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A psychotherapist in Kathmandu (5)

Tereza Nogueira, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and senior supervisor for ‘Child in Time’, writes to us from Kathmandu, Nepal where she’s spending two weeks working as a volunteer with Unity in Health http://unityinhealth.org.  Their mission is to work together to improve global mental health, and Tereza has travelled over to help plant the seeds for school counselling services in Nepal through training and discussion with adults at Tribhuvan University.  

My first workshop with the counselling students…

We had to be at the university very early in order to deliver the workshops as students attending the counselling psychology course start the day at 6:30 and leave at 9:30 to go to work afterwards.  There are 113 students in all semesters but only 38 were selected to attend the workshop.  An interest in working in schools and an ability to speak English seemed to be the criteria. I was interested to see that half of the students were men, which is something that rarely happens in the UK where the majority of therapists are women.  I was also impressed that they were very young people.

The director of the Unity in Health and the country representative joined me. After the initial presentation I invited them to do their introduction answering the following questions:

  • What brought you to counselling?
  • What are the qualities you think you have to do the work?
  • What do you imagine will be the difficulties?

Their honesty, genuineness and openness deeply touch me. Everyone’s profound wish to help was very clear. People opened their hearts and shared personal stories in such a way that I found myself wishing to take each and everyone back to the UK. During the break, many students came to talk to me and I was infected by their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn anything I could offer.

During the second part of the workshop I asked the students to imagine themselves back in their childhood and reflect on it using an image about a positive and a negative experience they had at school.  They engaged as if the creative arts were a natural way of working and reflecting. Professor Subba told me that it was in fact the first time the students were invited to share their experiences and he had not heard their stories before. I could see that he was surprised and intrigued by this approach. I got the impression that he was not very sure what the purposes of doing such a reflective exercise was, but he could see the students really liked it. 

Their account of positive experiences suggested that children tend to support each other more than relying on the adults in school as almost everyone shared a vivid experience with friends that they remembered with fondness.  We were shocked by how punitive and abusive their school years were as the majority of them shared that the teachers beat them with a stick. Sometimes they made the children beat another child. It felt very traumatic to hear and some of the students told their stories with a broken voice as if they were going to cry. Although this practice is now illegal it is known that it still continues. 

After sharing personal stoires, we discussed what would be interesting for them in terms of my input and it was decided that three lectures will be delivered in three separated days.

  • Working with special needs and ASD children
  • Adolescence development and common difficulties
  • Neuroscience and its implication for emotional wellbeing 

I have never worked so much in such a short period of time. I feel very tired and aware that I did not anticipate what this work would involve. As I am here I need to do the best I can hoping I manage.  I have prepared two of the lectures but tomorrow I hope to do a bit of sight-seeing so that I do not go away without seeing a Nepali landmark. Especially as I am not sure if I will be able to come back. I have to confess that it requires a lot of physical strengths to do this.  On Sunday at 4pm we are leaving Kathmandu at 11am and heading into the mountains towards the border of India. We will be there five days.  From what I’ve heard this could be the biggest adventure of my life. I will let you know how it goes when I’m back…

Read all Tereza’s blog posts here: https://childintime.co.uk/blog/

Testimonials

The Counselling provision at our school is now excellent. This is due to Chloe’s understanding of the needs of pupils, parents and the school as an organization. I would whole-heartedly recommend ‘Child in Time’ to head-teachers considering their own counselling provision.

Head-teacher of Woolmore School, Tower Hamlets

Parent Consultation: They have become much better at expressing their feelings and opening up to me and their siblings.

Parent, 2023

School Counselling: My son has completely turned around and is simply wonderful at the moment. He is back to his normal self at home, being very happy, caring and kind. He is especial kind and caring with his sister and just the best brother ever now. As a family, we are happy and content.

Parent, 2023

It is quality time well spent not letting pupils leave with negative patterns that make them vulnerable beyond school. One of the best decisions I have made.

Head-teacher of St Saviour’s School, Tower Hamlets

You have helped me build a barrier of protection against pain and I can’t thank you enough for that…I have never felt so emotionally strong.

Student, aged 15

Child in Time is a tremendous resource for head-teachers. It’s a consultancy that offers a short-cut to setting up a counselling service in your school with highly trained, qualified practitioners. Child in Time brings peace of mind to staff, knowing that the most vulnerable students are in safe hands.

Tereza Nogueira, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Senior supervisor UKCP

This intervention has had an enormous, positive impact for us all and we sincerely hope that other families benefit from the same programme…his positive behaviour is having a really good impact on all elements of his school life.

Parent of child, age 8

I am glad I am coming to see you every Thursday because I used to hold all these things in my head and that was hard.

Girl, age 10

We are very happy with the counselling service we are receiving and in particular ‘our therapist’s’ flexible and accommodating nature. Parents are very pleased, both the target children’s parents and the consultation one’s too.

SENCO, Rhodes Avenue School, Haringey

She is an outstanding therapist who has made a real difference to the lives of pupils in our school. ‘Our therapist’ possesses excellent skills in connecting with others, creating a safe space for staff, parents and pupils to discuss a range of issues. Her expertise, compassion, and dedication are truly commendable and we have really benefited from her thorough understanding of child development and psychology.

Deputy Head, Highgate Pre-Prep

I want to say thank you. I found these sessions very very helpful. I could talk about anything with you. I remember our first one, when I was so worried that everything was my fault. I can now see things more clearly.

student, age 11