Re-entering Counselling through Community Connections
Patricia came to Calgary from Colombia in 2006. Back in Colombia she worked as a registered psychologist for over 6 years working as a consultant for employers as part of their employee self-care plans. Currently, she is working as a community counsellor at Sonshine Community Services.
When Patricia first came to Canada, she didn’t know any English nor have any connections here. Her first step was to take English courses at Mount Royal University that lasted for about two years. In the beginning she didn’t know many people in the city, so she would wander around Calgary everyday and explored the +15s in downtown, sat in cafes by herself and chatted with strangers.
One time, she wandered around the University of Calgary and met a psychologist from Argentina in the Tim Horton’s line. This psychologist introduced her to her University professor, who later became her master’s professor 7 years later!
During this time, she also started volunteering at University of Calgary, and found a mentor there who helped her to start a support group for Latino women. She also started as a cashier at Staples and Chapters, through these jobs and volunteering positions she began to understand the importance of networking. This also helped her to start building connections with her community.
After finishing up her two years of English classes, she stayed a few more months working at staples but she felt her self-esteeming starting to drop because she felt like she was capable of doing far more than she was doing there.
One time she had an interview for a position, but ended up not getting the job because she did not have a driver’s license and was very disappointed. One day, she ran into a friend on the street and her friend told her about an opening at Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC). She started to work at ISC facilitating their women’s mentorship programs.
Through this program and mentoring women, while seeing so much potential in them, it inspired her to pursue her masters in counselling at University of Calgary. In 2014, she completed her studies, and is now a provisionally licensed psychologist working at Sonshine community services. Her dream from here is to eventually open up a private practice specializing in diversity and mental health issues.
For advice to new immigrants, Patricia says “be open and don’t let the no’s bring you down. Don’t get discouraged by the first answer you get, and keep pushing forward.”