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).



Counseling & Psychotherapy

There seems to be a clouded understanding of what Counseling is and its difference from Psychotherapy. In India atleast, there are quite a few misconceptions. To spell the most basic point first, psychological counseling is not advice giving. And CBT, REBT, Father Fuster’s barefoot counseling, Carkhuff’s model, etc are very FEW TYPES of Counseling, they are not the only approaches.

Having spelled that out, to put forth my view, experience, research and understanding on Counseling & Psychotherapy:

Counseling and Psychotherapy are facilitative and analytical processes for furthering growth to a degree. Where they differ according to me, is in one main area, of what it employs to work with- Transference. Psychotherapy, for it to be successful, will REQUIRE to employ Transference. Counseling, depending on which approach and type is followed by the practitioner, may/ may not work with the Relationship between the counselor and client in a “client-projected” sense of way, and base it mostly on dispensing information and on the CONTENT provided verbally, non-verbally by the client. This is generally followed in brief therapy. The longer the therapy gets, ‘transference’ has to be understood by the therapist, and it forms a map, a ladder- for the client, to work his/her way out to any personal, perceptive restructuring or changed view of life. That is central to psychotherapy.

For a client, what matters is reaching the goal- this way or that! Only practitioners, aware of a larger spectrum of approaches, are in a position to assist a client in helping them find the best fit for them, for their growth process- be it out of a problem, issue, crisis or a long standing vague lacuna.

When open, flexible and working together, the benefit is larger; for the client, and in the long-run, for the practitioners too.