The Role of Supervision in a Psychologist’s Life
Palak Pipalia

In a structured setting known as supervision, therapists regularly discuss their work with a person who has training in both therapy and supervision. In some circumstances, training and assessment may also be incorporated into the supervisory process.

There are three basic types of counseling supervision:

Formative: It involves the supervisor teaching the counselor from their own experiences.

Normative: A supervisor requiring the counselor to account for and defend their job is considered normative.

-Restorative: If the counselor is having trouble with a moral dilemma or a particular component of their work, the supervisor will offer help. Although occasionally problems in a counselor’s life could affect their ability to give the client their complete attention.

Supervision is not the place for the counselor to receive their own therapy. If this is the case, the supervisor might advise the counselor to seek out their own treatment to examine personal difficulties. Counseling is a regulated activity because of supervision.

Before beginning the job of becoming a supervisor, it’s beneficial to have a greater grasp of the many models of supervision, such as developmental models, integrated models, and orientation-specific models. Particularly considering how distinct this position is from that of a therapist or educator. Regardless of the patterns a supervisor chooses to follow, all supervisors have similar obligations and goals for their subordinates. The primary objectives of supervision are encouraging the development of the supervisee by helping to increase their knowledge and practical skills. It also ensures that the clients the supervisor is working with are receiving high-quality professional services that will protect the welfare of the clients.

In the past ten years, clinical supervision has undergone tremendous transformation. Clinical supervision is recognized by the majority of professionals, academics, and practitioners as a unique professional practice needing specialized training. In the past, supervision was performed without any formal training, with supervisors using what they had acquired from their own supervision experiences or by working as therapists. It has become clear that poor supervision can cause serious injury because of the hierarchical structure, boundary dilutions, lack of training, ignorance of supervisory models, and insufficient clinical expertise. Additionally, a lack of understanding of one’s role and obligations might harm relationships between a supervisor and supervisee.

 To effectively oversee, a supervisor has to possess the following abilities:

-Knowledge of the main clinical supervision models, including their underlying philosophies, practical applications, and capacity to evaluate and contrast them with other models.

-Accessibility, consistency, and regularity

-Ability to establish a precise contract with the supervisee in cooperation

-Balancing supervisee work accountability in a respectful, safe, and safe-reflective environment

-Willingness to engage in non-defensive work on any barriers or rifts that may develop in the relationship

-The ability to articulate a personal supervision model drawn from existing

-Understanding of the procedures for resolving moral quandaries in clinical supervision

-Knowing any legal difficulties that could come up during clinical supervision and being committed to making sure supervisees are equally aware of them (e.g., duty to report, limits of confidentiality, etc.)

-Ability to provide and receive feedback in clinical supervision, both formally (e.g., planned and documented reviews of the supervising process and of supervisees’ clinical abilities) and informally (e.g., during supervision sessions).

-The capacity to discuss one’s own supervisory methods with colleagues and their own boss during reflection

-Advanced understanding of the main problems clients face (e.g., mental illness, alcoholism, suicidality, drug abuse)

Specifications of a Supervisor-

Sessions with a supervisor should be focused on the supervisee. By doing this, the supervisee is able to take control of the process rather than feeling that outside forces are controlling and dictating it. A successful supervisor is described by the four A’s of clinical supervision put forth by Todd & O’Connor (2005). The supervisor must meet the following four criteria, which are mentioned below:

  1. Open, responsive, trustworthy, and non-threatening: available.
  2. Open to conversation and simple to approach
  3. Capable of imparting actual information and abilities to the supervisee.
  4. Affable: amiable, comforting, and pleasant.

Supervisee duties-

-Although it is the supervisor’s responsibility to establish and sustain good supervision, the supervisee must be dedicated to making a positive contribution by actively preparing for and participating in supervision.

-Participate actively in the process of explaining the supervision contract at the start of the relationship. Although it is not the supervisee’s responsibility to start the contract, they should be ready to talk about practical issues like scheduling, prior supervision experiences, goals and expectations, theoretical or philosophical paradigms, hopes and concerns about the supervisory relationship, current development as a helping professional, specific skills and knowledge, and learning needs.

-Whatever method has been decided upon with the supervisor, get ready for supervision sessions. The procedures to be employed in the supervision process and how to get ready for it (e.g., case presentation, audio, video etc)

-When bringing up a specific issue or problem in supervision, the supervisee should make clear their goals (ex., “Why this client? What goals does the supervision session intend to achieve? What specifically is the supervision-related question?

-Keep notes from supervision sessions to serve as a reminder of beneficial suggestions and potential interventions, to make sure the agreed-upon action is performed, and to refer to later if necessary.

Benefits of Supervision-

There are three main advantages that counseling supervision should offer a new counselor:

– Promote Professional Identity: The first and most obvious advantage of counseling supervision for a new counselor is that it will help you complete one of the last conditions for getting a professional counselor license. This lets your clients and potential clients know that you’ve had the best possible supervision and training in counseling. In other words, you’ll have a lot of experience helping your clients.  Encourage the growth of counseling competencies: The new counselor will develop their counseling skills while the counselor supervisor serves in the capacities of instructor, counselor, and consultant. During counseling supervision, various counseling abilities are assessed, including: (1) intervention skills; (2) assessment methodologies; (3) interpersonal assessment; (4) client conceptualization; and (5) individual counseling.

-In order to build a more sophisticated and sensitive kind of counseling expertise, trainees must advance beyond fundamental forms of counseling abilities, which is where supervision plays a specific role. Counseling placements also require careful supervision and organized support. Instead of being unfavorably demanding, the training experience should be motivating and empowering. Assisting trainees in developing their professionalism and making sense of their educational experiences is supervision.

–Professional success and growth depend on continuous professional development. The following are the three advantages for new counselors who receive counseling supervision: (1) promoting professional identity by completing a requirement to obtain a professional counseling license, (2) promoting counseling competencies in eight specific areas of counseling, and (3) promoting client welfare. In other words, counseling supervision trains new counselors to become highly effective counselors who will be better equipped to provide care, competence, and professionalism to their clients.

Goals for Supervision-

-There are three reasons for supervision. Fundamentally, these motives are to safeguard clients, enhance counselors’ capacity to deliver value to clients, and keep an eye on the self-care of the counselor or healthcare professional.

The following are the objectives of counseling supervision: To assist supervisees in developing a better (more comprehensive) understanding of the therapeutic process. The therapeutic process is a feature of all counseling and treatment types.

-To assist supervisees in creating best professional practice standards. A solid understanding of ethical concepts is the cornerstone of good professional practice. This calls on therapists to refine both their decision-making and knowledge of process issues as they engage in therapeutic change negotiation.

-To support supervisees in gaining professional self-assurance and improved autonomy in their working environment. Understanding the therapeutic process as a whole, rather than just the client’s presenting issue, is essential for effective monitoring.

-To assist supervisees in considering alternate approaches to comprehending and addressing specific client difficulties. The ability to define appropriate goals and gain a thorough understanding of the client with the aid of supervision is another benefit.

Palak Pipalia, A student of Psychology & Intern at TherapHeal

Jahanvi Mishra

Festive season is a time of change and happiness but it can be anxiety inducing for a lot of people.There is an unsaid pressure to be joyous around your family,friends and loved ones.It can create inconsistency in thoughts which leads to feeling of apprehension ,discomfort and feeling of not being good enough

A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that “Stress around the holidays is disproportionately felt by women. Women are more likely to feel that stress increases around the holidays (44 percent of women report an increase of stress during the holidays versus 31 percent of men) Women say they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to take on all of the tasks associated with family celebrations, such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning.” Rather than serving as a source of happiness, festivals become stressful for everyone, especially for women, who have to do all the work at home as part of popular belief systems.

On a very superficial level festivals are about sparkling gifts, new clothes and merry making by the accepted norms of society and popular culture. A festival’s larger picture is often overlooked by people who constantly evaluate whether their circumstances conform to popular expectations. Feeling left out is heightened whenever there’s a mismatch which is often generated whenever there are conflicting emotions.

Being happy does not require you to force yourself out of your comfort zone, and it is great to acknowledge that you may be not feeling well. Festivals are known for being a joyous occasion for all, it may be difficult for people around to relate to the low mood. Keeping your mental health as your first priority is very important.


