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Therapy Experiences

Therapy Experiences – Taking Notes In A Therapy Session

Therapy Experiences – Taking Notes In A Therapy Session Therapy Experiences are some of Sanam’s profound explanations of some common experiences people have throughout their therapy sessions and provides a clear description of what would be taking place at a deeper level. In the Therapy Experiences, Sanam explains a little on bringing a notepad to your therapy sessions, and some of the interpretations that may be brought to surface from that.                                                                                                                                                                        One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether it’s okay for a client to take notes in a therapy session. Here’s an interpretation from a professional Psychologists. “Am I allowed to bring a notepad into my therapy sessions, just so that I can remember things more easily?”. Of course you can bring a notepad to your therapy sessions, but I think it also depends on the approach that your Psychologist uses. So for me, for example, I often see any form of behaviour in the therapy room as something leading me to a deeper understanding of the client sitting in front of me. Something I noticed is that clients that are quite anxious often tend to bring a notepad into the session, so, depending on their culture, the context that they grew up in, their background, their past relationships, etc, I may make an interpretation. I may say something like, “I’m wondering if you don’t trust yourself enough to be able to remember the things we’re speaking about in this session. I might also say, “I’m wondering if you’re using your notepad as a barrier so that you don’t have to connect with me on a deeper level, which means you don’t have to be vulnerable. Unless you have severe memory challenges, I often find that note taking in a therapy session sort of serves as an avoidance to doing the deeper work and really sitting in that discomfort, you and your therapist. Read more articles by Sanam Naran or book a consultation.

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Therapy Experiences

Therapy Experiences What Does My Therapist Think of Me?

Therapy Experiences – What Does My Therapist Think of Me? Therapy experiences come with common questions that therapy clients have during their journey. Some generally wonder what their therapist is thinking of them and some wonder what their therapist thinks of them particularly in their progress. Sanam Naran gives a clear and concise understanding of what happens in one’s mind and where it stems from when wondering what your therapist is thinking of you.                                                                                                                        So, I’ve been asked, “Does my therapist ever feel irritated or frustrated that I’m not making progress as quick as I should be?”. From my point of view, that is not something a Psychologist is ever thinking. In fact, if something like that does come up in the therapy space I may make an interpretation like, “Well, I’m wondering why you have such high expectations of yourself”, or I might say something like, “I’m wondering if you are really worried about what I’m thinking of you”, and this really reflects that this person really worries about what other people think of them and may come from an environment where they’ve had high expectations put on them, or they never felt good enough. So, that sort of infiltrates into the therapy space. As a Psychologist, I would never project my expectations of progress onto my clients. In fact I would feel really grateful that my client felt comfortable enough to come to me and let me know that they felt this way. This would also give me a lot of information into their inner world and what it is that they’re experiencing internally. If you ever find yourself in a situation like that, where you were wondering what your therapist was thinking about you, bring that up to them and you’ll see what sort of healing actually comes from that. Read more articles by Sanam Naran or book a consultations.

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Affirmations

How To Use Affirmations Effectively

Affirmations Don’t Work When Used Incorrectly Affirmations are such effective tools for mental health when used correctly. Sanam Naran, a professional Counselling Psychologist gives a foundational understanding on the best way to use affirmations. Contact Sanam Naran.                                                                                                                                                                  We are using affirmations the wrong way, my name is Sanam and I’m a Counselling Psychologist. Affirmations have become so popular on social media recently but are being used the wrong way. No matter how many times you repeat in the mirror, for example, “I’m enough, I’m enough, I’m enough, if you don’t truly believe that you are enough, it doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it’s not going to make a difference. Let me explain to you how to fix this and how to make affirmations really work for you. Our brains only learn by experience, so repeating something numerous amounts of times will have no impact. If you want affirmations to truly work for you, you have to get to the core as to why you don’t believe, for example, that you are good enough. Get to the core as to where the feeling of unworthiness is coming from, does it stem from your childhood, from your past relationships, is it a recent job situation? Having a core belief of not being enough, for example, often has it’s roots in our childhood experiences. Once we’ve been able to really identify this, only then can we be able to deal with it and get to the pain that underlies all of these feelings. Another thing that you can really try is saying that “I am enough”, or saying other affirmations in moments where you truly believe it. So if there’s a moment where you truly felt worthy or if there’s a moment where you truly felt calm or safe, that’s when you need to say that affirmation. Affirmations can be a very effective tool when used the correct way, and with the help of a professional mental health practitioner, this is possible. You can become or you can establish the reality of your affirmations when say them at the right time and when you truly believe what you are saying. Contact Conscious Psychology for a consultation. If this has been helpful, kindly drop a comment below, we highly appreciate it.

