At BrilliantRead Media, our aim is to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate women entrepreneur – Aishwarya Raj for an exclusive interview with us. She is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Clinical Psychologist, Consultant, Change Enabler and Influencer. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Aishwarya:
We are aware of your contributions to the ecosystem; talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
My research experience gathered through a thoughtfully designed curriculum and course in all my academic years, has helped me develop an interdisciplinary mindset. In addition to giving me ideas, my past work has also taught me important skills like patience and persistence which constantly help me in achieving my goals.
After pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Applied Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Delhi, one of the best universities in the country, I further enhanced my knowledge by securing a merit seat in M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Programme at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak.
During my journey at PGIMS, I submitted my thesis titled “Expressed emotions and coping strategies in caregivers of Schizophrenia and OCD patients: A comparative study”. I secured the first position in both my M.Phil. academic years and participated in various conferences and seminars.
I presented papers namely: “Effect of Spiritual Attitude on Psychological Wellbeing among Elderlies”, “Music, emotional health and wellbeing” and “Unemployment and Health” at both national and international conferences during this time. With the novel and fulfilling experience I gained from the Half-Way Long Stay home, I moved to the most prestigious medical institute in India situated in New Delhi.
Here the opportunity to work as a Clinical Psychologist at the student; Wellness Centre was too appealing.
It presented avenues where I could have a deep understanding of the relationship between mental health, employment, academics, work-life balance and well-being as we transition from the early middle (age) adulthood and so on.”
Thus, enabling me to have a better understanding of changes across the lifespan. My work responsibilities generally are to provide psychological support, and psychotherapy to medical students, doctors and staff. I conduct workshops on life skills, work-life balance, and effective learning strategies. I am a part of the core team which is working on undergraduate curriculum development where the emphasis is to integrate mental wellness into the curriculum.
I am also working on a Mental Health volunteer program, which aims to have peer gatekeepers for mental well-being amongst students. During my journey with previous organizations, I participated in various workshops and events as resource faculty and as well as a participant.
I have also conducted Focused Group Discussions among research scholars of various departments. I was also invited as a panellist for Indian Medical Association’s Doctors4Doctors awareness programme (on the) World Mental Health Awareness Day 2019. Moreover, I am an active stakeholder in the process of developing resource material for undergraduate students to enhance their psychological well-being and the journey continues.
How did you discover your passion in ‘Psychology’?
I would say my Psychology teacher in school grade 11 has been the most important person behind my passion for Psychology.
It started as a fifth subject required to be a part of the curriculum for CBSE apart from the medical stream. While in 11th grade I started reading more and more about Psychology and its role in an individual’s life and then eventually became the focus area to be pursued.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
The intrinsic stories. Having the privilege to join the journey. Empowering individuals and challenging the myths, and stereotypes about the wellness journey to have self-awareness and courage to live a life of respect, and dignity and treat others with the same ethical principles is my drive to work in this field. It is work.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
I would say it is my clients! Looking forward to meeting them every day is one of the most important parts of my day. I am so grateful for their trust in me.
Apart from them, it is my parents who take pride in what I do. This gives me the drive to further excel myself and keep doing better.
Their love has kept me smiling, shining, and warm. Both my family and my friends have been very supportive towards my professional journey.
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
There are a few:
(1) Being resilient
(2) Being Mindful
(3) Being self motivated and a problem solver
(4) My curiosity to learn
Please share with us, how do you motivate your clients?
My core approach at therapy is to understand comprehensively and relate with the client, given their cultural, familial, and educational background, bring about insights within the client that propel self-growth, healing and holistic integration of his personality, goals, and purpose.
My work is to empower clients to take on responsibilities for their own self-development and show confidence in their abilities to achieve their goals.
You are always positive and motivated, what keeps you going?
Like I said a lot of motivation comes from my clients and the work I do. Apart from that, I like to be fit both physically and mentally. I start my day early with a good run and some mindfulness meditation and I look forward to the new day as another opportunity to explore my potential.
The motivation to work hard and practice and stay disciplined comes from the desire to master my skill to keep learning something new, and my genuine enjoyment for my purpose.”
How does setting boundaries help when dealing with clients? How important is that?
I feel having healthy boundaries keeps my resilience and strength intact i.e. as an empath I am a sponge however a smart sponge who knows how to absorb and release feelings. Doing this towards the end of the day I am not bogged down by helping individuals with their issues.
I schedule a daily appointment for self-care, even if it’s just alone time. For example, I schedule time the same as I would for my client to meditate, journal exercise, and have a social media detox. I practice gratitude with fellow colleagues where we name a thing we are grateful for every day.”
I am an avid reader and I like to read before retiring to bed. My current read is Letters to a Young therapist by—Mary Pipher. This is a memoir and manifesto in the form of a series of letters from the author to her favourite graduate student.
It was shared with me by my mentor long ago and I recently started reading it. So far it has opened a new perspective on the work I do and how each one of us is as human as the other.
Last but not least, when I see my clients having a moment and I get the privilege of witnessing their breakthrough, it’s the most powerful stimulant I can imagine.”
What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?
Getting the right opportunity and performing to the best of your capability when you get that opportunity.
To get that opportunity, I present myself as a brand. I prepare myself to give my best shot at each and every opportunity that comes my way.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
I will say it straight that there are many factors but if you really have to have the key elements then to me these are the ones:
> Accepting myself.
> Responsibility for my actions
> Standing up for myself
> Positive Attitude
> Problem Solving with consistency and belief
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
There is so much to be shared, but this conversation limits how much I can communicate on this platform.
Students and young professionals regularly reach out to me on Instagram and LinkedIn with their specific queries. Career decisions require a long view of what comes after and a good understanding of personal skills and ambitions. Make informed choices and build a professional life that empowers your lifestyle.
For starting a career in Psychology, one has to be dedicated and diligent. Commitment to lifelong learning characterizes a competent psychologist. Because new ideas and therapeutic approaches continually emerge, psychologists must stay abreast of their profession by attending seminars, reviewing evidence-based research findings and consulting with colleagues. Apart from this Empathy, Active Listening and Non-Judgemental approach, Self-awareness and commitment to diversity exemplify an effective psychologist.