  • Have realistic expectations-It is necessary for everyone to know that everything can’t be black and white, there is a huge gray area that comes in whenever our feelings are involved. So, it is more than okay to not be okay and have expectations that we can fulfill and ask others to conform to.
  • Ask for friends and family for support– Asking for support might bring up feelings of vulnerability but the more resources you have the easier it is to deal with negative emotions
  • Take charge of your own tradition-Instead of following the traditions that most people adhere to; you can create your own unique traditions that you are comfortable with. It can be anything that makes you feel happy and at home
  • Maintaining your boundaries and not forcing yourself to go out of your comfort zone- Asking for space wherever you need it and setting boundaries is a huge component of dealing with negative emotions.

Borderline festivals can create both a positive and negative illusion of happiness. It is the time of year when people feel vulnerable and crave the presence of their loved ones. Taking care of your mental health and others is equally important and shouldn’t be ignored.

Jahanvi Mishra, A student of Psychology & Intern at TherapHeal

The relationship between Art/Play and our Inner Child
Seema Krishnadas

As children, we are perhaps more easily connected to our imagination and exploration than we are as adults. Responsibilities and daily life can overshadow our innate expression of creativity, and we may lose touch with that side of us during challenges.

Adolescence is a time of discovery, but it can also be painful. As we grow, we begin developing expectations of the world. Sometimes, those expectations fail us. We have broken hearts, we have frustrations, we have dreams that just don’t materialize. At some point, many of us stop playing and start letting our experiences dictate who we are and what we want.

Being allowed to play makes children happy, but growing up changes this and not for the better. Children play, but adults work. Consider your typical day and how you spend your time. For most people, work has pushed aside anything as frivolous as playtime, and leisure hours are spent as the reward for getting your work done. As work expands to fill more and more time, however, what suffers isn’t just the lost hours but the spirit of playfulness, which is meant to be joyful. Clearly there is an imbalance when life is all work, but how to reintroduce play into life eludes most people. To bring playfulness back into your life, you need to go back to the source of your awareness. On the surface of the mind is a constant stream of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images. This stream of consciousness is distracting and demanding. It never stops; it never ends in its demands. Yet at a deeper level what really matters isn’t mind-made. All the qualities that make life worthwhile spring from a deep source.

The reason children love to play is that they are naturally connected to the source. On the other hand, the reason adults ignore play is that they are disconnected from the source. We are so intent on building a successful life that we become disconnected from our source, and the easiest way to tell is the absence of joy, playfulness, and creativity in our daily existence.

One of the saddest things about growing up is that we stop playing. We feel like to be successful; we must be serious. Since the stakes feel higher, and our futures feel like they’re always in the balance, we take ourselves seriously. But more importantly, we take our mistakes very, very seriously. We begin to let the fear of failure define us in ways that weren’t imaginable as children. Many of us never take the time to reconnect with these parts of our inner child. Over the years our adult life can become stifled, and we repress childlike qualities to be spontaneous, passionate, and expressive. This can result in negative life patterns in our work, relationships, and other life choices. 

Psychotherapists have studied the concept of the inner child and how it affects our basic personalities, our ability to form relationships, and our ability to function in society. The importance of connecting with our inner child cannot be overstated. 

For adults who want to keep learning and growing, to thrive in a fast-changing world, it might be time to reconnect with our inner child and tap into these emotions through Art Therapy. If you are interested in exploring creativity, but are unsure where to begin, the simple act of coloring may be a good place to start. It’s no secret that coloring books have become a therapeutic tool for adults. Coloring books are portable and can be a supportive tool for nourishing your inner environment while at home or on the go.

For those that have lost touch with their inner child, Art therapy can be a great way to induce your imagination and engage your creativity. You can transform the complexities of adult life, while healing the child self. 

During Art Therapy you will learn to express yourself with a variety of different art forms and mediums. Whether it’s drawing, painting, creating collages or sculpting, you are sure to unlock the child at heart. Intuitively, you make choices with art materials to express emotions or events. During Art Therapy you are encouraged to stay in the moment and use colors that you are drawn to, in the way you want to, without considering what the final piece will look like. This process accesses the unconscious to reveal the deeper desires of the psyche.

If you struggle to think back to enjoyable childhood experiences, engaging in creative play with children can help rekindle these memories and put you back in touch with the enjoyment of simpler days. Any type of play can have benefits. Games like tag or hide-and-seek can help you get moving and feel free and unrestrained again. Make-believe play can help you think back to childhood fantasies and what they meant to you.

When you play, play for fun. If a game becomes serious and grimly competitive, see if you can lighten the perspective, and bring back a spirit of playfulness. Be playful whenever you have the choice, in other words, lighthearted, accepting, approving, and appreciative of what life brings you. Making time to play with your children doesn’t just increase your sense of playfulness and youthful expression. It also has a positive impact on their own well-being, in part by contributing to the development of their inner self. If you don’t have any children of your own, you might spend time with the children of your friends or relatives.

No matter how our inner child might have been injured, it is important to remember that it is never too late to heal. We can transform that child-like part of ourselves into a source of strength, joy, insight, and great creativity. Art therapy and play definitely have a positive impact on reconnecting with and healing our inner child. 

Seema Krishnadas, Counselling Psychologist

What Does Quiet Quitting Tell Us About Mental Health in The Workplace?
Mushkan Jogani

‘Quiet Quitting’, an intriguing term, isn’t it? What pops up in your head when you hear this term? The first thing I had in mind was, “Never thought people will start ghosting their jobs too and go on to join someplace else without any closure!” Jokes apart, I also wondered who coined this fancy term in the first place and does it apply to me too. Here’s what I found: The term which has emerged as a trend in TikTok is new but the idea behind it isn’t. It challenges the concept of ‘hustle culture’, whose time is gradually coming to an end. This new concept is making headlines and a lot of experts have been discussing about it. Being someone who ardently believes in maintaining a work life balance and is striving to not give in to the hustle culture, my curiosity was piqued at this point. So, what is ‘quiet quitting’? 


Well, unlike what I had in mind, quiet quitting doesn’t actually involve quitting. It’s more a response to hustle culture, overachievement, and burnout. What people are “quitting” is going above and beyond, doing additional work without being compensated for it, meanwhile completing tasks that fulfill the job requirements and nothing more. In short: doing the job one is paid to do. For example, not responding to work calls, emails or messages after office hours or on weekends, refusing to work overtime with little or no benefit are a part of quiet quitting. Specialists and experts in the field of human resource development have been quick to jump in with their own theories and advice on how to fix the “problem”. A recent article published in the Harvard Business Review urged managers to ask themselves: “Is this a problem with my direct reports, or is this a problem with me and my leadership abilities?” But, my question is, is this really a problem in the first place?


I don’t think so. To begin with, survey data suggests that this is neither new nor a trend, rather a new name for an old behaviour. Moreover, don’t you think if the employees are turning up to work every day and are doing exactly what is being asked of them, they aren’t “quiet quitting,” but they’re “working”? It’s crucial to realise that some people will always be driven by ambition, perfectionism, enjoyment or insecurity to do more than is asked of them. However, if employers expect everyone to do that, by definition it no longer is “above and beyond”. Judging every employee against the unrealistic bar of  how much one is going “above and beyond” will only lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the workplace. Indeed, companies which have built their business model on people constantly going “above and beyond” what their job entails are on dangerous ground. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to work hard and go above and beyond in your job if you want to, particularly if you’re working towards certain goals. However, it’s important to take time out for yourself too. Even if you enjoy your job, you shouldn’t neglect other aspects of your life and well-being, which brings me to my next point. 


What should be the concern is quality of work. If there’s a decline in the work quality of an employee who otherwise excels in what they do or tend to go “above and beyond” often, that I feel is a sign of “quiet quitting” on the part of the employee. In such scenarios, employers need to pay more attention and understand the reason behind such decline. Wanda Jackson, senior vice president of human resources with the National Urban League (based in New York City) is of the opinion that quiet quitting has little to do with money or position. “It’s about the need for time and the other things going on in lives like being a parent or acting as a caregiver for an elderly person or someone who is sick.” Meanwhile, Maria Kordowicz, PhD, associate professor in organizational behavior at the University of Nottingham and director of the Centre for Interprofessional Education and Learning, said that, “It may be that employees wanting to find a better work-life balance will stop going above and beyond in their workplace, for instance, by not working outside of their allocated work times or no longer putting relentless productivity above their wellbeing,”. Given how hustle culture has conditioned us, we often get caught up in work to the extent that it affects the rest of our life – sparsely left with time to relax, indulge in self-care, see family and friends, exercise and the list goes on. Additionally, if people aren’t seeing wage increases, at least in line with inflation and amid a cost of living crisis, meanwhile CEOs keep getting richer, undoubtedly it can be demoralizing. The mental health of young adults is declining, and quiet quitting is a plausible response. 


