At BrilliantRead Media, we always strive to bring meaningful and powerful stories from India and around the world to empower and motivate our growing community. As part of this endeavour, we invited Priti Raikar Thakkar for an exclusive interview with us. Priti is a Leader, Coach, Mentor, Counselling Psychologist, Speaker, Influencer and Change Enabler. Let’s learn more about her incredible journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Priti:
Could you please talk us through your background and your journey?
I’m a Counselling Psychologist, Mental Health Speaker & Life Skills Trainer by profession.
With over 20+ years of total work experience in the field of Corporate Communications, Public Relations & Brand Management, I chose to delve into learning & understanding the psychology of the human mind and behaviour.
Hence I pursued counselling in psychology. I believe that nurturing our mental health can take care of our overall wellness of how we think, feel & regulate our feelings.
I show people how to cultivate self-care & self-advocacy by teaching the coping mechanisms & help them overcome their limiting beliefs. I use an Eclectic Counselling approach to accommodate the different needs of clients.”
In Psychodynamic Counselling, I apply to focus on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. My expertise lies in Child Counselling, Adolescent Counselling, Individual as well as Group Counselling.
I have been also very lucky to get tremendous exposure and hands-on experience with my total work experience in the various industry verticals.
That’s when I realized that Mental Health Awareness at the workplace is as important as it is for your personal life, as it allows people to work stress-free thereby contributing to their productivity.
As a mental health speaker, I provide holistic behavioural training solutions to increase the efficiency of the employees and align them with the organizational goals because work-life balance is equally important.”
On the personal front, I have been married for 25 years and have a teenage son. I enjoy music, photography, having my “me” time. I try to keep my life simple by taking one day at a time, one step at a time and one breath at a time.
How did you discover your passion?
I was always fascinated with psychology as a subject to study human behaviour and mental processes but never really gave it serious thought in my early years after graduation.
So I moved along with the course of time doing jobs in different industry verticals. This gave me hands-on experience and exposure to the different corporate cultures and varied employee behaviour under the same or different circumstances.
Then one day I found my calling & decided to pursue Psychology. After pursuing my Masters, I decided to offer holistic psychotherapy services to individuals and corporate through counselling and training. I’m also invited to companies to talk about mental health or life skills. Since then, I have never looked back & it’s been more than 7 years now that I’m practising.”
As a Counseling Psychologist, I work on mental, emotional, behavioural problems and disorders of an individual to overcome or cope up with their problems by making changes to their life, lifestyle, and self-image.
How difficult/challenging is it to create awareness about mental health, especially in Indian societies?
I am glad you asked this one. A survey conducted by a Mental Health startup in 2022 revealed the prevailing taboo around mental health in Indian society. However, post Covid 19 pandemic, the views about the same have started to change.
Depression & anxiety crises are usually dismissed as small annoyances here. People with mental illnesses tend to hide their problems for fear of being condemned and looked down upon by our Indian society.
My biggest challenge is when people consider mental illness as a taboo & also claim that the affected person could be the victim of witchcraft and worse, sometimes society blames the patients themselves for their condition.”
This only worsens the condition of the person going through a mental breakdown or illness and in rare cases their condition is irreversible or it’s a long-term treatment.
It gets very challenging to create awareness about mental health due to the lack of education and stigma around mental illness but hopefully, this is slowly and gradually changing and Indian societies have started accepting that mental well-being is as important as physical well-being.
Mental health issues are rising in the workplace. Would you like to see big companies arrange for people to speak to people like yourself to reduce that problem?
I believe in promoting positive mental health in the workplace. I have been invited to companies, institutions to talk on issues related to mental health for more than 5 years now.
The best way to create mental health awareness at the workplace is by educating them through interactive group sessions more than one on one.
Being a mental health speaker and having spoken at many such mental health group discussions in companies, I noticed that people tend to open up and interact easily when in a group considering that mental health talks are still a taboo in our society.
Good mental health allows an employee to work in a stress-free work environment and enhances his productivity
Despite the challenges, what keeps you going when things get tough?
