In an institute where most students enter as adolescents and leave as adults, a place, pervaded with youth, the need for a counselor has only been on the increase. Adorned with complexities and shades of emotions, where one experiences so many firsts, this phase in a person’s life requires counsel and support. Dr. Kalyani Mishra, an experienced psychologist has joined NITR as a student counselor. She has been working in this field for more than 35 years and has served as a professor in numerous colleges throughout her career, thus having firsthand experience with young men and women. A warm and friendly woman by nature,she is someone one could definitely trust and confide in.
MM: Team MM welcomes you to the institute on behalf of all the students. Tell us about your affiliation with NITR.
KM: Before joining NIT I worked as the Head of the Department of Psychology in the Government Autonomous College, Rourkela and retired from the post on 30th April 2014. Apart from holding the office of the student counselor, I have been appointed as a visiting faculty at the Department of Humanities and I am taking a course in health psychology. NIT is not a new place to me. I have been associated with the institution for about 10 years; I am a senate member and also a member of the sexual harassment cell of NIT. My first association with NIT was during a conference on women empowerment and subsequently I have been a part of many national and international seminars and conferences.
MM: What are your expectations from your new job?
KM: Everybody needs counseling. Earlier, there was no regular counselor appointed for the purpose, but now since this facility has been made available I want everyone to benefit from this. Suppressing problems is unhealthy and harmful to the mental faculty and I believe issues of this sort ought to be addressed. Interaction sessions with faculty members will be organized and each department would identify students who are going through a rough phase and they will be advised to consult me. I am confident that I will be successful in alleviating any mental stress that a student comes to me with.
MM: How is your rapport with your colleagues here?
KM: I am in touch with the heads of all the departments and members of the senate, and most of the professors of the Department of Humanities are well acquainted with me. I have attended 6-7 senate meetings so far and share a cordial relationship with my colleagues.
MM: Due to the stigma prevalent in society regarding seeking help for problems that concern the mind many of us feel embarrassed to address our issues. Moreover students are concerned about the level of confidentiality that can be guaranteed. What would you like to tell the students?
KM: We are all concerned about what our friends and colleagues would think of us if we made an appointment with a counselor. It is very important to let go of these inhibitions and make the right choice keeping our health in mind. Even a few sessions of counseling can have a huge impact on one’s life, a healthy body is one which has a healthy and stress free mind.
As far as confidentiality is concerned, it is the prime responsibility of a counselor to maintain confidentiality and I will never disrespect this professional ethic.
My job is to heal and students can be assured that whatever they say will stay within the four walls of my room.
MM: How can students benefit effectively from your counseling sessions?
KM: Faith in the counselor is a pre-requisite and developing that rapport will take one or two sessions. It is a gradual process and only after extracting detailed information with respect to every aspect of the person’s problem, will I be capable of solving the problem at hand in a wholesome manner. As mentioned earlier, students will have to give up the worry of how they will be perceived by others and only concentrate on their well-being. I believe I can help them with any kind of problem provided they are willing to sit through a few counseling sessions and are frank with me.
MM: What kind of problems students in general come to you with?
KM: Common problems that students come to me with concern peer pressure, adjustment in a peer group, studies, over-expectations from parents, family crisis, upheaval in a romantic relationship etc. Students find it very difficult to perform to their potential with a disturbed mind and may even have adverse effects on one’s physical health.
MM: Share one of your cases with our readers.
KM: A bright and talented student who was pursuing Masters in Arts came to me one day. She had lost her father in an accident and her mother was opposing her relationship with a boy with whom she was romantically involved. She came to me when her depression had reached a critical stage. I was told that her mother supported the relationship earlier but had suddenly turned her back and was pressurizing her to put an end to it. I called for her mother. She told me that she had found a wealthy suitor for the girl and her father being gone, this alliance would ensure financial security for the rest of their lives. Both of them were in grief and a communication barrier had been set up. The mother and daughter were counseled and a fatal consequence was averted. Today the girl is married to the boy she loved and has the blessings of her mother.
MM: Some advice for leading a mentally balanced life?
KM: Have faith in yourself and the Almighty. Do not doubt your abilities and believe in your caliber, you have the potential to tackle any problem that you might be facing. But most importantly, never shy away or feel embarrassed to seek help.
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