Psychotherapy, Counseling, Dear Zindagi and more..

Psychotherapy, Counseling, Dear Zindagi and more..

An insight oriented psychotherapist by profession for over 10 years, and someone who’s been on the receiving end of therapy sporadically over the last 15 years, with the recent release of ‘Dear Zindagi’, here’s my take on the way psychotherapy is portrayed in some movies and TV shows:

(for more info on these, click on the titles)
*** Dear Zindagi ***

First of all, I am feeling ecstatic this movie was made- it reflects a pressing need of the hour with the alarming rate of young people committing suicides and giving into addiction. The fact that psychotherapy exists, is not known to so many! This movie helps spread the message that it exists and that there isnt any shame in it whatsoever- that’s just funny- to think of it in a shameful light- doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to think that way! See the film, you’ll know.

Coming to a qualitative portrayal of therapeutic journey- I suggest looking at the movie as a “highlights of Kaira’s sessions” or memories of peak moments in her therapy- film. With that lens, the gap between a realistic portrayal of therapy and the cinematic one becomes lesser. With regards to the boundaries and unconventional therapeutic environment issue, the therapist surely pushes it being hard-pressed for time since he had just a few shots within a 3 hr film to establish rapport, win her trust, get her to open up and reach core issues within layers of her personality to finally help free her from her shackles 😛 . I can personally look at it with a forgiving view as principally he adhered to most rules even in the outdoors sessions- the therapist is more of the open and available type than strictly clinical too which is why some clinicians will cringe, while others will nod with a quiet smile and understanding. The outdoors sessions and some in-the-room sessions remind me of children’s play therapy. It did stick to most of the rules on which basis change is possible. The most important thing which is why I’m in a forgiving mood, are the healing moments. The therapist’s character is alert in all the right places, picking up all of the signs that the client is dropping unaware her own self, and reflects back all that she is not saying, or is simply not equipped to say (So yes, I don’t find it sermon-y if seen with the “highlights of her therapy” lens). His penetrative gaze as he stays with her inner self, refusing to let her hide from emerging and giving her pain the importance so she can do the same and finally move on was very important: In these moments, the client is being “met”, through all the bullshit, through all the difficulties, through all the smokescreens, through most of her “layers”. Without this, meeting her forgotten experiences and aspects of her own identity and being would have been extremely difficult if not impossible in therapy- and the breakthrough she unknowingly sought in her life far away. So yes, all’s forgiven Dear Zindagi for getting that right 🙂 .

*** Awkward ***

In the American TV show Awkward, they are showing a “GUIDANCE & COUNSELOR” not a psychotherapist! Please know 🙂 hehe..

*** Good Will Hunting ***

Such a fantastic job! They show all the different kinds of analysts and therapists. Watch this film, educate yourself. But just like Dear Zindagi, please treat it with the “highlights” lens- that and the bit that the therapy-goer was a genius!

*** Hannibal (TV show) ***

Okay, barring the crimes and the later half of the show, it’s fantastic (Hannibal’s sessions with his therapist). The research is simply amazing.

*** The Prince of Tides ***

No. This is not how therapy works at all- not with all the ethics out the window. Poignant story, yes, Not therapy. Enough said.

*** Hope Springs (2012) ***

Couple’s brief counseling- Yes please. Hardly any rules broken. Quite a feat for showing therapy on screen. Though it comes only second to the Hannibal show.

*** Analyze This *** ; ***The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)*** ; *** Girl, Interrupted ***

A big yes for all three of these 🙂 .

Hope you’ll enjoy the list and find it helpful. You can surely add more in the comments- especially if you are a therapist/ have experienced proper counseling/ or ask if you have a show or movie in mind 🙂

Wishing you more power, in your journey 🙂
Kunjal.

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To Rustin Cohle’s Defense ;-)

(As a team, where I also consult- at our beautiful counseling center called Inner Space Counseling, we decided to do a round of defense mechanisms in pop fictional characters for Mental Health week 2016. I chose Rusty, here’s an article on what could really be going on in his intelligent but dark mind.)

Why True Detectiveyes, season one

Psychological defenses are necessary for us to cope with the pressure and demands of leading a civilized life. All of us are obliged to employ defense mechanisms, and we all do so- unconsciously- everyday! It’s the “tricks” that our mind plays so we can deal with inner conflicts, unpleasantness and to prevent a tide of overwhelm- in order to stay composed and function “better”. While they seem very much like our allies, they can pose a lot of problems as well- like the auto-correct on our phones that don’t always help… But that’s a text message, and this, is life. To explain this at play in as close to real life as possible, and accessible to all, I’ve chosen the broody Detective Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) from the 8 episode long popular mini-series True Detective’s Season One by HBO.

true-detective-poster

It’s based on real events, and since the writer has written a riveting multilayered story just as real life can be, I’ve chosen a popular fiction character to help better explain psychological defences in daily life rather than a textual one. Its a fantastic cop story unlike the typical ones- focussing on the growth of characters- Rustin: a complex, intense, intelligent, pessimist who’s past is dark; and Martin- an easy going charming man but self-cenetred family man who vehemently challenges monogamy but only secretly- set in 1995 to 2012 Louisiana. Along with Rusty’s hypnotic dialogue delivery, each time I revisit it, there are more and more psychological nuances that reveal themselves. The non-verbals are so bang-on, I wonder how did they manage to do it- I’ve so far not been able to fault it. If you have seen True Detective, proceed only then 🙂 Take this as your spoiler alert for the whole article!!

