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Mind
Things you need to know about Counseling

The process and purpose of Counseling are often misunderstood, and many people have a negative perception of it. People are often very conflicted about approaching a professional who will be discussing and analyzing their hurtful feelings, sadness, and anxieties. But the reality is totally different. Let’s talk about all the questions you get in mind while talking about Counseling. What is Counseling? Mental Health counseling is based on the science of Psychology. The methods and techniques of various treatment modalities are used by mental health counselors/therapists are based on scientific research. These methods are practical, solution that focused; problem-solving based skill building methods whose main goal is the best interest and overall wellbeing of the individual. Counseling is a facilitative and interactive process where a counselor provides to the client emotional help, guidance, insight, nurturance and clarity to life situations, crisis, and dilemmas. People often behave in ways without knowing why they do so and may be living or behaving in ways that they would like to understand better and change. The process of Counselling can help to bring insight and awareness to their unconscious feelings and behaviors and the connection between them. The process eventually allows the client greater freedom in making choices that help the client to achieve self-sufficiency, a greater sense of self-worth and empowerment Essence of Counseling “The Essence of counseling is always the learning of improved skills and techniques to increase one’s ability to better deal with life’s vicissitudes” Who is your Counsellor? Your Counsellor a highly skilled professional with a minimum of a graduate degree in the field of Counselling licensed in the area of mental health and is trained to provide the following core services- Assessment and Diagnosis Treatment planning and utilization review Psychotherapy-Individual, couple and Family Brief and solution focused therapy Psychoeducation and prevention programs Crisis management and referrals to other medical professionals for consultation Crisis management and referrals to other medical professionals for consultation What You Should Know About Your Mental Health Counselor Is your Counsellor licensed by the Department of Health and Medical Sciences (DOHMS) in Dubai? What are the educational Qualifications of your Counsellor? How long has he/she been in practice? Does he or she have a Degree from an accredited and a recognized University? What are your areas of specialization (such as family therapy, women’s issues, substance abuse counseling, etc.)? How can you help me with my problems? What type of treatment do you use? How long do you think counseling will last? How does Counselling work? The therapist listens to the client’s reasons for seeking help. This could be initiated through a phone call, walk in, or a referral. As a follow up a screening/assessment appointment is set in person which generally lasts for about 50 minutes. In this meeting, the clinician conducts an assessment with a thorough screening of the presenting problem, rule out organic symptoms that might be causing the presenting problem, provide a medical referral if necessary and recommends one or more ways of therapy to eliminate the symptoms of distress If it is determined that other professional help is needed, the therapist will assist in making an appropriate referral. All decisions are made in consultation with the client. “Regardless of the length of a session(s), therapy is hard work and client will not see a benefit unless and until the client is committed to exploration, understanding, growth, and change alongside a therapist committed to facilitating that process. It is also critical that the client is committed to making therapy an ongoing and active process even once they are outside the session which means they should be committed to applying the skills and the lessons learned from their sessions outside in the real world and in their respective life and relationships” Says Ms. Menon, Counselling Psychologist, Lifeworks–Holistic Counselling Centre What is the duration of therapy? The time required for therapy varies with each person depending on the nature of the issues presented, personal history and agreed upon goals. The length of therapy is jointly determined by the client and counselor and may be revised as therapy progresses. Appointments are usually once a week and last about 60 minutes. In a therapeutic model such as Crisis Counselling, the session is very solution focused with not more than three one-hour sessions. Otherwise, sessions can be the short term which is about six sessions with one session a week or long term which could range from about 10-12 sessions with one session a week. The objective, duration, and the treatment plan are outlined at the onset of therapy to provide the client with a strong structure and a committed continuity to their treatment. However, they are not fixed considering the therapist will review the progress and the outcomes achieved with the client on an ongoing basis and on a mutual agreement with the client will modify and or terminate the session accordingly. Is counseling confidential? All information shared in therapy is held in utmost confidentiality. As a client, you are guaranteed the protection of confidentiality within the boundaries of the client/counselor relationship. Licensed Counsellors are mandated by their ethical commitments that no information discussed in the sessions is released without the authorization of the client. The only limitations to confidentiality occur when a counselor feels that there is a clear and imminent danger to you or to others. However, no information discussed in the sessions is released without the authorization of the client. Detailed information about confidentiality and privacy will be listed in the Client’s Bill of Rights which is signed by the client before the commencement of the session.