Quiet quitting highlights that in any organisation, there is a need for a program to check in on employees, not just their performance but their well-being too. The old practice of doing once-a-year engagement surveys is no longer the solution. Instead, they should be taking the pulse of people on a daily or weekly basis, have frequent conversations with employees. This includes creating a strategy by companies for their employees to provide more personal support or personalized motivation, such as supporting their educational goals, among other things. Gradually, more and more organisations are moving towards flexible work hours. It refers to giving people deadlines and timelines but letting them set their own hours, i.e., work when it’s most convenient for them rather than just making it mandatory for everyone to stay until a specific time of the day. 


At its heart, the “quiet quitting” debate highlights the enduring unhealthy understanding of the relationship between companies and their employees. Individuals are no longer subscribing to the neoliberal concept of ‘hustle’ culture, which puts materialism and profits over human-centered values of compassion, and self-development, among others. Evidently, the new generation of employees are redefining work. As such, companies can either choose to understand that and reassess how they’re going to treat their employees or face more pushback. To put it simply, things need to change in the workplace which revolves around caring for its people’s mental health.

Mushkan Jogani, an aspiring psychologist and researcher with a knack for writing and overthinking

Ageism and the Subtle ways in which we may be engaging in it
Seema Krishnadas

Ageism refers to the stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination towards others, or oneself based on age. Ageism arises when age is used to categorise and divide people in ways that lead to harm, disadvantage, and injustice. It is a systemic form of oppression against people of specific age groups. It affects older adults most severely but can also impact young people. 


Ageism can take many forms including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory acts, and institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs. Ageism seeps into many institutions and sectors of society including those providing health and social care, housing, politics, in the workplace, media and the legal system. 


Ageism in Healthcare: 

In healthcare, for example, age determines who receives certain medical procedures or treatments. It affects every aspect of healthcare, from diagnosis to prognosis and influences healthcare policies and workplace culture. Infantilizing patients involves talking to older adults using oversimplified language, terms of endearment, or rhythmic tone of voice a person might use for a child. While people often use ‘elderspeak’ in an attempt to communicate more effectively with older adults, it can be patronising and can reinforce unequal power dynamics between caregivers and people they care for. If a doctor unintentionally treats older and younger patients differently, this would be implicit ageism.


Inaccurate ideas about ageing can lead to inappropriate medical care. For example, assuming that an older patient is less independent than they really are. This ultimately makes people more dependent on others. 


Ageism in Workplace: 

If we look at the workplace, we find that both younger and older people are frequently disadvantaged. While the older generation have limited accessibility to specialised training and education, younger people are often not taken seriously and not given more responsibility. They are denied opportunities to contribute to decision making in the workplace. Refusing to hire a person over or under a certain age, enacting policies that unfairly privilege one age group over another, viewing older people as out of touch, less productive, or stuck in their ways are some ways we are engaging in ‘ageism’. 


Ageism in Social Interactions: 

We practice interpersonal ageism in social interactions- patronising behaviour used in interactions with older and younger people, treating people as though they are invisible, unintelligent, or expendable based on their age, making ageist jokes that imply someone is less valuable or less worthy of respect, based on their age, making offensive generalisations about a specific generation, e.g., that millennials are entitled, and disregard others concerns or wishes due to their age


Hostile ageism is a form of aggressive belief that all teenagers are violent and dangerous or impulsive and reckless. By contrast, benevolent ageism involves someone having patronising beliefs towards people based on their age, such as that older adults are childlike and weak, and require guidance with basic tasks. Older and younger people have been also stereotyped in public discourse and on social media. 


Internalised age stereotypes contribute considerably to ageism both towards oneself and towards others. Young people internalise the predominantly negative societal views of older people, which shape their self-perceptions of ageing as they grow older. Older adults too hold negative views towards old age and tend to negatively view individuals who are older or more disabled than themselves. This self-directed ageism is a risk for increased morbidity and mortality.


Ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and well-being. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death. It intersects and exacerbates other forms of bias and disadvantage including those related to sex, race and disability leading to a negative impact on people’s health and well-being.


Ageism is a systemic form of oppression, but unlike other causes of inequity, such as racism, sexism, or ableism, anyone can experience it. Although it is universal, people do not take ageism as seriously as other forms of inequity. Educational activities that enhance empathy and dispel misconceptions and prejudices. intergenerational understanding and cooperation, commitment from governments and institutions and policy changes which can reduce inequity and discrimination, can help in addressing ‘ageism’. On an individual level- awareness and learning about ‘ageism’, and reflecting on how ageism shapes one’s own thoughts, feelings, and life experiences, and willingness in supporting and advocating for people, in situations where they are struggling to be heard, will help in abating ageism in our society. 

Seema Krishnadas, Counselling Psychologist

Can Climate Change Cause Mental Health Struggles?
Mushkan Jogani

Before I answer the question, think and tell me this: Do you get easily irritated when the weather is too hot compared to when the weather is pleasant? Do you find it difficult to sit in one place and concentrate on your work when it seems the sun is sucking the energy from your body with straws like that old Glucon-D advertisement? Have you also felt that the intensity of the heat has drastically risen to what it was a few decades ago? Yes? Well, hop on the wagon as I feel the same. 


Despite impacting our mental health on a daily basis it is ironic that we hear quite less about the impact of climate change on our mental health. I am sure most of us are aware about its impact on the economy and the environment. We often see news regarding the same. Before we dig in further into the matter, here’s some important news that you may have missed:

“Air Pollution Linked to Depression, Suicide in Global Study” – The Swaddle, 2019

“Climate Change Won’t Spare Our Mental Health
— We need to prepare for longer-term effects beyond the physical” – Medpage Today, 2022

As is evident, the earth is facing a life-threatening climate crisis. Concerned bodies like WHO and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have confirmed that rapidly increasing climate change poses a rising threat to mental health and psychosocial well-being causing an array of problems, from emotional distress to anxiety, depression, grief, and suicidal behavior. Mild distress reactions tend to heal with time. However, if say, people directly affected by the climate crisis do not seek help or cope with their trauma, it may lead to more severe mental health impacts. Moreover, with climate change causing a five-fold increase in the number of weather-related disasters over the last five decades, the need for disaster-related trauma care will only grow. 


The mental health consequences also include insomnia, irritability, and high-risk coping behavior such as increased alcohol use. Supporting what we discussed in the beginning, research has shown a link between extreme heat and an increase in irritability, aggressiveness, and further violence. A recent research (based in US) published in the journal, the Lancet Planetary Health, brought forth an interesting yet unfortunate result: climate change is making us angrier. The researchers observed a spike in hate comments on social media when temperatures rose above 30 degree celsius. A similar phenomenon has also been documented in China as well. Online aggressive behavior has been linked to violence offline too. Outraging posts have led to more violence toward minorities, including mass shootings and lynchings. Furthermore, according to experts, climate change may contribute to worsening of existing mental health problems, especially extreme heat, that can interfere with medications and underlying health conditions.


It is important to note that the impact of climate change on our mental health is interlinked with its impact on the economy and the environment. The threat it poses to our livelihood and to our home itself, is a source of distress and anxiety to a lot of us. You might have come across people around you or on the internet or yourself might have experienced helplessness and distress over the drastic impacts of climate change and consequently might have felt an urge to do something about it before it’s too late. As a parent or an adult, kids might have raised their concerns and questions regarding the same, leaving you unsure of what should you say. On the other hand, due to lack of awareness you might not have realised this responsibility and all this information might have overwhelmed you. Don’t worry! You are not alone either. 


So, what can we do?

First, take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to take in all the above information. It sure is a lot.


Next, to cope with such stresses and overwhelming feeling, start with the basic: acknowledge and accept your feelings. It’s completely okay to feel anxious and afraid of the effects of climate change on an individual or global level, after all it threatens our entire existence. Moreover, experts highly advise that parents pay more attention and lend an empathetic ear to their children expressing eco-anxiety, i.e., fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster due to climate change. This will not only validate their feelings but will also help motivate them to engage in eco-friendly practices and ways of living. It is important that they know that adults around them share their feelings and are working towards mitigating the threat. 


Another step is to make a safety plan, especially if you live in areas prone to extreme weather events, like droughts, floods, earthquakes, and so on. Safety plans can include keeping an emergency bag filled with necessary items like a few clothes, food supplies, and a first-aid kit in case there arises a need for escape. Stocking one’s house with supplies, such as flashlights, and fire extinguishers will also help instill a sense of safety, preparedness, and confidence to face extreme weather situations.


Some people worry more than others. In case one finds themselves experiencing climate distress on such a level that it disrupts their life, seeking help is highly advisable. One can always express their concerns to a doctor or a mental health practitioner. 