As quoted by Lalah Delia – “Self-care is how you take your power back”.
I try to bring some awareness amongst people about how powerful talking is. I believe that the secret to happiness and overall well-being is freedom & the secret to freedom is courage. Courage is to control your own life and the power to live a healthy life
All I say is your mental illness is not your personal failure. It’s tough when people fail to understand the importance however I chose not to quit and believe that if you never quit, you will never lose.
Perseverance keeps me going. My commitment and passion towards my work keeps me going.
Our audience would love to know about the way forward? What are your expansion plans?
I want to be able to help individuals heal, energize and become aware of their inner strengths. I want to provide a neutral safe space, listen to their concerns and customize a treatment plan.
I want to broaden my reach through various mediums and platforms be it in person or virtual. I also want to promote and I have started promoting mental well-being and wellness at workplaces of big brands to empower the employees.
I want to train employees on Life Skills & show them the importance of Work-Life Balance, thereby inducing a stress-free working environment.
Apart from this, I am extremely happy to be a small part of some NGOs I have been associated with helping children as a child needs someone to listen to them, believe in them, a little help and more love”
Also, I see a pool of untapped talented, underprivileged students who seek mentors to guide them and teach them Life Skills. I am able to achieve this, as I have been given an opportunity to be a part of a team to serve the underprivileged. I look forward to being part of many more such organizations.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
My biggest source of motivation in my daily life has always been my family. Although I am a very self-motivated person, I too need that little push and words of wisdom at times to keep me going. And my teenage son and husband play a fantastic role to keep me motivated and help me grow daily.
In fact, it was my husband who motivated me to pursue psychology after seeing my love and passion for this subject. I would never take that leap of faith if he did not motivate, support and guided me.
Even today he continues to motivate me to do much more and my son is my biggest critic and gives honest feedback that keeps me motivated to do better and better. Apart from my family who keeps me motivated are my clients, especially the children I counsel.
I realized that age has nothing to do with wisdom and positivity. In fact, you can get your motivation from anywhere and anybody. These children play a huge part in my daily life to keep me going.
And if nothing works, I try and seek motivation from myself. I go back thinking about the days when I took those little steps that got me this far in life today. I feel very motivated when I remember the struggles and challenges I overcame to reach here. So yes I see motivation all around me daily from people, from things and from surroundings.
Please share with us, how do you motivate your clients?
Honestly the first step any client takes is to ask for help when he/she comes to me. Half the battle is already won here. Now how to sustain the treatment is the most important thing.
Most of the clients tend to give up mid-way or towards the end of treatment only because they have shared every possible thing that was an issue to them and now they have nothing to say or hear.
This is where I remind them that “if you give up now or simply get tired trying to complete your therapy, then you will end up right back where you first began.
And when you first began, you were desperate to be right where you are now” so I motivate them with these words to keep going and complete the therapy so they get a healthy and a fresh start
Apart from this, I show them the importance and benefits of counselling like – less anxiety, better relationships, stress relief, increased assertiveness, trauma resolution, emotions regulation, greater self-confidence etc.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
Success is subjective – To each its own. The key to success for me is:
> Love and Passion for your goal
> Commitment towards achieving it
> Perseverance in spite of all challenges and obstacles
> Vision of where you want to reach, keeping the end in mind
> Never quit – if you don’t quit, you will never lose
> Integrity and Intent should be intact
What is your message to our readers?
I just want to tell all the readers and others that – it’s okay to feel unstable, it’s okay to disassociate, it’s okay to hide from the world, it’s okay to ask for help. IT’s OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.
Your mental health is not your personal failure. But what’s not okay is to suffer in silence. Because we repeat what we don’t repair.
So it’s time that we recognize mental health as essential as physical health.
Last but not least, how important is it that someone seeks help when struggling with their mental health?
It is extremely important and urgent to seek help when struggling with their mental health.
Without treatment, the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering.
Mental health matters. If you don’t attend to it, your physical health also suffers, your quality of life suffers, your relationships and employment suffer too.
We must move the past stigma on mental health and see both physical as well as mental health equally.