Thank you Ellen for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer our Q+A.
1. Tell us about your services.
I am a counsellor/life coach. My work is based on the Person-Centred Approach. This way of working means that I support and validate individuals helping them to find and fulfil their inner potential. Having moved here from the UK, I understand the challenges and isolation faced by many expats. I help my clients to feel as comfortable as possible by providing a safe therapeutic environment. My task as a counsellor is to listen without judgement and respond with empathy and understanding. I do not presume to be the ‘expert’, but trust and support my clients in finding the answers that fit for them.
2. How long have you been in business and why did you choose this activity?
I received my counselling diploma and opened my own practice in 2015. I have worked in several fields before counselling, including theatre and education. In all my previous jobs I enjoyed working with people and in the social and emotional aspects of the work. This realisation about my own personal strengths was what brought me into counselling.
3. What is the thing you like most about your work?
I am happy to have found a profession that is based on kindness and respect for fellow people. Counselling allows me to be myself and to support others in developing a healthy relationship with themselves.
4. Which nationalities are your clients?
My clients are mostly expats who have relocated to the Netherlands or Dutch nationals with a mixed heritage. I have clients from all over the world including the UK, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany and the USA.
5. What do you think they love best about living in Amsterdam?
Most of my clients live in Haarlem or the surrounding area, however I have also worked with clients in Amsterdam. Amsterdam as a city seems to be attracting more and more expat life and business and therefore expanding to include the towns and cities nearby.
6. Which issues are most common with expats?
Expat life can be transient and of course when people move, they are also leaving something behind. I see a lot of clients that feel isolated, anxious or lonely. There is also a lot of pressure when building a new life in a new place. Sometimes we feel that we ‘must’ have a positive attitude. That in itself, is a huge pressure, and no matter how hard we try, sometimes life throws up unexpected difficulties. I am there to allow my clients the space to be themselves and to let down their guard. They can be sad, angry, nervous, irritated or confused and I will listen and support them without judgement.
7. What’s your proudest moments at work?
My proudest moment is when I notice that my client has reached a sense of their own abilities and achievements, when they are empowered to move on. It is an unusual profession in that you are most proud when your client no longer needs you.
8. How is your Dutch?
My Dutch is pretty good. I speak Dutch in my daily life; however, I work mostly in English.
9. What do you like to do in your time off?
I have two children, so family life tends to keep me quite busy! Because we live in Haarlem we are very close to the countryside. If the weather is ok, we spend a lot of time at the beach or exploring the dunes.
10. What Dutch words should expats learn?
Lekker is a very useful word. It means nice or tasty, but you can use it in so many situations, lekker weer (nice weather), lekker eten (tasty food), lekker rustig (nice and peaceful), or even lekker bezig (being busy/productive).
I also really like the Dutch phrase “Een frisse neus halen” which literally means “getting a fresh nose” – This is something you would say when you are going out for a breath of fresh air. I think we all need a ‘frisse neus’ sometimes.
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