By Jaylaxmi Desai

Do you ever wonder where to go when you combat emotional problems in life? If yes, then say goodbye to all your worries now. Our Belagavi Counselor, Angeli Pandit is all ears to help you avoid any emotional entanglements.

Angeli Pandit has earned a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy and she is an alumnus of Manasa Institute of Health Sciences. She has served as a counselor at Dr. Nadaf’s Homeopathic clinic and Bharatesh Education Trust. Earlier, she has conducted regular counselling sessions for children at St. Mary’s High School. Her clients come from all walks of life and approach her for various issues educational, career, geriatric, marital and behavioral problems. She started “Mind Funda” counselling center with a strong vision to make a difference in the way people look at their mental health and to guide them to lead a holistic life.

Excerpts from the Interview:

  • Why did you choose the path of Counselling?

I was very much curious about understanding the intricacies of the mind and all the contributing factors for how people think and react to various life situations. Firstly, it is this yearning desire to find out the root cause for one’s negative or positive behavioral outcomes because all these behaviors are developed because of some childhood habits that one inculcates as a child. Secondly, I started pursuing my higher education in the field of Counselling when I was 45 years old. Sometimes, we tend to create problems in life even if there aren’t any so I thought instead of dwelling into such acts it’s better to help people live a fruitful life.

  • What is counselling all about? What is the difference between a counselor and a psychiatrist?

Counselling is about guiding people to self-analyze their situation and problems through implementation of various therapies. When people are stuck in challenging situations, they are unable to make a decision. We counselors provide them with a proper guidance and direction to re-discover their abilities. This guidance will enable them to re-connect with themselves in a positive way.

A counselor is a certified professional who provides psychological and emotional guidance to their clients through therapies whereas, a Psychiatric is a certified professional who can provide prescriptions for medicines to treat the mental illness problems of the client.

 “Counselling” is normal people facing abnormal situations whereas, when abnormal people try to live normal life is “Psychiatry”.

  • As a Counselor what are the essential qualities that one must possess?

First and foremost, a counselor needs to be a good listener, we as counselors must understand the pulse of our clients. What do my clients need? In most cases, apart from guiding the clients the crucial aspect is to lend a listening ear, more than half problems are solved at this stage, as the client gets an unbiased environment to express himself/herself.

Also, a counselor must be unbiased and non-judgement; never judge your client you never know what they are going through. I think if a counselor is able to listen, provide unbiased environment and maintain the confidentiality, then he/she will be able to connect with many clients.

  • Is counselling still seen as a taboo in our society? Do people still fear to take up mental health consultation?

Actually, a lot of work and learning still needs to be done to bring in awareness on mental health. On the contrary, people readily and without any hesitation walk into hospitals to treat their physical health but in-terms of seeking mental health assistance, people remain silent and tend to hush the matter. I would like to share something on this note, one of my client told me after few years that, “I used to pass by your center everyday but could never step inside your center, and it took me 1 year to prepare myself to enter your counselling center to seek assistance.”  Although, some people feel awkward to take up mental assistance, on the flip side, I have clients coming from in and around the Belagavi city from places like Gokak, Bailhongal, Khanapur and Ichalkaranji. The taboo attached to mental health is slowly decreasing as people are taking steps to seek professional assistance.

  • Tell us about the challenges that you face while counseling?

Each client walks in with a unique story and each day I deal with different cases which is quite challenging. And sometimes the stories I hear do touch my heart but that’s the challenge – we as counselors need to have the ability to unplug from client’s problems, ability to remain detached and offer right direction to follow without bringing those worries back home. However, it’s natural for us to get affected. After all I am a human being! But I always ensure that I maintain my calm, because they come to confide in me, and it’s my duty to provide them that unbiased and unaffected positive environment to vent out their feelings and find solutions.

  • What is “Mind Funda” all about?

I started “Mind Funda” in the year 2012 with an idea to spread awareness about the need of mental health assistance in our society.  It was my innate desire that drew me to extend my counseling services and skills to the society, thus the very genesis of “Mind Funda” is to uphold this spirit and guide each and every one in their psychological journey to re-connect their chords of life.

  • What are the services offered by “Mind Funda”?

At Mind Funda, we offer various services like One to One Counselling sessions (12 years and above in case, the child is below 12 years we counsel the parents), Directive Counselling towards positive approach to life and life events for family set-up, professional set-up and school set-up. We also conduct Psychometric Diagnostic Tests and psychotherapy.

  • What is the fees structure of “Mind Funda” and how many sessions does it take to complete one single case?

First session of counselling costs, 400 rupees and the consecutive sessions costs 100 rupees per hour for individual counselling sessions. Typically, for a case to complete successfully it would take at least 6-7 sessions (if the client is able to do all the follow-up homework).

  • What are the psychological issues that you cater to?

We cater to array of psychological issues like anxiety, abuse, depression, adolescent issues, anger management, life transitions, adjustment issues, phobias, parenting issues, stress, career counseling, behavioral management, single parenting, trauma, work related issues, post-natal depression and marital issues and adjustments.

  • As a counselor what is your advice for parents?

The most important message I would like to give parents is that, “Disciplining the child from a young age is very important, don’t leave the task of disciplining only to the school. Also, do not provide the child something before the need arises. Communication with your child, will help you enhance your relationship and it is very vital especially when they are approaching adolescence, they need your assistance and guidance as a “friend” (13 – 20 years).”

  • What is your message to all the Women?

I think, women must believe in themselves and most importantly we must not continuously strive to overpower men, rather strive to live in a cohesive manner, as we are all inter-dependent on each other. Just live and let live! In addition to this, I would like to convey a message to women above 40 years or older that, “No age is the right age to start a career” so don’t think too much if you haven’t fulfilled your dream all that you have to do is just do it.

  • Give us some mental health tips and suggestions to lead a healthy life?

I think, basically we need to get over all our past regrets, revenge and emotions. Once our mind is clear and gets rid of all those negative memories we create space to welcome our new positive memories. Our mind is like a closet, like how we revamp and rearrange our closet at the time of Diwali, on the similar lines we need to revamp our mind time and again.

  • What do you do to relax your mind and unwind?

It does become stressful at times, so to maintain a calm mind I religiously do “Meditation” for at least 20 mins every day, and it always makes me feel rejuvenated.

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