We, human beings, experience ups and downs, pleasures and pains, relational problems, financial issues, and more severely, losses, disasters, illnesses, accidents etc. These may influence our daily life, work and education. In most of the cases we seek help from others at those times; sometimes family members, friends, colleagues. Yet, all these may not seem to be sufficient sometimes and we seek professional help from a variety of practitioners, these may include the local imams, chaplains or mental health practitioners like psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, or social workers. They all have different approaches, strengths and limitations and different degrees of availability. Some professional help can be too costly, some may be very hard to take due to availability; sometimes we may feel pressure on seeking professional help, due to the fears of being stigmatized in our environment by “going to a shrink”.
These problems on the former paragraph seem to be universal in most of the societies in the world. Another range of problems about seeking psychological help may be due to the differences in religious and spiritual attitudes of the client and the practitioners. Every human is unique and those practitioners are claiming to accept every human being as they are with regard to cultural/ethnic/gender/religious identity, but sometimes those differences are so deep and these influence the helping process negatively. Sometimes the clients have to choose which practitioner can understand and support him/her to overcome his/her problems.
For instance, a Muslim boy (17) from a pious Muslim family may suffer from social phobia, or chronic loneliness in a western country, and goes to a local therapist and therapist for that and the therapist assigns him homeworks which are tools for cognitive behavioral therapy. Some homework includes attending to parties, shaking hands with a girl etc. Therapist thinks that those are natural adaptive behaviors for his peer group. He even asks for sexual encounters etc. But the boy is also a pious Muslim and considers all those as haram, prohibited. He loses confidence in the therapy and terminates the sessions. This does not mean that a non Muslim therapist cannot help a Muslim, yet in some cases, can have important difficulties and has to learn about Islam. There is a neatly written article in ACA resources with title “Working with Muslims: Perspectives and Suggestions for Counseling” by Shifa Podikunju-Hussain giving basc info on Islamic Understanding and worldviews. On the other part, Islam has a rich and deep spiritual tradition which enhances human capacity and flourishes human inner faculties and promote happiness and wellness in this world and in the other. Those resources should also be summoned for help n the therapy I think.
Another issue may be in the manner of communication especially if the therapist and the clients are of opposite genders. For instance a Muslim woman may feel awkward in a traditional therapy session with a male therapist especially in issues like the intimate relation etc and vice versa is also true.
I this blog I want to express that I am trying to do a service addressing those difficulties. I am a licensed mental health counselor and have an associate degree on Islamic sciences. I have worked for non governmental organizations, educational institutions and worked in a Guidance and Research institute. I have attended two Graduate degree programs and am continuing my academic career in a University. I am working in psychometric instrument adaptation and book projects.
I am offering online cyber-text and email mental health consultancy in issues like effective parenting, problems of a family member or information about developmental problems of children, educational guidance. For further info please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.