I am Prabakar. I am a counsellor, Therapist, am a mentor for counsellors in area of counselling in mental health (that includes sexual and reproduction health and trauma) based in Chennai, India.
I believe in Community life competence process (CLCP) and I also practice SALT. Mental health counsellors and professionals, we follow a lot of principles in our practice like warmth, genuineness, empathy, being non-judgmental, congruence and so on. SALT which is the life line of life competence process resonates and gels so well with all these principles.
We mental health counsellors and Therapist are client-focused and client-centred in our interventions. We listen to them with non-judgmental attitude. Furthermore, we appreciate and acknowledge them and we build an empowering relationship, and this is what we do even when we are practising life competence process with individuals and communities. We empower people whom we work with and those working with us. And SALT also talks about team and transfer, we know that without the support of the client and without their cooperation, we will not have interventions which are successful because we are focused on the client and on the issue(s) of the client. So, teaming up with the client to address that issue, transferring our experience of having dealt with similar issues and stories to clients who have dealt with similar issues also comes as a very vital point in our practice. So, SALT is an integral part of my practice in counselling as well because I see a lot of resonance between principles of counselling and aspects related to SALT.
Let me share an example. Once I met a couple who needed support. The wife had gone through surgery for a cancer and the husband was concerned about how she would respond to the follow-up Chemo-therapy and its impact. So, he wanted her to be prepared mentally and physically to go through it. I met them at this stage. My strategy was to provide a combination of counselling and therapy (using a brain and body methodology) on those five sessions I had with them.
As I listened to the couple, I saw that they had a wonderful relationship and were so emotionally connected with each other. The husband was so caring and wanted to give his best for his wife. This was the major strength I saw in them, and I acknowledge it and appreciated it. Since I was aware of the fact that making her notice what was happening in her body would cause more intense pain, I did not work with her directly. But I asked for her husband's readiness (Team) to go through the therapy as he was also pained by his wife's condition and use his healing experience to help her heal faster.
I used to counsel them as couple and then move into therapy with the husband, using this brain body methodology to heal. The husband cooperated and responded so well. As the husband was getting healed from the stress and strain, through the effect of field resonance the healing was spreading onto her and she was experiencing a sense of healing in her body. Her stress levels reduced, her sleep improved from one and a half hour per day to 4 hours per day in just two days. On the third day she was mentally prepared to deal with her issues and was willing to go through the therapy herself. As a result, in the next three days, she came into terms with the reality of Chemotherapy and the possible effects on her physical condition and on her looks. Her anxiety disorder subsided a little bit and she was also experiencing healing physically and emotionally.
On the fourth and fifth day sessions I used stories of how people came out or dealt with effectively with their chronic illnesses, to transfer my experience and encouraged them to use stories (transfer on their part) so that, they can explain matters better to their Child. This couple updated me that the Chemotherapy went well. She was able to face it without anxiety and with a sense of confidence. They are doing well now. Occasionally they get in touch with me to share how they are doing.
Dear Prabakar, i read your piece and found it to be very comprehensive. I am going to share it with some young mental health colleagues who are planning an intervention study in a rural setting. I was with them in their scoping visit.... and i suggested they use SALT in their training intervention.... they seem open... if you have any experience/idea of integrating SALT in a training for mental health work, do let me know.... my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Rituu B. Nanda
Hi Prabakar, deep respect for your work. Thank you. We have started SALT for community response to suicide prevention.