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!!

Readdressing Love & its Issues

Flowing Insights Programme

designed & facilitated by

Psychotherapist

Ms. Kunjal Shah

~

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

-Socrates

“Whether its understanding our relationships better.. or we are going through a tough time in life due to specific problems or reasons, or if we are simply looking to “up” the game of life to the next phase or level- these sessions will certainly pave the way.

 

Flowing Insights sessions are designed for you in such a way, that you will be better able to reach the answers you seek. The topics are large and general enough to cover a huge range of issues. Your practice of the process you experience here, and the professional assistance I lend, will provide you with a road to resolve your specific problem from its root. You may check back your trial experiences of insights gained and fine tune the approach back in your life through later sessions. That’s the beauty of these sessions- it will not end in a single talk- It will end after you apply the insights learnt and come back with feedback and questions for more clarity and fuel for your journey in the next session.

 

The springboard for these sessions is You and Dr. Peck’s book: The Road Less Travelled. If you’ve read the book, going to read the book, or not read the book, it matters less. Your presence, some motivation and a little bit of openness is what’s required.

 

Our topic to begin with, is Readdressing Love & its Issues.”

 

Yours sincerely,

Kunjal Shah,

Your Psychotherapist & Counselling Psychologist during “Flowing Insights’ Programme”.

~

THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. FOR QUERIES REGARDING THIS PROGRAM, YOU MAY DO SO BY USING THE FORM IN THE “CONTACT ME” SECTION.  THANK YOU.

Venue: HELP Library, VT, Mumbai.

Date:   1st session = 2nd July 2011

Time:   1 – 2:30 p.m.

Fee:     350 Rs. Per session. (Number of sessions to attend is upto you and your comfort.)

Group:  Small, Cozy & Warm 🙂

fyi:The Programme is divided across three main topics to be covered in a span of minimum 7 sessions:

a)                  Stagnation and monotony Vs Love, healing and growth.

b)                  Pains, problems, manipulations Vs Freedom, health and enrichment of relationships.

c)                  Understanding our resistances, Checking our “tools” & Onto our own roads to be travelled.

 

THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. FOR QUERIES REGARDING THIS PROGRAM, YOU MAY DO SO BY USING THE FORM IN THE “CONTACT ME” SECTION.  THANK YOU.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Flowing Insights Programme” : Bibliotherapy

What is bibliotherapy? Well, these sessions are soon going to begin here in Mumbai that I will be designing and facilitating. On this account, today’s article is on Therapeutic value of books and their discussions..

Lets take a light, fantasy filled classic for example- Alice in Wonderland, which talks about simply, GROWING UP! It unconsciously takes our mind on a journey acquainting us with the range of emotions we may experience while going through that sort of change- where the old has lost it’s value and the new seems pleasantly or unpleasantly different. How often do we come across this sort of a change?- change of job? getting a job? getting used to changes in people around us? getting in the dating scene? Entering in a committed relationship? opting for a different health regime and actually staying on it? .. The list is endless and the therapeutic use of this book (when used well), vast.

On the other hand there’s The Road Less Travelled. It shares Dr. Peck’s version of a map of life from his professional (psychotherapist) experience and the journey of his clients. So he directly talks about-events, approaches, attitudes, suggested solutions, processes, etc- that pertain to the problems-big, tiny or small. The book (when used smartly) allows an individual to look squarely at things we face everyday, in various forms and intensities- rejection, success, loss, tolerance, love, romance,  rebirth, transformation, death, joy, hopes, miracles, etc. So when, how and whom can bibliotherapy with this book benefit? The answer is obvious- at any stage of adult life. Whether its an ill person in the family one has to take care of, or understanding our own disorderliness and mental blocks, if we are going through a tough time in life for whichever reason, or simply looking to “up” the game of life on the next phase or level- bibliotherapy through this book certainly paves a way.

There is a condition though, that applies in using help, guidance or a starting point or material for discussions from books- as discussed in the prior article– the ideas and solutions presented or perceived from the books are not writ in stone! These ideas require examining, trial & error (under an experienced facilitator preferably), sharing-editing-retesting of experiences and thus learning what’s best for us practically.

Bibliotherapy is thus, help and healing through books, carefully selected by a bibliotherapist and conducted through reading jointly, or having a post-reading discussion, or through activities designed to apply the written word in real life or a combination of these methods.

I’m very happy to announce that from 18th June, I will be facilitating, in capacity of a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, such Bibliotherapy sessions in Mumbai (One example- The book selected for VT venue is The Road Less Travelled see http://helplibrary.blogspot.cotop 5 booksm/2011/06/workshops-on-biblio-therapy-flowing.html)

Best wishes for the journey, see you there! 🙂

If you have differing ideas and book and venue suggestions- do write to me. You may leave a comment here or at: kunjal.s.psy@gmail.com

Self-help books & Real help

Sometimes in life, there comes a time, when a need is felt to evaluate the way we are living. There are times, wherein our lifestyle needs change or re-designing to suit our needs. This is also about the time, a self-help book section in a bookshop holds our interest.. and a good chance we end up picking a book in the end.

Beyond reading, after some trial and error of applying the new lessons learnt and old remembered, most books are kept away and forgotten.. and life sometimes doesn’t make a transformation as hoped for and as the book jacket most definitely promised, except an adjustment in maybe a few steps here and there.

So how can we make the most of a self-help book?

It is a book at the end of the day. And the marketing gimmicks and tricks in not only selling but in the written content as well- galore. Find a person, or better, people! A book reading group- a different one each time, or a consistently meeting group- these are good ideas. It can be discussed then with facilitators present, on what basis to choose which book for which issue or motivation that’s currently active in your life. It’s like this- the worst time to go for grocery or food shopping is when you’re hungry; the intense hunger-need clouds any logic! Similarly, being patient and discussing things over- what’s going on within, gaining more clarity of a situation and then heading over a self-help book counter with some recommendations sounds like a better idea. But it shouldn’t stop there- not as far as interpreting words in their full meaning within a context and then application of that data is concerned. Discussions, with people, with the human, compassionate and empathic touch, focusing on daily application of the insights gained- either by rejecting, expounding or accepting the views presented in the book- that helps in moving beyond words and for a book to live and enrich lives than lying like a thing on a shelf somewhere..

A book is a medium. Not the process! The process of any learning would require a good discussion- before purchase, during reading, and after..

Best wishes 🙂

 

 

 

Art & Cognitive Dissonance

Click for an enlarged view.

Living with a lot of dissonance, inner conflict and ambivalence can be confusing, tumultuous and painful.

Relaxing and finding a comfortable environment and space, expressing, relaxing, more expressing and being open to approach life as an exploration; observing without judging, can help bring clarity, peace and integrity.

Art helps. Especially, with the expressing and relaxing.