Therapy is a term most people are either unfamiliar with or assign wrong meaning to. I am here today to clear some misconceptions people have when they approach a therapist or think about starting therapy.
First, I will like to talk about the stigma attached to it. Therapy is a process through which you heal and it is not something to be ashamed of. When you fall ill, you take medicine. If you have a fever you don’t hear people say “don’t go to the doctor, what will the society say?” and even if you do hear them, does that stop you from getting the treatment you need? Or if a loved one is ill, do you stop their treatment based on how people will react once they get to know that you went to the doctor for it? No, you don’t do that because doing this is in no way helpful for you or your loved one. Similarly, mental disorders or psychological issues are a problem you are going through. Hear me clearly please, it’s a problem YOU are GOING THROUGH. YOU are not the problem, rather you are GOING THROUGH. Please remind yourself or anyone you know who is going through something.
So basically, therapy is a type of treatment that you need to resolve that problem. Let’s focus on two questions first;
- Why do I need medication?
- Why do I need therapy?
You need medication because in some psychological disorders therapy alone doesn’t work. Psychological stress is a real thing and it can and it does alter the chemical balance of our brain. When that happens, the first step is always to restore that balance. And that is why we need medication. Simply take the example of blood pressure. When someone is suffering from chronic high blood pressure, changing their lifestyle or diet is not going to help them immediately. What they need at that time is medication, to control the blood pressure. And once it’s under control that when the doctors tell them to manage their diet, have a healthy lifestyle etc.
That’s why therapy is also important. Therapy is a process that involves you realizing your problem, you realize the changes that need to happen and you implement those changes. One might ask, then why do we need a therapist when all the work is based on us? And that’s a good question. A therapist is fully educated and trained on how to help you realize all these steps. Most of the time people come to therapy based on some basic issues like anger, communication difficulty or stress. However, over the course of therapy, they become aware of what exactly is the root cause of these issues and then they along with their therapist discuss strategies and techniques to resolve those root cause issues. That’s why you need therapy, so you can actually resolve and change. Your therapist will listen to all your thoughts, they will help you realize your difficulties and help you on the way to recovery. Therapy is a safe zone, secure and without any judgment. All your details are confidential. It’s a binding pact with your therapist
Disclaimer: Your therapist is not going to act like a friend or a caregiver. They are there to treat you and heal you. They are not there to judge you. They are not there to gossip with you. They are professionals, your doctors.
Most of the time people start therapy with the idea that it’s going to be about them sharing and their therapist will help them by listening. Well, that just one part of the whole process. Therapy is about slowly and gradually removing all the layers of your personality. You will come to face yourself in a secure environment. I don’t want to sound scary because that’s not really my purpose here. What I want is to let people know that after the sharing part, comes another phase; a phase where you actually have to put in the effort to change. Think of it this way, you travel through specific routes to reach a certain destination, right? How do you expect to change your destination if you never change the route? So yes, in order to take help and get better, you need to put in the real effort to change as well. Change your unhealthy route to a healthier one and reach a better destination.
The change part is tough and needs constant motivation but you can do it. As humans, adapting to change is in our nature. But sometimes, it becomes a struggle. And it requires patience. You cannot expect to change after a week or two. No, it took ages for you to develop some unhealthy habit. You cannot expect to change it in a minute. Be patient with yourself and the process. Motivation and patience are two really important rules in therapy. Always remember that everyone has their own pace. Just because someone did something in half the time, doesn’t make them superior. Take your time but remember to put effort, even the slightest effort counts.
Another important thing is your outlook on your own self. When things are constantly going wrong and your issues are not getting resolved, it’s very easy to come up with a perception of yourself which isn’t that good. As a client, people tend to slide into the “victim” role. They keep on dwelling on the “why did this happen with me?” part. See, this is a spiraling trap. One in which we all fall from time to time, but if you become comfortable here, that’s when the problem starts. Because if you keep thinking that “why this happened or that happened?” or “why bad things only happen to me?” then you are portraying yourself as a victim who lacks control over themselves. This is very far from the truth. You are the only part of your life which you can actually control. You can’t control your situation; you can’t control your family or friends or work life. But you control your own self. Your reactions, your behaviors, your thoughts, and your own well-being, that is all up to you. Another important part of therapy is to realize this control.
Disclaimer (Part Two): if you are someone who has become very comfortable in the victim role, this part will not only be hard to absorb but also hard to work on as well.
Because it’s relatively easy to say that I am helpless and people need to do this and that for me. It’s easier to say that I have no control than to actually start taking responsibility for yourself.