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Coping With Mental Health

Coping With Mental Illness

Mental Illness Does Not Give You The Right To: Coping with mental illness is one of the most confusing and destabilizing experience a person can go through. However, if you constantly engage in any of these behaviours without taking the steps to manage or deal with the mental health better, then you cannot be excused. Mental illness is a tricky thing to navigate. On the one hand, you want to feel empathy for the people who are struggling with their mental health. On the other hand, you don’t want to excuse or enable their bad behavior. And in a situation where someone’s mental health is affecting your personal boundaries and you’re not sure what to do about it, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. Empathy for mental illness can lead us to excuse bad behavior, or give people a pass when they’re acting out in ways that would otherwise be inexcusable. We know it’s not their fault that they’re ill, but we also know that it doesn’t give them the right to treat other people badly. Mental illness is still a valid reason for setting boundaries with people who are suffering from it. You can empathize with someone’s struggle without letting them continue to sabotage your life. It’s important not only to protect your own boundaries and self-care, but also those of others around you—particularly if they’re close friends or family members. Some of these situations will require compassion while others will require firmness, but either way, it’s vital that you address the situation as soon as possible so that everyone gets back on healthy footing and One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with mental illness is the sense that you will be misunderstood if you talk about it openly. It can seem daunting to explain that you’re not “crazy” or “insane,” because people tend to equate those words with a lack of morality, a dangerous person who should be locked away, or someone who is just “bad.” This association is 100% in opposition to the reality of mental illness. A person who is mentally ill is no more likely to be dangerous than anyone else—in fact, most people with mental illness are kind, good-natured, and intelligent. However, being mentally ill does make it more difficult to interact with others at times, because it can involve a lot of distress and uncomfortable emotions. When you have mental illness and also work very hard to be in control of your own life, it can feel like a betrayal if someone decides they don’t want to communicate anymore—this is especially true when the reasons for ghosting are unclear. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety (two very common mental illnesses) for many years, I understand why ghosting might seem like an appealing option at first. It’s hard to explain why you’re having a hard time in situations where there’s still so Mental illness is a challenging and complex condition that is often difficult to treat and understand. However, the effects of mental illness do not give you the right to be an unavailable parent. It’s important to recognize that having a mental illness does not preclude you from being a good parent in any way, and it doesn’t mean you can’t be an amazing, involved parent. The two are not mutually exclusive. Psychologists believe that children of parents who have mental illnesses are more likely to develop psychological problems themselves, but this doesn’t need to be the case. You can still be an involved parent even if you suffer from depression or another mental illness. If you’re out of work or struggling financially due to your illness, talk with your family about how they can help. Let your spouse know that babysitting their grandchildren would help you feel better and might be easier for them than for another family member or a stranger. You have the ability to make choices and lead your life the way you want it to be, even if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness. If you’re in a situation where your condition is interfering with your parenting capabilities, seek treatment so that both you and your child can live healthier lives together. It’s important to remember that having mental illness does not give you the right to be a terrible person. If you refuse to take accountability for your part in any situation, it’s hard for people to empathize with you, and it tends to distance you from the people who want to help. If someone takes an action that makes you feel bad, don’t just blame them for everything. It’s never as simple as “They did something bad, so I’m going to feel bad.” Blaming others for your feelings is a way of avoiding taking responsibility for what is happening in your life. Having a mental illness does not give you the right to manipulate your partner in order to get your way. I’ve seen it happen too often: someone with a mental illness will say that they can’t do something because of their illness, then rely on this as an excuse to get their partner to do it for them. It’s absolutely okay to ask for help or have someone else do things for you — it’s just not okay to use your condition as an excuse to manipulate someone else into doing something for you. The solution, as it turns out, is really quite simple: if you need help with something, just ask for it. Having a mental illness is no excuse to lash out at people, throw or destroy things, or to do anything else illegal or immoral. The same rules apply to anyone who has any kind of illness or disability. In addition, while it’s normal to feel anxious when you’re dealing with a mental health issue, that doesn’t give you the right to lash out at people who are trying their best to help you. If you’re feeling threatened by someone—whether it’s your

