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Meet Enikö Hajas: Integrative Therapist and Expat Empowering Others through Psychotherapy & Coaching

Enikö Hajas is an integrative therapist and expat who is dedicated to empowering others through psychotherapy and coaching. With a wealth of experience in both fields, Enikö has honed her skills and developed a unique approach to helping people overcome challenges and achieve their goals. Whether you're struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or simply looking to improve your overall well-being, Enikö has the expertise and compassion to guide you towards a happier, healthier life. In this blog, we'll delve into Enikö's background, explore her philosophy and methods, and learn how she's making a positive impact on the lives of her clients.

1: Eniko, tell us about your 15 year career as a psychotherapist and what it’s like working with

expats? Are you an expat yourself? How do you help?

Growing up and spending most of my life abroad as an expat, I got fascinated from a very young age

by the variety of cultures in the world. I lived in many countries like Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands,

Portugal and spent much time in Vietnam and Thailand. As the daughter of a UN diplomat, I learnt

how beautiful it is when people from all cultures work together and support each-other. It became

my dream and ambition to help people from all around the world. Looking for the right path to achieve that vocation, I first worked on international projects at consulting companies like Capgemini Ernst&Young. But all the time I felt that my purpose in life was to become a therapist. After following psychotherapy studies and years of therapy as part of the process I set up my practice 18 years ago. Since that time I worked with many hundreds of expats from 46 nationalities. When expats seek for help I first help them feel safe and accepted, so that in my practice they can be who they are in their core. Feel at ease with their authentic norms and values, their jokes, their patterns and their views of life. During our talks they don’t have to adapt to any expectations, they are allowed to complain and be frank about their opinions. It is so important that they feel their identities without any shame and cherish their cultural values. As next, I will help them separate their childhood patterns from their cultural patterns. We will gain understanding of the difference between their original character and their learnt behavioural habits. I help them feel confident again about their cultural identity while learning and integrating into a new culture. Finally, I will help them establish a supporting network so that they will not have to feel so isolated and lonely. They don’t have to feel as an outsider, it is possible to gain confidence and be part of a community while staying loyal to their roots. And last but not least, I will help them accept that they will never be the same person again that they were before they moved. Instead of feeling sad, they will learn to appreciate the richness this brings to their lives. Teaching my clients how to take care of them, recognise their needs, reflect on their thoughts, check their beliefs, recognise their emotions, process them and eventually feel confident is my main focus. I love to see them grow in their independence and feel capable!

2: What are your top tips for female expats looking to find a therapist (the right fit) and what to

expect from therapy, perhaps this is their first time seeking help for their mental health?

The most important advice is to go for a few initial talks. The first talk in my practice is free of

charge, exactly to give clients the chance to experience a non-pressured setting in session with me.

Referrals are a common way to find therapists, and it is a nice way as you get to trust the person

your friend trusted too. Beware that you might have different needs and goals than your friend and

not everybody clicks with everybody. Pay attention how does your body feel during the talk? Does the therapist let you talk without interruption? Is she/he respectful and do you feel accepted seen and heard by her? Trust takes time but you can help that grow if you follow your guts during the first talk. Remember that therapy is for you and not for the therapist!

3: What are your main non-negotiables for looking after your mental health?

Its is a true challenge for a therapist to take care of her own mental health. We tend to be devoted to

support others and forget our own needs. I had to learn from my own experience that I must take

care of myself first in order for me to be there with my full attention to others. Most important self-

care is my weekly sports appointments. Pilates, personal training, running, pole-dance are all options

for me. In my agenda, I reserve the time for it, and nothing can come between! Only this way it works. My second non-negotiable is sunshine. Spending time in Portugal means I get the chance to walk in the sunshine, preferably next to the beach. The closeness of water is healing for me! Apart from these I have some more important factors that contribute to my mental-health: doing work that

doesn’t feel like work, keep on inspiring my brain with new projects, two-weekly meetings with my

colleagues, laugh with my children and my friends.

4: You are trilingual! Wow - it’s always fascinating to find people so immersed in languages. How did

you become fluent and what advice do you have for other females looking to deepen their

understanding of a language?

Well Hungarian is my mother-tongue, and English I learnt fluently when I started my first job in Italy.

Also Dutch, I learnt when started working for a local company in the Netherlands. My method was in

both cases to take a 2-3 months intensive language course to learn the basics and after that jump in

the deep. When I started working in Dutch I asked my colleagues to not talk to me in English, so I

would be forced to practice. Reading the newspaper in the morning and watching the same news on

TV in the evening was another nice trick. I am learning Portuguese now, but still need to find time for

the intensive method. My tip is to start speaking whatever level you have, go out and expose yourself as much as you can. Truly nobody will laugh, locals always appreciate the effort and will be happy to chat with you. It can be a headache in the beginning but it pays off beautifully in the end. A whole new world opens when we understand what the other people around us are talking about!

5: You are a Psychotherapist, Coach & Integrative Therapist - What are these different roles and

what can people expect from you in these roles?

