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Sushama Kirtikar



What does a psychotherapist have that religion, or a book on philosophy, or a wise elder does not have? A psychotherapist has about the same amount of gravitas as the others mentioned above, with greater focus on scientific backing. This includes structured education in the field of psychology, years of experience in working with the human psyche, and an understanding of how psychological problems are developed and more importantly sustained. A psychotherapist will be able to identify which problem(s) may apply to you directly, and can be translated into keener insight, motivation to change and actual transformation leading to a sense of contentment.

You go for psychotherapy for individualized treatment that is specific to you and you alone. It does not deal with generalities. What works for someone else may or may not work for you. It is what you may call a customized approach to wellness. It is akin to having a private tutor or private doctor. One qualified individual to give you undivided attention for an uninterrupted hour is indulgence within the realm of decency. The key is the term 'qualified.' Many people believe they are qualified to give others advice on matters of emotions and daily living hurdles. What can be so hard about that? It doesn't take a genius to figure out solutions to such problems. The tongue-in-cheek term for this is 'armchair psychology.' This is not without savoir faire and has its merits. It is not without limitations either: it is after all restricted to a layman's perspective.

A psychotherapist is impartial. Friends, relatives and other helpers are of course extremely well meaning and want only the best for you. That can cause a problem at times. They have a vested interest in you and no matter how hard they might try to be detached it is just not possible. You want an objective third party who will be able to tell you how they see you without reservations or fear of losing your friendship or relationship. That kind of clarity is priceless for moving forward. The psychotherapist also is equipped to look at the whole situation that you present and will attempt to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Psychotherapy helps you shed assumptions, pretenses, denials and biases about yourself and others. It helps you tap into your authentic self and let go of any disingenuous ways. The proverbial peeling the layers of an onion is a freeing of the psyche. One by one, the unhealthy defenses we have put up are unraveled and discarded. I do not mean in a slapdash manner with haste and recklessness, but with careful thought to balance and health.

Psychotherapy facilitates a psychic process within you. Let me reassure you in the words of James Bugental, Ph.D., "Psychotherapy isn't what you think. It isn't a healing of an illness. It isn't guidance from a wise counselor. It isn't the mutual sharing of good friends. It isn't learning esoteric knowledge. It isn't being shown the error of one's ways. It isn't finding a new religion. Psychotherapy isn't what you think … It is about how you think … It is about being helped to see that the change you seek is already latent within you." It is hope with action, in a nutshell.

Sushama Kirtikar, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, can be reached at (813) 264-7114 or e-mail at

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Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran

There are many organizations in the Tampa Bay area that focus on helping special needs children but the one organization that everyone should know about it is STAND (Statewide Advocacy Network on Disabilities Inc.) This not-for-profit organization, which has been around since December 1996, was organized by a group of parents and attorneys to help educate people on their rights.

STAND's purpose it to inform the families of children with disabilities of their rights. It is dedicated to getting a child with a disability the right education that they are entitled to under the law. The three main laws that STAND is concerned with are: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. It focuses on three topics: advocacy, legal rights, and above all, education.

This year, STAND will be hosting SPARC 2007 – Stand Pinellas Accessing Resource Conference. The organization’s goal is to provide parents, teachers, therapist and other professionals with resources that help children with disabilities make achievements in their life. STAND focuses on children with Special Needs and they take this mission very seriously.

This year SPARC 2007 will be held at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Pinellas Park, on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Morgan Fitzgerald is at 6410 118 Ave. N., Largo, FL 33773. Cost for the conference is $25 for pre-registration. That will include one entry to the conference, a lunch ticket and a program.

(Dr. Ram Ramcharran will be a guest speaker at the STAND event. He will be discussing how to better understand and deal with children with special needs. If you have any questions regarding this event, contact Melissa Tremblay, SPARC chairperson at (727) 784-8493 or visit

Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran can be reached at

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