“The work of a psychologist is underrated even today,” says psychologist, Kruppa Savla.

There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and individuals suffering from mental disorders in our society and those with sensitive and fragile minds are shunned by society. Kruppa Savla, a psychologist from Mumbai has been striving to change this view. She is of the view that “although tremendous improvements have occurred in the field, there is still a long way to go to raise awareness among the people” and offers therapy and counselling for mental well-being.

When it comes to Indian children, their lives and careers have almost always been decided by the parents. Kruppa’s father also insisted that she pursue interior designing after she passed higher secondary. For a short period, she pursued her father’s career choice but soon realised, Interior Designing was not meant for her. She then decided to specialize in psychology.

Savla pursued her undergraduate degree in Psychology from K.C College. The primary motivation for this, she shared with us, being her special elder brother. She visited his school for special children and did workshops with them frequently and saw for herself, how psychology can make a difference in people’s lives. Savla believes that “the work of a psychologist is underrated even today,” and this field has come a long way since then but it still has a long way to go.

Kruppa Savla is a psychotherapist. However, many people mix psychotherapists with psychiatrists but she distinguishes between the two, saying, “A psychologist can only diagnose the problem in long sessions but they cannot prescribe any medications for it. A psychiatrist, however, can give a prescription for the problem diagnosed.”

The field of Psychology has started getting the recognition it deserves, but there was a time when there weren’t enough colleges in India which provided the necessary certifications to become a licensed practitioner. Savla had to struggle a lot since psychology wasn’t an upcoming career at that time, and it wasn’t believed to be a well enough option for a career choice.  But now the scenario has completely changed.

Today, it has become a lucrative field attracting the youth, similar to how law, mass communication etc. has become a popular choice of further studies to pursue after 12th. However, Kruppa says, “Students shouldn’t pursue the career based on its popularity factor but they should rather have a genuine interest in it, and a passion to help people.”

There remains a backward belief quite prevalent in our society, that only people who have mental deformities go to psychologists. Savla dismisses this notion completely. Anybody can be facing a mental health crisis in their day to day lives and more so in these tumultuous times.

Savla has to face challenges even at her practice, when certain people do not understand the importance of mental well-being and instead, belittles the profession. “People still don’t realise the amount of work that needs to be done before the start of a therapy session. One can’t expect concrete solutions to their problems without simply realising that the role of a psychologist is similar to that of a teacher”, the therapist points out. Both of these professions can only show you the path but you have to walk and achieve the result on your own.
A therapist can recommend a roadmap and techniques to solve the problem, but you have to apply those correctly and process your thoughts to find a solution which best fits you.

During the lockdown, Kruppa faced a tense situation in her own life during which she voluntarily paused her practise for a few months to look after her well-being. “It is essential for a mental health professional to also keep their mental health in check while treating a patient. Since, a professional might project their issues and anxieties onto their patient, which could worsen the situation,” explains Savla

The most common misconception regarding psychologists is that many often confuse them with psychics. Some are considerably delusional and unsure about the nature of work a psychologist does. Kruppa shares, “Some even go so far to say that psychologists have telepathic powers which help them read the minds of their patients and to sort out their problems, which is false.” The notion of a psychologist being a psychic is not only laughable in itself but somewhat insults the profession as well.

As shared by psychologist Kruppa Savla, the work of a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist is not as easy breezy as one might think it to be. There are innumerable challenges they overcome and help others overcome theirs.

As we wrap up, we ask, how do we as laymen, help someone at all? She lets us in on a sure shot tip on that as well.

“Simple acts of kindness can brighten someone’s day so that no one is left feeling trapped under the pressures of hopelessness. In these uncertain times, when so many people are facing mental health issues due to the pessimism created by this ongoing pandemic, just checking in to see if a friend or loved one is doing well, can make a lot of difference in their lives.”