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Your background? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
When Piyali Misquitta was in class VIII, her father sent her for a “career test” to check her strengths and areas of interest. The test, administered by a psychologist, did help Misquitta discover what she wanted to do, but perhaps not in the way it was intended to. “I sat there and thought, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to be the psychologist doing those tests’,” she says.
Misquitta’s father is a psychiatrist who worked with the Indian Air Force. As a schoolgirl, she often used to wait outside his office so he could accompany her home. “I would hear the ends of conversations, as his patients walked out. My father never underestimated my capacity to understand, and would explain how ‘depression was not just being sad, but being sad for long’. So I realized from a very early age that mental problems are not blown out of proportion or invented. They require special help and skills to deal with,” she says.
What did you study?
Misquitta graduated in psychology from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, in 2010, and followed this up with a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Mumbai’s SNDT University in 2012.
She also got a postgraduation diploma in counselling psychology from Xavier’s Institute of Counselling in 2013.
What was your career path?
Her first job was as a counsellor at St Mary’s Multipurpose High School in Vashi (2012-13).A year later, she moved to the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital as a clinical psychologist at their Centre for Learning Disabilities.
At BYL Nair hospital’s Learning Disabilities Clinic, appointments have to be made through schools, primarily government-run schools, months in advance.
What is your typical day?
Misquitta works three days a week at the clinic, from 9am-5pm. In the evenings, and on other days, she heads to mindCraft, a mental health centre in Bandra.
“It’s hectic work—tests like the Woodcock-Johnson test—which identifies the strengths and weaknesses in cognitive abilities—that have to be administered, are complicated ones,” she says.
Misquitta says more women seek counselling, for relationships, anxiety and depression. “Men come in too, mainly when they feel something is seriously wrong,” she says.
An analytical mind to see the different parts of the person and put them together.
The biggest challenge:?
The work can be emotionally draining. “You are constantly dealing with negativity, so in that sense it is very important to have your support system in place. It’s a profession where a lot of people burn out soon,” she says.
What are your achievements?
“Having patients ask for me specifically at MindCraft. I have been able to build a private practice and it’s not an opportunity many people of my age and experience level get.”