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March 12, 2019
Sailaja Menon
Counseling Psychologist
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Mind
Myths and Facts About Counseling

There are several myths and stigma attached to the complete process of Counselling. People are often very conflicted about approaching a professional who will be discussing and analyzing their hurtful feelings, sadness, and anxieties. Therefore, there is a constant sense of uneasiness and uncertainty in the minds of people and questions arise such as “Can this professional really help me?” or “Would it be a painful waste of my time?” or you might convince yourself that “I really have no idea what I would say.”? Especially if you have never ever been in counseling or therapy. Here we will talk about some common myths about counseling. Some Common Myths and Facts About Counseling MYTH Counselling is only for people who have serious emotional and mental problems. FACT Seeing a counselor does not mean you are mentally ill or “crazy”. In life, almost everyone has difficulties and challenges at some point and being able to ask for help to overcome these challenges are a sign of strength and taking responsibility to get your life “back on track.” MYTH Seeking Counselling is a sign of weakness. FACT Seeking counseling in fact assign of taking responsibility for your wellbeing. In fact, it takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and painful experiences. It is the first winning step for an individual in resolving their difficulties. MYTH The counselor will “fix” your problems. FACT Counselling is not a “quick fix” to cure your problems. The counselor’s role is to help you reflect and explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns, to examine your options, and assist you in achieving the goals you set. MYTH The Counsellor cannot understand you unless she has had similar experiences or is of the same background. FACT Counsellors are trained to be sensitive to and respectful of individual differences, including the specific concerns/needs with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, culture, religion, age, and socio-economic status. Many Counsellors who are trained in the US and other Western countries have a super specialization in Multicultural Counselling considering diverse cultures in those countries. Counselors are professionally and extensively trained to treat a variety of life crisis and issues. MYTH Seeking Counselling suggests you do not have enough faith that God will take care of you, and fix your problem. FACT While prayers and the complete trust in God are always beneficial to your life, these practices are not the only options available to you for sorting through issues. Most people who seek counseling are people who lead very normal lives and want to find solutions to their life and the problems they face. It is important to bear in mind that everybody has significant problems at various times in their lives. Counseling is just a normal part of the process of resolving things and providing you the tools and the skills to handle them effectively. Counseling can help with multiple areas of life, including parenting, breakups, grief, financial stress, wellness goals, work-life balance, and many more. There is a myth that only “crazy” people seek counseling when the fact is that counselors do not use the word crazy and help people with all degrees of concern.

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March 12, 2019
Sailaja Menon
Counseling Psychologist
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Mind
Decoding Depression- Recognise The Symptoms

For a while now, you have felt this great weight on your shoulders. You drag yourself out of bed every morning with great reluctance. You go through your daily chores as if they are just that: mundane chores to be done with. You don’t enjoy anything you do, nor do you feel motivated enough to try something new. Everything feels ‘too much’: your work, your commute, your family, friends even the things you once used to do with great enthusiasm. At night, you find it hard to fall asleep, and when you do, it’s only to wake up a few hours later. Then you toss and turn for a long time, and fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning, which makes you dull and lethargic throughout the day. You no longer have much to contribute to conversations, and sometimes, with very little provocation, you have a strong urge to break down and weep. But of course, you won’t let it show. You try to hide it all by taking an extra effort to talk and be cheerful, neither of which lasts long enough. It feels as if a grey cloud has descended, darkening your life. And it refuses to lift. If this sounds like your story, then you have a fair idea of what depression feels like. “Everyone goes through periods of sadness, but those are usually in response to life events. ‘Blues’ brought on by a setback of some sort, like losing a job. Such sadness is transient, and you will be back to normal once the situation is under control.” Clinical depression, however, is different. “It’s a prolonged state of melancholy, usually lasting more than two weeks. You feel a persistent, continued, pervasive sense of sadness, most of the days, most of the time. And you are unable to detach yourself from it. Fatigue, loss of sleep and appetite, lack of motivation/enjoyment and sudden weight loss can all indicate depression. Conversely, in some cases, there is a tendency to eat and sleep excessively, and gain weight. People going through depression often have persistent feelings of excessive, inappropriate guilt, you feel that you’re not living up to the expectations of your family and friends that you’re somehow letting them (and yourself) down. And nothing can convince you otherwise.” Sometimes depression is somatized, manifesting itself as a physical symptom such as persistent headache with no identifiable cause. The most alarming symptom of clinical depression, however, is a death wish. When a person feels that life has become so unbearable that death is preferable, or they are haunted by the thought that they don’t deserve to live, it is time to seek urgent professional help. Never take such feelings lightly or brush them aside. According to statistics, about two-thirds of all clinically depressed people contemplate suicide, and a staggering 10 to 15 percent commit suicide. While most of us go to great lengths to ensure our physical wellness, we often ignore the warning signs that our minds send us. The stigma associated with mental illnesses is still very real to most of us, despite education and social awareness. Seeking professional help is seen as a weakness, and well-meaning people advise us to ‘snap out of it’ rather than approach a counselor. Clinical depression, however, is not something that can be wished away. There are multiple factors that contribute to the condition which will be discussed soon, but one thing is clear: those who are going through it should be given the attention and support they require, and at the earliest.

