Everybody needs a friendly voice

Last Updated 20 June 2012, 20:26 IST

While coping with stressful hours at work, home and society, are we headed for breakdown? What we need, is probably, a sympathetic ear. A counsellor could be the answer

Anil lost his job without warning. He had had a good career so far, and was a very confident person. This bolt shook him up completely. He had been feeling a little alienated from his wife lately and dreaded having to break the news to her. His retired father always looked up to him and was proud of his achievements. Anil did not have the heart to tell him about this failure. He felt completely lost.

When Meena fell in love with her college mate, she was on cloud nine. She thought she had found all the happiness in the world, until the fateful day when she caught him red-handed with another girl.

Although she was used to sharing a11 her secrets with her mother, somehow she had not told her about her love affair, and now, just could not bring herself to shareher misery. She had flaunted her boyfriend proudly to all her friends, and now she found it very difficult to admit that she was let down so badly by him.

When Naresh was diagnosed with a major illness, he could not believe his ears. The doctor spoke about it as though he was discussing a machine and not a human being. As a husband and father, Naresh was the pillar of the family. Suddenly, he felt weak and incapable that he would have cried out if he could find a comforting voice. But he felt that there was no shoulder he could cry on.

Amita is a very popular lady — very successful in her career, vivacious, an extrovert and admired by all. Many of her friends, and sometimes even strangers, came to her for solace and shared their innermost feelings. But little did they know that she was sick of living up to that image. She cries herself to sleep and yearns for someone who will listen to her rather than making her listen.

Is there anything common between Anil, Meena, Naresh and Amita? They all need someone to talk to, someone who will accept them unconditionally, and someone who cares and has the time, will protect their confidentiality and will refrain from giving unnecessary advice. They need a friend, a confidante, a counsellor.

Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are trained to deal with mental illness, but there are innumerable people who do not suffer from mental disorders and are yet going through trauma, emotional stress, or dealing with the pressures of day-to-day existence.

Similarly, there are many others who do not face too many challenges, but have the scope to improve the quality of their lives. All of them can get immense support and guidance from a person who has been trained to handle emotions and interpersonal dynamics.

There is a grave need for sensitive and caring people to be trained in counselling, so that they can work in a community, school, college, corporate organisation or NGO to provide the much-needed support.  These people can be from any walk of life, any age, but they need to have a genuine desire to improve another person’s quality of life, and to reach out to others.

The amazing fact is that those who take up counselling formally or informally find that their own life and relationships improve considerably, and they start looking forward to everyday life. And there is a ripple effect with those who have been helped. They continue to help others, thus creating a better society, particularly among the youth and children.

One organisation that trains people regardless of their age, qualifications and background in the practical and essential aspects of counselling is Banjara Academy, with centres located at RT Nagar and Basavanagudi. They offer a simple part-time diploma that is taught without textbooks, theory or exams.

Participants sit in a circle, exchange views, learn experientially how challenges of life can be dealt with, and how to improve relationships. The programme starts in June, with three batches offering two classes a week, in the mornings, evenings and weekends. Further details can be availed from: Ph: (080)2353 5787/ 23535766, or the coordinator:  9448350626.

Those who wish to strengthen their theoretical base can simultaneously enrol for a Master’s programme through distance learning, which is available to graduates from any stream.  Such courses are offered by Indira Gandhi National Open University, and Kuvempu, Madras, Annamalai universities among others.

(Published 20 June 2012, 14:02 IST)

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