I feel as parents and educators, the best gift we can give children is to contribute to their positive mental health.
Here is an article I wrote for The Swaddle about the how and when of therapy for children.
Would love to hear your comments and feedback about it.
When I was younger, I would ask a lot of questions to my teachers and often draw inspiration from art, theater, movies and books. Many perceived me to be a misfit, as I seemed too questioning of the existing ways psychology was taught. My gut instinct always told me that psychology existed beyond textbooks, it existed in dark alleys, minds of writers, poets and everyone who struggled with a story.
It has been over 10 years now, that I have been working as a psychologist. Whether it was my work with TISS, or private clinic, I have had the privilege of working with some of the brightest minds, human beings struggling with concerns that seems to question their deepest fears. A lot of my work has been with visual artists, writers, and people in the creative field.
Working with them have triggered visual metaphors for me, which are a huge source of my personal learning. I recently remember how in a session, a strong metaphor found life within me. The conversation revolved around how I have tried to balance or prevent myself from being carried away by strong thoughts and ideas. As I was speaking , I could see myself standing far away in a visual field, where there were multiple ideas, just like speech bubbles, surrounding me. I could see them, feel them, yet they were far away. They could influence me, subtly , but not strong to be swept away by them.I could see in my younger days, these ideas and ‘I’ were too close, and could possibly consume me. It almost feels like the, observer in me, has gradually come to being.
Thank you to everyone who has trusted me with their darkest and deepest self.
Do you think visual metaphors and insights have healed you? would love listening to your story.
Every time I sit down to de-clutter my wardrobe, there are few clothes that have been around forever. They continue to sit in my cupboard for years and stare at me. These clothes are like leftovers, I can’t manage to make up my mind if I need to discard them or keep them.
Maybe this is a simile that works beautifully with the mind. Some thoughts continue to exist within us, leading a silent life, they gnaw at us and remind us that we need to give them a closure. But sometimes we wonder if we have the courage to deal with them? Would it feel like opening a can of worms?
Sometimes sitting on the fence is so easy, but it stops any movement and allows mind to stagnate. So this time, I’m choosing to discard few old thoughts and refurbish/redesign some old scripts that have shaped my life. I’m hoping to get in touch with some old thoughts that got deeply buried in my pursuit of work, and so called success.
Do you also feel the same? Do you too have old items in your cupboard that need discarding?
All of us allow ourselves to be consumed by life, and in the process, we lose the essence of who we are, the opportunity to connect with like minded people, listen to our gut instinct. Some time back I chose to quit a job that I had worked for 10 years and allowed myself the risk of not having anything to do. In this period when I chose the ambiguous road ahead, life happened and work miraculously came in. Work which provided me more variety, creativity and most importantly, flexibility.
Here is why I freelance – I choose happiness, I love the prospect of not doing anything, making less but enough money to be happy. It gives me the luxury of enjoying my tea, chatting with friends, reading to my daughter and being around my family. I love the prospect of planning a holiday with my husband and not worry about juggling work dates.
As I look back at my life, I feel I found myself in places where I chose to let go and chose to control less. Sometimes when we follow our gut instinct, answers come gushing to us with revelations and life plans.
So my daughter saw an Idea commercial and felt that it was prejudiced in it’s outlook towards women. So here is my story about how my 5 year old daughter learnt to be socially conscious.Sometimes I feel my social service genes and attitude has rubbed off.Any opinions?
Sometimes I feel there are so many stories of pain, struggle, hope and resilience buried deep within me.These are tales, that clients have trusted me with and they are sacred.I’m sure clients wonder,what do I do with them.They continue to live a silent life within me and no one has access to them.I remember,when I was in college,a friend of me would tell me how I love listening to stories.Somehow in psychotherapy, I do that.When people ask me, what do I do,I say, I listen.I create a facilitative environment where people can share and be themselves. It’s a privelege to be trusted.Sometimes,when clients walk in the room, with their pain,all I can see is the strong will power to recover and hope.I see courage that each client brings in,every time, they choose to share their deepest buried secret.I owe gratitude to them and that’s why I let the story lie deep within the recesses of my mind and soul.
Today when my daughter was playing in the garden and I was watching over her, I suddenly heard a boy of about 6 or 7 years scream out loudly to call his mother. After the boy called couple of times and his mother didn’t pay attention to him, he shouted loudly and said “If you don’t come right now Mom, I would kill myself”. ( conversation was in Hindi).
I couldn’t believe what I heard. I approached the mother, who by now was standing with her young boy and scolding him. I asked the mother about where he had heard this and the mother said she had no clue. When I asked the young boy,he mentioned how on a reality show, he had heard a participant say this line.
Just yesterday twice on Indian sitcom, I heard the characters,speak about self-harm and the desire to end their lives. These serials run anytime between 7 to 9 pm – primetime slots where children are likely to watch television. I consciously monitor TV timings for my daughter, but I have come to realise that I can’t have complete TV control.
At a time, where suicide rates are increasing among children and young people, are we glorifying death? Is it right to promote suicide on television and portray it as the only alternative when we find life meaningless? I don’t remember hearing or knowing about suicide till I was in my teens. English shows are censored beyond recognition in India, but does the Indian Censor Board set the same standard on Hindi channels? It is our responsibility to create resilience in children set examples by using characters who have a will and desire to bounce back. As a psychologist and a parent, I monitor and limit TV hour to just children’s cartoons, but I can’t control everything that’s been played on television.
In Indian settings, many people have 1 television and all family members watch the same serial. The very thought that television is introducing the term suicide and portraying it is heart wrenching. I know I can’t control what my daughter sees on television, but I can at least choose how she sees it and what meaning she makes of it, by talking and listening to her.
Research shows how suicides result from ‘CopyCat ‘ Phenomenon.Therefore it is in the interest of children and adults that suicide is not glorified