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Therapists for the mind

Working closely with children to promote their psychological health. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan  

Mental health has assumed increasing importance in our society which is plagued by various vectors of stress, marginalised family structures and increased vulnerability to challenges in interpersonal relationships on account of diminishing social support structures. As a corollary, psychology is finding greater recognition and acceptance as an important discipline of both study and practice. Psychology finds its relevance in many spheres today.

From being cast under the shadow of redundant conceptualisations involving treatment of only severely mentally disabled individuals, it is now seen to have more of a strength-based connotation which enables psychologists to function within the domains of preventive mental health and not just tertiary care. The focus on this aspect has enabled psychology to find its position in various allied fields which go far beyond treatment in clinics and hospitals alone.

Areas of application
Some of the prominent areas in which psychology is increasingly finding its application include the following:

Clinical psychology: Involves working with individuals diagnosed with a mental health-related problem such as depression, anxiety and eating disorder, to name a few. Clinical psychologists frequently specialise in working with specific populations such as children and adolescents, family and marriage-related therapy or through specialised mediums such as art or dance and movement as well.

Health psychology: Medical conditions, too, involve a significant associated psychological component which is addressed through the medium of health psychology.

School psychology: Young children and adolescents are exposed to a plethora of experiences. Individuals specialising in this aspect work closely in working with individual students as well as designing systems within schools that promote psychological health and well-being.

Organisational psychology: The corporate systems have increasing levels of stress, and work-life balance is crucial. Going beyond these aspects, there is a need to focus on turnover, attrition, employee motivation and interpersonal relations at work.

Sport psychology: Having the right motivation and resilience are key to success in the arena of sports. Mental health professionals consistently work with sport persons to help them understand their performance on the field and devise ways of optimising their performances whether as an individual or while working with a team.

Forensic psychology: Criminal and forensic psychology are newer areas in which psychology is finding its applications through the utilisation of understanding of behavioural principles and personality dynamics.

Environmental psychology: This area of psychology looks at human beings in interaction with their environment. It focuses on aspects such as temperature, noise, crowding, to name a few, that impact human beings and their health and well-being.

Policy and advocacy relating to mental health: There is a lot which needs to be done with regard to mental health at the level of systems and policies. There is enormous scope for individuals who choose to work in this area.

Academics in psychology: Education institutes have been focusing on providing more courses pertaining to psychology and mental health. This has created greater avenues for teaching and academics relating to psychology.

Research in psychology: Psychology is still a developing field and there is significant research which continues to happen with respect to its various fields, whether in relation to social phenomena, clinical problems, within organisations or interpersonal relationships.

Recent times have seen a significant shift in a favourable direction for mental health. There is no denying the importance of psychological health and well-being for individuals, and with the growing changes in society, including the changes in lifestyle, socialisation patterns, levels of stress and burnout, the shrinking of the world on account of tremendous technological development, the relevance and importance of these aspects will only increase. In this changing scenario of the society and the world we live in, psychology as a career has a very promising future.

Over time, we expect to see greater adaptations of principles of psychological science in more domains that would help increase the scope of its applicability beyond our current imagination and vision.

Towards this end, it is essential that psychology finds expression in diverse mediums. It needs to be talked about and propagated.

The writer is Head, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare Limited.

The Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Healthcare has launched “Psych-Ed”, a National Psychology Quiz, aimed at creating a talking point about psychology, its origins, vicissitudes and applicability. Registrations close on August 10 and the first round will be held on August 24.

For details, contact Ajey Maharaj at 9871798573, email: ajey.maharaj@fortis healthcare.com or Tituraj Kashyap Das at 9871918187, email: tituraj.das@ fortishealthcare.com

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 7:36:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/Therapists-for-the-mind/article14555219.ece

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