“People get confused with Psychiatrists and Psychologists. Psychiatrists are medically trained and prescribe medicines while Psychologists are trained in practical applications in ways to reduce distress and enhance psychological and physical well being. Our main aim is to maximize peoples’ independence and autonomy and to discover who they are,” says Athem.
The Cloud Room- A Counseling and Psychological Assessment Centre
“Clouds are made up of different layers with unique characteristics. What you see and what I see is all different. Small things can bring about a huge difference in our lives,” explains Athem when asked about the meaning behind the name The Cloud Room- a Centre for Counseling and Psychological Assessment which she recently opened in Kohima. Taken from John 1: 38-39; the motto of the Center ‘Come n See’ was given by her 94 year old grandfather. It means to see things from a differing perspective and understanding oneself in the light of god.
Athem asserts that there is a ‘need’ for psychological intervention in Nagaland. She hopes that her endeavor will encourage more people to join the profession.
It’s the quality of time you give and not the quantity
“Many of our youths struggle with self-esteem, identity crisis which has a lot to do with underlining traumas that we have encountered,” says Athem. During her M. Phil research on ‘Subjective Well Being of Youth’, she found that majority of the youths in Kohima derived happiness from materialism. Athem says that a lot of kids coming for counseling have behavioral problems and are from broken families. Parents ask her to rectify the kids but do not realize that the problem is within the family. She adds that many parents fail to spend quality time with their children, which is more important than quantity.
The role of the society,
church and family
“Psychology does not like to be mixed up with spirituality but I believe that Christianity plays an integral part in the treatment process. The fear of god is there in a person even if he/she commits a murder.” She adds that the church and society usually ignore mental illness, treat it exclusively as a spiritual problem or refer people to professionals and wash their hands off the ‘trouble.’ She laments that mental illness is still looked upon as a curse and that “people would rather go to quacks and prayer centers.” Athem stresses on family support as a decisive factor for the betterment of patients.