Therapy is a whole process that will help you and heal you for the better. It’s not life won’t have problems once you are done with therapy or there won’t be challenges. But you’ll be stronger mentally and emotionally to deal with all the difficulties in a way that doesn’t leave you reeling but rather makes you look forward to things in life. It’s a treatment like any other treatment for any other medical issue that someone might take. The stigma that people have attached to it makes people not want to take it. But you need to realize that mental health is important and so so so crucial for spending and living a happy, healthy, satisfied life. Your mental well-being or your any of your family member’s well-being is more important than people’s point of view. Sometimes, we are not even aware of this stigma but trust me it’s those little thoughts like “I don’t need therapy”, “it’s not that serious a problem” and “I can handle this on my own” that show that yes there actually is an issue and yes you are actually stopping yourself from taking treatment due to stigma. I am pointing this out because the stigma is a very real and very huge deal. And it’s not easy to stand up to it, but please put yourself and your family above the opinions of the society or your own fears. Take the proper consultation before the problem gets bigger.
I really hope that this article cleared up some misconceptions about therapy. If there are any other questions, please let me know.
Parental guidance is one of the crucial steps in treating children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) symptoms. Without parental training, a child cannot be treated fully. If you are taking a therapeutic treatment for your ADHD child from a clinical psychologist you would be aware of this fact. Because parents are the first institution, a child learns many things from them, which is apparent in their life ahead. If parents treat their child appropriately in initial childhood years there are reduced chances of developing attention deficits and hyperactivity. Even if the child has developed symptoms, appropriate parental handling can create a difference.
Therapists treating children with ADHD give particular instructions to their parents for how to deal with behavioral issues. However, some of the necessary steps parents can take are mentioned here.
Child’s daily functioning would improve if he/she is provided with proper home base training for instance, train the child regarding mannerism and following rules such as how to sit quietly in a classroom or while studying at home, listen attentively to what is being taught, how to behave with other children, refrain from picking up other’s possessions etc.
Develop your child’s friendship skills e.g., teach the child how he/she needs to behave if he/she wants to make a best friend. Involve the child in play activities or games which require sitting quietly and following rules such as, Ludo, Carom board etc. Tell the child clearly about the consequence when he/she doesn’t wait for the turn. Teach the child how to initiate and end conversations with people if he/she wants to get a friendly response.
Parents must help and encourage their child to practice and develop above-mentioned skills and do provide the child various opportunities so that he/she can acquire a better quality of life.
Encourage the child when he/she does well on tasks and give feedback immediately after completion of a task. It will develop your child’s abilities and help him/her understand the link between his/her own efforts and success.
Some of the helpful tactics parents can apply during their home base training are as follows:
- Create a to-do list of homework and household chores for the child so that he/she can follow it.
- Give your child simple and clear instructions. For example, if you want the child to do homework then Instead of saying “Finish your homework”, you can say what specific things you want him to do such as, “Finish your English lesson. Then write down in a paragraph what you have read. Finally, do your maths sums”.
- Organize your child’s clothes and school work so that they are always in the same place and easy to find.
• Get into a routine. Having a sense of order and routine helps inattentive children stay focused. Follow the same schedule every day. Such as wake-up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, put on your uniform etc.
- Paste the schedule in a central place, such as the main hallway of your house.
- While doing homework, turn off the TV, computer, radio, video games or other distractions.
- Give the child a reward for finishing his/her homework or other responsibilities. You might offer the child to take a trip to the zoo or may offer a chocolate etc.
Do utilize these strategies in your daily routine if you are dealing a child with ADHD. For expert opinion regarding specific behavioral problems of children and guidance on how to deal the specific issues, you can contact us directly.
Dr. Mehwish Mursaleen
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
Revealing the Logic of Our Brain behind Irrational Yawning Behavior
You must have experienced or listened by someone that yawning is contagious. You might be exposed to various comments regarding this phenomenon. You might have observed that if someone else is yawning you also tend to yawn. Is the sound of a yawn contagious? Have you ever experienced anyone watching a video or picture of a yawning person tend to yawn instantly? If someone yawns while observing others yawn must be sleepy? Is he getting bored? Because we are social beings so is the yawning transferred socially? These and many other questions regarding the phenomenon of yawn were existing in everyone’s mind. Do you know this debate is now under research and scientific observation? Yes! this is true. Just like everyone, this topic developed curiosity in scientists who observed this phenomenon under scientifically controlled settings.
One of the research conducted during 2013 by researchers in Switzerland who studied this matter. In Zurich University, they gathered 11 volunteers and showed them 3 different kinds of videos i.e. one containing laughing incidents, another containing neutral situations, and a video of yawning person. While the participants were watching videos, their fMRI was recorded. It was found that more than half of the participants who watched other persons yawning in the video were more likely to yawn as they watched the video. The brain area called inferior frontal gyrus was highlighted while they yawned. Whereas, those who were watching videos of laughing or neutral acts showed no activity in this area of the brain. This interesting study revealed brain area to be responsible for making a mirror image in brain cells (through mirror neurons) which tend to be imitated by the person (i.e. the person yawns in response to a yawn).
