Interview: Sohini Rohra, Counselling Psychologist & Mental Health Advocate

Sohini Rohra - Counselling Psychologist

An exclusive interview with Sohini Rohra, Counselling Psychologist & Mental Health Advocate

Welcome to an insightful interview with Sohini Rohra, Counselling Psychologist & Mental Health Advocate. Sohini Rohra, a beacon in the realm of mental health advocacy and counseling psychology, brings forth a wealth of experience and insight.

With a compassionate heart and astute mind, she has traversed the intricate landscapes of human emotions, offering solace and guidance. As a counseling psychologist and fervent mental health advocate, Sohini’s journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment to destigmatizing mental health issues and fostering holistic well-being.

Your journey towards becoming a counselling psychologist has been quite diverse, spanning through various career paths. How have these experiences shaped your approach towards mental health and counselling?

Sohini Rohra: I gave up a flourishing career at the age of 22 when I got married. I enjoyed the freedom of not working for a very short while and then quickly started looking for something to do. I tried my hand at a few options but never felt settled.

Then motherhood took over, and I gave it all up again. I restarted my search for professional gratification a decade ago and discovered that my heart lies in psychology, but progress was slow. I pursued courses in different treatment models, gradually completed my postgraduate diploma, and finally attained my Masters in Counselling Psychology when I knew I had found my Ikigai.

These experiences have undoubtedly played a vital role in shaping my approach towards mental health and counselling.

First and foremost, I learned the importance of quitting. I needed to quit again and again to not quit on myself. If I hadn’t quit, I wouldn’t have found my life’s purpose and wouldn’t be titled as a Counselling Psychologist and Mrs. India Earth. I learned a crucial skill: sometimes we need to quit to win.

I had to navigate through some very difficult emotions and labels, not only from myself but also from my loved ones along the way. I found it challenging to stay focused and true to myself while I was searching for… even I didn’t know what, but I knew that something was waiting to embrace me.

All our life experiences come together to develop our belief systems, thought processes, and drive our actions. Similarly, my life experiences have taught me empathy, compassion, and inclusivity at a very core level, which also shape me professionally.

Quitting has been one of those central life experiences that has taught me it’s OK to quit, and my self-worth isn’t defined by what I quit or pursue.

Growing up with personal challenges such as speech disfluency and having a specially abled family member, how did these experiences influence your empathy and understanding towards individuals facing similar struggles?

Sohini Rohra: Growing up, my severe stammer held me back and I was even unable to even pronounce ‘Sohini,’ let alone fulfill basic needs, as shame overshadowed my speech and communication. Enduring relentless bullying and rejection due to my speech impediment, shaped my personality profoundly.

Witnessing and experiencing such suffering intimately fostered my understanding of human hardship, offering me a unique perspective on myself and people. My immediate environment’s approach to adversity ingrained in me the instinct to alleviate others’ pain when I see them suffer.

Empathy and inclusivity were the cornerstones of my family’s values, shaping both their interactions with others and with me. They taught me the importance of balancing both head and heart perspectives to overcome challenges.

From my personal struggles, I gained the wisdom to focus on growth rather than succumb to a victim mentality, a lesson imparted by my uncle. His infectious sense of humor not only lifted his own spirits but also brightened the atmosphere around him. Humour can be an immensely helpful when used as a healthy coping mechanism.

In the journey of healing, sometimes it’s merely our perspective that determines our ability to move forward. Indeed, perspective is a powerful tool that liberates us from the shackles of our experiences, enabling us to soar.

Integrative counselling psychology seems to be a significant aspect of your practice. Could you elaborate on how this approach allows you to address the diverse challenges individuals face in their mental and emotional well-being?

Sohini Rohra: Each person is unique, and their beliefs are shaped by their individual experiences and struggles. Integrative counselling recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing. Instead, it embraces various methods, understanding that each person is a complex individual.

Tailoring techniques to meet the individual’s specific needs and circumstances is essential for promoting their emotional well-being.