 What is so peculiar about Rust?

“I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.” -Cohle (writer Nic Pizzolatto)

https://i0.wp.com/rustcohle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/rust-cohle-true-detective.jpg

                With Rusty, you’re bound to have a strong reaction as the use of minimal defense mechanisms contribute to the intensity of his character as compared to the ‘herd’ (along with his depressing past). Using fewer defense mechanisms can make it difficult for people to be or relate with him: he ends up being constantly confrontative and look-at-reality (his depressing version of it) kind of person. The following adjectives help us sketch his personality type – shown as a misanthrope, he is highly self-aware, truthful, responsible, messed up, cruel, obsessive, perceptive, intelligent and socially aloof- all rolled in one, as shown repeatedly throughout the story.

What is Rusty coping with? How does he really defend himself psychologically?- hint: by hitting a special reset button in his mind and as a conclusion, operating from his infamous pessimistic philosophy

The entire article is here: (Since I cant repost it and I’ve submitted that article to Inner Space, and my love for Rustin Cohle, Nic Pizzolatto & the full True Detective story had to be shared on my blog, I’ve made an entry here- my analysis is in the link below)

http://innerspacetherapy.in/self-help-and-improvement/defenses-of-rusty/

I enjoyed it, hope you do too!!

Anger: a second look at it

 

angry_smiley-155846_640

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anger seems powerful: Yelling, talking loudly to a point of screeching.. all sounds aggressive, yes. But if you can look deeper, then look for the Why -in other words- When does a person reach to a point wherein he/she believes that getting loud for them is necessary or required. In other words, forego logic and judgment, and just make an attempt to see.

Here’s a general and for some, an obvious answer – when one is unheard and wants to be heard desperately- that is when a person speaks louder, even screams! The key here is desperation and a fearful belief that one wont be heard genuinely. Thus I say, anger is a desperate act to avoid the feeling of helplessness.

Angry Young Son

What I often find common amongst people wanting to work on their anger, is the felt inability (vs what is projected outward to others) to say “No” with ease, without guilt, without any kind of discomfort. This felt anxiety and discomfort, if further analyzed, is more than often a felt (vs intellectual/logical) moral conflict: when a certain view and action feels right and logically sounds correct, but from somewhere within 100% permission to stick with that point of view is not experienced.

So dear reader, if you find yourself angrier than usual, more irritable, or simply want to understand your angry responses and reactions, look at the underlying inner moral conflict- the rights and wrongs for you that is- centering around the feelings that arise from the triggering incident in question.

Best wishes!

Kunjal.

 

Anxiety related bodily problems

While some of us may be unaware of the connection between feelings of helplessness we experience day to day, and the resultant anxiety to that with our anxiety headaches, indigestion, loose motions, heart palpitations, etc.,  in which our body reacts, some are a bit too aware and analytical about it.

Anxiety symptoms, are symptoms. Not problems. And our attention is required at these little annoyances and discomforts only to help us lead the way to these problems. These problems need, require, our attention. It helps to remember this from time to time.. Problems need solving- symptoms are only signals! If we only hear our heart beating fast, feel restless, sweaty without known reason, shortness of breath due to some worry, it’s time to pause.. attend to these.. trace the problem.. And acknowledge it from within.

Road less travelled – the book, talks about it. So does the Johnny Depp movie Alice in Wonderland, albeit in metaphors.

Look underneath those bodily symptoms, find your real pain.. The outcome may not be one of feeling overjoyed, but can simply be freeing.

Love & Best wishes,
Kunjal.

Sattva – My psychotherapy office named.

I’m writing after a gap of a little over a year.. What better way and time to re-start, than NOW 🙂 . This post is more of a personal happy update on my clinic office, Sattva.

My work space has shifted from a medical clinic set-up to a private psychotherapy office (late 2013). I’ve finally reached the name I’m satisfied with after a couple of months work of thinking, and wish to announce and share it with everyone – It’s named SATTVA 🙂 . It means- True Alignment. That pretty much sums up the general direction of counseling goals I have in mind as a counselor. And I’m very happy after months of googling, discussing with friends and family, along with client feedback and brainstorming with myself for finally having found an apt single word that says exactly what I mean to.

