Jiah’s (14) friend Mukund, has recently started seeing a therapist for his behavioural issues. She doesn’t know who is a therapist and how therapy will make her friend better. Should she ask her mom about it?
What happened, Mukund?
It is a usual school day where students are playing and chit-chatting with each other during the free period. Jiah is sitting on her seat and finishing her work when she realizes that her classmate Mukund is a bit restless – biting his nails and shaking his legs. He was also breathing in and breathing out – as if trying to calm down.
Over the last couple of weeks, Mukund’s behaviour has undergone a change. Earlier he was picking up fights with everyone and getting scolded by almost all the teachers. This was now less frequent.
“Mukund, is something bothering you?” asked Jiah.
“I am just trying to do what Niharika ma’am told me to do”, said Mukund.
“Who is she? Some new teacher? Never heard of her”, Jiah quizzed
“Jiah, no she is not a teacher in school. She is my therapist. I see her after school and she has taught me how to calm down when you feel restless or angry”, Mukund answered.
“What happened, Mukund? Is everything alright? You see a doctor you mean?” asked Jiah.
“No, no, not a doctor. She is a therapist. It’s a bit different. I am fine, but you know how I was always having all those fights and feeling angry all the time. The number of times I was called to the principal ma’am’s office!” Mukund scoffed.
The bell rang and it was time for the next class. Before they went inside, Mukund cornered Jiah and told her, “Hey don’t tell everyone about my therapy. Else they will tease me by calling me ‘mental’ or ‘pagaal’!”
Who is a therapist?
“Mumma, what is a therapist?” asked Jiah, once she reached home. Her mother, Anjali, was folding the laundry and was surprised when her daughter asked this question.
“Where did you hear this word?” asked Anjali.
“Mumma, remember Mukund? My classmate, who used to get angry at the drop of a hat? He told me today he is seeing a cool therapist after school”, Jiah replied.
“Jiah, people often go to a therapist when they are unable to understand their emotions. In Mukund’s case – it is probably his anger issues I assume”, Anjali said.
“But mumma, Mukund is so strong. He is always so physically active and plays football. He doesn’t even look sick or unwell?” Jiah wondered.
“Jiah, a therapist helps a person to improve their mental health – how we feel mentally. Not physically. Even if a person doesn’t look sick physically, doesn’t mean they can’t be ok mentally”, Anjali answered.
“Right Mumma, his anger bursts seem a little controlled now. He has not had a fight this week! Is he ok now then”, Jiah asked.
“Yes perhaps, but usually it takes time”, Anjali replied.
“So Mumma we only see a therapist when we can’t control anger or sadness?” Jiah quizzed.
“No, Jiah. You also see a therapist when you are feeling disturbed, are extremely sad, or are facing some emotional or mental difficulties that hinder your day-to-day interactions with yourself and your surroundings. People also go to a therapist when they are struggling with various mental disorders; so that they can receive treatment for it, just like we receive treatment for any physical problems. The therapist helps you feel better”, Anjali replied patiently.
How does it work?
“How does it actually work Mumma? I mean talking to a therapist?” asked Jiah again.
“Jian, when we go to a therapist, we share our problems and express our feelings to them, they patiently listen and try to understand them. We are able to unburden our various negative experiences and thoughts to them. The therapist understands our situation and guides us in various ways. This makes us feel better and helps us cope with the various problems we face”, Anjali explained.
“But Mumma, you always ask me to not talk to strangers, so why should I talk to a complete stranger about my feelings?” Jiah asked.
“Therapists are professionals that help you understand your problems and the various reasons behind them. It is their job, to talk to strangers and guide them on the way out of the various problems they may face. They help you understand yourself better”, Anjali answered.
“Also, Mumma, one more question. Mukund also said that I should not tell my classmates about therapy else they will call him names like ‘mental’ or ‘pagaal’! Why did he say so? Is it not normal to see a therapist?” Jiah quizzed.
“Jiah, there is nothing wrong in going to a therapist if you think you need any form of guidance or help. It’s completely normal. They help you effectively deal with various problems that affect you. There is nothing wrong in asking a therapist for your help. It’s very common too. Visiting a therapist for help doesn’t make you abnormal or mental”, Anjali explained.
“I will tell this to Mukund”, said Jiah with a wide smile.
“I am so proud of you, Jiah. If you ever feel the need to visit a therapist, I don’t want you to hesitate. I support you and I love you”, Anjali answered as she hugged Jiah.
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