Triumph Over Adversity – Key 4 Change

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Overcoming adversity is a concept that is dear to me both professionally and personally.  Some 10 years ago, I too, experienced my own rock bottom.  I found myself in a depressing, dark and fearful place, I felt clueless about the way to progress forward and believed that I was a victim of my circumstance.  Naturally, I turned to family and friends for support, but was often confronted with ‘I told you so’ or ‘we knew this would happen’.  These reactions and judgements only served to make matters worse and deepened my sense of despair and isolation.

Hope and inspiration came whilst watching the Oprah Winfrey show, where I was introduced to the self help book ‘In the Meantime’ by Iyanla Vanzant.  I found great solace and understanding in between those pages.  I found an acceptance and tolerance of my ‘not so great’ choices, that I had failed to experience in my human relations.  I retreated further and further into reading and embraced whole heatedly the thought provoking material I consumed.  This process served to evoke self awareness and deep self reflection.  An experience I often liken to the scene in the Matrix, where Neo has to make a choice about learning the harsh truth about reality or staying in the dark.

Today, I am a person centred therapist, with a humanistic counselling practice in West and Central London: Key 4 Change.  I support people through their unique experiences of adversity and create a relationship where the threat of judgement is removed; enabling individuals to openly express themselves, without the threat of reprisal or the need to defend themselves against criticism and attack.  In the therapeutic space, I aim to foster a relationship where an individual’s aspirations, hopes, fears and contradictions find a safe unique space for expression and clarity.

Fundamentally, I respect the fact that ‘adversity’ is unique to every single human being.  Traumatic experiences have no regard for race, class, economic status, (dis)ability, sex or gender to name but a few.  An experience that is adverse to one particular person may seem trivial in the eyes of another.  My respect for the individual’s experience, what is theoretically termed the phenomenological field is the bedrock of the person centred philosophy.  Moreover, my respect and high regard for the uniqueness of individuals has been my ‘saving grace’ as a probation officer within the confines of a prison.  Working within this challenging context, I have been rewarded with a significant insight into humanity and the value of having an empathic, non-judgemental ear.  In my personal view, a man’s conscience will alert him to the inappropriateness of his own actions.

One size does not fit all.  This notion not only extends to hosiery, but is particularly poignant within the realm of therapy.  In my various roles as a helping professional, I have had to comply with rigid ‘treatment regimes’ that can limit an individual’s capacity to gain insight into their adverse experiences and as a direct result, an individual’s capacity to change is compromised.  This situation is further compounded by the need to ‘evidence outcomes’, time limited access to therapy and the incessant use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) techniques.  As humans, we are all unique one-off samples, with personal histories and experiences that no other person on earth has encountered, or will encounter ever again (just check your finger print for a beautiful example of your uniqueness).

If I am best to serve my clients and those that come across my path in their hour of need, it is essential that I am able to offer the optimal conditions for personal change.  Within the person-centred field these are described as the core conditions (for further reading see: Carl Rogers: A Way of Being):

  1. Congruence (realness, genuineness, a relationship of equality)
  2. Unconditional positive regard (a consistent acceptance of each aspect of the clients experience).
  3. Empathy (an endeavour to deeply understand the client from their own perspective).

I have a deep trust in the human spirit and fundamentally believe that if the conditions are right, human beings can be trusted to their find own way. This view may seem somewhat radical and some may even contend that this stance is downright naive.  Especially as we are living in an increasingly depersonalised, materialistic competitive culture where distrust, fear, increased regulation and intensive surveillance are becoming increasingly common place (for further reading see: Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne: Person Centred Counselling in Action – third edition). A culture where a woman can lay dead in her flat for three years, only to be discovered by the local authorities serving an eviction order (captured in the film – Dreams of a Life).

So, Key 4 Change is my vision of hope.  Key 4 Change amalgamates my personal and professional experiences into a Mahatma Ghandi inspired vision to ‘Be the Change, you want to see in the World’.  If I can overcome, then you can too.

For further info visit: www.key4change

About the author

Leonnie has worked with the WATC team for over 5 years. Leonnie also runs her own Design company www.destinydesigns.co.uk.
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