Mind Matters


By Paonam Thoibi
Q1: Dear counselor, are counseling sessions different from psychiatric sessions? When does one need professional Counseling? Often we read or see movie scenes where the therapist makes a person lie down on a couch. Is this integral to such sessions and is this practiced everywhere? Name and add withheld

Ans: Both psychological counseling and psychiatric sessions are various terms used to imply the psychological therapies or treatments provided to people who are seeking support and treatment for a wide range of mental health and emotional issues. Both are provided by a well-trained Psychologist or a Psychiatrist who underwent certain training, practice, ethics and earned a lot of experience. Simply put, a counseling session may look like someone confidentially talking to a well-trained person who is not a friend or family member; on how to tackle crises while psychotherapy tends to focus on a long-term and deeply embedded psychological conditions and problems.

Many people come across phases in their life when they need professional emotional support and provide suggestions to help them in decision making and problem solving. People with psychological conditions often show different signs and symptoms which makes the immediate family members or friends aware that they will need professional help.

In adults, the signs may be excessive sadness or irritability, aloofness, altered sleep and eating pattern, unexplained physical ailments, suicidal thoughts, deterioration of hygiene, substance use etc.

Children and pre-adolescents often presented with persistent disobedience, temper tantrums, hyperactivity and inattention, decline in academic or athletic performance, emotional outbursts, over consciousness of body weight, poor appetite etc.

And coming to the last part of your question; the use of a couch is traditionally a Psychoanalyst’s technique for Psychoanalysis. Therefore, a Psychoanalyst, who follows Freud’s theory of Psychoanalysis, would definitely make it a point to use a couch in their therapy sessions. Psychoanalyst have often noted that in lying down, peoples’ perspective changes. Clients become aware of their feelings and thoughts more. Also, an environment as such makes free association about the unconscious mental processes made possible which is the most integral part of Psychoanalysis.

Q2. Dear Madam, we often heard that people will suffer long term psychiatric illness if they met with trauma. Is it true? What is the best way to avoid it? – Ramesh, Checkon
Ans: Dear Ramesh, any traumatic event like experiences of rape, torture, military combat, earthquake, a disastrous fire, and the collapse of a large building etc can cause severe trauma.)

A cluster of psychological symptoms can follow a psychologically distressing event and this is called Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For a person who has been exposed to an intensely traumatic event to be diagnosed with PTSD, certain criteria are to be met. They include re-experiencing of the traumatic event in the form of recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections, dreams, reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, persistent avoidance of any reminders of the event, inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma numbing of general responsiveness, difficulty falling asleep, emotional lability and increased arousal or hyper-vigilance etc.

To warrant a diagnosis of PTSD, a person must experience these symptoms for at least one month.

Whenever a person comes across a crisis situation, a prompt and proper crisis intervention by skilled professionals is vital to reduce the risk of a person developing PTSD.

Psychotherapies like Testimonial therapy, Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure treatments along with medications seem to be helpful to PTSD clients.

Q3. Is hypnosis used for counseling sessions? If so, when is it used and how effective is it? Some literatures have mentioned instances where people under hypnosis have experienced past life experiences. Is this possible? Th Opendra, Kongba

Ans: Dear Opendra, the Hypnosis technique used in Psychotherapy/Counseling is called Clinical hypnosis where a person receives hypnotherapy induced by qualified Hypnotherapist, with the aim of changing his/her dysfunctional behavior, emotional content and attitudes. It is used for the effective management of pain, anxiety symptoms, and depression, phobia and sleep disorders. Yes, people have reportedly heard about instances where past life experiences are relived under hypnosis. The practice is called “Past life regression” and is typically undertaken either in pursuit of a spiritual experience, or in a psychotherapeutic setting. It is still a hugely debated topic and many research found that contents of the memories reported from the past lives are based on the client’s belief in reincarnation and suggestions by the hypnotist.


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