It is also imperative that, on the community level, people unite, be prepared and help one another in times of crisis. Research has shown that places, where there was a strong sense of community, saw less mental health distress after storms and other extreme climate crises. 


These are a few steps one can take to take care of their mental health and of those around them in these trying times. You might be feeling a mixed of emotions right now after having consumed such profound information. Sit back and give yourself a moment to take in everything. Talking to a friend, a family member or anyone whom you think will understand is another good idea. If at any point the distress is too much to handle, seeking help from a professional is advisable. You can always talk to any of the psychologists at TherapHeal. Afterall, we are here to help.

Mushkan Jogani, an aspiring psychologist and researcher with a knack for writing and overthinking

My Life's Journey

A Big and Warm Hello to the reader/s,

My LinkedIn summary reads that I am a late bloomer. This is true. For a large part of my life, I was a homemaker who dreamt of having a career but did not believe in herself to make it happen.

I was raised in a conservative family with the notion of a perfect housewife. I was constantly compared to my brother about how he was smarter, intelligent, and better-looking. I grew up with very low self-esteem and very little confidence in myself and it was seen by all (including me) as introversion. My life decisions were made mostly by my mom and dad and I lacked the courage to speak up against them.

I graduated, got married and had a child by the age of 24. I settled in that life thinking that was my destiny. “She has a perfect life”, was what everybody thought. But not me.

Much later in life, I found my inner voice which told me that I want much more in life than just family. I wanted to explore but I was directionless. I decided to turn my life in the direction that I’ve always longed for. After a gap of 14 yrs, I went back to college, got a degree in education, completed post-graduation, started a career as a school teacher and now I am one of the three founding members of a Startup.

But the inner conflict continued.

Initially, I felt empowered and loved the challenges; but slowly I started questioning my capabilities. Although I was completely aware of the challenges I’ll have to face and the efforts I’ll have to make to do justice to this position, since I was working parallely with two highly experienced founders, there were times when I would feel completely useless, lost, insecure, and jealous. I would dismiss the compliments and appreciation because a voice would always tell me –“I am less than others”. I would not ask for help, thinking that it’s a sign of weakness. I would find excuses to not go to the office if other founders were not going.

All this while I was also dealing with menopause. I had become an emotional wreck, and that’s when I realised that I needed help.

After a few sessions with Ananya, I found myself in a much better state. I realised the important thing is learning and that the pace doesn’t matter. I know, acknowledge, and celebrate my efforts and achievements and I am filled with positivity. I look forward to going to the office hoping to learn something new every day. I attend all the discussions and meetings on business strategies even if I have nothing to offer. I sit there to learn and understand. I have now gathered enough confidence to lead the team meetings.  

The inner conflict is still there.

I still struggle. I still feel lost sometimes. I still get insecure at times. But I am not jealous anymore. I am filled with positivity. I am a fighter. I have started to believe in my capabilities. My self-esteem and my confidence have increased manifold. I have learnt that asking for help is a sign of strength.

I haven’t yet conquered my demons completely. But I am trying.

It’s a long way and I am on it!!

One day at a time.

Meenakshi, a Teacher by Luck and an Entrepreneur by Choice.

Being Single
Maitreyee Mallick , Educationist, Philanthropist and Social Activist  

He was two, I was thirty-two. 


I chose to be homeless than to be in a toxic relationship with my childhood-boyfriend-turned-husband. ‘Single parenting’ was a term heard of back then but the meaning was not known. I had never thought that positioning myself as a single mother in the same society among my known people would suddenly become so tough. Moving out, I took shelter at my mother’s place– the same locality where I have been brought up– but suddenly the neighbours, who had known me since my childhood, had developed a different vision and perspective. 


Soon, a new journey started with my search for a home for the two of us. A single mother, young and smart, will only spoil this society! So, no one was interested in letting out a property. Finally, I managed to buy a small flat to accommodate the both of us. Meanwhile, my son turned 5. It was time to admit him to a school. 

For some reason unknown to me even now, “Father’s Information” is a mandatory requirement. Being left with no option than resorting to false certificates and letters, my father managed to get my son admitted to a school. Now, as my son started getting older, he was cited as an example in class as a single-parented child. Not knowing the meaning and being unable to understand the difference, he broke out into tears. My cooked-up stories could relax him temporarily but could never fill up the void of growing up in a family.


Now he is 12, and I am 42. Both of us have grown into strong, sensible, self-reliant best friends to each other. He now understands the difference between a single parent and a family and respects the social structure. He is busy with all his studies and activities –a topper in his class– and I am enjoying my life on my own terms and conditions. 

Maybe I could not give him a luxurious life but the struggles we have fought and overcame together has made us who we are. My son is capable today to look after himself and takes care of me as well. 


Single mothers are owed much more respect than they are given. We have taken the pain of single motherhood and turned it into a blessing. We are not sluts. Respect the child brought up by a single mother because the pain felt by them can be understood by no one else. 

Society cannot judge a mother for “Being Single” and it’s high time they get their due credit and respect. 

Maitreyee Mallick , a Compassionate Educationist, Philanthropist and Social Activist.

Am I Queer Enough?
Manasi , Counselling Psychologist 


Identifying as queer means that someone experiences their gender, romantic attraction, sex development, and / or sexuality as outside the heteronormative, cisgender binaries.

So, you think you’re queer?

Are you sure?

You see, when someone asks you if you are sure of something, it is almost automatic for our mind to contest that certainty. Are you sure your favourite colour is blue and not green? How are you sure? One of the most intrinsic threats to our sense of self, perhaps, is this contestation. In order to search for a resolute yes, your mind looks for evidence through a map of information and experiences, of images, anecdotes, references, role models and much more. The thing about this map though, is that it has been developed in a space that is largely heteronormative. It has grown up with boxes filled with paperwork on what it means to be a man, a woman (period); to be manly or feminine (period); to love a person of the opposite sex (period). It holds few to nil references that normalise a phenomenon that does not subscribe to the binary, whether it be pop culture idols or literature. Over time, you may realise that you don’t necessarily fit in these boxes and this paperwork. Yet, the bureaucracy of this heteronormative society that influences our own development of self demands that we have answers- it demands concrete paperwork. It demands, in subtle and explicit ways, clear definitions of and explanations for who you are in order to keep the heteronormative structure alive.

It is often this demand that leads to a commonly heard experience of “Queer Imposter Syndrome”. An imposter syndrome is an experience of feeling fraudulent. It makes you feel inadequate and dishonest to who you say you are, and makes you persistently doubt yourself. If you were to fill out a form that says “queer”, you might not be able to answer all questions or check all the boxes. And so, the feeling of not being queer enough kicks in- whether it is the lack of real life references for what it means to be queer, or contrastingly, the abundance of expectations to be a certain way now that you say you are queer. Often, this doubt is also the result of internalised prejudice and stereotypes against sexualities and gender expression that is not heterosexual or cisgendered.

But that’s the thing about queerness- it can’t be boxed up. There is nothing concrete, for there is nothing that is absolute. Despite the understandable need to gain some “clarity” on what you make of your experience of queerness, there is no authority to say who you are except for yourself. Being queer is an active resistance to being boxed up again; it is an active disruption to this heteronormative structure that places an imaginary authority that dictates terms on what should and should not be, what is enough and what is not. Being queer is being far from this structure. Everything is play, and so, everything is free. There are no binaries and there is no bureaucratic machinery to demand explanations and confirmations. There is freedom to just be.

So, are you wondering if you are queer enough?

Who’s to say you’re not?

Manasi , Counselling Psychologist 

Is being Irritable and Sad Normal in New Mothers?
Rachel Subash Thankachan

“For the last time Jai, I don’t know where your keys are!” Nia yelled and flung the door wide open as she stormed out of the house, her ears red with fury and her hands shaking.

She flung herself onto the white bench under the bedroom window and sat, her entire body tingling with anger.

What was with her?

All Jai had asked was where the keys were twice. She had been calm till then. Or had she?

Inside the baby started crying. Tears sprang into her eyes as her head still seethed with rage. In the distance, Jai, her husband quietly got into his car and headed to work. He just did not know what was up with his wife ever since they had had the baby. But he found it best to leave her alone when she was like this.

Nia had always been a calm and composed woman. Everyone loved how peaceful and friendly she was. So, when she started getting bouts of rage randomly, he first blamed it on hormones but when the symptoms refused to leave even after a year, he was starting to get concerned.

On the bench, Nia breathed heavily trying to compose herself. She could see their neighbour, Mrs. Srivastava looking at her.

