Zara Maqbool

  • I remember being in class 9 when I met my friend’s older brother, who was visiting on his college summer break. I was sitting on the ground on a hot summer day waiting to be picked up after school when I felt a shadow blocking the sun, and when I looked up, I saw a tall man smiling down at ...

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  • If I say that my life has been a roller coaster since my parents decided to consummate their marriage more than four decades ago, it would be a very fair statement. Let me also add that I only rode a roller coaster once in my life, and it was a mini ride, yet the experience was enough to make me ...

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  • September is the suicide prevention awareness month for suicide which is ‘an act of killing oneself.’ Over the last few years of my practice, I have worked with quite a few clients who had suicide ideation which means thoughts or ideas around suicide, and those with intent who had ...

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  • A question I always ask a cli­ent in therapy is when she was a child and if some­thing caused her distress, who would she seek comfort from? Some say it’s their mother, father, or an older sibling, and many say that it’s no one. Since becoming a ther­apist and amongst my ...

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  • A question I always ask a client in therapy is when she was a child and if something caused her distress, who would she seek comfort from? Some say it’s their mother, father, or an older sibling, and many say that it’s no one. Since becoming a therapist and amongst my personal relations, I ...

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  • Yesterday I met with a friend of mine who has recently been married and was experiencing verbal and emotional abuse by her textbook narcissistic husband. I noticed that my first impulse was to tell her to placate him and take a husband-pleasing stance to diffuse the situation. I caught myself in ...

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  • Being a therapist is as tricky as walking a tightrope in the circus. The client expects a bag of ‘solutions’ for every relational difficulty they are experiencing in their life and an implicit expectation of the therapist having an instant answer to all the ‘why’ in their psyche. ‘Why do ...

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  • We live in an interdependent relational world whereby the virtue of the relationship we are in, we are expected to fulfil certain rights of that relationship that are primarily rooted in values such as respect, trust, physical love, caregiving, loyalty, and so on.What are some of these rights? ...

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  • I sometimes feel that I have signed up for a profession where inadvertently I sometimes end up hurting clients for whom I am meant to be a healer of sorts although that’s not how I recognise myself. If the client’s traumatic flight response doesn’t make her terminate therapy in the face of ...

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  • In my work, more often than not I come across a client who is experiencing oscillating cycles of sadness and anger within and is anxious and exhausted. After fighting for a few or more years to turn her life around to the fantasy of life she had envisioned she had wanted; she eventually starts ...

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  • According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a theory of motivation, following physiological and safety needs are the need for love and belonging. We all need to feel cared for and experience a sense of belonging to others. There is a need to have at least one safe figure that can be ...

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  • Trauma isn’t unfamiliar to me and I have been on the road to healing for a few years now. I keep hurting and I keep healing and I am beginning to understand that in order to process pain, I have to experience pain. It’s overwhelming at times to experience the intolerable feelings and despite ...

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  • A Pakistani husband’s most common narrative about his wife is that she is ‘nagging and controlling.’ There are countless memes and TikTok videos that are created at the expense of this pestering creature called a wife; the villain of their story and circulated amongst the poorly-controlled ...

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  • Processing is a familiar and commonly used word used by any individual who has the desire to be self-aware, doesn’t shy away from paying attention to his emotions and invests in his mental health. I found the understanding of what processing means quite limiting and misguided for most people. ...

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  • I came across a quote by Khalil Gibran today that said, ‘Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.’ I found this to be so profound and true and it made me realise how so many relationships that start at a great connection fall apart because of ...

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  • The ‘self’, ‘I’, and Freud’s ‘ego’ is the conscious part of the personality that interacts with the external social and physical world through subjective perception. The ‘self’ is imagined to navigate life from a personal point of view, using past experiences as a reference point ...

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  • My biggest struggle; personally and professionally has been planting the seed of containment within, and nurturing it so it can grow into a blossoming tree. Currently, I have a love-hate relationship with practicing containment as I can experience two powerful forces within me; one that is fast and ...

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  • In my years of practice; more often than not, a client comes in whose presenting issue is debilitating anxiety accompanied by the narrative; ‘I get too attached to others and I am too needy.’ There is shame around the overwhelming need to connect to the ‘other’ and the helplessness of being ...

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  • I asked my therapist friend who has been practicing for more than three decades in the UK if I needed antidepressants. I was surprised to hear that he had only suggested antidepressants to two or three clients in all his years of practice and didn’t believe that I needed them because of my ...

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  • Do I greet you like I used to before ‘it’ happened and say, hello uncle? Or do I just say hello because Ami and baba want me to greet you and do not realise that I have stopped calling you uncle. Even now when I am older and sometimes have to face you, I cannot call you uncle. I was ten when ...

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  • Almost everyone has secrets; some darker than others, some a shade lighter. Some stay with the individuals, whereas many times, knowingly or unknowingly, others become entangled in the dark web of secrets that push people into a complex role of a secret keeper. Today, I want to discuss parents’ ...

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  • My girlfriends keep reminding me that having entered the 40s and gradually heading towards the frightening 50s, where apparently I will officially hit the bracket of, ‘old age’ and can no longer call myself middle aged, (although according to google I can), the only way to slow this process ...

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  • Rape is a sexually violent act in which the victim gets caught up in a trauma vortex that takes years and years to escape. A single incident of rape has the potency to deeply affect its victim at multiple levels; with short-term effects and long-term ones that encompass a constellation of drastic ...

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  • Last week, I met my British friend and his partner who lives in East Sussex in a quaint little beautiful English town. Most of us in Pakistan idealise and hold the ‘white race’ in awe. Maybe it stems from being ruled by the British for so many decades or it’s the ‘brown skin complex’ but ...

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  • Sometimes I feel that I am going in circles when I bring up issues that most women in Pakistan experience time and again. I, an ‘educated’ and ‘empowered’ woman, a minority in my country, despite having a voice, am reminded of my gender and its limitations, which sometimes almost makes me ...

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  • I was recently asked if a client is important to a therapist beyond the hour of therapy and if it was true, then how for example, does a therapist—even if a client is crying his eyes out—end the session at the given time.The therapeutic relationship between a client and therapist is unique and ...

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  • Many men and women are stuck in unhappy marriages and in our society, it would not be wrong to say that marriage is a dead-end of sorts and symbolises a relationship that is destined to last as long as one is alive. They are stuck or unable to leave because of multiple factors like children, ...

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  • More often than not, I am asked about what psychotherapy really is. How does talking and listening to someone in an hour help them to resolve their mental health issues and change their lives?There are a lot of preconceived ideas around what a typical therapy session looks like. Well, for starters, ...

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  • Ever since we are children, we either ask questions or we demand answers and the process continues throughout into our adult life. The irony is that most of us ask questions for the pretence; we are seeking an authentic answer which means a true opinion of another, whereas the reality is that ...

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  • My older brother Omer asked me today, ‘why can we not adjust?’ He considers adjustment as an acceptance of whatever life pushes towards us, if I understand correctly. If life throws lemons, he believes we should make lemonade. I don’t necessarily completely agree with this ...

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