In the modern world, living with a mental health condition is not very rare. In fact, globally more than 20% of the population goes through a mental health condition in some part of their lives. Adding to that, we can’t emphasize enough the need for mental health counselling and psychotherapy in Kashmir, where more than half of the population is traumatised and distressed according to MSF’s report, Kashmir: violence and health, November 2006. Despite of the alarming numbers, the concept of mental health counselling and psychotherapy remains alien to the general populace.
Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, can help individuals overcome their traumas and pain from their past and develop coping strategies to grow and thrive in the future.Psychotherapy refers to a range of treatments that can be helpful with psychiatric disorders, emotional problems and mental health challenges. A primary goal of psychotherapy is to enable the clients or patients understand their feelings and behavioural patterns like what makes them happy, sad, anxious or depressed. This leads to coping in more adaptive ways.
Psychotherapy can also help in defining one’s goals, and let individuals realize what they want in life and who they are. According to studies, psychotherapy is extremely effective with more than 90% of success rate. This is because people who undergo therapy can express and explore their behaviours and mood in a safe, non-judgmental space in which a mental health professional may provide innovative inputs and perspectives. It’s a good way to explore one’s deeper emotions to have a better understanding of one-self. Anyone undergoing stressful situations and unable to cope with daily life can benefit from psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy can help people cope with a number of experiences. Psychotherapy also promotes one’s self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence and improves relationships, outlook on life and life-skills. Anyone can benefit from psychotherapy to establish healthy goals and relationships. One doesn’t need to be in ultimate crisis to get support. A sound mental health can prevent the onset of mental disorders so the larger problems can be avoided. Prevention is better than cure. Therapy can provide relief and make us realize who we are and help us reclaim our lives. One doesn’t need to suffer alone anymore. Psychotherapy also can help in improving communication skills to convey emotions and feelings, thereby improving the quality of life. Therapy can particularly help individuals with depression, anxiety, obsessions, compulsions and relationship problems.
Reasons for undergoing Counselling & Psychotherapy:
What to expect?
Psychotherapy is sometimes also referred to as "the talking cure." It is more like a talking treatment as it uses conversation rather than medication. It can last from a few sessions to long-term therapy that can last months or even years. Sessions last usually for an hour, once a week, and follow a structured process. Usually sessions are one-to-one but therapy can also be done in pairs or as a group. Psychotherapy employs techniques like Socratic questioning, unconditional positive regard, client-centeredness, narrative story, communication techniques, etc. A psychotherapist may be a psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker or mental health counsellor, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychoanalyst, or a psychiatrist. But remember psychotherapy requires extensive training and practical supervision which unfortunately is unavailable in Kashmir and India in general. Any of the above mentioned professionals cannot do psychotherapy by default, unless they had an extensive training in it and generally a recognized licence to practice it.
Many conditions still require other forms of treatment in addition to psychotherapy, like medications, lifestyle management or behaviour change and life-skills programs. Nevertheless, psychotherapy is certainly a powerful and effective tool that can help one towards the path of a happy and more fulfilling life.
Who can benefit?
Psychotherapy can be utilised to help a wide spectrum of people. It can also help just to increase the quality of life and getting priorities in order. But the following are the signs that one might benefit from psychotherapy:
It is very normal to seek help when you need it. Just like physical health, mental health is equally essential. So, break the taboos and stereotypes. Don’t let yourself suffer when you can avoid it altogether. So if you feel like talking to a mental health professional, don’t hesitate, just initiate! After all, psychologists like me are humans too. We don’t bite; we just fight against mental disorders and the stigma. So, join hands to make Kashmir mentally and physically stronger and resilient.
(Author is a Counselling Psychologist & Therapist)