Ara’s Story

Over the course of several sessions, 36-year-old Ara Shimoon went from anxious and unsure about counselling to an advocate of counselling and Calgary Counselling Centre.

It was a recommendation from a friend who also had a positive experience with the Centre that led Ara to contact Calgary Counselling Centre.

“I had reached a point in my life where I was in constant emotional misery and had difficulty completing basic tasks such as self-care, relationships, and work,” said Ara. “I felt like my life was unravelling and I couldn’t function in basic social settings without having intense anxiety or overthinking situations.”

“Going into my first session I was very nervous and apprehensive, but I felt an immediate bond with my counsellor Cristina,” said Ara. “She had a very insightful way of discussing my life and the challenges I faced. She recognized these challenges and provided resources and practices with warmth, respect and empathy.”

“When I first met Ara I also felt that we really connected,” said Cristina Kalas, Registered Psychologist at Calgary Counselling Centre, and Ara’s counsellor. “I could tell right away that Ara was committed to the process and was on board with really working to create a shift in his life.”

At Calgary Counselling Centre, we recognize that everyone’s journey and experiences are unique. Some people may feel better after just a few sessions, while for others it can take time and Ara was no exception.

“Early on, I had a very severe setback when I realized that it was going to take me a long time to unpack all the issues I had been carrying. It was only then that I realized that the only person who could help me was myself,” said Ara.

“Every client I work with is different, and at first Ara would share his feelings, but I could still sense a wall that he was putting up,” Cristina added.

We asked Cristina ‘what was the point when you really began to notice a change in Ara?’ and she recalled the following story:

“I remember one day Ara came in for a session, and after our hour was up I got this sense that he just wasn’t ready to leave, and I always want to be sure that our clients are in a positive headspace when their session is over.”

“I had previously told Ara about a bunch of different books I had on topics where we shared common interests, and I gave one to him and said ‘If you don’t want to leave why don’t you take this book and read for a bit in the waiting room.’ I couldn’t stay with him because I had another client waiting to see me.”

After the session with her client was over, Cristina returned to the waiting room to check on Ara.

“I came out to check on him and he was still there and had devoured probably half of the book,” Cristina said. “I felt like after that, we really began to see momentum in Ara’s progress.”

“I truly believe I wouldn’t be alive right now if it weren’t for Calgary Counselling Centre,” explained Ara. “This time last year I was in a pretty bad place and I was getting worse. Now, I’ve got an optimistic vision of my future and I’m working towards achieving it.”

“One of the greatest feelings for me as a counsellor is being able to see the progress Ara has made. He not only has new hopes and goals, but he really is all about paying it forward through sharing his experiences at the Centre,” said Cristina.

When we asked Ara to share with us what he would say to someone who is unsure about counselling he said “I would tell them that it works, that it takes time, and that it doesn’t ‘fix’ you. Counselling helps you get a better understanding of yourself and put into practice the tools to continuously improve your life.”

Evans Hunt