28-year-old Alva Huang may be young but her independent nature and desire to reach out to people has taken her to places less ventured, where she grasped the opportunity to touch the lives of many from various backgrounds.
After graduating with a Masters in Counselling, Alva took on a job as a counsellor in Australia in 2012 where she offered career guidance and a listening ear to adult foreign students who were overwhelmed with living away from their families and home countries. Determined to impact more lives overseas, she left Australia and her counselling job in 2014, and volunteered at an anti-human trafficking organisation in Bulgaria for three months.
Mature beyond her years and passionate about people, Alva returned to Singapore in March 2015 and has since been impacting lives of youths and their families as a counsellor at TOUCH Youth Intervention (TYI). Her experience abroad has made her no stranger to interacting with individuals from varying backgrounds, and she uses that strength to connect with the youths and parents she meets on the job.
As a youth counsellor, Alva counsels youths from all walks of life on a variety of concerns such as risky or antisocial behaviours, self-harm and cyber wellness issues, and looks forward to getting to know them and their families better. Seeing youths struggling with issues learn to overcome their demons and slowly take control of their lives brings joy and meaning to the work she performs.
Says the affable Alva, “I love that I get to meet a variety of families; every family is unique, yet similar in so many of their struggles. The most rewarding thing about this job is when you realise that your presence has made an impact on their lives.”
However, every individual is different and not every client’s issues can be overcome and resolved even with the intervention of the best expert. Despite countless rewarding moments on the job, Alva admits that being a youth counsellor has its challenges too.
“Every client has a different set of problems we need to help overcome, and change takes time. So when I don’t see the outcomes as soon as I hope to, it can be disheartening. Accepting that despite our best efforts, some clients may still not overcome their circumstances, was and is still a difficult pill to swallow”, says Alva.
Never one to be defeated by setbacks, Alva takes the challenges she faces on the job in her stride. She quips, “I have a great team at TYI and we are always there to support one another through difficult periods at work so I never feel too overwhelmed. I also believe that the challenges we face at work give us a new perspective to life and aren’t all that bad. After all, life’s challenges are what help us grow into better versions of ourselves!”