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Mind Matters

By Paonam Thoibi

`Anxiety isn`™t always a bad thing; it helps you stay alert and focused`

Q: I have heard so much about Anxiety Disorder. Also most of the people I come across at, workplace seem to be having anxiety related to work stress, family etc. Are we all suffering from anxiety? Do we all need treatment, counseling or therapy? Name withheld

Ans: Anxiety is the body`™s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation. It is something which everyone experiences.

In moderation, anxiety isn`™t always a bad thing. It helps you stay alert and focused. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, when it gets characterised by marked negative effect, bodily symptoms of tension, restlessness, increased heart beat and muscle tension- that`™s when people should check if they are suffering from Anxiety Disorder.

There are different types of Anxiety Disorders and each of them is managed with specific treatment procedures- often a combination of both psychopharmacological interventions (medicines) along with psychological therapeutic intervention.

The major types of Anxiety Disorder are: Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), Specific phobia (sometimes called simple phobia), Social phobia, Panic attack, Obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD), Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If at all you are disturbed by the amount of anxiety you are having, it is strictly recommended that you have a checkup at the nearest health facility center. You may need to measure the level of stress and accordingly start a management plan.

Q: Dear Madam, I am doing my general Arts stream studies now. I am really interested to do my masters in Psychology and try to become a Counselor. I love understanding people and their behavior but also know that this is not enough. What are the other characteristics or qualities one should have to become an efficient counselor? `“Subalaxmi, Kwakeithel.

Ans: Dear Subalaxmi, it is very good to know that many people are preparing to get into this helping profession. I believe you must be having all the qualities that are required to become a good counselor. The interest to become one is the first and foremost quality that will take you through the long and hard journey to become a skilled counselor.

I`™m sure you must know that to be a counselor, you need a lot `“ and I say again, a lot of Patience. It may take time for anyone you come across to accept certain things and pain in their lives and still more time to move towards positive changes. You should not be tired to discuss something wholeheartedly many times before they are prepared to make a move in any particular direction. Also, small incremental progress in your client`™s life should be noticed and rejoiced. A good listening skill is required as you will do more listening than talking. Yes, counseling is not talking nicely; it is more of listening with understanding. You should give your client time to express their feelings, confusion, doubts, emotions, anger etc. An ability to empathise- or understanding the way your client is feeling- exactly. Also, compassionately respond to their complaints about their problems. They should feel that you truly care about them. Even if you don`™t agree with their perspective, you still need the ability to understand how it feels to them in order to address their issue effectively. However, it`™s important that you are not too empathetic. Some people struggle as counselors because they are unable to maintain objectivity and therefore carry home the emotional stress of the job. The level of empathy necessary can be a fine line between helpful to client and harmful to counselor

When you are not yet a counselor, you must know that a genuine concern yields positive results. A nonjudgmental attitude is a must in counseling. Counselors hear all kinds of private information and encounter all types of people. You may hear dark secrets from someone`™s past involving such things as sexual or criminal behavior. You must do you best to refrain from judgment and instead communicate positively- respecting them as a person. You must also not push your cultural or religious views upon them. Multicultural competency is a necessary skill.

Confidentiality is of upmost importance when you are a counselor. You must be able to maintain confidentiality so the client can trust you with their most intimate concerns. Lastly, self- awareness about your own fears, insecurities, and weaknesses will be effective in the therapeutic relationship. It is important that you do not react defensively to what a client shares. You must be able to keep your own feelings out of the session. You will be better able to do this if you are self-aware. In addition, self-aware individuals are more intuitive with regards to solving their own problems and can use that knowledge to help clients through similar situations.

I would really encourage you to take up this profession and see how fulfilling it is both personally and professionally.

Readers are requested to send in their queries at mindmifp@gmail.com



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