Your leisure activities include reading, sketching, and spiritual practices like breathwork and meditation. How do these activities contribute to your personal well-being and how do you integrate them into your professional life?

Sohini Rohra: I perceive life from a holistic standpoint, believing that there’s no singular formula for aligning the body, mind, and soul. In my view, healing involves a union of both rational and spiritual elements. I’ve realized the importance of nurturing all aspects of myself—my body, emotions, intellect, and soul.

My leisure activities serve as my downtime, allowing me to play and reconnect with myself. They help me shift my focus from the mundane, release happy hormones, express pent-up emotions, boost my sense of personal empowerment and self-worth, and foster an overall sense of well-being, both emotionally and physically.

While my leisure pursuits are my personal time, they’re also crucial for me professionally. They safeguard against burnout, contribute to my happiness, and enhance my performance and productivity in my professional endeavours.

Moreover, I strive to encourage my clients to incorporate leisure into their lives, as actions often speak louder than words. If I am true to myself, I am true to my relationships.

You’ve emphasized the importance of quality over quantity in friendships and meaningful interactions. How do you translate this philosophy into your therapeutic relationships with clients?

Sohini Rohra: I consider myself an ambivert, balancing between introversion and extroversion. I am also someone who is very sensitive and respectful to my own feelings and my needs. I believe that quality leads to long term gratification whereas quantity leads to short term gratification.

My friends, family, and support system contribute significantly to the meaning and purpose in my life. They provide my inner child with the freedom to play and explore, while also supporting the adult in me as I pursue my passions, navigate mistakes, and find peace.

My life is not only more fulfilling but also more productive because I’m able to embrace my vulnerability and my strength because of the positive relationships that cushion me.

My philosophy of quality over quantity translates in most areas of my life, whether it is time, division of my day for work and play, my personal and professional life and so on. My therapeutic relationship with my clients is sacred.

I try and give my all in the therapy room and sincerely work towards understanding them and helping them work towards achieving their highest & most authentic self.

And this can be done only when I have the capacity to do so and I will not be able to provide this high level of quality if I am focussing on numbers, getting exhausted and not prioritising both myself and the healing journey of my vulnerable trusting clients.

Your philosophy integrates psychological principles with spiritual dimensions for comprehensive healing. Can you share a specific example of how this integrated approach has led to transformative outcomes for one of your clients?

Sohini Rohra: Faith motivates us to employ logical tools for coping in a structured manner. It propels us forward, fostering belief in ourselves, our relationships, our environment, and the divine. Is the constant pursuit of evidence truly rational?

Sometimes, we must release control and surrender to forces that transcend logic, perhaps that is where ultimate truth resides. Who knows? Perhaps its wisdom masquerading as irrationality.

Comprehensive healing is holistic healing and holistic healing is inclusive of all aspects of life; what we know and what we don’t know. My personal healing journey has included the marriage between my spiritual path and psychological approaches of emotional regulation.

I see the rational and the spiritual as a happy marriage, the spiritual fuels and the rational steers and both cannot exist without each other. I practice the Art of Living and my Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shakarji has help me regulate and keep my nose above the water with his unconditional love, the breathing and mediation techniques like the Sudarshan Kriya, many times in my life when I feel like I’m drowning.

Sometimes, the rational just doesn’t work and we need the fuel of faith and spirituality to help clear the mental clutter and help us reach out to psychological tools, use them effectively and back on the ground.

I encourage my clients to mediate, do breathwork and follow a spiritual practice and I find that when they have ‘faith’ in my suggestion, they need fewer sessions, they self-regulate better and are more internally aligned.

Infact, I’ve lost a few clients who have learnt to marry both, the rational and the spiritual. This loss almost feels like my biggest gain, when I watch my clients lose touch with their irrational beliefs and thoughts and gain themselves while they learn to self-regulate.

Sohini Rohra’s dedication to promoting mental wellness transcends boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on those she encounters. Through her expertise as a counseling psychologist and her relentless advocacy efforts, she inspires hope and resilience in individuals navigating the complexities of their mental health.

Sohini’s unwavering passion serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards a more compassionate and understanding society.

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