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Mental Health Is Not A Trend

Mental Health Is Not A Trend

I’ve Always Wanted To Say This: Taking care of your mental health is not aesthetic morning routines, journaling in your garden, matcha or coffee, going to the gym in your new gear & dainty lunches with your friends. Social media has been powerful in shedding light on mental health but it is now seeming “trendy” to lead a certain lifestyle that supposedly portrays taking care of your mental health. Similarly, everyone is now an expert on “narcissists”, “gaslighting”, “love – bombing”, “red-flags”, “self-love”, “people-pleasing” & the list goes on. It’s very important to build your mental health goals on guidance provided by a professional psychologist. Sessions with therapists are always tailored to an individual’s needs and not a general diagnosis. Not only does all of this add to your anxiety around what healing should look like, but it creates a very black & white thinking around human behaviours. I’m here to tell you that healing is not always aesthetic, it is messy, it is ugly & it is challenging. The human mind is also complex & intricate. It cannot always be boxed into red-flags & the cure to it all is not self-love. This is all pseudo-healing. A trendy fad that is shown off as “working on myself” but not actually doing the real, difficult work that does not look aesthetic enough to be posted on social media. This is just another form of avoiding the actual healing that needs to happen. We can engage in meditation, mindfulness, journaling, “insta-therapy” etc, but are you really working on your unresolved issues?

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therapy affordability

Can I Afford Therapy In South Africa?

Can I Afford Therapy In South Africa? Whether one can afford therapy in South Africa or not is a question that most people have asked themselves without getting any answers. Here are a few things that will give you the options available to affordable therapy. Don’t Compromise Your Mental Health. Therapy with a Psychologist can be pricey, but this should never deter you from accessing services. Your mental health is imperative & should be treated with the utmost quality of care and caution. There Are Options Available. There are a handful of free counselling options available which can be accessed through government hospitals & clinics. However, this may not be ideal for everyone – the public sector is often inundated with requests. Accessible Options & Disadvantages. There are further counselling options that can be accessed through NGO’s such as SADAG, FAMSA, CSVR, JPCCC, Lifetime & your universities psychology clinic. Bear in mind, you are not always guaranteed to see a qualified psychologist here – it could be a lay counsellor, intern, etc. Medical Aid Options Available. Did you know that if you are on medical aid (any plan, including hospital plan) you may have full access to therapy with a Psychologist, without having to go into you savings? It is a benefit called Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) which is available on all medical aids and all plans. Get Professional Advise. However, you need to meet certain criteria to use this benefit, of which your Psychologist can advise on. If you’re approved, you can access up to 15 sessions per year, depending on your medical aid.

