Steps Forward and Back: My Ongoing Journey with Therapy and Loss

Photo taken by Charlotte on her travels

*Charlotte is a 29-year-old journalist seeking counselling support for family conflict and the sudden loss of her mother.

Can you share what initially brought you to seek counselling? 

I began attending counselling in school due to family conflict issues and continued seeing a counsellor through university and into my working life. At one point, I saw a clinical psychologist and was on medication. As I worked through my family issues, I shifted my focus to self-development. However, things took a turn recently with the sudden death of my mother. 

How did the sudden death of your mother affect you? 

She was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer, and everything progressed very quickly from there. Within a few months, she was gone. The experience was extremely traumatic, and coping with the grief and loss has been very challenging. 

What role did counselling play in helping you through this challenging time? 

Counselling played a crucial role in helping me cope with the sudden loss of my mother. My counsellor has been a great support as I work on managing my grief and escaping the cycle of grief. She also guided me to become more self-aware, to understand my responses to trauma, such as fight, flight, and fawn.  

After talking to my counsellor, I realise now that past traumas had a deeper impact on me than I initially thought. But through counselling, I learnt to unpack my insecurities, normalise my feelings, and recognise that it’s normal to have scars from previous experiences. Importantly, I also learned how to regulate my emotions effectively. 

Can you share a specific moment when you felt that counselling was particularly helpful? 

One particularly helpful moment during counselling was when I realised how much easier it is to open up to a counsellor compared to someone I know, like a family member or friend. They have no preconceived notions about my family and listen without judgment. The counselling room itself felt like a safe space where I could discuss family conflicts freely. Being able to express myself without fear of judgment made a significant difference in addressing and understanding these issues and my emotions.

Photo taken by Charlotte on her travels


How do you feel about your progress so far in counselling? 

I feel like therapy has never been a straight line to recovery. From my experience over the years, I often feel like I’m making progress, but then something happens in my personal life that makes it seem like I’m back at the starting point. Compared to four years ago, it’s tougher now, especially after experiencing significant losses, which have undone a lot of my progress. It’s not as bad as during my university days when I needed medication, but there are times I wish I were better.  

What gives you hope on your journey to getting better? 

Even with counselling, real life throws unexpected challenges that make you feel like you’re back at zero. However, my counsellor helps me get back on track, so I’m not completely starting over. It’s like running a long marathon, falling into a deep hole, and having to start running again. But with counselling, I’m not back in the pit; I’m still making progress, even if it’s not where I want to be. 

What would you say to someone considering counselling for the first time? 

I always recommend counselling if you can manage it, but I understand financial barriers make it difficult. I’m fortunate because my company covers my counselling expenses, and my income allows me to afford it without financial strain. Many of my friends rely on more affordable public services, like at polyclinics or schools, but some of them have had bad experiences. This is one reason I chose a private counselling centre — they often have more resources and better-trained counsellors who can tailor their methods to individual needs. 

I think counselling is relevant and helpful at all stages of life. Even if, or when, I address my current issues, I’ll still continue to attend counselling, as there are always stressors in life, and I’ll have other challenges to navigate.


If you feel you need professional help and emotional support, please reach out to EMCC. Our counsellors are here to help and support you.
To ensure that our services remain accessible, subsidised counselling is also provided. For more information, click here.
*not her real name

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