Nia wanted to yell and throw something at her. How dare she go around spying on other people?

But what was this now? Mrs. Srivastava was walking towards her. She opened the gate and walked right in. She sat next to Nia who gazed dumbfoundedly at the middle-aged lady.

“My child,” Mrs. Srivastava said calmly, “Do you want to talk?”

It was then that Nia lost all her self-control. She put her head into her hands and sobbed her lungs out. Between sobs, to her shock she found herself telling Mrs. Srivastava everything. She just couldn’t take it anymore.

“I – I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Every other day, I just get so mad- so mad, I tell you. I’ll be calm the whole day sometimes- just doing laundry, the dishes, bathing and feeding the baby, then buying groceries. But then- then I’ll be making dinner and suddenly she- the baby- she’ll just crawl up to me to play and all I’ll want to do is scream and throw things… it’s just… I can’t explain it…”

“My child,” Mrs. Srivastava put her hand around Nia,” Have you heard of the term ‘mom rage’? It’s precisely what you’ve explained to me now.”

Nia looked up at her with wide eyes as she continued to explain,

“You see becoming a mom is no small thing. You’re suddenly made to put up with so many pressures, take care of so many things. You think you’re okay putting everybody else’s needs above yours but the whole time you’re just suppressing more of your emotions underneath. And one small prick- and pop- off you go like a balloon. And you’re afraid to tell anybody because you’re scared you’ll be labelled a ‘bad mom’ “.

Mrs. Srivastava held Nia’s hands in hers and looked at her warmly, “Dear, why don’t you see my friend? She might be of some help. Here’s her number.”

Nia took the card that was offered to her and gazed at the words engraved on it-“Dr. Meena Nambiar, Clinical Psychologist.”

“Let me tell you dear,” Mrs. Srivastava said firmly, “There is no shame in asking for help.”

With a resolved gaze Nia smiled at Mrs. Sharma through her tears, “Thank you. I’ll contact her for an appointment first thing in the morning.”

Rachel Subash Thankachan        3rd year UG student, Department of Psychology,  Govt. Women’s College, Trivandrum

LGBTQIA + Affirmative Psychotherapy
Dr. Poornima Chandrashekar

What is LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Psychotherapy?

LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Psychotherapy is psychotherapeutic practice in which therapists have a positive view of those who belong to the queer community. This type of therapy also addresses the unique challenges that the individuals belonging to the queer community face such as oppression, homophobia and transphobia and tries to understand the impact of living in a heteronormative on queer clients.

LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Psychotherapy has its origins in ‘Gay Affirmative Therapy’ which was introduced by Alan K. Malyon in as early as 1980s. Based on his research on the provision of psychotherapeutic interventions for gay men, he provided an outline of the practice that consisted of 4 phases. He believed rather than on trying to convert clients from homosexuality to heterosexuality, one must affirm their identity, accept and value their sexual orientation and help them to self-actualize. 

The 4 phases of Gay Affirmative Therapy developed by Alan K. Malyon are: 

Phase I: In the first phase the therapist tries to build a strong therapeutic alliance and rapport with client. 

Phase II: Here the therapist tries to analyze the challenges and conflicts faced by the client. This is followed by the therapist trying to understand the client’s attitudes, state of mind, and starting to helping the client restructure some of their negative thought processes.

Phase III: In the third phase the therapist tries to consolidate the client’s identity and helps the client develop strong healthy intimate relationships. 

Phase IV: In the last phase of the therapy the therapist helps the client to establish a sense of personal meaning and purpose in one’s life. 

According to Malyon’s research some of the problems faced by gay men were that a majority of them had internalized homophobia and were facing difficulties with intimate relationships, cultural stigma and ego-dystonic attraction.

What is the difference between an LGBTQIA+ friendly and an LGBTQIA+ affirmative psychotherapist?

An LGBTQIA+ friendly therapist is one who shows warmth, openness and is aware about the spectrum of LGBTQIA+ identities that exists in the LGBTQIA + community, however, this alone is not sufficient to practice LGBTQIA+ affirmative psychotherapy.  Here the therapist needs to be certified in LGBTQIA+ therapy and therapists should have a sufficient number of supervised sessions with LGBTQIA+ clients before calling themselves LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapists.

What are some of the challenges that clients from the LGBTQIA+ community face?

Some of the unique challenges faced by those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community are as follows

  • Homophobia and transphobia
  • Social Stigma
  • Oppression
  • Violence
  • Discrimination
  • Loss of employment, housing
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Frequently at the receiving end of homophobic jokes and bullying
  • Society forcing queer individuals to conform to gender norms 

The lived experiences of those from the queer community are intersectional with other factors such as caste, ethnicity, race, religion, socioeconomic status and disability. Hence therapy spaces for queer individuals have to feel safe enough for them to explore, approach, and resolve their difficulties. 

What qualities should an LGBTQIA+ affirmative psychotherapist possess?

The qualities that a queer affirmative psychotherapist needs to possess are the ability to establish a connection with their clients, aiming to ensure that clients feel safe and comfortable to talk about the issues surrounding their experiences. Therapists need to warm, friendly, validating, accepting and have a non-judgmental attitude towards different types of sexual and gender diversities. These above-mentioned qualities are those that any individual involved in providing psychotherapeutic services should possess, however, to be an effective queer affirmative psychotherapist, one must be able to put aside their experiences of being assimilated into a heteronormative society, and be able to wholeheartedly accept those belonging to the queer community. This would also require a certain degree of openness and flexibility on behalf of the therapist.

Therapists should possess the ability to reflect and identify their own negative or biased attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that they hold in relation to the queer community. Therapists who practice reflection and reflexivity, and who use supervision well can unpick dilemmas relating to their own socialsed experiences of hetereonormativity, and hence provide more empathic and ethical care for queer clients.

Therapists should be able to normalize their client’s sexual desires and practices, make clients feel comfortable with their bodies and sexuality, validate the client’s experiences of sexuality, and encourage clients to develop healthy platonic, romantic, and sexual relationships. If clients request help with this, therapists should also be able to facilitate the coming out process, first for clients to acknowledge and accept this in relation to themselves, and then to family and friends (Lebolt, 1999). 

A queer affirmative psychotherapist should be well versed in the queer affirming language and be able to use appropriate pronouns while communicating with queer clients. Queer affirmative psychotherapists should undergo additional training in queer affirmative therapies and practices and have sufficient number of hours of supervised therapy sessions under an expert from the field of queer affirmative psychotherapy, before taking on clients from the LGBTQ+ community. Queer affirmative psychotherapy should be well advertised by the therapists who are trained in it, and these services should be made accessible regardless of socio-economic status, gender identity and sexuality.

Therapists should be intuitive enough to understand the unique challenges that clients from the queer community face in their day-to-day lives and the material they bring into the session. They should be able to make connections between the effects of stigma and prejudice, which result in oppression, harassment and bullying and its long-term impact on the client’s mental and physical health.

The key to being a good queer affirmative psychotherapist is to always remember that the queer community should not be perceived as a monolith but rather a blend of different types of sexual and gender diversities, and that each client would bring to the session an entirely unique set of experiences of belonging to the queer community.

Do I have to talk about my gender or sexuality with my LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapist?

The answer to this question is both yes and no: If a client is seeking help for a mental health issue or a current problem that requires immediate attention and intervention and does not wish to reveal the gender or sexuality then it is solely the client’s choice. However, if the client is seeking therapy to discuss specific issues regarding the challenges and mental health concerns in relation to their expeirences of belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, then it becomes important to speak to the therapist regarding their gender and sexual identity. This can help the therapist better understand the client, which in turn will allow the therapist and client to have more open conversations linking the client’s experiences of queerness with other lived experiences, and ultimately make the therapruitc process more useful overall.  

Dr. Poornima Chandrashekar, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Be Like A Child


Everyone keeps saying that to stop acting like a child, Are you a kid, you’re grown up? We keep hearing these statements, but I’m going to tell you to be like a child when it comes to being in the present. Everyone wishes to be like a child and not to grow older but it’s impossible. It is about having a child-like mind that’s possible.

Yes, I’m pretty sure no one can defeat  the kids in mastering this skill, they are the real experts.Let’s explore and find the way how  and when to be like them

Few things which I observed when I was with my kids and it helped me to stay connected with the present and how to enjoy things around us. 

Some of the  few things which I observed



The level of curiosity would remain the same even if they play with their regular toys and  primarily get amused with absolute  little things around them.


Exploring new things

The nature of allowing them in  exploring new things and just be with that keeps them engaged completely.