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people of colour

People of Colour and Breaking Generational Trauma

People of Colour (PoC) and Breaking Generational Trauma It seems as if People of Colour are becoming more aware of their own generational trauma and are striving to heal and change cultural norms, in the hopes of “breaking the cycle.” This trend seems to have started with social media and the access to mental health knowledge on these platforms, in addition to the current mental health awareness culture that is thankfully upon us. It seems as though PoC are still struggling to progress through their healing as they are often riddled with guilt around facing their feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and shame towards their caregivers. As well as, towards their culture that has perpetuated certain unhelpful behaviours which have caused mental health challenges and relational wounding. This seems to stem from the narrative that elders (PoC), persistently reiterate through childhood that “you must be grateful, we do a lot for you”, “we provide you with a roof over your head, you have no reason to be sad”, “you’re ungrateful for all that we do for you”. This comes from the elders/caregivers own inability to face their shortcomings as a parent – which instills in the child, that experiencing negative feelings towards their caregivers is not acceptable and often represents a level of ungratefulness. One of the most persistent themes that are prevalent with PoC, is that of pressure and expectation – often resulting from worries around reputation and status which stems from most collectivist cultures. These pressures infiltrate all aspects of a person’s life such as relationships, sexuality, career and other life decisions. POC are often expected to marry but not date, and thereafter marry someone of the opposite sex, within the same culture, ethnicity, race, religion and even clan. Furthermore, the pressures around achievement, success, studying certain degrees and getting into specific fields which symbolize status and intelligence, are prevalent. This often leaves an individual basing their entire worth on achievement and struggles to build their identity around anything other than their career. The challenge around ending these cultural and generational cycles involve, firstly, being in denial that one’s caregivers or culture has affected their mental health, the struggles around guilt, wanting to maintain positive relationships with caregivers you may feel resentment towards, dealing with feelings around unworthiness and not being good enough when choosing a path that is not always going to be accepted, risking being out-casted and isolated from the rest of the community and bringing a level of shame to ones caregivers when going against cultural norms. Also Read Boundaries In Brown Families Follow Conscious Psychology on Instagram

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shy black man

What Are The Main Reasons People Think They Don’t Need Therapy?

What Are The Main Reasons People Think They Don’t Need Therapy? This is such an interesting topic for me as I have come across various opinions and narratives around it, both in my practice experience, as well as social media. Seeing a psychologist, or going for therapy has only now become something that people are developing openness towards, especially people of colour. The stigma around seeing a psychologist is still prevalent, however, we have taken strides in the last few years to change that. Let’s take a dive straight into it: “Crazy people see psychologists!” The first and most long-standing reason most people think they don’t need therapy is that they still have the ingrained belief that if they see a psychologist, they are considered “crazy”, “mad”, or “weak”. According to my experience, people of colour (poc) tend to still hold this belief, fairly strongly. There is a narrative that still exists in many brown and black families around psychologists, of them only being helpful to those that are severely mentally ill or are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The statement, “you need therapy”, is often used as an insult and sadly, has negative connotations associated with it. I would like to begin with the definition of a Counselling Psychologist according to the Health Professions Council of South Africa. “Counselling psychology is a broad specialization within professional psychology concerned with using psychological principles to enhance and promote the positive growth, well-being, and mental health of individuals, families, groups, and the broader community.” The reason I am providing this definition is because I would like to highlight the difference between Clinical and Counselling Psychology. Although, there are several overlaps and similarities, Counselling Psychologists, like myself, are concerned with a client’s well-being and promoting positive growth. This means that we deal with people who struggle with everyday life issues, such as self-esteem, relationship challenges, anxiety, grief & loss, self-development, trauma, abuse, motivation, depression, and the list goes on. We are all trained in severe mental disorders, however, we also see clients that don’t have any mental disorders. This is where I would like to emphasize, that we see well-adjusted individuals, who are not “crazy”. Our clients consist of lawyers, advocates, housewives, fathers, teachers, other psychologists, CEO’s, influencers, actuaries, children, teenagers, couples that are dating, couples that are married, couples that are co-parenting, elderly and the list goes on. I am saying this because, seeing a psychologist is no reflection of your intelligence, social status, race, ethnicity, age or sexuality. “You are weak if you see a psychologist” Another reason people struggle to see a psychologist, which I mentioned briefly, is because they believe they lack strength in dealing with life’s challenges by themselves and visiting a psychologist will feel like admitting to defeat. POC also come from a culture that does not promote reaching out for help or leaning on others for support. We praise complete independence. This makes it difficult to get the necessary support (that we all need) from a psychologist. “The Past Should Be Left In The Past” There is a strong belief that speaking about the past is futile and it should be left in the past. People believe that psychologists fixate on the past, which has made them averse to therapy. The truth is, some psychologists do bring up the past during sessions, and the reason for this is that our childhoods, attachment to our caregivers and past experiences, have a major influence on our behavior, thoughts and feelings, in the present. So as much as we do not like to admit it, our pasts are important and need to be dealt with – not ruminated over. An aversion to dealing with the past, is really, just a defense mechanism called ‘avoidance’ and your brains way of trying to protect yourself from feeling painful emotions. But, it is vital in moving forward. “Why Go To Therapy When I Can Talk To My Friend” This one is probably one of the most common narratives that I hear. Psychologists go through 7/8 years of rigorous training to be able to do what they do. Therefore, it cannot be as simple or as effective as talking to a friend about your problems. I would like to emphasize under this point, that psychologists do not sit and listen to you talk for an hour. The first few sessions, where they are gathering as much information as possible might feel like this, but therapy is a lot more complex than that. Furthermore, psychologists don’t give advice. We are not the experts of your lives, so we cannot tell you what to do or what is best for you. Psychologists work with what is in your unconscious, how this is affecting your behavior and thoughts now, where this is stemming from, hold your emotions so that you can heal, point out aspects of yourself & those around you that you have never noticed, and so on. We do not provide you with tips on how to deal with something. You can easily find that on the internet. So, no, going to therapy with a psychologist is not equivalent to talking to a friend. “My Problems Aren’t That Important Compared To Other People” This is something I often hear with people who minimize their issues, believe they are overly-sensitive or overreacting, struggle to put themselves first and are of the opinion that they are a burden to others. This, likely, goes back to their own childhoods and experiences of feeling like they were “too much” for their caregivers. Believing that other people’s problems are much more important is severely invalidating to oneself and possibly the root cause of most of their relational issues. Psychologists do not compare the severity of one client’s issues with another. Your reality and experiences are just as important as anyone else. Please keep that in mind.   “I Struggle To Open Up & I Don’t Want My Psychologist To Judge Me” Similar to the above point,

