I’m honoured to have Chereen as my first guest in this series. Chereen is a Psychotherapist and a life coach that enjoys writing and giving advice.
In this post, Chereen discusses her background on how she became a Psychotherapist and what motivated her to pursue a career in counselling; she also shares her experience with autistic children, and gives us advice and tips on what we can do to raise confident children.
You can find Chereen on her blog, Dear Chereen and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/dearchereen.
What is your educational background and field of work?
My educational background is in Counseling. I am a psychotherapist by degree. My field of work is fortunately broad alhamdulilah, considering I went into Community Counseling. I have had the opportunity to do play therapy, marriage and family therapy, domestic violence counseling, individual counseling, couples therapy, trauma therapy, along with working with special needs kids.
When did you know you wanted to pursue this profession and what inspired you to do so?
I have always enjoyed psychology. After I got my bachelors degree in it, I realized that I could take it one step further. I was always one to give advice to my friends and random strangers, so I felt as if it would be nice to turn my hobby into a career. I enjoy helping others, so it is a good feeling to be able to help others while fulfilling your profession at the same time.
As a Muslimah, are there any challenges you face in this profession; if so, how do you overcome these challenges?
Fortunately, I have yet to face any challenges in my profession. I have worked with some intense cases, but luckily there have been none that targeted my religion. I take that back, there was one specific incident, but I knew better than to let it affect me. If a person targets me for my religion, then I know that it is their fault they are not worldly. I brush it off and continue with my day. I know that their actions are based upon them, not their race or their religion.
As a Psychotherapist, you come across many clients, including special needs children and their parents or caregivers; what is the most common issue you see amongst special needs children and how do you address these issues?
There has been an increase in autistic children in recent years, along with a lack of awareness to their cause. When it comes to special needs children, what they need is patience and empathy. It is very difficult for people to do so when they refuse to educate themselves on these disabilities.
I have had mothers tell me that they wanted their children to become normal by the end of the year, because they have such a hard time accepting that their children are autistic or special needs. I address these issues with a lot of patience. You have to be able to understand where the parents are coming from.
They love their children, and they do not want to see them have to struggle in this world. You have to help them accept the reality, and commit to improving their children’s lives. This might take a day, and it might take a month. Regardless, you cannot give up on them.
What advice can you give to parents and caregivers that would assist them in raising confident children?
Talk to your children. If they have questions, answer them. If they are active and spirited, do not limit them. Let them understand that it is okay to be themselves. Rather than feeding them compliments, acknowledge and enable their actions. If they do something good, rather than saying “Wow, you’re amazing!” say “I noticed that you put that back correctly, and I really appreciate that you took the time to do that for me. Thank you so much.”
If they are interested in something, do not push them away from it. Feed their interests. There should be a line drawn between you two, where you are the parent and they are your child. That line is necessary because it allows for them to respect you. However, that does not mean that you cannot be friends with them.
You can be their best friend if you want to, and that is a lot better since it allows for you to fully understand where they are coming from. The most important thing you can do is not to shoot them down when they show interest or ask you a question. This is when they begin to develop their confidence, so it is important that you support them. As their parents, they look up to you. The way that you treat them is everything to them, so it is very important to be kind and sincere to your children.
Thank you so much Chereen for your time and advice!