Whenever we introduce the name of our practice, “Sikhona,” the response is almost always something along the lines of, “Oh. What? What’s that?” I (Vanessa, the owner…hi!) was anticipating that. After all, it’s from Zulu and Xhosa languages, but not really uttered among English speakers.
The word “Sikhona” (si:’kɔh:nah) is a part of a common greeting among Zulu and Xhosa people of South Africa. Whereas we here in the States might say, “Hey!” or “How are you?”…or in some circles a slight head nod and grunt to acknowledge others…the Zulu and Xhosa say, “Sawubona,” which means “I see you.”
In response to being seen, the reply “Sikhona” follows, which loosely translates to, “I am here.”
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have that exchange with someone?
A loved one? Even a stranger?
“I see you.” You are important to me. You are worthy of being seen.
“I am here.” I am here to be seen by you. I exist. I matter.
“Sikhona” honors the belief that “I did not exist until you saw me.” We are who we are in the context of our relationships, and when we are seen by others, fully present, we truly come to life.
To be acknowledged in such a way can cultivate a profound sense of belonging and personhood. It’s a powerful thing to be seen and to experience another who desires to see you. In therapy, we’ve come to understand one of the deepest points of pain for people is feeling invisible and unknown, so our culture at Sikhona Holistic Therapy and Wellness is built around therapists who aim to truly see each of their clients and celebrate their inherent humanity and value.
It’s also why we specialize in relational therapy, because our heart is in the work of providing evidenced-based spaces where people become empowered to see themselves, their partners, and family members through a lens of compassion and curiosity.
In a way not related to the traditional Zulu and Xhosa meaning of Sikhona, it’s also sort of neat to acknowledge that from an attachment perspective (which is what our therapists are aaaaallllllll about), “I am here,” are practically the holiest words one can pronounce within a relationship when someone is in need of support and connection.
If you’re in struggle, feeling disconnected from love or purpose; If there are things that have happened to you in the past that leave you feeling “less than” or not enough; If you need a safe place to process your experiences and learn how to create meaningful relationships:
We are here.