Modeling others

Imitating the ideas of siblings or loved ones  helps one to enjoy the things deeply.

No / less expectations

Yes imitating but not expecting to be like others and not comparing oneself with others.


Never want to carry out things perfectly and admire themselves every single time for what they have achieved.



Building connections with others through sharing,bonding and helping.  Since they  are the serious followers of an egalitarian approach, they treat everyone equally with no restrictions whether they are loved by others or not.

No anticipation


Zero preparation  they don’t see them that they are  in  a race or exam considering everything is same.


The quality of forgiving oneself and others makes them stay happy and enjoy things.

Watching kids itself makes oneself mindful and reminds everyone the purpose of life.These are the qualities I realized and  it’s endless. I believe that you too have realized like me if so  please  do share your comments. 

Vijayalakshmi, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, TherapHeal

"I'm feeling confused about my gender indentity and/ or sexuality. What can I do to get some clarity?"

Dr. Kaustav Bakshi

I’m feeling confused about my gender identity and/or sexuality. What can I do to get some clarity? 

This is perhaps the most nagging question one encounters with coming of age, or even before that: the ‘confusion’ may arise out of a very unsettling sense of not being able to align one’s desire with the expected norm – that is, (compulsory) heterosexuality, which one sees all around them every day. Even if one makes peace with this initial confusion, that is, if one learns to accept their ‘difference’ with time, the ‘confusion’ may deepen with knowledge. Now, that may sound paradoxical. Knowledge of one’s sexuality, the idea that sexualities are multiple, should ideally aid in dispelling the ‘confusion’. But, that is not always the case. In fact, excess of knowledge may cause more confusion. How? One, who is struggling with their sexuality, may find the huge number of terms that are in circulation mind-boggling. The question ‘Which of these am I?’ may occupy an individual’s mind, if (and this happens very frequently) they find existing sexuality identity categories restrictive, or not very satisfactorily defining how they feel or what they desire. In other words, one may find textbook definitions of terms such as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’, ‘trans’, ‘non-binary’, ‘intersex’, etc. inadequate in explaining what they feel or desire. It is absolutely fine to feel alienated by these definitions and labels. But, then what?

First and foremost, at this moment in history, we are obsessed with identities. In case of sexual identities – particularly, ‘Which sexuality type am I?’ – is a question which troubles more than anything else. Unlike other identity categories, such as class, caste, religion, ethnicity, ability, etc., sexual identity is not concrete, sometimes indecipherable, in most cases, indeterminable. To dispel this confusion, one may understand that for the longest time, we are living in a fictional world of gender identities, and, it has been so long that we have forgotten that it is a fiction. The confusion begins with a strong, indispensable belief in the binary system of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, and, sometimes, of a ‘third gender’ category which is somewhere between the idea of being a man and a woman. The first step to disperse the confusion is to reject all three categories. It is undeniable that it is an enormously taxing job to imagine gender without pinning it on to anatomy. But, the only possible way to do away with this confusion is to first accept that gender and sexuality need not be defined by a certain kind of biological body, certain kind of anatomy. Once accepted, sexuality could be envisioned as a continuum, as a spectrum, just like the rainbow flag, only far more infinite and indefinite. It may not be possible for anyone to be absolutely sure at which point in that unending spectrum could one locate oneself. There is no single placeholder. Most importantly, an identity with which one is born, or comes to realise what one is at a certain point in time, may not remain the same all through one’s life. To cite a simple example, a person who has always been heterosexual, may one fine day, at an advanced age, begin to feel sexually attracted towards the same-sex. One may recall, Thomas Mann’s renowned novella, Death in Venice/Der Tod in Venedig (1912), where, a 50-something Gustav von Aschenbach falls in love with the adolescent Tadzio, having led the life of a married heterosexual man till that point of meeting the latter.

Identity is not fixed; it is fluid. Similarly, desire is also not fixed; it changes with time. Therefore, if one is feeling confused about one’s identity, it is totally alright: it is confusing, only when one is assuming identity to be a  fixed category, as something rigid and determinable. The moment one learns to accept identity as unfixed, in a perpetual state of transition in relation to one’s social, political, economic and cultural surrounding, one will be fine. Basically, therefore, the way to emerge more confident of one’s sexuality is to accept it as fluid, as changeable, as malleable. It takes a lot of energy to worry over the possibility of fitting oneself into one particular category. The fruitful way to be is to imagine oneself as always in a state of becoming, the end of which may never be reached even in death.

Even then, if one is looking for a label to ‘identify’ with, what should they do? Well, ‘queer’ is a useful term, though, ironically, it does not describe one particular identity (even though it is very often mistaken as an identity label). Why is the term ‘queer’ useful? ‘Queer’ encapsulates an oppositional stance to everything that is normative. Locating one’s self using different identities and terminologies, one may need an anchor in the shape of a word, a term: ‘queer’ may satisfactorily epitomise that way of being which is always in state of becoming, not constricted by identity labels or binaries such as man and woman or heterosexual and homosexual. The best case scenario would be not to try and identify with a pre-existing label at all. That is what one should ideally do for clarity, when afflicted by the niggling question: I’m feeling confused about my gender identity and/or sexuality. What can I do to get some clarity?

Dr. Kaustav Bakshi, Associate Professor, Department of English, Jadavpur University

What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?

Dr. Navya Anand

The LGBTQIA+ community is vast and diverse, and this umbrella term brings together experiences relating to both gender and sexuality. First, let’s break down the acronym itself:








+all other sexual and gender diversities 

Sexuality refers to sexual and romantic attraction, sexual and romantic behaviours, and identity. People who are lesbian and gay tend to be sexually and romantically attracted to people who have the same gender identity as themselves. People who are bisexual tend to be attracted to both people who have the same gender and a different gender to themselves. These terms are typically based on the gender binary which assumes that there are only two gender identities – man and woman. This is part of the hetreonormative or heterosexism of modern society, where people are assumed to only be attracted to people of the opposite gender identity, and there are only two gender identities. Most modern societies follow this idea that everyone is heterosexual (i.e. attracted to someone of the opposite gender, based on the sex they were assigned at birth). 

Gender identity is different to the sex we are assigned at birth. Sex is based on the biological characeristics a person may have, which includes their genetics (chromosomes), hormones, and physical traits. Sex is described as male and female. Gender identity is the experience of gender which is not always the same as biological sex.  If a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth, we refer to them as cis-gendered. Transgender refers to a gender identity where a person was born and assigned a specific sex at birth (i.e. “assigned female at birth” = AFAB, “assigned male at birth” = AMAB) and has a gender identity that is different to that. For example, a person may be AFAB and identify as a trans man. Having a trans gender identity does not mean that you have to undergo medical transition. People can be trans without any changes to their physical or biological traits. Being trans is also not limited to the gender binary. For example, a person may be AMAB, and identify as trans non-binary. Gender identity is also different from gender expression. Someone may identify as a woman, and express their gender as a man e.g. wear clothes that men typically wear. Therefore, the gender expression we see (clothing, make-up) may not always match with the person’s internal gender identity.

There are also many other gender identities (e.g. non-binary, gender fluidity, gender queerness) which are not based on the gender binary. These identities also intersect with sexuality. For example, a person may be non-binary and lesbian. For some people, it is difficult to express their gender identity, sexuality, and worldview based on these specific labels. They may choose to use the umbrella term “queer” to refer to their sexual and romantic preferences. Queer used to be a slur for gender and sexually diverse people in the global west in the 16th century, and was seen to be derogatory up until the 1980s. However, the word “queer” was reclaimed by the gay community during the gay pride movement against homophobia in the time of the AIDS epidemic. Since then, the word “queer” has become more popular, especially with an increase in awareness, recognition, and understanding of the wide spectrum of gender and sexual identities and experiences. 

Intersex people are born with genetic, hormonal, or physical features which are not fully in line with the sex characteristics we see in individuals AFAB or AMAB. They therefore have a mixture of biological traits which do not fall into the gender binary that society has created based on biological sex characteristics. Intersex is an umbrella term that refers to all people who have this experience of multiple sex characteristics. Historically, Intersex people were medically operated on, without their consent, when they were born or early in life to bring their bodies in line with the gender binary. Intersex is not a gender identity and it is also not a sexual identity. Intersex people experience a diverse range of gender and sexual identities. For example, a person may be intersex, trans non-binary, and asexual. 

