Caldwell University PhD candidate and Mental Health Counsellor Sherayne Welch shares with us her love for helping people through challenging times by her practice. Just 28 years old and is considered young in the field, Sherayne is an experienced therapist with a history of working in the individual and family services industry. As we acknowledge Mental Health Awareness Month, the XX team took some time to chat with Sherayne about her experience as a young therapist and business owner owing to the fact that she currently has her own practice—Sheryane Welch Therapy. Here’s what she had to share with us.
What was the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in your career and how did you deal with it?
The challenges are endless. However, I would say being taken seriously because I am a young professional was a surprisingly difficult part of beginning my career as a counsellor. I had to learn quickly that I needed to be assertive and to stand in my power because I have sacrificed and worked very hard to earn my title and I deserve the same respect as everyone.
What’s one thing that your training in mental health counselling taught you that you’d like to share?
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but what comes to mind right away is empathy. Through my training and understanding interpersonal relationships, I have realised that having empathy for clients is the surest way to establish a safe and successful counselling relationship.
How has this career path impacted your personal life?
For some reason, my friends and family think I am Gandhi and that I have this wealth of knowledge about life and love which makes me laugh all the time. Being in this field, however, has helped me to dig deep and really find out who I am as a person. It has been my experience that, in being more authentic, I have been able to connect to my clients in a more meaningful way.
Deciding on a career path can be a challenge; what pushed you into this field?
I always knew that I wanted to be my own boss, but for the first two years of university, I had no clue what I wanted to study in order to achieve that. At the end of my second year, I took an introductory Psychology course as an elective and knew instantly that this was what I had been searching for. When the class was over, I went to the Psychology department and declared my major that day and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, what’s a myth you’d want to debunk about your practice?
A misconception that I hear all the time is that clients expect me to either read their minds or tell them what to do about a situation. Counselling is not at all about mind-reading (that is the work of a magician) and it is certainly not a time in which a counsellor will give you advice. A counsellor is only supposed to guide you along your path to self-actualisation, not tell you what to do to get it.
When and why should women consider getting counselling?
If someone is inquiring about counselling but isn’t sold on it yet, I encourage them to think of a challenge that they would discuss in counselling and then, to think about if that challenge is affecting their day-to-day lives in even the smallest of ways. If they can think of something and their answer is yes, then I advise them to seek professional help when they are ready to do so. So many people could benefit from seeking counselling services during life-changing experiences but do not.
Any advice for young women who want to get into the field?
Nothing makes me more excited than to hear about people wanting to get into this field. If you are considering this field, think about what group of people you work best with and then do your research to figure out what type of counselling is best for someone with your skills. The goal should be to do a job that gives you a good sense of job satisfaction and something that you can enjoy—not only for your quality of life but also for your clients. In a field like this, you have to be passionate and invested because these are people’s lives and it’s imperative that they are treated well.