What is cross-cultural counselling ? 

Experiences of a client

How did you experience the counselling?

To be honest, it was not anything like I expected. As a person who had never been in any kind of counselling session, I was quite nervous to say the least. The fact that I am Myanmar to the core didn't help either as we do not pour our heart out easily because we have the "losing face" culture. Then there was this personal stereotype of mine about counselling sessions are for only weak-minds and the possible dependency on the sessions afterwards.

Having said that, I found the sessions to be very relaxing and comforting despite my worries. I did not feel any awkwardness at all while divulging personal feelings and issues which was strange to say the least.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I could actually talk about what I feel without having to worry about hurting someones' feelings or losing face/ image or being judged. Also, instead of becoming more dependent on the counselling, I feel like I become more self assured in handling things. I am not sure how to put it but one of my biggest worries about counselling was that I would always turn to counselling, therapy or something similar whenever I face a difficult life situation.

Instead, I feel like the counselling helps me to grow into the person who handles crises with more calm, openness and courage.

What brought you to my counselling in the first place?

I would say the reasons that brought me to your counselling in the first place would be a combination of cross cultural dilemmas (marriage and daily life and identity issues ( uprooting and settling in foreign country, integrating processes to new society and role changes - becoming a mom etc.).

I was talking about different parenting styles between my husband and I during the class discussion and you so kindly offered me to take on that amazing journey of cross cultural counselling.

I am still struggling with a lot of the issues mentioned above and will probably have to deal with them for the unforeseeable future but will forever be grateful to have the opportunity of counselling sessions with you and how they help me grow.

How did it benefit you?

The instant benefit was the sense of being heard as a real me and it was liberating. With every session, I can see that there are more to our talks than being able to vent. Not only have I become more comfortable with our talks but with myself (feelings, fears, emotions etc) as well. I am not sure how to put it but there are some issues that I just locked away deep inside so that I don't ever need to touch those feelings but these sessions made me comfortable enough to look at them from a new perspective. For instance, we talked about "to mother or to matter", which is a big issue I am still struggling with time to time.

When my first child was born, I was torn between wanting to be with him full-time in his first months and wanting to graduate on time like others. I had the same dilemma with my second child. On one hand, childhood only happens once and I wanted to be with her full-time before daycare so I wasn't very diligent about getting back to work or further study. Then when I was finding a hard time in job hunting, sometimes I feel like I am failing at both "mothering and mattering".

What I learned from our counselling is "not to compare myself with others". I keep reminding myself that this is my story and my reality and it is easier for me to fight another day.

Another benefit is I become more vocal or communicative with people which has been saving me from a lot of dramas,confusion and miscommunication. Also, I have learned to look at my issues from different perspectives. For instance, I remind myself that there are a lot of other moms/ parents who are struggling just like me and I won't be the first or the last to be in this situation. Also, I try to count the blessings such as financial security despite my unemployment status, health, a family to love, friends, hobbies etc.

To sum up, the benefits of the counselling were invaluable and have been equipping me with reflectiveness, self observation, self-focus, different worldview, open-heartedness and communicativeness to name a few, in surviving the cross cultural and personal challenges.