A cognitive behaviour psychotherapist, Ravi Samuel began his career in 1991 by taking up a project on dementia in Chennai with the World Health Organisation. After his training at National Hospital, Queen Square, London, slowly his interest turned to cognitive rehabilitation. In a conversation he tells R. Sujatha that lifestyle changes have resulted in newer behavioural problems.
“When I started my career I was working on a project with the WHO on dementia in Chennai. At that time people thought it was a disorder of the West,” recalls Ravi Samuel, a professional certified by the Rehabilitation Council of India, who runs a non-governmental organisation called Vision Age India.
With persons afflicted with dementia, or those suffering from brain injury such as road accident victims or tuberculosis in the brain, he uses cognitive rehabilitation. “We stimulate their mental faculty by giving exercises. We help them plan their activity,” says the therapist. The NGO provides free home nursing care.
Cognitive behaviour psychotherapy is used as an effective tool to help handle problems in adults and children, he says. He has treated children with academic problems, besides those with issues such as stealing, harming others and violence. There are two patterns among parents seeking his services. “Some start early and others bring their child just before the examination. A student who repeatedly fails will start believing he is a failure in studies. We give tests and provide appropriate feedback on his ability to perform,” he says. The weekly sessions last eight to 10 weeks. He also gets corporate executives who tires of high pressure life and as a result lose interest and motivation to perform. “They burn out their cognitive skills and underperform. It occurs when they are expected to develop their personality specific to some task.” Many people struggle with travel anxiety or social anxiety, he says. Such fears are allayed by making them travel short distances and through “graded exposure”.
A new phenomenon he has noticed of late in Chennai is an increasing lack of work-life balance which results in marital discords. Anxiety about performance and over exhaustion at work has led more people to be addicted to internet pornography.