I Never Thought I’d Become a Therapist

I never thought I’d become a therapist. My parents encouraged me to “help others” in whatever profession I chose. I was lucky to not be indoctrinated with the mantra to become either a “doctor, lawyer, or engineer” as most of my first-generation Indian-American friends were by their parents.

As a child I realized that things seemed to affect me more than they affected other people, and that I easily empathized with others’ emotions. This facet of my personality, paired with my fascination with the human mind, steered me toward studying Biopsychology, Cognition & Neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, my hometown. After graduation, I felt that helping people, on a very direct level, was my calling.  I then completed my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine from the Boston University School of Medicine. 

Being a first-generation Indian-American in the field of mental healthcare has offered a unique perspective. I constantly have two lenses: American and Indian. These two perspectives constitute who I am as a person, from my values and personality to my quirks and preferences.

A rare sighting of me in a sari, the traditional dress for women in India. My Mom grew up wearing saris on a regular basis in India, but for me it’s a novelty and I need help tying it! #firstgenproblems

In terms of openness around sharing one’s emotions, coping with life stressors, and one’s sense of self, Indian and American cultures can contrast greatly. This is something I look forward to talking about in future posts. As a psychotherapist who’s been informed by both sides on a personal level, it’s crucial that I stay conscious of my own biases that can impact the work I do with others. It can definitely get confusing at times.

However, these two sides allow me to more easily be a culturally-sensitive therapist. This means that when I work with my clients, I strive to understand their cultural contexts. Specifically, how their cultures have informed who they are, the way they feel, and the decisions they make.

As I counsel others, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, I find myself reflecting more on how my Indian and American sides have shaped me, and continue to shape me. As a therapist, whether I like it not, I’m challenged to hold a microscope to parts of myself although it may be difficult at times. I have a feeling that I’ve only begun what will be a lifelong journey of exploring the human mind — both in others and myself.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. b72iss3098 says:

    Always enlightening to read your words.

    Liked by 1 person

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