Author Archives: Jessy Alam

Reflecting on the Intersection of Human Psychology and Religion

Posted by: Jessy Alam on février 14, 2014 3:05 pm

If I could title a passion that I have pursued consistently for the last 10 years it would be: The Intersection of Human Psychology and Religion.  And yet, that title would be very much inaccurate. In fact, I want so much to find an apt and concise description for the phenomenon that I have witnessed in every individual that I have ever encountered as well as with every client I have ever treated. But I can’t. This dilemma is both a hindrance and a revelation to the issue I have brought forth.  These two things, the human mind and all that is contained by the term “religion”, are both by their nature limitless. I would like to commit to writing about this topic in upcoming articles—not only because there is so much content to be covered, but to relieve myself of the weight I feel every time I try to approach this enormous subject. At times it can be too much for words.

Faith, or lack thereof it, in anything supernatural plays a role in how individuals make meaning of life’s most minute details. What we believe about ourselves, the world and those around us has been marinated in existential wonder about the spiritual world.  But many seasoned clinicians have a hard time with this topic during sessions, especially when the client shares a different set of beliefs. I face this struggle, so have my colleagues and so have my own therapists when hearing me share about my own experiences. So how do we effectively create the space for dialogue on this issue with our clients? (In another article I also what to discuss why I believe it is of critical importance to touch on this subject with each of our clients.) The first step is investing time and getting our own therapy where we can discuss the evolution of our spiritual and religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and actually experience this discussion through the eyes of a “client”. I think this is paramount – we just cannot afford to skip this step. The second step is examining multiculturalism in therapy and what sensitive and ethical practice looks like. I will write separately about these in following entries. I think these two first steps of self-examination create the foundation necessary to help our clients in fundamental ways.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

What’s the Difference, Again?

Posted by: Jessy Alam on février 3, 2014 9:41 am

As counsellors and mental health practitioners we have been deeply immersed in the language and culture of our profession. So acquainted have we become with the common parlance of the healers, the creators of safe places, and challengers of intra-psychic defenses that we sometimes have to give excuses for the seeming clichés of our day to day talk. “How does that make you feel?”. It can be easy to forget how little the public is informed about what counselling, psychotherapy and even general mental health practices are, in essence. While there is increasing evidence of mental health awareness around us, you will find that many are unaware of essential mental health services available to them within their communities.

To most, the titles psychotherapist, psychologist and psychotherapist all blur into one another. “What’s the difference again?” Many tend to ask, and, to no fault of their own. All of these “psycho” prefixes somehow present a picture of reclining on a chair and exposing the innermost details of one’s existence only to finish by coughing up a wad of cash with no tangible indication of progress or improvement. And so we are met with some common resistance. “I’m not crazy” is born out of the cultural pressure to appear un-alien. “I don’t have that kind of money” leaves those who are in dire need stranded in dangerous territory if they are left without important resources. While both of these statements warrant a discourse of their own, for now I use them as examples of broad issues that can be addressed more effectively if we can make clear the roles of mental health professionals, educate the public about their options to mental health services and help these resources become as common as dialing 911 in the event of a fire. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA