Harjinder (Harj) K Heer, MA, RCC
I am Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC) with BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. I hold a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University.
I have considerable experience working with a diverse population of children, youth and families in the Lower Mainland over a 15-year span.
I was born in England to parents who emigrated from India in the late 60’s. Growing up in a large family I watched family members work hard and support each other on a regular basis. I was fortunate to spend time in the family business and gain an understanding of how a group of people work together for common goals. Our family moved to Canada in the early 2000’s after I completed my Bachelor’s degree. My experiences of working with youth and families began shortly after my move to Canada as I began to volunteer at a number of different organizations including youth custody, mentoring and school support. It was here I realised my desire to learn more about people in order to better understand them and support them. My very first position was as a Youth Care Worker in a recreational setting working in an after school program in North Vancouver. I was also lucky to work with an ethnic group that was somewhat new to me; this allowed further cultural awareness for me. My next position was with the City of Surrey as a Youth Care Worker where I continued to gain experience and awareness of working with children, youth and families. I later transitioned to Surrey Schools as an Inner-City Youth Care Worker. At this point in time I realised the importance of making time to understand meaning behind behaviours. I was also able to learn about immigrant students and the adversities they had experienced. As my experience grew my journey took another turn where I moved into a position of a Youth Counsellor with the Surrey RCMP/City of Surrey. I began working with youth and families who wanted positive changes while accepting current experiences. I learned about recognizing why we make certain decisions and how we can also work toward a better self. My next step was to begin my Masters while I continued to work fulltime. During this time I also got married and while all these commitments tested my management skills I was able to balance work, school and my personal life with the kind-hearted support of my husband who is currently a Community Support Worker. It soon became evident that having a support system is crucial for me in order for me to work through challenges and achieve my goals. Once I completed my Masters I eventually began at one of my current roles as a Youth Mental Health Therapist, and private practice a few years later.
I would like to share a personal story:
During my work with schools I took the opportunity to travel during the summer months since most schools were closed. One summer I was accepted as a volunteer youth worker in a child and youth shelter in Mumbai, India. I spent six weeks connecting with young people who had either run away from home, been forced out of their homes or been left at the shelter in secrecy. During my time I soon realised the resiliency of these young people. The stories were sometimes saddening, and yet a smile appeared at the end of each story as I heard about the current opportunities these young people valued. I also appreciated the commitment of workers at the shelter as well as community support. As my time passed I began to re-evaluate my life. I was around people with very little (compared to myself) and yet they seemed to be making the best of each moment and aspect of their life.
I came to an understanding that one can be content in the simplest ways and that peace, compassion and happiness is very much influenced by our inner self. I decided that everyone’s life is unique and that making time to listen then understand is so very helpful, only then can change be brought up. I learned that acceptance is a value I want to practice without judgment. I became passionate about supporting my community and striving to achieve individual balance and wellness.