Counselling For Transformation
Dev Raj Dahal
In a post-conflict and post-earth quake nation like Nepal, people are eternally haunted by fear of political uncertainty, personal anxiety, existential risks and helplessness. In this context, psychosocial counselling offers a healing relief to those in grief. Victims and perpetrators share the experience of their agony and lift some of the suffocating burdens to return to a normal life. It helps them recover from the awful memory about the loss of the beloved ones and adjust to a hopeful future. An awareness of the guilt torments the perpetrators with the same kind of anxiety like the victims enduring side-effects, unhappiness and ‘fear of conscience.’ The peace accord and the Nepali Constitution cherish a plain vision to enable Nepali people to live a life of freedom and dignity. Policies based on this vision contribute to the nation’s social progress. They can act as a bridge of civility across many identities through the cultivation of humanistic psychology enabling victims of violence and earthquake disruption to build new social bond and acquire a sense of self-worth.
Humble speeches of Nepali leaders alone cannot heal the infirmities of traumatised lives. They need to be honest to transitional justice, comprehensive reconciliation and peace dividends promised in the peace accord. Elections of local, provincial and federal bodies can produce authority and legitimacy of leadership which is necessary for the nation’s political stability. But elections alone are deficient means so long as victims become only leverage for power. Political will for the just foundation of institutional power can conclude transitional politics of Nepal and despise future violence. The end of transitional politics, however, demands parallel justice in place, not its exile, and not shifting its burdens to future generations. Only then ethics and politics can be fused in action. Cold amnesia in transitional justice amounts to a recipe for pathological disorder.
Personal transformation in the life of victim and perpetrator is crucial for reconciliation with the past and forge link between them and with the fabric of Nepali nation. It supposes education with reconciliation spirit which can teach the Nepali people how democratic politics can be played peacefully and affirm why it offers better opportunity than others. Personal transformation, through psychosocial counselling, is different from scholastic or career-oriented education which is divorced from the compassion, altruism and peace-oriented behaviour.
Grounded in educational psychology, counselling to perpetrators and victims provides the reason for survival, fresh feeling and experience sparking idea about how to cope with stressful life. It prompts inner calling, the calling of the heart to assume special responsibility, a call for service to those in hazards straits of life and a call to rescue mind from impatience. Human aspiration for the compensation of loss is not about revenge. It is about reconciliation many Nepalis need to stir hope in the reason and restore faith in human dignity. Our innate social nature makes us polite. No cause justifies the death, mutilation and abuse of innocent Nepalis. Reflective thinking is a must for inducing human faculty for judgment. Psychosocial counseling to the victims creates a protective space against solitude and deforming effects of vices.
Life’s Essence: Secluded life does not offer the meaning of what human beings are for especially in a nation like Nepal facing national stress. Privation of life is full of dullness and misery. Relating oneself to the larger picture overcomes attention deficit. It allows a new spirit and a passion for wisdom rooted in belief, thinking, reflection and judgment. It confers a sign of relief and social cooperation. Cooperation is in human genes. Sharing burden with others harvests better feeling than walking alone. Sharing and caring are the sources of Nepali civilisation. They unfold harmonious evolution of life and stop innocent generation die silently. Sentiment of a deep peace requires being emotionally close to other people, getting support from them and finding remedy to vicious ills. It has healing effects. Peace is attuned to the rational nature of human beings. If power is habituated to its public purpose, it can be utilised to lift Nepali people to a greater height of civility. Knowing is not adequate, victims and evil doers have to act on whatever they have learned and evolve ethics which is a sort of therapy. It aids Nepali people to carve out a pathway for building a self-chosen future. In this sense, psychosocial counseling methods bear some benefits in gaining self-transformation experience and shore up courage to modify the mission of life.
Personal Experience: Personal transformation enables one to acknowledge truth about the condition of living and discover choice, duty and action. It puts brake on the shackles of old analytical learning detached from human feeling, affinity and justice. It replaces utility with ethics. Reconciliation with reality provides therapeutic power to heal painful memories of the nation. Knowing historical truth means assuming duty to stop the return of the traumatic past. Personal transformation builds confidence to broken hearts and helps them reconcile with the present giving the victims a consolation, a sigh of respite but also a means to cure mental infirmity caused by denial of life-enhancing opportunities. Poverty consumes physical and psychic energy of youth killing their spirit for freedom, equality and wellbeing and escaping to live outside the Nepali nation.
The didactic potential of personal transformation spurs the cultivation of inner life. It helps to maintain a balance between inner vigilance and outer life and between mind and body and save Nepali society, economy and politics from the pathology of multiple scleroses. The totality of life is not only external dimension of acquiring knack to race with others through the use of knowledge, money and technology for material comfort but to shape good character in the life’s journey. It fosters civic virtues of humility, empathy, integrity and compassion to others and enables to turn weakness of sufferer into strength and ego of victor into humility.
Counselling sets free positive attitudes and emotions fostering an instinctive empathy and social learning with regard to one’s own behaviour. Natural response of Nepali people in the aftermath of the peace accord and earth quake proves this fact. It has rewarding effects on their lives. Learning enables victims and evil doers to renovate their shared worldview and return to reunion in the community. Psychosocial counseling, conducted in Nepal by healers, NGOs and spiritual leaders, has instilled positive learning enabling them discover a meaningful life.
Scientific learning can demolish primitive innocence and superstition and unfolds infinite human potential. But its restless pursuit devoid of any elements of humanity of forgiveness and reparation cannot heal the wounds of Nepalis. Use of science in society and distribution of its benefits requires an inclusively-crafted policy frame which reconciles the reason of people for self-sacrifice and hope for the happiness of their siblings. Faith and feeling are, therefore, vital to eradicate the arsenal of evil deeds. True bliss springs from the wisdom of human beings who can see others like themselves and move beyond the iron law of self-interests. This is the core essence of conflict transformation. Psycho-social counselling is pro-active, solution-oriented and transformational in nature. It unveils the hidden causes and effects of vices and invents means to address them in the legitimate interest of all sides which is conducive to durable order, justice and peace.