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!!

Self-worth

Genuine self-worth journey is long, eventful, unpleasant but freeing and relieving after each step.. Sometimes we find it ‘worth it’. Sometimes we prefer the known; the comfortable discomforts and do not continue it.. Just like eating, sleeping, this journey has to be walked on each day by daily practice towards it.

Genuineness and In touch with reality- or as D.W.Winnicott would say: “Real Self”.. is the key to this journey among many other. And for ‘Real’, moving closer to nakedness towards ownself, meeting self as we are, is synonymous!

Kesudas' "Last Request"
kesudas_sketch

cheers & best wishes

to Good Health & Freedom!

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.

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

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).

~

Healing

I find ‘Healing’ in the emotional context especially, to be very tricky. Let me explain…

When we say healing, we are referring to a wound being healed or in the process of it.. We are talking about overcoming hurt and feelings of uncontainable sadness and pain over an event, or rather, the way the event has been interpreted and the meaning that we attach to it. Healing can be a very “feel good” thing by itself- and that is where I’m finding it a bit tricky.

There is something as a “good depression”, something healthy and necessary for our growth. It naturally becomes a part of the healing process- no matter how small or big the event in question is. The tricky thing I’ve been referring to, is when a healing act or assistance misreads this step or phase and tries to get away from this, thus creating a loop or a cyclic pattern bringing about an amount of dysfunction.

In simple words, healing can shade and fade into need for pampering!

So as far as we are aware of things within and taking into account the externals- be it people’s reactions and situations, it will help the healing process, no matter which method we employ, to stay on track and onwards to the goal.

So one danger is to get addicted to the healing process (in lines of feeling pampered). The second one is a conscious act to protect oneself. Let me explain: as a self-protection measure remembering the hurt or hurtful incidents in an “in the face” sort of way, so as to avoid falling in a vulnerable position again. In this case, the individual ends up hurting self each day in process by bringing that hurt again and again in the present moment and never really heal. How? The person is deliberately staying away from healing, leaving the ‘wounds’ open- out of fear, and without realizing, cradles the hurt or the hurtful memories.

So folks, the next time we use the word heal, let us take a look further, deeper.. and find out WITHIN the context at hand, what do we really mean, what are we really doing.. and what is actually happening!

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.