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March 12, 2019
Girish Banwari
Psychiatrist
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Mind
Decoding Depression- Managing Your Condition

“I don’t know why you say you’re depressed! You’ve nothing to feel sad about. Everything is going extremely well for you!” We all have heard these words. Some of us might have uttered them too. To others or to ourselves because, when it comes to depression, we need justification. A tangible reason that lends legitimacy to our condition. “I’m depressed because-” followed by an explanation allows us to be worthy of our condition. Depression without a ‘real’ reason is seen as a weakness, something that we ought to pull ourselves out of. Depression is a fallacy that most people live with. “Depression need not be in response to an external stimulus”. It can happen for no reason, ‘out of the blue’ as they say because some of us are biologically vulnerable to depression. It could be genetic, or it could be due to a physical condition like hypothyroidism. An unhappy event, a failing relationship, or continued financial problems only serve to unmask that existing vulnerability. Depression is a result of bio-psycho-social factors. “No two people will respond to the same situation in the same way. Person A might be able to accept their loss of job, put it behind them and move on, but Person B might be devastated by it. This could be due to their biological propensity towards depression, the inherent differences in their internal coping mechanisms, or external factors such as support from family and friends.” Clinical depression is not something that can disappear as quietly as it appeared. “Seeking professional help is seen as self-indulgence by most people, and they try to ‘pick themselves up and move on with life’. Sometimes it might even seem as if they have managed to come out of depression on your own. But remember that in such instances, there is always the possibility of a relapse. The treatment for depression depends on the severity of the condition. For mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy – combined with good social support – can work wonders. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) are some forms of therapy used to treat depression. Though there is strong resistance among people towards medication, moderate to severe depression should be treated with a combination of medicines and psychotherapy. Depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in today’s world, especially among the urban population. It is also among the most neglected of all health issues, and if left untreated can lead to self-harm or even death. Even mild to moderate depression can significantly reduce the quality of life. Recognizing symptoms and seeking professional help at the earliest can help heal faster, and perhaps prevent tragedies from happening.

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March 12, 2019
Girish Banwari
Psychiatrist
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Mind
Decoding Depression- Common Variations

Depression, like most other conditions, can manifest in varying intensity and scope. Depression is of many forms. Generally, we talk about Unipolar Depression or Major Depressive Disorder. Other commonly seen forms of depression are as follows: Bipolar Depression: This is a major disorder, characterized by extreme mood swings, as the name suggests. A person can move from elation and euphoria to complete withdrawal from all normal activities. During a ‘manic’ episode, they will be on a high – extremely talkative, happy, uninhibited and sexually active. – and then, during the ‘depressive’ episode, they will fall into an all-time low, unable to carry out even routine activities. Bipolar depression is essentially biological in origin; though stressful life events can aggravate the condition. It is often manifest in highly creative people. The depth of emotions they undergo during their ‘lows’ is given expression during their ‘high’ phases. This has helped reduce the stigma associated with the condition to a large extent, giving it an aura of respectability. However, it should be noted that about 1% of those who suffer from bipolar depression become deranged, making them dysfunctional. Atypical Depression: Apart from the usual signs like fatigue, restlessness and low moods, this disorder ‘involves several specific symptoms, including increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness or excessive sleep, marked fatigue or weakness, moods that are strongly reactive to environmental circumstances, and feeling extremely sensitive to rejection’. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. It usually occurs in winter, though there are people who go through SAD in the spring or early summer. Instead of dismissing SAD as ‘winter blues’ and trying to forge ahead, it is advisable to take steps to keep oneself from feeling low. Post-Partum Depression (PPD): PPD is a mood disorder that affects women after childbirth due to a combination of physical and psychological factors. The resultant extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion make it difficult for them to even take care of themselves and their newborn child. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): PMDD is a severe and often disabling form of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) that affects approximately 5% of women. The changing levels of hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) during the menstrual cycle trigger physical and psychological changes in women with PMDD. They experience irritability, mood swings (emotional lability), headache, depression, and anxiety a week before the onset of their periods (menses). Physical symptoms include a sense of bloating, breast pain, joint or muscle pain, and weight gain among others. Depression in Adolescents: The symptoms of adolescent depression vary from those of adults. Missing school, falling grades and clinging to parents are all signs of distress. In older children, depression also manifests in impulsive behaviors including rash driving, sexual promiscuity, and substance abuse. The latter gives them the feeling of confidence they badly need, however transitory and false it is. However, it also perpetuates the existing depression, throwing the child into a vicious cycle they find hard to get out of. Very often, those who are going through such disorders try to somehow manage their condition rather than approach a professional. This is especially true when it comes to ‘female disorders’ such as PPD and PMDD. “However, self-management is neither helpful nor advisable here. Each of the conditions discussed above is clinically significant, and calls for professional intervention.” Lifestyle modification is a must, but it should happen alongside professional treatment (medication/therapy).

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March 12, 2019
Girish Banwari
Psychiatrist
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