By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: Listening and understanding people’s most profound feelings makes therapists a recourse when times people find themselves in a chaotic situation and unable to think sensibly or clearly understand their own emotions. However, some patients may come across therapists who may not listen carefully or become judgmental, which worsens the case of the patients. To take a closer look at mental healthcare issues in Kuwait, Kuwait Times interviewed Caroline, an expat patient who highlighted certain issues according to her experience that many may relate to.
Therapy as a non-Arab expat
Caroline said as a new expat who is trying to figure things out, she wanted to speak to someone as she was struggling with adjusting to a new country. Being a stranger in Kuwait, she suffered from loneliness and anxiety, which pushed her to seek therapy, where she encountered multiple obstacles. “Some didn’t consult in English, so that was a challenge for me. Eventually, I came across one who was quite pricey, but I nonetheless needed the help. But it was not what I expected.
I felt like the session was rushed — we went from conversation to conversation without digging deeply into the crux of the matter. That’s what I thought a therapist does — explore the deeper side of an individual’s mental health. I felt like I did not get any benefit, which made my situation far worse,” she said. For Caroline, it was more like someone was just doing a job, forgetting that this profession is about being empathetic. “I think the worst thing for me was that it seemed like I was being judged, and no compassion was shown.
I felt as a professional therapist, one would need to understand that people come from different backgrounds and experiences. So that level of understanding was supposed to be there. The facial expressions and body gestures of the therapist made me feel way worse,” she said. The therapist’s uncomfortableness and unacceptance of Caroline worsened her situation and left her without receiving the help she needed. “I did not receive the help I needed. Instead, it made me more anxious and I felt like I never want to try this again. There is very little knowledge of mental health, and it’s so sad because we are all struggling one way or the other.
It also made me realize why so many people are unaware of mental health issues, because of the fear of being judged, or ‘what will people think if I go to therapy’. There’s this unreasonable mindset that if you go to therapy you cannot deal with yourself and you are delusional,” she said. Quality of mental health Caroline said therapists need to understand that people come from different backgrounds and experiences, and that we are shaped by our socioeconomic factors. “When people come and seek help, they need compassion and empathy from the therapist. Understanding is important, but this cannot happen if the therapist approaches their patients from a judgmental perspective.
Therapists should have really good emotional intelligence,” she said, adding a therapist must speak more about mental health issues, anxiety, stress, coping skills, etc that can help people living in Kuwait. Moreover, Caroline highlighted the necessity of changing the narrative of mental health, that seeking a therapist is not because “you have gone crazy”; it merely means you want to improve your mental health and boost your emotional intelligence and development. On therapy charges in Kuwait, she said it would be helpful if prices were fair and decent, or at least discounted, so people don’t have to think twice before going.