Setting the place up was another challenge. Clinic location, the seating inside, it’s position, the couch, wall colour, nick-nacks- what to add, what to leave, the general feel of the space.. it took a lot of researching, introspection, going over client feedback over the years… and shopping. While I’ve only begun adding the little touches, the office is very much operational and am contented with the cozy, warm yet spacious enough place for people to feel just enough comfort to be able to open up and discuss painful things as well as feel lighter. Couldn’t have done it without family and friends 🙂

It’s nice and green and brown 🙂 . While I feel the space is great, clients too have shared they like the warm space hundred times better than meeting in a clinical setting. The couch helps accelerate things as well, as I have been witnessing. So all set for 2014, I’m ready for this additional year to enrich life.

Sharing a couple of photos :

This is how it looks from the outside-

Sattva exterior
The inner counseling room:
This is one of the seating arrangements used for Individual/ Couple’s Counseling-
counseling seating
 A closer look at what the couch at Sattva looks like, for individuals who prefer this seating:
couch
Here is what your Counseling room at Sattva actually looks like:
Sattva full inner room
A big warm Thank you to everyone who’s been supportive, helpful in getting Sattva to happen and for your generous blessings and well wishes. I hope to continue doing the same work with more commitment, greater focus and larger reach.
Good to be back on wordpress,
Towards mental health and well-being,
Kunjal.

What Are You Storing in Your Memory Bank??

In course of a therapy session when I ask an individual to recall an incident or event from their life, different people recall different specifics. Some focus on what the event conveyed- the meaning specific to them, how they felt or how the event visually appeared to be..

 

But is that all that our mind remembers? Is this all that our mind stores?

 

I may not know everything that our mind is a repository of, and how much is accessible, but of the amazing things I have come to know or studied and seen in action, I write about below..

 

Our memory bank, wherever it may physically be situated in, is more capable than we normally tend to give credit to. We may forget consciously many things, but unconsciously we remember, our bodies remember sensations- all five of them. We seem to have given thinking, which is not a physical sense, more importance over other stimulations. Hence more than often we remember using our ‘thinking’. But we forget, our senses remember too. Every associated smell, memory of the atmosphere visually, physical sense of comfort, sounds, may or may not be filed well alongside the content of the memories– depending on how aware, and conscious are we using all our senses. Hence I call it, like how clients do, ‘amazing’.

 

The whiff of a comforting cup of cocoa is nothing but cocoa, had usually in upsetting times.. And the next time we sense the aroma, it starts bringing to our minds, the associated feeling memory of warmth, comfort.. and lets not forget, along with all this, a Need for comfort. Similarly, upsetting memories we try hard to make sense of, and sometimes feel we have talked about and dealt with, may leave residual memories, powerful ones in our mind in form of sensations and unexplained feelings or moods too.

 

Our mind remembers. So does our body- pain, discomfort, different sensations, everything- ready to be triggered at any time, unannounced.

 

So when we are nostalgic, or living in the past imagine what we may knowingly, unknowingly bring to the present? And when we believe we are in the present moment, how much present moment living are we really doing.. and how much is truly possible?

 

Food for processing.. experientially and intellectually.

🙂

What is Anxiety?

 

What is Anxiety?

Inacceptability of Reality.

Think.

That simple.

Reality undigested = Being partially aware and running away from that awareness = often causing gastric trouble for e.g.

A little more awareness, or a litle more of undigested reality in your face, coupled with  higher intensity of desire to look in the other direction… panic attacks.

What reality am I talking about? For a school phobic, its not the reality of physical existence of school. For a claustropbhobe, it isn’t about enclosed places. That is a given. And those ae maifestations. It’s what our troublesome zones represent to us personally and uniquely- however big or small- and the belief that it challenges which you, me, us wish to avert, postpone, deny.. Our adult variation of the kind of pain a child would go through when against the baby’s wish, the baby, even if for a little while has to stay away from a parent..

Think. Sometimes our own guiding pals, our beliefs are not what they seem and instead maybe troubling us, if so, it is needless to say it’s not helping anymore.. Perhaps it is time to throw out those dear comfortable beliefs that do not serve us anymore.. then we maybe able to adapt. Start excercizing as much will power as you can in the given moment (it will always differ from time to time and circumstances you’re in, so don’t push yourself to the point of being hard on yourself!), and breeeeeaaatthe. All you have to do, is work BIT by BIT to look at these thoughts the ones that bother, and stop your shock feeling associated with it- HOW? – simply look. Take the SMALLEST thought- babysteps- and look. The shock will pass. You’ll have moved one step ahead on road to enriched living. 🙂

 

Do it with someone, experienced and professional, the better, or Do as much as you can, SLOWLY.. and work toward your own freedom 🙂

 

Lots of Love~