Lectures/Training at Other Organizations


Mentoring and Counselling

Dr. Kumar the Principal of M.S.Ramaiah Medical College gave an introduction about the Topic “Mentoring and counselling” and mentioned about the importance of the same. He shared the concept of a 'Pencil', and said that there are a various uses of a pencil.

Place: M.S.Ramaiah Medical college
Date: 3 Feb 2011
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m
People gathered: 45 Asst. Professors

Mentoring & Counseling It has constructive uses such as writing, drawing etc and it also can be used destructively for hurting people. Now the student is like a pencil and he can become a good or a bad citizen, an eraser is used to erase away the wrong things written by the pencil and the pencil can write afresh. Here a teacher can be compared to the eraser who can help the student to take the right path. Again there is a mender, which helps in sharpening the pencil. A teacher can also play the part of this mender by sharpening the skills of students. Hence he felt that having a session such as this would help the Professors and the students.   

Mentoring & CounselingDr. Saraswathi introduced Dr. Ali Khwaja and Ms. Sapna. She gave a brief introduction about Dr. Ali and said that from what she had read about him, she would say that his favorite alphabet was 'C', as he did Counseling, Career guidance and Caring. She also spoke about Helping Hands volunteers who were seen at the hospital helping the patients and their association with Banjara Academy.

Mentoring & CounselingDr. Ali started the talk by mentioning a incident where a pencil was involved and said that he got the idea from the Principal's  talk. He mentioned about a friend who was the principal of a prestigious school where majority of students who were children of VVIPs. This meant that he had to put-up with the students mistakes and was not able to punish them. Even if he did punish them he would always get a warning form the parents who were at very powerful positions. This would annoy the principal a lot, as he was unable to bring about discipline in the school and he would find it difficult to let out the anger. This had become a routine. One day he spoke to the parent who was defending his son, and was very angry when he came back to the office room. New pencils were ordered by the staff and the office boy came to him with them to verify with the principal if he had to keep the pencils in the office room or the store room. The Principal saw this opportunity as a let out of his anger, and the office boy went away leaving the pencils on the principal's table. After his temper came to control, the Principal took out a pencil and sharpened it, he felt a little relaxed. He again took another pencil and sharpened, and felt much better, this continued and before he knew he had sharpened the entire set of pencils and found that his anger had completely disappeared. Then he called the office boy and told him that whenever a new set of pencils came in, it should be kept on his table. He found that this as a good method of letting out frustration and helped him relax.

Mentoring & CounselingHe also mentioned that counseling has become a very misunderstood word, and should not be taken for advicing, as the students do not look forward to anybody giving them advices. In fact advice is the anti thesis of counseling. The students are a set of semi-finished products, and at this age they would have explored many things and would have had enough experiences and would also have certain conceptions and theories. They may also feel completely turned-off, let down or even rejected if one gives them the advice of letting go off their principles. Hence it is always better to avoid this concept of advice.

Mentoring & CounselingAs an example he shared an experiment which was conducted to know about the basic IQ of children. A few of the most intelligent children were selected for this experiment. The were asked a simple question “100 students were taken for an outing. They were seated in vans and each van could hold 12 students. So how many vans were required?” the answer given by most of the students was 8.33. this shows how the children were taught to just learn what was in the books and not understand what it actually meant. True education is one which can be applied to life.

Mentoring & CounselingDr. Ali mentioned about a friend who had become a Marriage counselor. He said that there was a friend who had the dream of becoming a Police inspector and was very tough during his college days. One day Dr. Ali was informed that this friend was selected by the Police department. So he decided to meet him in person and congratulate him on this achievement. When he met his friend he enquired about the station he was posted and the friend replied that since there were no vacancies he was posted as a counselor in the department and when asked what counseling he was doing, he replied that he was posted as 'Marriage counselor'. He also mentioned to Dr. Ali that he had found an effective method and had a 100% success as a 'Marriage counselor'. Dr. Ali was very curious and asked him about the method of counseling for which he answered that whenever he was forwarded any complain about harassment or domestic violences, he would call the couple to the police station.  His station was equipped with both men and women constables, he would ask the male constable to beat up the husband and the female constable to beat up the wife. When this was done and they were brought before him he would ask them if  they had any issues with each other, and their immediate reply would 'No'. They would also agree to take back the complain.

Mentoring & CounselingA power point presentation was made about what the DO'S and DONT'S of counseling were. Counseling should not be the following:
Advicing
Arbitration
Judgment of right or wrong
Why advice should not be given is because
It may become the wrong solution
It may become inappropriate
The counselee may only be looking for a let out, and not for solutions 
If given solution the counselee may become more dependent on the counselor.

Mentoring & CounselingA counseling session should make the counselee self aware and improve his self confidence. Hence the definition of Counseling should be 'To encourage and motivate to share the feelings and empower him to resolve or cope with it. One should also be made to know the difference between problem and issue'.

There are two methods of counseling which is directive and non-directive. Directive counseling is done by professionals such as doctors or lawyers where they tell the clients what the solution is and how it should be done. Non-directive counseling  is the method where the counselee is given enough encouragement to share his emotions, without any interference or advices and the counselee himself will come-out with the solution for his issues.

Anyone could need counseling. It is not necessary that only people who are stressed or have problems should go for counseling. The counselee may not have a problem but he may face a issue which he is unable to decided or is very confused and feels incapable of taking a decision. Preventive counseling can also be done by a counselor which is also a very effective method of counseling.

In this era of communications, where there are many devices to communicate for people, the biggest epidemic that is going to hit mankind is going to be 'Loneliness' as there are many people who are going to be depressed and lonely.

