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Monday, 20 April 2015

Seek help when you need - Ask our counsellor Q&A column

[The following column answered by me appreared in the Deccan Herald education supplement of April 16, 2015]

Dear Madam,
I am doing in my fourth semester of engineering (Medical Electronics). As I had done my Diploma earlier, I got a BE seat directly in the second year. I am an above average student but found it difficult to cope with my subjects. Also, due to ill health during the exams, I did not fare well and had five backlogs. I lost a year. I am very depressed and I cannot come out of this depression. When I think about it, I feel scared and cannot stop my tears. I have never had backlogs before and have always performed well. I have cleared the backlogs but feel low about going back to college. I cannot concentrate as before. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake again.
Worried Student

Dear Worried Student
I understand your worry about the future,  your fear and that you are very depressed because the performance you had in the past year was not the kind of performance that you were used to and had come to expect of yourself. Given that your depression around this issue has persisted for some time, and still makes you cry, I suggest you see a counsellor for a few sessions to help you gain a new perspective on the way you are interpreting things.

If you do not have access to a counsellor, feel free to access a counsellor at the free Parivarthan Counselling Helpline at 080 65333323. You may also benefit from a psychiatric evaluation of your depression to see if medication for depression will help you feel better. People make mistakes, and do not always perform at their peak performance level all the time. Making mistakes if normal. But we need to be able to learn from our mistakes and bounce back, rather than get stuck with our fear. I believe counselling will help you move past this phase of your life.
All the best.

Dear Madam,
This is about my nephew who is in class IX. He is good at studies. However, his parents are very worried about his irresponsible, childish behaviour and  the way he talks to others. This is true to a certain extent. The parents keep advising him and when he turns a deaf ear to them, they get depressed and scold him. I do not want my nephew or his parents to suffer from a long-term effect due to this. Is this a common problem, which will fade away? How do they tackle this? Should they meet a counsellor?

Dear Sindhu
It is touching to see your concern about your nephew. Yes, it is common amongst adolescents. The teenage years are the time in life when teenagers try to discover and create their own identify, as one that is different from that of their parents, or from that which their parents want them to have. In this process of ‘individuation’, they need to necessarily hold their own and not accept every piece of advice and instruction that is given to them. I think parents need to understand this behaviour as a feature of adolescence and the adolescents’ process of creating an identity for themselves, as opposed to an attack on them. When parents are able to gain this perspective, then this behaviour is not that anxiety-provoking any more.

I definitely think it will be helpful for the parents to go for a couple of counselling sessions where they are able to talk about their fears, anxieties and challenges. If this does not help in changing the way they are working, behaving, thinking and feeling about their son’s behaviour then they could also explore some family counselling sessions with their son.

Dear Madam,
I am 23 years old. I have not yet passed my II PUC, as I was not interested in studies at that time. I have joined B Sc (IT) through correspondence. I have been working as a Dialler Specialist for the last three years. I have totally worked for five years now. I really don’t know what to do next? If I apply for a different job they ask for a degree. I am really confused.

Dear Sameera
I am not a career counsellor and as such cannot give you any inputs around what career paths you can follow. But I do think that if you look for a job in the formal corporate world, you will need a degree, and the absence of one will always prove to be a roadblock in your growth within the organisation, and will reduce the options open to you.

So you can either, pursue your formal education now, and get the degrees that you need, or you can choose alternative paths of growth and livelihood by setting up your own business. I think it would be helpful for you to do some introspection and understand yourself better – what are your strengths and weakness;, what are the areas you are interested in; do you have any hobbies and passions that you can convert into a means of livelihood; what are your goals and aspirations; how would you define success for yourself; etc. Answering these questions for yourself, either on your own, or with the help of a trusted adult, may help you raise options that you can explore. Remember, there are many paths to success, and there are also many definitions of success. You must find one that fits you.

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