“Before we go any further, I would like to say that I’m deeply honoured that you’re here for this psychological assessment, which could possibly become treatment.” Laura looked from one patient to the other. The Air conditioners hummed gently in the background. “Ivy,” she turned the full glare of her gaze on the young lady who was still frowning, “if you still want to leave, this would be the right time to, ‘cos once we begin, there is no going back.”
Kemi winced. She knew she wasn’t the one being addressed, but why was the CMD making it seem like they were about to be arrested and locked away in prison for a very long time?
From her position, Ivy looked like she was considering the opportunity. “I would love to see what this combo therapy yields, just for curiosity sakes. I’m staying.”
Laura smiled. “Curiosity in this case, is a good thing.” She turned to Kemi. “Don’t worry dear, it won’t be half as scary as you think. Truth is, it’s never easy to face one’s demons.”
Kemi gasped. Was the Doctor also a mind reader?
“No dear, I’m no mind reader. I’m only a professional at making connections between what I see on your face and what I think is going on in your head.”
Kemi was visibly shaken. This wasn’t happening.
“And you Mangodo, why are you trying so hard to keep your face expressionless?”
Mangodo smiled. “Because I certainly don’t want my mind read. You might frown at the weirdness of its pages.”
Laura smiled again. “Okay! I see we’re getting on very well. Before we proceed, I would like to introduce you to our team. Look to your left please.”
All three of them looked to their left, as two men and a young woman walked towards them.
“You’ve already met Nero, my very good friend. You can’t get anyone better in the field of neurology, anywhere in this country.”
The professor smiled at them with a certain cunningness.
“And next to him is Father Oseluesele Olus, a Catholic Priest, who is also Professor of Psycho Spirituality at the African Institute of South Africa, in Johannesburg.”
The Priest had a kinder face than the elderly professor. He looked like a natural counselor, with his gentle eyes and soft wrinkles.
“The other lady in the room besides me is, Sophie Mmarete. She majored in Clinical Psychology, with an added expertise in Hypnotic Therapy, at the University of Ibadan.”
Sophie was an astonishing beauty to behold. Kemi felt she looked too young to be a clinical psychologist. Weren’t they supposed to be much older?
Laura looked from Kemi to Mangodo. “More importantly, I must tell you that we shall record every finding during these therapy sessions. We shall of course not include your real names in our documentation. It’ll be more like recording patterns, progresses and regresses, and the likes.”
“So you’re basically using us as lab rats?” Ivy asked, the frown back on her face.
“More like lab assistants,” Mangodo corrected.
Ivy shot Mangodo a hard stare. Why won’t the doctor simply mind his own business?
“I understand how you feel, and that’s why you have to read through these terms and conditions carefully -“; Laura handed each of them a file, “- after which, you may append your signatures. Other than that, we cannot proceed.”
Kemi looked quickly at the terms and conditions of each of the sessions, ‘be as sincere as you can, hold nothing back, you must be present for all sessions and try to cooperate with the therapists, carry out assignments, even when they may not be convenient…’ They didn’t seem like things she couldn’t do.
“Do I get to be mentioned as part of the team conducting the research?” Mangodo asked, raising his eyes off the file he was hurriedly trying to study.
“Not in this case my boy.” It was Prof. Nero who answered the question. He had found himself an adjoining seat, facing the patients, just like the other therapists. “You do realise that you can’t be a patient and a doctor at the same time.”
“No buts. You know how this works. The research must be as objective as possible. Besides, if this goes as planned, you’ll have loads of materials to pursue your own research in the months and years to come. And your being part of the process will help you understand just how this came to be done.”
Mangodo decided not to push the matter any further. This was going to be exciting.
“While you’re going through the files, I’ll try to explain what we’re about to do.” Laura said. “We shall be combining known therapies in a manner that hasn’t been done before. Take psychodynamic therapy for instance. Though it is primarily used to treat depression and other serious psychological disorders, especially in persons who have lost meaning in their existence and have difficulty forming or maintaining personal relationships, it hasn’t been combined with Psycho-Spiritual Integrative Therapy (PSIT) before…”
“Wait a minute please,” Kemi pleaded, interrupting Laura’s flow. “What exactly is psychodynamic therapy.”
“Oh, pardon me Kemi, ” Laura apologised. “Psychodynamic Therapy is a form of very detailed talk therapy based on the theories and principles of psychoanalysis. And of course, you know that psychoanalysis involves a system of psychological theory and therapy which aims to treat mental disorders of any kind by investigating the relationship and interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation, free association, and so on.”
“So what has spirituality got to do with any of this?” Ivy asked.
“If I may?” Father Oseluesele cleared his throat, and looked towards Laura, who gave him an affirmative nod. “Many psychologists today agree that not everything can be explained through physical mental constructs. In fact, psychology tries to understand the way the mind works, and our experiences basically determine how we react to people and situations around us. We cannot remove spirituality from our general experience as human beings. Hence, PSIT tries to improve quality of life of a person by emphasizing the role spirituality plays in improving mental health. In fact, scholars like Dr. Sharon G. Mijares, believe that, when viewed through a spiritual approach, trauma can be seen as an opportunity for a great leap in consciousness”.
“Na wah!” Ivy mused. “Do we have to be psychologists before we begin the process?”
“They are simply trying to cover the basics, so that you folks don’t get lost.” Mangodo remarked.
“With all this talk about psychology and whatever else it is we’re talking about, I’m pretty much lost already.” Ivy wasn’t backing down.
“We are so sorry for sounding so boring,” Sophie said. Her voice immediately warmed the room. “Because of the nature of what we’re doing, and how very important these findings will be to all of us in this room, and the many persons who are depressed everywhere in the world, we need to give you guys these background infos so that you won’t feel like a lab rat.”
Ivy smiled for the first time. “Oh!”
“Oh yes dear.”
“I’m not a religious person though. Ivy added.
“Don’t worry. You don’t need to be religious to be spiritual, Ivy. I’m sure Father Oseluesele can tell you all about that.”
“You’re very right Sophie.” Fr. Oseluesele said. “Spirituality basically seeks to erase the division between mind and spirit. It tries to remove the barriers that make it almost impossible for us to be at one with our souls. There is an area of study in which psychology and spiritual experiences overlap. It’s known as transpersonal psychology. This field offers a psychospiritual perspective on health, development, and therapy.
“Now that we’ve heard from everyone, can we begin?” Laura asked.
“What about Professor Nero?” Mangodo asked. “Why is a neurologist here?”
“A teacher is not respected by his student.” Nero fired back. “You didn’t ask why a clinical psychologist is here just now, boy, did you?”
Laura smiled at their banter. “Sophie? You first.”
“I am here because clinical psychology broadly focuses on diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, one of which is depression. Also don’t forget that some repressed memories cannot be revealed except through hypnosis.”
Nero smiled wryly. “Well, I’m here cos I love all of you, and I want you to be better. I am trained to investigate, diagnose and treat brain or spinal disorders. And don’t forget that there are many overlaps between the fields of neurology and psychiatry. Above all, I’m always interested in positive scientific research.”
“Let’s begin o.” Ivy yelled.
Somewhere else, many hours later, Senator Yuri sat at one of the VIP tables inside Sheratone Hotels and Suits. He had been waiting over an hour for Lady Ivy. Her phone lines were switched off. Who did she think she was? Keeping a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria waiting in a hotel for over an hour? Just as he felt he had had it, a young lady walked up to his table.
It was Ivy.
To be continued.
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019.