zoom
- Get a good night’s sleep by switching off from social media/TV at least half an hour before going to bed.
If someone is still struggling, they should talk to a doctor.
What are the common issues that triggers mental health disorder?
Mental health issues can be genetic, environmental, drug/alcohol abuse related (which in turn could be a mental health issue related), stress, brain injury, loneliness and isolation.
Does past trauma in the childhood have an impact on mental health?
Trauma is a huge topic with a lot of scientific research to back up the impact of trauma. Trauma at any point in one’s life can cause mental health issues.
How do you identify anxiety?
Anxiety symptoms include shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, feeling tired, feeling a sense of impending danger or doom, restlessness, lack of concentration and trouble sleeping.
What do you term as depression?
Depression is when someone is feeling upset and tearful, restless, numb, finding no joy in life or hobbies, lacking confidence and has low self-esteem and sometimes feeling suicidal.
Talking about Anxiety and Depression, is there a difference between clients who suffer from one or the other?
In my experience, clients may say they have, say, anxiety (unconfirmed by their doctor) but they might be depressed. The symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap and therefore it is always recommended that a doctor is consulted.
How do you unwind after a session?
I usually meditate or go for a walk if the weather permits. I also find just taking deep breaths and moving my body helps to unwind.
In the current pandemic, by what means do you provide counselling to your clients?
Currently I am only providing Zoom sessions.
How does one contact you for a consultation/session?
I am a registered BACP counsellor and I can be found on the BACP website. (www.bacp.com)
If you weren’t a counsellor, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a counsellor, I think I would still be doing something that would be of help to others.