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the mind of a stalker

Through The Mind of A Stalker

Through The Mind of A Stalker In this article, Sanam Naran takes us through the thought processes of a stalker and helps to identify one.   What Signs Should I Look Out For When I Suspect I Might Have a Stalker? One of the common things a stalker will do is to lurk around your home or workplace. A stalker constantly watches you from a distance, you’d have to spot them from outside of your immediate circle.  You will also notice a string of repeat phone calls. A stalker will often times give inappropriate gifts. They will manipulate you to interact with them. With the emerging of technologies such as social media, stalkers can now cyberstalk you. A stalker will also attempt to stalk and interact with your family and friends. In escalated cases, a stalker may start threatening you.   What Character Traits Do Stalkers Typically Have? Stalkers are typically jealous, especially of their subject.  Stalkers have a manipulative character.  They are typically narcissistic.  Stalkers, along with a manipulative character trait, they are also deceptive. they are obsessive and compulsive They typically fall in love instantly. They are socially awkward or uncomfortable. They typically have a need to be in control. They depend on others for a sense of self. Stalkers are typically unable to cope with rejection. They have a sense of entitlement (you owe me!). Unable to take NO for an answer (learn more on boundaries) Does not take responsibility for own feelings or actions.   What Mental Health Illnesses Are Linked To Stalking? Rather than a disorder in itself, stalking is a behavior that falls under the umbrella of symptoms for various disorders. According to a 2012 study published in the journal, Aggression and Violent Behavior, “Motivations for stalking include a delusional belief in romantic destiny, a desire to reclaim a prior relationship, a sadistic urge to torment the victim, or a psychotic over-identification with the victim and the desire to replace him or her.” And stalkers can fall under a variety of diagnoses, including psychotic disorders; personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder; and delusional disorders.   Take Us Through The Different Stalker Subtypes?   Rejected Stalker Some stalkers have been rejected by a person they wanted a relationship with, or have just experienced a breakup. The stalker may be looking for a way to salvage their relationship, or want to remain as close to the victim as much as possible. In other instances, they’re angry and want revenge for being rejected. Predatory Stalker Predators are often sexually obsessed or have deviant sexual fantasies. Typically male, their victims are usually women who are strangers, but who the stalker has a sexual interest in. It can start with voyeurism, which becomes a precursor to a sexual assault. Incompetent Suitor These kinds of stalkers are typically incompetent at relationships, lonely, and target strangers or casual acquaintances. They assume they can convince the object of their desire to start dating them. They can often seem blind or indifferent to the suffering they inflict on the victim. Many of these stalkers have poor social skills. Resentful Stalker Some people become stalkers because they feel like they’ve been mistreated in some way. These stalkers often have some form of mental illness, experience feelings of paranoia or persecution, and can be self-righteous and self-pitying. Stalking the victim can be a way to get revenge for their perceived mistreatment. They feel like they have a certain amount of power over the victim as they stalk them. Intimacy-Seeker Often mentally ill, the intimacy-seeking stalker believes the victim will love or learn to love them, and they may have a delusional belief that the victim already does love them. In many instances, they focus on prominent or celebrity figures.   How Can I Protect Myself From A Stalker?   1. Have No Contact With the Stalker Do not have any form of contact with the stalker. 2. Tell Others Although many stalking victims are reluctant to inform others of what they are going through, it is important that those around the victim know what is happening. This includes family, friends, co-habitants, work colleagues and even neighbors. 3. Increase Personal Protection Change daily routines e.g. the route or times going work, gym or other frequently attended locations Only give personal details to those you trust 4. Collect Evidence Proof is crucial in preparing a case against the stalker and it cannot be overestimated how important it is to keep all evidence and document your encounters and experience. The following are some ways in which to collect evidence: 5. Keep Evidence Telephone messages Try to record the message so can be stored in another format. Keep text messages on the phone, download to computer and show others 6. Reporting The Stalking to Police And Get A Restraining Order CRISIS HELPLINE 0800 567 567 GENDER BASED VIOLENCE HELPLINE 0800428 428 ABUSE HELPLINE 0800 150 150 SAPS NATIONAL LINE 08600 10111