Asexuality refers to people who do not experience sexual attraction towards others. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy or abstinence. People who are asexual may experience romantic attraction towards others. For example, a person may be asexual and lesbian. There are also people who identify as aromantic – this means that they do not experience romantic attraction towards other people. A person can be aromantic and asexual, which means that they do not experience romantic or sexual attraction. People who are aromantic may also have sexual preferences. For example, a person may be aromantic, gender queer, and gay. It is also possible to feel romantic attraction and sexual attraction towards different people. For example, a person may be sexually attracted to men, and romantically attracted to women. 

The + in the LGBTQIA+ acronym stands for all the other gender and sexual diverse experiences that exist. These can include gender non-conforming, gender queer, gender fluid, as well as androsexual, demiromantic, pansexual, skoliosexual etc. All of these diverse gender and sexual identities can intersect with each other, as well as other identity experiences such as race, ethnicity, religion, caste, disability, and class. It is important to understand that gender is a socially constructed phenomenon, and that previous understandings were based on biology, whereas current understandings are based on social and internal experiences. Similarly, sexuality was historically considered only through the heterosexual norms. However, we now understand that there are many forms of sexuality and that it isn’t necessary for everyone to follow heteronormative standards of living. Gender and sexual diversity are not “symptoms of trauma”  or “caused by abuse”. These are some of the prevalent myths which invalidate and dehumanise queer people. Being queer is not wrong, just as being straight or cis-gendered is not wrong. We are all uniquely different, and hopefully one day we can live in societies which accept and celebrate our differences as being vital to the richness of our collective experiences.

Dr. Navya Anand, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Therapheal

Death Anxiety and COVID-19

Dr. Amanpreet Kaur

“What do we say to the Lord of Death?’
‘Not today.” 
– George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Since the beginning of pandemic until today, there have been multiple studies and articles published on effects of lockdown and COVID-19 on one’s mental health. The effects have been twofold. Not only it has posed existential threat but also increased the general awareness in public about the importance of mental health and wellbeing. Currently we are in the middle of third wave and in March 2022 we would have lived two years with the fear, anxiety, physical distancing and pandemic-related restrictions.

Apart from losing lakhs and lakhs of people to date to COVID-19, we have overburdened healthcare staff and distressed individuals of all age groups. Who knew work from home, zoom calls, online ceremonies could become immensely popular and need of the hour? These unprecedented, uncertain times have been challenging and given rise to various mental health issues and conditions. We, as clinical psychologists have seen an upsurge in cases being referred to us for grief, trauma, distress, marital issues, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance abuse in the past two years. 

We are the only species that has the cognitive capacity to reflect, contemplate and anticipate our own death, yet this splendid ability comes with a disadvantage. We are destined to live our lives “forever shadowed by the knowledge that we will grow, blossom, and inevitably, diminish and die” as said by Irvin Yalom in his book “Staring at the Sun”.

Anxiety caused by thoughts related to one’s own death is called death anxiety. This pandemic has made us more than aware of our own mortality- an inevitable result of witnessingor hearingabout death in such magnitude. Fear of death also plays a causal role in various mental health conditions and it has been seen as a transdiagnostic concept. Generally, fear of death may manifest in the frequent reassurance seeking from doctors, checking of one’s body for symptoms, and requests for medical testing seen in the somatic symptom-related disorders.

Two kinds of behaviour in general arise from death anxiety: a) people may develop adaptive ways of coping with their fear of death, such as building meaningful relationships and leaving a positive legacy or b) powerful sense of fear or meaninglessness, and may drive a number of maladaptive coping behaviours such as avoidance, denial or self-medication. The latter describes unhealthy or maladaptive behaviours which can be seen around us, whether people not wearing masks or following rules, not isolating oneself even after symptoms manifest, and complete denial of any virus being existent. 

The truth is no one wants to die, no one wants to witness death and no one wants to lose their loved ones, while everyone knows none of us are immortals. The question is, when will it end? We wish we had the exact answer, but no one knows. We can wish and hope for the best though. A big shoutout to all the people who have practiced patience, regulation, responsibility and used safety behaviours since last two years. And for those who think they need to live their life and be freethere are better ways to meaningfully live your life rather than breaking safety protocols. It is the suffering, the pain which troubles us when we think of our last times. We need to rather focus more on the things we can do with existing resources around us, be grateful, be physically active, take care of ourselves rather than taking the denial or avoidant route. As Haruki Murakami said, “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.

Dr Amanpreet Kaur
Consultant Clinical Psychologist, TherapHeal 
Assistant Professor, School of Psychology & Counselling, O.P. Jindal Global Universiy

Shades of Grief during COVID-19 amongst children and adolescents

Ankita Biswas & Dr. Amanpreet Kaur

“You don’t go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be.” ~ Nigella Lawson

The world has experienced drastic change in the last two years since COVID-19 knocked at our doors. This situation has posed challenges at multiple levels with uncertainties, deaths, and lockdowns. Humankind has witnessed a mammoth count of deaths in the history, take for example how many people we lost to COVID-19 during the first and second waves. Loss of a loved one or grief has
become an unacceptable yet harsh reality for many families around the world. Grief, although inevitable, is the most difficult phase to deal with in one’s life.

In such an era of struggle and disaster, suffering of children and adolescents have gone unnoticed and undervalued. Along with having to deal with the agonies of sudden loss of parent or parents, close family member or friend, decreased social interaction with peers and extended families, no face-to-face schooling, loss of job of parents, fear of contracting the virus, illness of close ones, being restricted to home, and bombardment of death related news on television majority of children and adolescents are unprepared to handle these agonies!

Losing a parent is among the most adverse childhood experiences associated with various mental health problems. At this developmental stage, children and adolescents are not emotionally or cognitively prepared or matured enough to process death and grief. Experiencing multiple major stressors along with death of near ones pose them at risk of both short-term and long-term psychological consequences.

Death of a significant person with the pathos of not being able to see them for last time, bid them farewell, or conduct funerals has exacerbated complications in emotional expression of bereavement. Consequently, children are bestowed with untimely responsibilities of supporting survivors, taking care of other family members who are sick, financial strain, threat of discontinuation of education, etc. They are forced to process this untimely demise, bereavement, loss of support, having to continue life on own, facing the harsh realities of the world, and all of it alone!

We as a society, have learnt not to talk about death and dying. Death is a taboo word and we struggle to process witnessing someone dying or handling someone’s permanent absence from our reality. We know death is certain, but time of death is unknown. Anything unknown creates fear and fear creates anxiety related to our survival. In case of children and adolescents, its extremely difficult for them to fathom what is happening, future consequences, and dos and don’ts of acting in a certain way. It creates a sense of unparallel pain, emotional upheavals and trauma, which much of the time they take in silence, while being unable to express to anyone. These may Grief may get manifested in the form of guilt, anxiety, fear and insecurity along with feelings of sadness and phsyciological changes. Surviving parents struggling with their own miseries are unable to attend to their kids. As a result, most children and adolescents are not able to come up and express their share of distresses and worries to anyone and continue suffering endlessly. As mental health professionals, it’s imperative to intervene and help these section (our future generation) in order to lessen their burden. Therapheal, an online mental health platform, welcomes such children and adolescents to come forward to join our grief support group and allow us to be by your side and help you sail through this ordeal. Anyone who has gone through any kind of loss and is in distress, Therapheal is there with you to share your emotional burden and assist you in coping better to life, ahead.

“You don’t go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be.” ~ Nigella Lawson

The world has experienced drastic change in the last two years since COVID-19 knocked at our doors. This situation has posed challenges at multiple levels with uncertainties, deaths, and lockdowns. Humankind has witnessed a mammoth count of deaths in the history, take for example how many people we lost to COVID-19 during the first and second waves. Loss of a loved one or grief has
become an unacceptable yet harsh reality for many families around the world. Grief, although inevitable, is the most difficult phase to deal with in one’s life.

In such an era of struggle and disaster, suffering of children and adolescents have gone unnoticed and undervalued. Along with having to deal with the agonies of sudden loss of parent or parents, close family member or friend, decreased social interaction with peers and extended families, no face-to-face schooling, loss of job of parents, fear of contracting the virus, illness of close ones, being restricted to home, and bombardment of death related news on television majority of children and adolescents are unprepared to handle these agonies!

Losing a parent is among the most adverse childhood experiences associated with various mental health problems. At this developmental stage, children and adolescents are not emotionally or cognitively prepared or matured enough to process death and grief. Experiencing multiple major stressors along with death of near ones pose them at risk of both short-term and long-term psychological consequences.

Death of a significant person with the pathos of not being able to see them for last time, bid them farewell, or conduct funerals has exacerbated complications in emotional expression of bereavement. Consequently, children are bestowed with untimely responsibilities of supporting survivors, taking care of other family members who are sick, financial strain, threat of discontinuation of education, etc. They are forced to process this untimely demise, bereavement, loss of support, having to continue life on own, facing the harsh realities of the world, and all of it alone!