Mentoring & CounselingThe skills of counseling would be
The counselor should be non-judgmental
He should be a good listener
Empathy
Patience etc.
To explain how one should cope with the time and situation, Dr. Ali gave the example of his conversation with his professor. He had once visited his Professor after along time, and the Professor was having a discussion with his present batch of students. To Dr. Ali's surprise he was the only person speaking to the Professor addressing him as “Sir” and giving him the respect of a teacher. Even when the coffee was brought in all the students served for themselves, Dr. Ali was the only person who first served the coffee to the Professor and only then served it to himself. This behavior of the students worried Dr. Ali and he was more worried when he found that the professor was not bothered about this behavior of his students. When he finally questioned the professor about this, he smiled and answered that he was not expecting the students to respect him, he was their professor and hence was doing his duty of teaching them. He also mentioned that he Dr. Ali was his student, the whole batch would silently listen to the lecture and accept it without asking as doubts or questions. But if he had to do the same with the present batch he will have to face many questions and this would help him keep himself updated with the topics which improved his quality of teaching.

Empathy is also another important aspect or quality that a counselor should possess. Empathy is again a word that is been misunderstood. Empathy is not sympathy, it is the ability of one person to get into the shoes of another and see the situation from his point of view. And for this the counselor has to remove his own shoes first. To give an example of empathy he told the incident of an oncologist. Once an old lady was suffering from a severe Throat Cancer. Mentoring & CounselingA reputed Cancer Surgeon operated on the lady and cured her completely. A few days had passed after the Surgery, the old lady had gained complete conscious by now and was pleased to see the Surgeon who was making his daily rounds. As she was unable to speak due to the surgery she wrote on a paper, her appreciation and gratitude to the Doctor. She also wrote that she was very happy that she had overcome the cancer. She gave the paper to the Doctor, and the Doctor was pleased to read it. He decided to reply, took the pen, turned the page and wrote that it was only his duty and it was God that she actually needed to thank, etc., and gave the paper to the old lady. The old lady starred at the paper in her hand and looked into the Doctor's face and looked back at the paper. She wrote something on the paper and returned it to the Doctor. The Doctor took the paper and read it. It was written “Doctor, I can hear Doctor.” Here a reputed doctor has failed a simple test of empathy. He was not able to understand why the old lady was writing instead of speaking to him.

An exercise was given to the doctors to write on a slip of paper about three qualities and three qualities about their colleague who was seated next to them. He also told them to introspect on what qualities that was not written by their colleague or what they felt it was very significant to write that particular quality about their colleague.

Explaining how motivation can be derived from negative means, Dr. Ali quoted the example of his Biology lecturer. He was very good with the subject and knew everything about it, but the problem with him was he never understood his students. The students would be felt wondering what they should do in his class, as everything what a student did would be looked upon as a mistake or fault by the lecturer. And when the students were given the choice of selecting a combination with Biology or without Biology, they took a combination which did not contain the subject because they feared the lecturer.

Mentoring & CounselingTalking about life skills and its importance, Dr. Ali mentioned that WHO (World Health Organisation) had highlighted 10 basic life skills. The team consisted of an Indian scientist Dr. R.Murthy who was also the editor. These basic life skills were included in the curriculum of schools by about 70 countries. In India the CBSE and Kendra Vidyalayas have included these life skills as extra curricular activities.
Next Dr. Ali narrated the conversation between a mother and the son. One morning the mother finds her son lazily seated on the sofa and when she asked him if he was not going to college he says “Ma, I do not want to go to college today.” The Mother is surprised and says “No, you have to go.”
The son tries to convince his mother and says “No mother, nobody likes me in college. Neither the teachers nor the students talk to me properly. I really don't want to go.” Now the mother is very annoyed and says “Don't give reasons, you have to go to college. So please go get ready”.  The son finally asks “what is the big necessity, why do you insist that I HAVE to go to the college everyday?”. So the mother patiently replied “Because son, you are 45 years old and you are the Principle of the college, and it is not nice for the Principle to bunk college.”

One should also know how to think out of the box. There was a short story narrated by Dr. Ali. Before this he told the Doctors that whoever knew the answer should only raise their hand. Giving this instruction he started the story: One day there is a fatal accident of a two wheeler in which a father and son are traveling. The father is killed on the spot and the son is seriously injured. People gathered around the horrific scene and saw that the boy was still alive. They rushed him to the nearest Hospital where the Doctor informed them that the boy cannot be rescued. The people pleaded to the Doctor, so the doctor replied that to rescue the boy an operation has to performed while can be done only by a Neuro-surgeon, they did not have such a surgeon in the Hospital and hence the boy could not be saved. One person from the crowd said that there were a few guests in his neighbour and one among is the Neuro-surgeon. So they decided contact that surgeon and ask for help. When asked upon the surgeon agreed to perform the operation and and went to the Hospital. When the surgeon entered the operation theater and was ready to operate, saw the face of the boy and said “ Oh God, I will not be able to perform the operation on him. He is my son”.

Mentoring & CounselingNow the question was how can this be possible, how could the Neuro-surgeon say so? About 6-8 doctors knew the answer and Dr. Ali asked one among them to answer and he answered as “The Neuro-surgeon was the mother of the child”. 

In the present there is no value for experience, in fact the word 'experience' has become a dirty word. Nobody is willing to see if the person has experience or not, they only want a person who can think and do the job with effective results.

Question: When you spoke of loneliness, in this era don't you think that people can easily get connected through the facebook or many other social network sites?
Answer: These sites will not be the same as speaking to a person who is very close or talking to them in person. There is always a need for a human touch, they will need someone who has true concern for them. This will have a impact on the individual. For this the person must make himself available, they must also be understanding and make them feel that there is someone for them.

 

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Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

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