My experiment with counselling

I am twenty-two and I study and live in Bangalore with my mother, father, sister and paternal grandmother. Almost exactly a year ago, I went to see a counsellor for the first time in my life. I can’t say I had never been exposed to the concept of psychological counselling before. My close friend of ten years was at that point of time a student of psychological counseling. She sometimes talked to me about its techniques and ideas and, more importantly, often helped me understand better how I felt about situations and people when I was upset. She showed me the importance of calm consideration of one’s emotions and at whom or what they are directed and the need to think over the steps one intends to take in the near or distant future.

Last year, when my mother and father decided that I needed help with substance abuse, they turned to this friend for help. This turned out to be the most positive turn events had taken till that point. She introduced my family to a counsellor and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Our previous encounter with help had not met with much success – the clinical psychologist we visited was much older than I was and seemed to completely miss the point either my parents or I were trying to make. My new counsellor was younger and seemed to be able to communicate with all parties involved with ease. What struck me particularly was her complete lack of judgmental instincts. She proved a valuable intermediary in communicating with my family.

Having an open mind is so important and I discovered that experience and exposure have nothing to do with it. Although my new counsellor was much younger than my first one, she was able to open my eyes to so many issues I had never thought of before. What I found astonishing was the fact that several other issues and grievances about dynamics within my family now began to make their appearance. Clearly, we had all carried this baggage around for years; in the case of my parents, maybe even decades. And yet, they had never been seen to. Only now did any of us recognize the need to talk things over, even amongst ourselves.

Just like a perfect circle or a perfect triangle is an abstract conception, so is a perfect family. Arguments and old grudges abound in most households and they are swept under the carpet or allowed to burgeon into the elephant in the room. Even worse, they get more bitter as they are never aired. A counsellor may not give one a solution to all these problems. But she will certainly help one gather one’s thoughts, communicate better with loved ones and perhaps arrive at an arrangement that is mutually agreeable to all, given the circumstances. More importantly, a counsellor is somebody one can be entirely comfortable talking to. She will keep your confidences, and listen to you without judging so that you may explore what you feel at your own pace. One’s first such experience may not fulfil one’s expectations; rather the counsellor might not fit one’s needs. I see no harm in trying again. Although my first consultation with a psychologist had not proved very fruitful, it was a step in the right direction..

– Deepika Bhargava