You can test this with a simple experiment. Visualize an image of a person yawning. Just maintain your focus on the image. Observe what happens. You will be surprised even while reading this article unconsciously some people tend to yawn. You may also tend to yawn unintentionally while visualizing, hearing, or reading about yawn.
There is more to study about the yawning phenomenon. Animal studies have been conducted to gain more insights about the facets of yawning. An article published in Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience revealed more aspects of contagious yawning with respect to social, evolutionary and neuroscience links of human behaviors. In an Italian Zoo, neuroscientists observed twenty-one baboons with respect to behaviors such as yawning, sleeping, nurturing, priming, and walking. They found that not merely observing other baboons led them to yawn, but their yawning behavior was more related to the time they spend in nurturing and grooming of each other. Thus, it is more about the connection, affection, and closeness in the relationship which determines their contagious yawning behavior.
The interesting findings regarding the phenomenon of contagious yawning are opening doors for many other facts. If the mirror neurons play a role in contagious yawning and this behavior is further related to social familiarity and the degree of closeness among creatures, there might be indications that mirror neurons can also show links with imitation or understanding of other person’s experiences. Empathy is the state where a person can put himself in the other’s shoes. Can there be a link between mirror neurons and the development of empathy? We await further discoveries to unleash the topic.
Dr. Mehwish Mursaleen
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
Source: Psychology Today
The term “psychological problem” is defined as any kind of mental state in which person feels distressed or disturbed. The psycho-social functioning of the person gets affected such as academics and job performance is not up to the mark, the friendships, social contacts, and family relationships become troublesome and person’s daily life is messed up. This upsetting condition last for longer durations let’s say more than a week or a month. There are different kinds of psychological problems for example depressive state is associated with mood, anxiety relates with worries, adjustment issues are related with long-lasting stress and psychotic disorders are a kind of perceptual disturbance in which person has extrasensory experiences e.g. hearing unusual voices or seeing weird things which others can’t experience.
A variety of psychological treatments is now available for the management of psychological disorders. Behavioural therapy, psychodynamic approach, client-centered treatment, and cognitive behavioural therapy are some of the treatment options one can avail from a psychologist. Among this variety of treatments, cognitive behavioural therapy is proved to be the best treatment for most of the psychological disorders.
Recent researches by clinical psychologists suggest the effectiveness of cognitive behaviour therapy in a long run. Cognitive behavioural treatment in some cases is supposed to be more effective than pharmacological treatments. For example, a study conducted by clinical psychologist Mehwish Mursaleen along with Dr Uzma Ali associate professor at Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Karachi shows the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural treatment for quick recovery of Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. They had a client with severe symptoms of anxiety and panic. The client was unable to move out of home due to the fear of sudden anxiety attacks. Her life was limited to the bedroom and she even feared to drive or travel a car. She had not travelled through plane for a long time. The client had three to five panic attacks per day. She had constant nausea and anxiety. With increasing severity of the panic disorder, she also developed symptoms of depression. All these symptoms started after an event of an emergency situation raised during her travelling through an aeroplane. She also had one of her uncles died of heart attack during a plane travel. Before the development of psychological problems, she had a very social and active life but after such incidents, she had confined herself inside her room and she couldn’t run her home due to which all of her family life was disturbed.
She had all her medical test reports showing normal results while she was suspecting to have any heart disease. As recommended by medical professionals, she approached to a psychological clinic where psychologists treated her with cognitive behavioural therapy. She was provided with therapeutic interventions including cognitive restructuring in which thought processes were altered to create healthy thoughts/beliefs. De-catastrophizing continuum offered normal perceptions regarding travelling, minor bodily symptoms, and her ability to control the symptoms. Systematic desensitisation was useful in regulating her anxiety through graded exposure, imagination, and relaxation.
With the completion of treatment within four months, she became perfectly all right and started managing her daily tasks effectively. She had two to three plane travels from Pakistan to abroad and within Pakistan without any single moment of anxiety. She was even able to handle her life situations in a more efficient manner than it was prior to the development of her anxiety symptoms.
With this case study, the researchers showed the effectiveness of CBT in a clinical setting. There are many other instances of treating mental disorders with the help of cognitive behavioural techniques. Psychological management is becoming first-line treatment nowadays, whether it is a hospital, rehabilitation, private clinic or community setting. Therefore, our mental health professionals are acclaimed to include psychological strategies and be committed providing the best services to our people.
Dr Mehwish Mursaleen
PhD Clinical Psychology