Let me explain the difference coaching and psychotherapy!

Coaching is more focused on helping people achieve their future goals while psychotherapy focuses on healing from past emotions, traumas, understanding and processing the emotions that lay under current patterns. Psychotherapy is more suitable when you realise that the reason you are stuck in life comes from an old emotion and you need to work yourself through painful feelings and resolve past issues. Also when you might suffer from for example, depression, addiction, anxiety, or you have

suicidal thoughts, you will need to dig deeper and get more intensive treatment.

In therapy you explore deep emotional trauma that uncovers why you behave in a certain way.

The process with a therapist also includes coaching because it overlaps with therapy. Like

teaching self-care, coaching how to cope with your circumstances, coaching & experimenting with

new behaviours, coaching how to become your own therapist.

I change roles sometimes during the same session, depending on your need, or the goal of the

session I will be your therapist or your coach.

6: What was the main inspiration for a career in psychotherapy?

To be honest I knew I wanted to learn about the working of the human brain already as a small child.

Being an introvert observer I loved sitting in the window looking at people in the streets. I created my own story about their lives. Later I produced self-made “newspapers” with fictional stories about

people. I wrote short books, and became a great listener to my friends. There was no doubt that one

day I would study psychotherapy. After almost 10 years of career in business consulting I learnt that

the wife of my boss was going to do the study I always dreamt of. I stared at him and offered my

resignation. This was the sign for me now or never. At 30, I started my psychotherapy studies and

this was the best decision of my life. A life changing experience to go through 4 years of therapy and to finally do what I was born for - It felt like a “homecoming”.

7: What advice would you give fellow female expats/digital nomads who may be struggling

mentally? Maybe they are feeling lonely, depressed, stuck, isolated or even going through divorce?

Reach out to each-other! I work with so many lonely expats, which means you are out there for each-

other. Do something for another to feel less lonely and to feel better about yourself. Purpose gives

hope and connecting to another in need can give you the feeling that you belong.

When depressed, grab your own hand and get yourself to move. Go for a long walk and observe. Allow your body to be spontaneous, feel the movement and the energy that comes out of it. You don’t have to wear nice clothes, you can get out and move as you feel comfortable. When you feel isolated

make sure to chat with the people you bump into: the cashier lady at the store, the barista at the coffee shop, the sales person at the market. Seriously everybody is out there for a kind human chat with a smile. When going through something difficult it might be a good idea to look for professional support. We can get stuck in certain emotions and sometimes just a few talks can help you take the first step in healing.

8: Where have you traveled/lived/worked that really had an impact on you and why?

Because of my father, who travelled around the world and have been to every continent, I dreamt of

doing the same. And I must say I managed, I have been & seen 6 continents so far, I can’t count the

countries. The biggest impact on my life was my first visit to Thailand. I started travelling at 14, until

that it was pretty impossible because of the communistic regime. Landing at Bangkok airport I

couldn’t believe what I saw. “So this is how the world looks like” I thought when staring at the busy

streets, hearing the noises of 'tuk-tuks', smelling the colourful food, trying to make my way between

smiling locals. To be honest most of my trips made a huge impact on me. Also, my visit to Syria at

the age of 20. The kindest people on Earth welcomed me and showed me their rich history. My visit

to Australia where I got to see that it is possible to live so close with nature. My visit to Morocco

where the smell of paint factories, the taste of spicy food and the view of exotic architecture was

an orgy for the brain.

9: What do you do for fun? What do you do to maintain a good work/life balance?

I love to choose sports that combine inner focus with muscle building. Take Pilates, it has been my

therapy for 6 years now. I love the calmness around it and at the same time feel that I use my body.

Pole-dancing - I started recently, it connects me with the child in me, chasing challenges and enjoying

when I can do a trick! Since I started my Instagram page, I got to know so many interesting people who inspire me everyday! My new project is already cooking! Meeting with professionals for a glass of wine and talk about philosophy, mental health, life adventures is something that truly fascinates me and gives me so much energy. Connecting with amazing humans is my fun! Spending much time in Portugal means I am on a never-ending vacation.

10: What advice would you give to female expats or digital nomads who have moved home and are feeling disoriented and unable to reintegrate?

My advice is to treat the reintegration just the same as moving abroad. Be prepared for the reverse culture shock because the chance is big that when you move home after years abroad your home changed, you changed, and so you need to readapt. While you were outside the country, events and new developments changed your old community. In a way you are going through a double grief process, you grieve your expat life abroad and you grieve your old you who felt at ease before ever moving abroad. Invest in meeting new people just the same when you socialised as an expat. In a way you are now an expat in your old home. You have to relearn routines and patterns that you have forgotten, routines that will reconnect you with your original community. Do remember that you don’t have to give up your new norms, values and routines, your identity is enriched now with your expat experiences. You might have to look for new friends and hobbies that match your new you. Good news is, you probably went through the same when you never left your community, as we are always learning and changing. It is just that you missed out on those years when those changes happened.

Do you feel depressed, look for a professional to get support in this process!

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