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families

Boundaries In Brown Families

Boundaries In Brown Families Boundaries in brown families is a subject of importance. In this article, Sanam Naran explains why it can be very difficult to implement boundaries in brown families. Though this is possible, it becomes important that a family adopts a supportive structure such as Conscious Psychology to maneuver through the difficulties.    Why Enforcing Boundaries In Brown Families Are Difficult: You feel guilty for putting yourself first. Self-sacrifice is common in brown culture. You want to be liked and accepted. Saying “no” feels like you’d be seen as unreasonable or difficult. You may have grown up learning to abandon your own needs, which is a result of intergenerational trauma. You’re taught to never speak back and if you do, you’re seen as disrespectful. (Although, enforcing boundaries does not equate to “speaking back”.) Boundaries require you to speak up. It’s not often acceptable that you have a voice, especially if you’re female. You may feel indebted towards your parents. Your family or parents have struggled with their own boundaries. Disclaimer: Enforcing boundaries can be difficult in any culture.   How Do I Enforce Boundaries In My Family? Well, start with smaller boundaries. If you’ve never set boundaries it may come as a surprise to them. Explain to them what boundaries are, why they are important to you and how they will help all your relationships. You can’t expect them to read your mind. Be clear about your needs, even if you think they should just naturally know. You need to be clear when a boundary has been violated. Communicate this politely. Getting angry when a boundary is violated is completely normal. It’s how you express that anger that is important. Be polite, yet firm. Keep enforcing your boundaries, even if you have to constantly repeat yourself. Expect and pre-empt that you will feel guilt, which is normal. Make space for it but recognize when you feel shame. That’s something that needs to be reflected on a bit deeper. You need to respect their boundaries too. Enforcing boundaries is not easy, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s a skill that takes practice and involves a great deal of emotional work. You may find that they start to guilt-trip you when you set boundaries. Set them, anyway, they will still love you. You can read more articles by Sanam Naran on Families and Boundaries here. Disclaimer: This can be helpful to all cultures & families. Not just brown. Should be applied tentatively in abusive families.

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