We as a society, have learnt not to talk about death and dying. Death is a taboo word and we struggle to process witnessing someone dying or handling someone’s permanent absence from our reality. We know death is certain, but time of death is unknown. Anything unknown creates fear and fear creates anxiety related to our survival. In case of children and adolescents, its extremely difficult for them to fathom what is happening, future consequences, and dos and don’ts of acting in a certain way. It creates a sense of unparallel pain, emotional upheavals and trauma, which much of the time they take in silence, while being unable to express to anyone. These may Grief may get manifested in the form of guilt, anxiety, fear and insecurity along with feelings of sadness and phsyciological changes. Surviving parents struggling with their own miseries are unable to attend to their kids. As a result, most children and adolescents are not able to come up and express their share of distresses and worries to anyone and continue suffering endlessly. As mental health professionals, it’s imperative to intervene and help these section (our future generation) in order to lessen their burden. Therapheal, an online mental health platform, welcomes such children and adolescents to come forward to join our grief support group and allow us to be by your side and help you sail through this ordeal. Anyone who has gone through any kind of loss and is in distress, Therapheal is there with you to share your emotional burden and assist you in coping better to life, ahead.

Ankita Biswas (she/her), Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Therapheal
Dr Amanpreet Kaur Consultant CP, Therapheal and working as a Researcher at The George Institute for Global Health India

Be a Man- Dilemma of
masculinity and emotional expression

Sandeepa Kaur & Dr. Amanpreet Kaur

Emotion is an important ingredient of our life. It makes us feel alive, feel connected and be human. When we are aware of our emotions, we are able to communicate our needs and wants as a social being. Hence, it is important for all human beings to express their emotions, whether pleasant or unpleasant emotions.

How often do we hear these phrases around us?

‘Be strong’,

‘Be a man’,

‘Boys don’t cry’

Since early childhood years, men are taught to be strong and not be vulnerable. They learn to not to express their emotions or they wouldn’t be accepted by others. The concept of masculinity is fed to them which impacts their behaviours, thoughts and emotional expression. Masculinity is socially constructed and ‘being a man’ is associated with their gender identity. Men are supposed to be strong, tough, aggressive, successful, handles money, opinionated, muscular, etc. does that ring a bell?

Most men end up having difficulties related to expressing or describing their emotions and handling distress well. They may say ‘I am feeling sad or happy’ but not the exact emotion like hurt or guilt. The reason lies in the fact that they have never been taught to articulate their emotions as it’s not ‘being masculine or being a man’. This leads to majority of the men engaging in violence, domestic abuse, and suffering from substance use, and mood disorders. It ruins their relationships with others while affecting their personal and occupational fronts.

So, what can be done?

1. ACKNOWLEDGE – It is important for men to acknowledge that they have unpleasant emotions and can’t describe it. (Remember that the first step towards change is awareness).

2. UNDERSTAND EMOTIONS – Try to be emotionally literate. Have a journal where you can write down your feelings (use emotional wheel to identify your feelings). While tying messages, use emojis.

3. OWN IT – Use the “I” statement to own your feelings. You can say “I feel hurt” instead of saying “You are always mean to me.”

4. COMMUNICATE – Ask yourself how you are feeling. Communicate your feeling to others so that you and others can understand your needs better.

The key to learn these skills is practice, practice and practice.

Though crying or being vulnerable is considered as “no male qualities” but remember that these are unrealistic standards set by society. It’s okay to experience pain. It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t make one a bad person. In fact, it makes one human and improves one’s connectivity with others. Not talking about suffering is an unhealthy way of coping. Express your emotions, show your vulnerability and that will make you a better self-equipped person.

Sandeepa Kaur is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at TherapHeal and has her own YouTube channel called Mansa: Mental Health and Wellness.
Dr. Amanpreet Kaur is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at TherapHeal and a Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health, India

Midlife Crisis in Men - “Is it in the mind or is it real?”

Sailaja Menon

Please define mid life crisis-is it all in the mind or real? How much do hormones have to do with it?

It is difficult to say. Experts believe it is caused due to a combination of psychological and or hormonal issues. 

Read More.

Sailaja Menon is a Consultant Counselling Psychologist at TherapHeal and Openminds Psychiatry, Counselling and Neuroscience Centre, Dubai.

Himel Dey shared his mental health journey with us...

In 2014, When I was in class 12 , I got diagnosed with OCD. That time, I didn’t know what OCD was. I thought it was something I could pray about and ask God to make ‘go away’. I would wish to wake up and not worry anymore, but neither of these were solutions to my mental health condition- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I used to have bad and negative thoughts about Gods, family members, etc. A certain period also came where I used to beat myself because of this intense, disturbing thoughts. My results used to go down. My normal life got disastrous.

The thing about OCD is that sufferers can have some really intrusive, intense, disturbing thoughts, which are very uncomfortable to say out loud. The less you want to give attention to it the more worse it becomes. It practically destroys your normal life. Everyday would feel like hell to you. I could not discuss this thoughts with my family members or any others and it remains misunderstood and people used to make the jokes without realising what OCD is.

After suffering from OCD for more than 3 years, going to many doctors and taking extreme medicines, I finally went to therapy session. The therapy sessions changed my life. I used to have regular sessions at clinic. It helped me to face the thoughts which came to my mind.
and also thought me that OCD can be defeated. With the professional help and family support I am finally been able to defeat OCD.

Although OCD took over most of my teenage years, with therapy and support from my family I have managed to reclaim my new life. There are still days where I struggle. I am constantly aware of my thoughts and it’s something I think about, and will have to live with everyday. But OCD doesn’t stop me from doing anything- I may still have the intrusive thoughts, but tell myself if there’s anyone I’d send an inappropriate email to it’d only be to my OCD telling him exactly how I feel- and that would be perfectly okay.

Everyone can beat OCD . Don’t let OCD win over yourself.

Men’s Mental Health: Through the Lens of Culture

Srinithi Sridhar

There are some incidents like the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput, that remind us that men have mental health issues as well. There are many demands that one places on the men of the world. They are expected to be “well-built” and be “clear-headed” and “men of culture”. There are also statements like “Men do not cry”, “Men do not hurt”, “Only losers cannot woo a girl of their choice” that shame men and force them to uphold these standards. 

With a lack of space to express, the only acceptable emotion is anger. While anger is considered the “guardian of emotions”, it can be harmful when it is displaced onto others or inward. It can morph emotions like sadness, guilt, and regret into an unbridled rage. 

We hear stories of men hurting other people including children and/or their loved ones. We hear these stories and condemn these men, but we fail to acknowledge that systems like patriarchy and hegemony will continue to produce more such men who are trapped and feel like they cannot escape unless they use their rage. 

Last year, I had conducted a session on this very topic and many men shared that they do not know how to express themselves even if they had the space to. There also seems to be a fear that he will be mocked for expressing. To navigate through the challenges of life can be quite difficult without having the right tools. To bring these concerns to the forefront, we need men to speak up and find ways to heal.

Some ways in which we can begin expressing and taking care of ourselves are as follows:

  • Check in with yourself for signs of stress or anxiety. This can be thoughts or emotions or even in the form of body aches or unpleasant sensations like heavy breathing, shivering, nausea, etc. 
  • Engage in self-care. Self-care is one of the most underrated yet most useful ways to combat stress. Take time out to walk, journal, or meditate
  • Build a support system. Having a good set of friends and family who do not mock you and listen well can be helpful. 
  • Seek psychotherapy. Consulting a psychologist can be helpful as it gives you a safe space to express yourself. Therapy also helps you identify achievable goals and work towards them steadily. 

Today, we see many men changing and embracing their emotions. Many men are seeking therapy and are engaging in non-traditional roles like housekeeping and being active parents. We have a section of fathers in our country who are involved in parenting full-time. They are in charge of responsibilities like nurturing and caregiving that was traditionally expected from women. Having men involve themselves in such processes shows that one can define what masculinity means for oneself and does not have to stick to a template. Studies have shown that these homes are happier as well as both parents are equally engaged. 

Masculinity and femininity are societal constructs. While it may be hard to break away from this paradigm, it can be more beneficial to choose what is best for you. It can be helpful to recreate these templates for yourself based on your needs, wants, and personality. 

 Srinithi Sridhar is a Counselling Psychologist. Her areas of interest includes exploring how sociocultural constructs impact ment’s mental helath and has conducted research on Stay-at-home fathers for her Masters dissertation.

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