Counselling has come a long way - from being a stigma to assessing a more positive nod within today's social setting. Clearly by definition, counselling caters to professional guidance and assistance in resolving both psychological as well as personal problems. And Malavika Prakki is one such counsellor ,who is presently working with 'Your DOST' as a certified Consultant Counselling Psychologist. Certified as a Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner with the American Board of NLP, she has previously worked with Don Bosco, as a School Psychologist, Teacher Trainer and Life Skills Coach.
We got the opportunity to talk to Malavika herself, who tells us about her journey as a counsellor and delves into more insightful details about her business.
What lead you to become a counsellor?
A Healthcare and Pharma Analyst, with Masters in Microbiology worked with MNC’s Like Thomson Reuters and Global data with an experience of 6 years in the Field.
Interest towards Psychology and Counselling, made me take up further studies in the field of Psychology.
I chose counselling as I wanted to help and make a difference in others' lives, as many shut down themselves emotionally, having none to share. Being an expert at YourDOST, I get an opportunity to guide, motivate and facilitate clients to manage their issues more effectively and also help and support people overcome their various challenges in life.
How did the website 'YourDOST' come to life?
At YourDOST, we provide an online counselling and emotional support platform for addressing mental health. Users can seek guidance on matters of relationships, career, academics, sexual wellness, self-improvement and more, from 800+ experts consisting of psychologists, counselors, life coaches, career & relationship experts.
Through personalised guidance, our experts can help users develop:
- Healthy personal relationships
- A productive work-life balance
- A more confident self
- The ability to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and pressures of all kinds and from many sources - personal, societal, and peer.
I came across their website and was really impressed with their Initiative. I personally thought, they were doing a fantastic job in creating a platform to cater the emotional needs of people. I approached them and ended being a part of the phenomenal cause after a various rounds of screenings.
What kind of problems do the youth of this generation generally face?
The youth are the future of our society and the most vulnerable, too. Urbanisation and technology has made a drastic effect on them. Cyber addiction due to social networking sites are creating a lack of happiness and self esteem and body image issues due to constant comparison with others. Peer pressure, anxiety and substance abuse tops the list.
What age group normally approaches you?
The majority of clientele is between the ages 18-30.
How do you get out there and reach your audience?
Users can chat online for FREE with our experts at www.yourdost.com - we're available 24x7. Our platform offers 100 per cent privacy and they can choose to stay anonymous in their interactions.
Besides financial difficulties and student stress, do you think there is any other reason for suicidal behaviour? And what is your message to them?
The feeling of hopelessness stems when they feel they made a mistake or have failed to reach up to their parents and society's expectations. Failure in relationships also play a vital role in taking such drastic steps. They feel they cannot face certain challenges and ending life is the best solution for it. An impulsive thought makes us lose many close ones.
There is always help around, sharing with loved ones helps prevent bottling up of emotions. You can always choose professional help which is just a click away @ www.yourdost.com
Are people open to marriage counselling? Or do you think it is still a taboo?
I feel, it is no longer a taboo as the number of couples approaching counselling has increased. It would be great, if couples opt for pre-marital counselling as it helps them understand the expectations about marriage and develop effective strategies to deal with conflicts in future.
What is the message you would like to give to people who approach your site?
To people who wish to seek help, we would like to tell that, it is perfectly okay to be human and it is perfectly alright to be vulnerable. We all have been there at some point in our lives and know how difficult it can be. With personal experience, we can assure you that, expressing emotions helps more than we know. Please talk out your concerns to a trusted friend or a relative. Write out your thoughts in a diary if you can. If that is not feasible, there are many friends here for you on YourDOST.
How do you differentiate between having your sessions over a chat to requiring an intervention?
When we feel, that the client needs intervention and when a chat session would not help, we guide him in with contacts in their city, to which he can approach and get the necessary help.
With Tinder and other social media apps out there, is it still hard to find love?
The concept of love has changed overtime and social media has changed the definition of love. It is very easy to find love nowadays with various apps, but still partners feel some void is always there, as the emotional connectivity is missing. There was a time when getting into a new relationship was strictly personal as it was special and precious. But today, the first thing many people do when they get into a relationship is to update their status message on social networking sites.
What is the best way to spread awareness on molestation, to people who are oblivious to the fact that they are victims in the situation? How will they know a site like yours can help them?
Those who are victims of molestation are usually shamed by others. They are stigmatised and considered unwanted. This has led to depression to many and even to take extreme steps like suicide. If there is someone who is in need of help, please talk it out with a trusted friend. If you find it difficult to confide in anybody else, We at YourDOST are always there for help.
Are there other rifts other than romance and cheating that come about in a relationship?
Time is the most important constraint which creates a rift in the relationship. Having no time for their partner brings in communication gap which just increases eventually. Finances are another thing couples have clashes about. Having Unrealistic expectations also makes the bond weak, because they are never met.
Do couples in trouble deal with it on their own or are they open to approaching these counselling centres?
Most of the couples do not have an idea about the counselling centres and the services offered to them. So, most of them in trouble usually try and deal with it on their own. However, the trend is changing off late and couples who really want to work out on their relationship are approaching the counselling centres. Some feel discussing with the counsellors reduces their burden while some are coming just for the sake of it. It is always on the couple to keep up the commitment they have towards each other and try to take professional help to solve their problems.
What should parents keep in mind when putting pressure on their children?
