Call for Applications: MA in Counseling Psychology

Dear All,

Call for application for enrollment in Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MCP) has been announced for the academic session 2017-2019 under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences(FOHSS), Tribhuvan University.

Prospective students can find necessary information attached (admission notice & form).

Admission Notice MCP 2017 F_modified.pdf

The wait continues…


Hundreds of families and the relatives of the missing persons still continue to wait for their loved ones. It has been more than a decade that they are living with ambiguity, the families want an answer on the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Expressing Solidarity with the families on the occasion of International Day of the Disappeared 2016.

Ram Kumar Bhandari talking with a journalist.
Main characters of the drama Aadha Satya about the families of missing persons.
After a show, families expressing their reflections.
A Child waiting for a missing parent to come back!

Living with Ambiguity

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Gilda Radner

mother showing a pic of her sonA mother of missing showing the photo of her son that she carries all the time hoping to find him some day.

Life surprises us with ambiguities of many sorts. Not all ambiguities are delicious in nature. Some are very painful and long lasting. Some, of course, might be exciting, temporary and teach us lessons in life. Being able to accept and live with ambiguity can be a great strength.

The ambiguity of loss is one of the most painful and difficult ones to deal with as it is unclear and ones who are facing them swing between hope and despair most of the times. Hundreds of thousands of relatives around the world are living with ambiguity about the state of their loved ones whom they have lost due to armed conflict, natural disasters, accidents, migration, etc. On International Day of the Disappeared, marked every year on August 30, missing persons are publicly remembered and solidarity is strongly expressed to the families for their right to know the fate of their loved ones.

Psychologist Pauline Boss calls the phenomenon of living with ambiguity of loss when a person is physically absent but psychologically present as ‘Leaving without Good Bye’. Family members are often hopeful of their return some day or at least finding out what actually happened to them even after decades of disappearance.

In Nepal, around 1350 people are still missing from the time of people’s war (1996-2006). Families are still searching for the answers about the fate of their loved ones. Parents hope to see their children back to support them in an old age, wives still believe themselves to be married and not-widows, and children are equally ambivalent about the status of their missing father/mother. Wives pray and do fasting for their husbands’ longevity on the occasion of teej and other religious occasions although they do not know where they are. In case of missing from other phenomenon such as natural disasters, accidents, and migration, families presume such people to be dead after certain period of time, then, they carry out certain final life-cycle rituals according to their cultures & religions and they move on with their lives. For ones missing in relation to armed conflict, there is no basis for performing the final rituals as it could be seen as betrayal and abandonment of hope so, the ambiguity is stronger and long-term. The closure is not attainable as it occurs in normal circumstances which is often expected by the society.

Families remain confused and in dilemma. People cannot make sense of what is happening and cannot find the meaning or get the sense of coherence. Without meaning and coherence, they can’t find hope to move forward in their lives. As a result, both coping mechanisms and grieving processes are immobilized. These are the effects of the ambiguous loss which cannot be judged as pathological as clinicians might view it as some of the effects look like the symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. However, the risk of developing clinical pathology must not be undermined in the long run. The impact and results of support programs for the families have shown that community-based and local approaches are better than the clinical interventions such as individual counseling/therapy. The interventions that reinforces the new relationships and social network, and that focuses on utilizing their own resilience & resources and developing tolerance for ambiguity have found out to be effective in terms of mental health and psychosocial support.

Living with ambiguity is difficult but developing tolerance can become great strength in this ever-changing world around us. Lack of closure and not knowing can be embraced gracefully.


#NepalQuake After a Week


A week ago on April 25, 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal causing the large scale damage and casualties. The most affected districts are Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Ramechhap. It is the biggest earthquake in Nepal since 1934 (1990 BS) 80 years ago. Over 6,200 people are known to have died as a result, and many others are injured, homeless and displaced. There is a humanitarian crisis and many people are still awaiting for relief. Aftershocks are still being felt, latest this afternoon, so, people are still fearful and worried about their safety. Many people have not only lost their lives, homes and safety. They have been also mentally affected and the consequences will unfold in the days to come, immediately or soon after.  People are resilient by nature and not everyone who experienced a disaster will develop mental health or psychological problems. However, MHPSS support can play crucial role in promoting psychological well-being and preventing adverse psychological impact/results. Psychological first aid along with relief support for basic needs (tarpaulins, blankets, food and utensils) can prevent the psychological damage of Nepali people.


Heroism and My Heroes

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. –Arthur Ashe

Hero is a person who is distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility and strength often at the face of adverse and challenging circumstances. We often idealize of heroes portrayed in movies and media with glamour and persona which is far from reality. Very rarely we encounter the cases of ordinary people who have done much to the service of others. I present to you here some of the such representative heroes:

Dinesh KC, taxi driver who returned huge sum of money (500K) to the owner who had mistakenly forgot in his cab.

Binod Shahi, a humble youth from Kathmandu, has been relentlessly working towards educating and serving the remote and very backward society in Upper Dolpa region of the HImalayas since 2005.

Dorje Gurung, an international teacher following an painful experience in Qatar comes back to Nepal to give back to less privileged children like he was before getting the opportunity for education which changed his life for better. He is now serving as Education Program Director at Community Members Interested (COMMITTED),

So, it is important to take notice and appreciate heroism around us. We must also remember to learn from heroes surrounding us in our environment which will ultimately help us in exploring the potential that lies within each one of us to let it manifest for greater good. People like ourselves when we act and speak up for our values can make meaningful and big differences in a long run. We all have potential for heroism, we need to take action at right time for right reasons.

We all have our own heroes in our mind. Can you think of five persons whom you consider as heroes who have significantly influenced your life? They could be ones still living or passed away. Let me share about four persons whom I consider as heroes for their deeds and way of being who have influenced me deeply.

My Grandfather – Macha Kaji Maharjan. For his love and faith in me. For optimism and resilience he showed throughout his life. He is no more with us today but he still lives in my heart and am forever grateful towards him.

Ayan Bahadur Shrestha. A Senior Nepalese psychologist in his mid-80s is an inspirational person whom I greatly respect. He is leading peaceful retired life. Nevertheless, he is still active in writing books on psychology and continues to provide guidance and support to juniors who go seeking to him.

Brandon Kohrt. A compassionate psychiatrist and medical anthropologist committed in improving mental health and psychosocial services in South Asia. He has worked in Nepal with the mission to provide culturally-appropriate and sustainable mental health care to the most vulnerable population from rural Nepal.

Jamuna Shrestha. A senior counselor, trainer and clinical supervisor. She has worked with refugees since 1991, supporting them from their initial arrival through their third country resettlement process. She provides supervision support to the counselors and have been supporting survivors of sexual abuse, sexual gender based violence and tortured especially, women and children.

The Heroic Imagination, a project led by psychologist Phil Zimbardo might also be interesting to check out:

If you have to follow someone, follow because of what s/he stands for, follow because of what s/he represents.

That way when s/he is lost, which can happen, or is gone, which happens to every one of us sooner or later, then you’ll still have a path!

– from Dorje Gurung