Unfortunately, in Pakistan there is a lack of understanding relating to the concept of psychotherapy. Dr Rubeena opines that people confuse psychotherapy with counselling sessions. “The goal of psychotherapy is to improve the psychological and emotional wellness of the patient as well as their ability to functional normally,” says Dr Rubeena. She adds that psychotherapy doesn’t only aim for present recovery but it intends to help them manage their illnesses in cases of relapse. As a result, identifying the problem is key towards full recovery.
On the other hand, the stigma attached with mental illnesses in our society also becomes a hindrance in benefiting from psychotherapy. As a result despite the presence of 15 million people in Pakistan suffering from mental illnesses according to the Karwan-e-Hayat Institute for Mental Health Care, lack of awareness about whom to approach and what kind of treatment to opt for make it difficult for people to overcome it.
Furthermore, proper licensing of psychiatrists can also help people to make informed decisions. “There are many centres in Pakistan, where psychotherapy is conducted by individuals with no background in psychology,” says Dr Rubeena. “The lack of regulation puts the patient’s life at risk,” she adds. However, not all is bad for psychotherapy in Pakistan. According to Dr Taha, the Pakistan Association of Clinical Psychologists have made laws to ensure that all psychiatrists can only conduct therapy sessions if they have a diploma in clinical psychology after completing their Masters in psychology.