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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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.

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~

 

“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

Q & A : “Psychotherapy”

An Introductory talk on Psychotherapy was held at the HELP library’s Patient Doctor Community’s Meeting in the month of May. Quite a few questions were raised and discussed, some of them are shared below:

Q.1    How come meditation itself doesn’t cure things?

A.     There are many kinds of meditation. If by meditation, relaxation and calm state of mind is referred, then within that state one may feel.. well- calm! If problems are requiring to be looked and dealt with, and instead, we tend to ‘escape’ under a false calmness, it may obviously not ‘cure’ anything. It’s important to differentiate between false calmness, and being at peace with oneself. (For more on this- https://psychdom.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/relaxation-a-solution/)

Q.2  When does one reach a stage to REQUIRE it?

A.   ..when regular support systems- family, friends, physicians, etc. have been tried but there continues to be dissatisfaction, problems have remained unsolved, unresolved, or they keep appearing, disappearing, only to reappear again. So yes, once the methods that we typically are using, are not satisfying us- that’s when generally people consider Psychotherapy & Counseling. Having said this, one can go to a psychotherapist at any point. The therapy is to facilitate our journeys too, not just problem-solving.

Q.3  Does Psychological counseling or psychotherapy “draw from within”?

A.    Insight-oriented counseling means drawing from within! There are different kinds of counseling. Long-term insight oriented therapy, Rogerian counseling, etc focus on drawing out insights from within..

Q.4   How long does it usually take? Are there a fixed no of sessions for therapy?

A.     There is no fixed number. It entirely depends on the nature of concern, with which one goes to a Counselor, and the kind of counseling or psychotherapy one opts for. What I do, is depending on the client’s awareness regarding counseling, ask them to see how they feel during the process after completing 3 sessions- This is after they’ve decided to enter counseling, after they’ve found it comfortable with me. Additionally, I tell them if they require to recheck, to check for shifts if not changes, after 10 sessions. Psychotherapy and counseling process may be from 4 sessions for someone, to sessions spanning over years- it depends on the client’s goals and working style.

Q.5   How does one, seeking psychotherapy, come to know or decide what form of therapy to choose??

A.     Considering that its going to be a little uncomfortable at times, as it is the Unconscious aspect of mind being dealt, choosing one where one finds self comfortable, helps. There are several types- art, “talk” or “couch”, play, drama, etc. Some therapists are specifically trained only in one while others employ many kinds. So if you want versatility, seek one who picks several forms and mediums. If only one form is found comfortable enough to focus on the unpleasantness that may need a way out, then a more specific therapy can be opted for.

Q.6   If the environment is affecting a child negatively, will bettering the environment be enough or will the child still need therapy?

A.     Will it help? Absolutely. Will it be enough? That depends on how the child is feeling and what he/she has understood out of the change. Overnight things cannot be changed. Permanent change takes a while- and digesting, adapting to the change- be it good/bad does take time as well. Counseling will definitely help you, your child and your family to communicate effectively. By being open and not acting out of fear, one can look how well-adjusted the child is or isn’t objectively, and can take a call accordingly (One e.g. of finding out if our actions are based on fear is if we catch ourselves doing this: to quickly make things better and communicate “quickly” everything to the child).

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What is Psychotherapy?!

A talk on Introduction to Psychological Counseling, Psychotherapy & the whole gamut..

The field is vast and the awareness gap between the field and the general audience, large. In the following video an attempt is made to explain the basis of Psychotherapy. In the second short video clipping, a part of types of Psychotherapies is explained. The subject in discussion is large, hence a series of talk is aimed at. This is the first step.

Basis of any type of Psychological Counseling:

On kinds of Psychotherapy:

Coming up next:

Short list of Questions & Answers asked by fellow members of the community.

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