Need of a Counsellor

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What are the first thoughts that come to your mind on hearing the word “counsellor”? When do you think someone needs a counsellor? Why do you think someone would need a counsellor? Most of us would agree that the need of a counsellor arises when there are challenges or issues that need to be resolved in one’s life. Challenges related to relationships, health- physical and mental, delinquency, and substance abuse cross our mind at the mention of counselling. But, it is also true that counselling is needed in helping to make good choices and take wise decisions in life with career choices being on the top of the list. Counselling is not always about stress, depression, negativity, or sadness.

Counselling

There is no denying in the fact that we are all guilty of getting counselling (in some form or another) at one or more occasions in our life. Advice is a more common term that we prefer to use in place of ‘counsel’. For instance, your friend asks for your opinion (advice) while buying a new dress/suit, and you give your opinion in more than just one word (‘this’ or ‘that’). You explain your opinion (choice) while talking about the various factors to be considered for the purchase (e.g., need, fit, occasion, price, value, disability) in the best interest of your friend. Now, this is counselling. Your friend knows s/he can rely on you.

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Everyone may not, and does not have to, agree with this. Nevertheless, it is true that we need someone ‘neutral’ who can counsel us without any fear or intimidation. The best part is that you get to decide who s/he is that you want as a counsellor- someone you can trust and rely on you, a person who is an active listener, a person who can be confidential to your information (challenges, actions), a person who does not hesitate in giving you honest feedback, and a person who is happy to see you succeed in various life situations. Sometimes, you only need someone to listen to you-  your counsellor!

Jasleen Chawla

Yes, I was bullied!

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Bullying is an unforgivable offence in my eyes. The wounds may heal but the scars remain. These do not have to be visible. These could be hidden deep in the heart, mind or soul.

I can never forget those terrible days, or should I say nights. It was the fall of 1996. Yes, 1996. I was in my early 20s. At the time, I had earned two university degrees -Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Education. I was excited to do my Masters in Genetics. I was one of the few to be accepted to the program, and I had been awarded a merit scholarship. You can imagine my happiness. The University being away from home, I was an on-campus resident. One might think: “How can a 20 plus person doing Masters be bullied in the University?” It is the truth, and I was not the only victim.

The term used at the time was “ragging”. All new students were bullied by the seniors. It seemed to be the norm. In their opinion, it was a means to get to know each other. Oh really? This “introduction” took place in the classrooms as well as in the residence. There was no escape. Every evening after dinner we were asked to assemble in the designated room of the senior students. I dreaded the moment. We were told to say and do things which made no sense. In my opinion, these were below human dignity. I wept every night. My eyes are moist as I write this. There was not enough time to complete assignments or to prepare for tests. I was stressed.

The schedule for mid-semester tests was put up. But the bullying continued. It had started to affect my health. It was the beginning of migraines. My parents tried to comfort me. But believe me, nothing was done and nothing could be done. The officials were aware of this but they were ignorant. I could not take it anymore. I hate to say this, but “I quit”. A brilliant career ended in November 1996. It shook me completely.

The newspapers were full of stories related to bullying. Suicides were reported in various institutions across the country. It took a long time for the authorities to wake up and take action. I can keep writing about this. All I can say now is: “I am happy to be alive.”

Jasleen Chawla