Parents love their kids unconditionally. They always want them to excel in all the areas of life.
The world is a competitive place and academics is an area where every parent would want their kids to do well, which eventually might help them make great careers. So, to make them excel in academics, parents at times set unrealistic expectations and as a result kids often feel the pressure to perform, the pressure to do well, to make parents happy or fear the disappointment they may cause and the consequences.
Parents need to understand that putting pressure on kids actually decreases their productivity and they may lack interest and motivation to study or do anything for that matter. Giving kids an opportunity to study on their own pace and motivating them will help in increasing their confidence and also boost their self esteem
How do you draw the line of balance between being strict and friendly when it comes to parenting?
There is always a debate about the style of parenting. Some parents try to be too strict and some too friendly. One should always keep in mind that parenting is a continuous learning process. Every kid is unique and so parenting should also be unique. It’s not being too strict or too friendly that matters. Having the right balance between being strict and friendly is quite challenging yet not impossible. It can be managed through conscious practice. Parents need to understand that trying to strike a balance helps them set expectations and draw clear boundaries. It helps kids develop a kind of discipline and understand the importance of right and wrong.
How do you advise parents on letting their kids choose their own career?
‘Career’, which in usage, is such a common word, yet powerful and is a deciding factor in one’s life. An individual’s career cannot be decided by some other person, even if it is the parents. An individual should be given absolute freedom in choosing what he/she wants to become in life. Most of the parents would want their kids to pursue a career of their (parent's) interest just because they dreamt of having those careers in their childhood, but could not achieve due to some reasons. Also, parents these days get influenced by the society and take up their kids’ careers as a symbol of status. Everybody can't become a great engineer or scientist. There are a lot more opportunities, which are waiting and your kids might really prove their mettle to the world by challenging those opportunities.
Although India is becoming modern, youngsters are getting caught in the crossfire of deviating from societal norms. What is your advice to them?
India is one of the most ancient civilizations, which gave a lot of things to the mankind. Culture, traditions and societal existence were born in India and then spread to the remaining world. There are a lot of practises and norms to be followed in the society. With modernisation, the behaviour and lifestyle of the youth is also changing. Indian culture and values are the most valued in the world. People across the world are learning our traditions. The onus is on our youth to carry those forward and preserve them. So, the only advice to the youth is: keep up the great traditions and protect our culture, no matter how modern we get.
What is your advice to parents whose kids maybe gay?
It can be a big surprise and a shock to know that your child is gay. Parents need to get the fact that, it is their same child, they have always loved unconditionally and they didn’t chose to be gay. Your child is also scared, they might lose your love and respect, if you knew about their sexual orientation.
All they need is acceptance and understanding. They are not to be blamed for their sexuality. Society is always there to judge, no matter what the situation is. Your acceptance and understanding is all what they need. Being open and talking about it with your children would help you bond better with them.
Is there any way to tell if a person is thinking about suicide? What would your message be for people who want to talk to someone instead of taking the ultimate step?
According to research done by various suicide prevention organisations, nearly 60 per cent of them give hints about their plan to end their life. They may say things like: I won’t be a burden much longer or life isn’t worth living. Others just take an impulsive decision and think of ending their life right away. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. People need to understand that the painful phase would eventually pass. Ending life is not the solution to the worries, which can in fact be dealt in a simple way. There are many people around you who would love to listen to you and be with you.
If a kid is pushed in a corner with no other option than suicide, what should he do?
When the kid feels pressurised and thinks he is cornered, he feels there is no way out and ending life would be the only thing that would cross his mind. Talking and venting it out with a friend or a parent will help him feel better and soothe him. We, a dedicated team at YourDOST are always there for you.
Addiction is categorised as a disease these days - is it true? Who is more vulnerable to getting hooked on to it?
It is true that addiction is being categorised as a disease these days, because of the ill effects it poses on the health of the individual. For instance, people might start something like smoking, drinking, drugs and porn as a pastime, which may gradually grow into a habit and finally into addiction. Also, people who are psychologically disturbed might start a habit, which may end up into an addiction. Addiction can happen at all ages. However, today’s youth are the most vulnerable to it. The lifestyle and friends attract youth towards these addictive habits.
Could you please tell us about your future plans in this field, and how you aim on broadening this horizon?
I would like to help people and make them understand the importance of mental wellness and help them break the associated stigmas to it. I would like to reach as many people as possible, who are in need of the emotional support. I would also love to get associated with the schools of Hyderabad and focus on the emotional health of children, who are the future of our society.
There is something called social media addiction - is it real? Are there other urban addictions that are less spoken about?
Social media was created to connect friends and family, through which they stay connected. Yes, the youth today spends loads of time on social media. They are under constant fear of missing out (FOMO) on things, others' post on social media like Facebook. Many people who are addicted to social media spend time comparing their life with others and wish for a perfect like, too.
YouTube is also widely used as a source of entertainment. It is like a TV with an infinite number of channels. It has also become a major addiction nowadays, who tend to flip through the channels, so that there is always better things to watch.
Hence with day-to-day stress coming from every direction that includes relationships, health, employment or academic issues, the role of a counsellor is possibly the wisest choice to tackle mental health issues. Therefore, counselling has predominantly interwoven into healthcare for the maintenance of overall stability and development in human welfare.
If you wish to chat with Malvika, you can click here to get in touch with her on our expert page.