View From the Therapy Room

Emptiness - A Gaping Void

Purnima Gupta - 2nd December 2022
Purnima Gupta

Mental Health issues are gradually finding voices around the society, but the path is an arduous one. Out of many peripheral and core aspects of mental health, one of the challenges for the therapists and counsellors is to answer the questions brought forth by the clients/patients. Not all that the client shares as mental health issues is of clinical nature. The non-clinical aspects are as crucial as their clinical counterparts. One such nonclinical question often posed before me by a countable number of clients is about- the emptiness or the vacuum they experience in and around their daily lives. Most of the clients manifest symptoms that do not have a direct clinical connect yet the presence is enough to disrupt the flow of life. To douse their curiosity, many clients take help from the internet and usually bring the same to me. They feel they have either depression or anxiety or some other clinical disorder (google list of symptoms) but during the course of their sessions with me, both of us come to realize that what they are experiencing is not a pure clinical mental health issue or disorder but a deeply individual existential experience which by the surrounding social standards is certainly not a pleasant one.

 

Each one of us have had those moments where nothing made sense. Things that were joyful to us or were the source of our happiness, suddenly cease to appeal to our senses. Every person, situation or stimulus loses its charm on us. And after few minutes, all is as it was. Clinically, perhaps one would be able to find an answer to such intense experiences of emotional detachment or apathy but for a common man, it all is a riddle that complicates the already complicating life situations for them.

 

As a therapist, when a question is brought forth to me by the clients, it pushes me to find an answer. Yes, it is what we refer to as countertransference, but my awareness tells me that I am not anxiously looking for answers, instead I am consciously looking for the clues that the question carries within, as a future response or solution to itself. One such answer that I found while reading the existential psychologists is- No one can escape suffering. The nature of suffering might differ for each one of us, but the suffering is inevitable. The more it is resisted, the intense it feels as an experience.

 

Instead of looking for a way out of suffering, one must look within while the external life appears to be dull, painful and gloomy. Every situation is a catalyst that brings us face to face with a hidden aspect of our inner core. It could be a trait, a dream we forget in the course of our survival, a strength that we possess or a soft, untouched, unadulterated feeling that we never touched or experienced due to our conditioning or beliefs.

 

It is easier said than done, I agree. Amidst the suffering and all the chaos that it creates in and around life, looking within demands extraordinary courage and conviction. The unknown realm of the inner self looks darker in the beginning but gradually the light shines and reveals the truth to the individual. A gentle approach aids the process of individuation opening the individual to be in the midst of storm and yet not give up. Life definitely is an unpredictable and individual journey and no two individuals have got it same. One just need to trust the inner strength along with constantly working upon oneself to shed off the past conditioning.

 

The answers come, provided one is ready to embrace the question fully.

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Author Biography:

Purnima started her journey as a Psychologist in 2004 after finishing her postgraduate degree in Psychology from Udaipur- fondly called “The City of Lakes” in Rajasthan, India. She worked as a Behavioural Counsellor with schools in Ahmedabad as well as a freelance Psychologist for supporting those who were living with depression, anxiety or any other mental health challenge.
Purnima established the “Anahata Mental Health Clinic” in 2004 and since then, it has been an intense journey as a Mental Health practitioner. Purnima gained a dual postgraduate degree in Psychotherapy and Counselling along with a Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education for Children with Special Needs. Currently, she is pursuing her Doctorate in Applied Psychology and is also a Trainee Analyst at Ahmedabad Jung Centre, affiliated to IAAP- Zurich.
Purnima can be found at the following links on social media sites:
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Purnima Gupta
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Please note that all beliefs, views and opinions expressed within guest writer articles are solely those of the guest writer and do not reflect the beliefs, views and opinions of London School of Counselling, this website or its affiliates.
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