Whether you’re mourning the loss of your pre-COVID life, adjusting to a new home or trying to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, you may have reached a breaking point. Luckily, there are specialists who can help – from grief and family therapy to fertility and marriage counselling. Here, counselling practices shed light on the benefits of therapy in Singapore, and some of the most common struggles and mental health issues they’re seeing right now in the expat community.
ImPossible Psychological Services
This counselling practice specialises in individual psychotherapy for adults, teens and children over the age of eight, couples therapy and marriage counselling, family therapy and psychological assessment. The team of qualified psychologists and counsellors work with patients to overcome all kinds of life challenges – from family conflict, anxiety, grief and loss to children’s behavioural problems, addiction and infidelity.
Anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges
Topping the list these days are depression, anxiety disorders and relationship issues, says Muhammad Haikal Bin Jamil. Haikal is a senior clinical psychologist and the ImPossible Psychological Services founder.
To help with such challenges, a variety of therapeutic techniques are incorporated to suit each individual patient’s needs. For his own clients, Haikal draws on Schema Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Choice Theory & Reality Therapy (CTRT) and mindfulness techniques to uncover the client’s underlying issues, and then helps the client build the proper skills to tackle those challenges.
Though this process may take time, Haikal says that he and his team are there every step of the way. In fact, Haikal considers the journey in therapy to be a partnership; his role isto help patients become aware of the obstacles in their lives that are keeping them from growth, and empowering them to remove those obstacles.
“The mental health challenges that we face typically do not happen overnight. Rather, they’re built up over the years and triggered by significantly stressful events,” says Haikal. “The counselling process helps clients understand and equip themselves with effective cognitive and coping strategies. This gives them the ability to overcome the challenges they’re facing.”
If you’re looking for therapy in Singapore, this counselling practice offers a safe space for individuals to find balance, empowerment, independence and direction in their lives. The team of certified counsellors use a broad range of techniques to provide emotional and mental health support to individuals of all ages who are struggling with various challenges. Areas of expertise include acceptance and commitment therapy, depression, anxiety, burnout, change and life transitions, coaching, cognitive behaviour therapy, fertility and pregnancy support, marriage counselling, family therapy, grief and loss, trauma and stress management.
Grieving the loss of someone – or something
The Counsellingconnectz team is made up of coaches and counsellors with special interests in trauma, grief and loss, and fertility; and they have profound experience supporting couples who’ve experienced the loss of a baby. These days, they’re seeing more and more patients struggling with loss than ever before. Many of their patients have experienced the loss of a loved one over the past year and a half, but haven’t been able to travel to attend the funeral; this leaves them with the challenge of trying to process that grief from afar.
In addition to physical loss, many people are currently having a hard time grieving their pre-COVID lives – lives filled with routines, scheduled trips to see friends and family, and other plans for the future. This abstract loss can be just as painful as a physical one.
But, regardless of what you’re grieving – whether it’s someone or something – it will likely be a process that takes time to unfold, and won’t be the same from day to day. While support from friends is invaluable, Counsellingconnectz says that for extremely deep, “stuck” feelings of sadness that never seem to go away, the help of a trained therapist may be more appropriate.
#09-01 Scotts Medical Suites, 9 Scotts Road
White Canvas Therapy
Rebecca Versolato is a psychoanalyst, registered counsellor and director of White Canvas Therapy in Singapore. She works with individuals, couples, families, teenagers and older children who are facing all kinds of issues; these range from family therapy and parenthood problems, marital intimacy, infidelity, anxiety and phobias to life transitions, difficulties with self-esteem, grief and loss, medical and health concerns, and LGBT counselling.
Marriage counselling and couples therapy on the rise
At almost two years into the COVID crisis, Rebecca is seeing a shift among her patients in the clinical setting. “Before, we would work with clients who were impacted by fear for their health and their family’s health; we’d look at how they might adapt to work or study during isolation periods in more of a survival mode. Now, we’re definitely seeing more hopeless projections of the future, and exhaustion from living in and out of restrictions,” she says.
For this reason, she has seen a big increase in demand for marriage counselling and couples therapy in Singapore.
“People are not used to this lack of boundaries when it comes to working from home and parenting a child among the messy routines. Emotional relationships, intimacy, eroticism, mutual appreciation and recognition of others’ qualities have been diminished, so tension increases.”
In addition to using her background in psychoanalysis – which explores relationship dynamics and identifies patterns – Rebecca brings in key elements from the Gottman Method, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples therapy, and other techniques to help couples achieve the best possible outcome.
“Counselling, especially within a psychodynamic or psychoanalytical approach, is a good – if not the best – way to understand what is affecting so much of ourselves and our relationships these days. Through reflection with a specialised professional, new solutions can be identified; those feelings of anxiety, discontent, grief and loss that we are all experiencing can be better understood.”
White Canvas Therapy
16 Mohamed Sultan Road, #06-02
Founded by clinical psychologist Dr Sanveen Kang, this specialist psychology clinic helps families manage all kinds of mental health issues, and provides comprehensive psychological testing and therapy in Singapore for kids as young as two, up to early adult years.
Dr Kang and her team have years of experience working with children, teens and also adults who are facing emotional, interpersonal, behavioural and academic challenges – from specific phobias, self-injurious behaviours and disordered eating patterns to sleep problems, attachment disorders and gender identity issues, to name a few. Psych Connect’s therapists have worked in various public and private healthcare contexts locally and overseas; as such, they’re sensitive to the individual and cultural needs of both Singaporeans and expats.
Interpersonal challenges – how counselling can help
In recent months, Dr Kang has seen more patients presenting with depression and anxiety – even social anxiety and selective mutism – as well as physiological disorders like stomach aches, headaches and vomiting. She has also seen a huge increase of interpersonal problems and emotional dysregulation – the inability to manage emotional responses or keep them within the conventionally accepted range of emotional reactions. Trouble with regulating emotions can be externalised in the form of behaviour; this can lead to major challenges in interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, work performance and quality of life, she explains.
Through psychological therapy, which focuses on understanding what factors led to the current experiences and learning skills to navigate them, Dr Kang and her team find ways for patients to deal with life’s challenges.
“The aim of counselling is to enable people to cope with adversities and assert control over their lives,” she says. “Most of our clinicians are trained in more than one therapy modality; they select a modality based on their client’s individual needs. For example, therapy is not limited to talking; we can also work with children using movement, play and art.”
Redwood Psychology is a team of multilingual psychologists and counsellors who are committed to helping clients with challenging life problems. They are experienced in working with both the expatriate and local communities, and can help with everything from coping with major life changes and resolving childhood trauma issues, to managing harmful emotions and behaviours .
Expat mental health challenges – how counselling can help
Part of the reason expats are more susceptible to mental health issues is the absence of the network of family and friends they relied on for support back home, says Dr Tsao I Ting, Clinical Director at Redwood Psychology. Besides lacking the usual support, expats are expected to high levels of self-sufficiency quickly in an unfamiliar environment. These pressures can trigger or exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues.
Redwood Psychology provides a non-judgmental and warm therapeutic environment where counsellors and psychologists can work through these challenges with their clients. The practice’s integrative approach to therapy brings together the client’s unique story with evidence-based psychological frameworks and techniques to achieve their therapeutic goals – whether that is to understand oneself better, to better manage intense emotions, or to enhance relationships with loved ones.
#06-11 High Street Centre, 1 North Bridge Road
8885 5424 | redwoodpsy.com
This article first appeared in the November 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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