“I didn’t know that one word of compassion from the counsellor could change my life.”

How counselling encouraged a student to be brave.

A photo of holding hands
UNICEF Bhutan/2021/ULhaden
01 November 2021

Trashigang: It was an impulsive decision. For a 13-year-old, a challenge to self -harm was a more an act of bravery than anything harmful.

One Thursday morning last month, Chimi* and her best friend were in class. There was no teacher in the classroom and one of the classmates asked Chimi and her best friend if they were brave. If they were, the classmate challenged them to an act of self-harm.

 The friends agreed to do it as they wanted to show everyone that they were brave indeed. She recalls her classmates being shocked.

Chimi said there was pain and regret but “everything else seemed normal until one of our teachers saw cuts on my friend’s wrist the next day and reported us to the principal.’’

The principal advised them to see the school’s counsellor. “I was very scared to go to the counsellor.” She feared repercussions.  “But the counsellor was a kind person. He talked to us and advised us even better than our parents.’’

They were told that their act of bravery was self-harm and how not to give in to peer pressure. “I felt a sense of calmness when talking to the counsellor and only one session with him made me feel better,” Chimi says.

She shared that she has seen older girls in her school harming themselves when their relationships failed. Now that she knows, she plans to create awareness that self-harm is wrong.

When the principal suggested Chimi and her best friend to see the school counsellor, they were hesitant, worried and scared. “But I am now so much relieved and thankful for having gone to seek help from the counsellor.”

“I thought only ill-mannered students and those who are weak in studies went to see a counsellor. I used to look down on those who went for counselling,” recalls Chimi. I didn’t know that one word of compassion from the counsellor could change my life.”

By Sonam Yangchen, UNICEF Bhutan.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the client.

If you or someone you know is not feeling okay, talking to someone you trust helps.

Call 17861294; 17609443; 17751625; 77258332 or visit the Sherig Counselling Facebook page.