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Subject: A series in which SGI members discuss their approach to their
profession Counselors: A Source of Hope
A series in which SGI members discuss their approach to their profession
Counselors: A Source of Hope
Tetsuko Mochizuki, from Tokyo, Japan, has been a nurse for over 30 years. After
gaining experience working with elderly patients with various types of
illnesses, she became involved with alcohol dependency rehabilitation.
Anna Ricci, born and raised in Italy, first earned her medical degree in 1988
before returning to graduate school to gain a license to become a psychiatrist.
After working as a family doctor and gaining experience in an emergency ward,
she was put in charge of the drug dependency rehabilitation team.
How did you become involved in dependency rehabilitation?
Tetsuko: I was raised in an environment where my father was hearing-impaired and
my mother struggled with bipolar disorder. I couldn't afford to attend high
school, so I decided to study assistant nursing at a school where I could work
and study at the same time. After graduating from high school evening classes, I
went on to attend a formal nursing school where I got my nursing license. I
worked in the general ward while supporting my mother. The experience of caring
for my mother made me realize that properly caring for patients involves caring
about the patient's family members, too. After 20 years in the general ward, I
began working at a psychiatric hospital, and have been working there for the
past 14 years.
Anna: My decision to become a doctor and then a specialist in psychiatry was
formed when I was young, when I knew various people who were experiencing
psychiatric problems or using drugs. As I began to practice Buddhism, I
naturally began to become more focused on this career path, and to feel a sense
of mission about it.
What aspect of your work do you find most rewarding?
Anna: Even after many years of professional involvement in the clinical
psychiatric and psychotherapeutic world, I still find deep satisfaction in
developing a therapeutic relationship with every patient, based on empathy. I
also work on pathological addiction. I enjoy the leadership role that comes with
carrying out successful interventions, as well as developing good communication
among the team and managing the tensions that can arise and channeling them
toward better cooperation.
Tetsuko: It makes it worthwhile when I see my patients back in society working
healthily and happily. I also find it rewarding when patients smile and say,
"I'm glad I talked to you. I feel much more relieved now," and I know that they
are feeling more hopeful.
How serious a problem is addiction in your society, and how significant are the
efforts of professionals who are tackling this problem?
Tetsuko: Social impairment due to alcohol consumption is becoming an
increasingly serious problem in Japan. Alcohol consumption is often linked to a
variety of social problems at home and in the workplace, such as domestic
violence and crime, and is also seen to be the primary cause of accidents and
solitary death. According to recent studies, about 23 percent of people who
commit suicide in Japan suffer from problems related to alcohol, such as alcohol
Keeping in mind that alcohol dependency is a type of drug dependency, we can
treat it as a psychological disorder. I feel it is necessary to offer support so
that the patient is able to gain accurate information about their problem and
realize the need for treatment so that he or she is able to reflect on his or
her life and start anew. At the same time, I believe my mission is also to
support the patient's family members and offer a source of hope and courage for
that person to continue living.
Anna: The problem of pathological addiction is a complex and multifaceted one
that affects various age groups, including youths in their very early teens. It
develops through the indiscriminate consumption of many different kinds of new
synthetic drugs in clubs and raves, alongside an increase in the use of cocaine
and cannabis derivatives. Because addiction is a multifaceted problem, it is
important for the drug dependency workers to work in a multidisciplinary way,
dealing with the medical, psychological, psychiatric and social aspects of the
problem. It is important to note that all treatments, including those involving
pharmacological medicine, have their foundation in the therapeutic relationship.
This unquantifiable aspect of the treatment is also less immediately visible,
but it is decisive for the success of the treatment. In other words,
relationships can cure!
What elements of Buddhist philosophy are most useful to your day-to-day work?
Tetsuko: In Buddhism, we believe that each person possesses the Buddha nature. I
sincerely pray for and encourage my patients with the belief that each of them
possesses that power within themselves to transform themselves for the better.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda once said, "Life is not a conglomeration of
mechanical parts. People are not things . . . That makes the role of care even
more critical--care in the form of kind and supportive words, in the form of a
friendly, smiling face, in the form of a good and patient listener. It is
important to help patients find courage, joy and a will to live." Every day, I
take these words to heart as I work with my patients. I try to put myself in the
patient's family's shoes and always keep in mind the Buddhist concept of
compassion--removing suffering and giving joy.
Anna: Buddhist philosophy has taught me to respect every individual and to
believe in their potential, regardless of their circumstances and appearances,
which are often, in these kinds of contexts, truly onerous and in which it is
difficult to imagine a favorable outcome. However, I persevere with conviction
in the possibility of change. It is often I who am amazed at the results!
What do you feel is the potential role of family members and close friends of
people who suffer from addiction?
Anna: Young people affected by addiction are "sick" as regards their
relationships to themselves and others; they are devoid of true bonds because,
unfortunately, during adolescence, these young people create ties with
substances that affect the development of relationships which will in time
replace parental ones. Often if there is a dysfunctional or disintegrated
family, it will manifest a certain "evaporation" of parental functions--parents
more worried about being loved by their children than about their children's
upbringing. For this reason, our way of working is to bring together the family
in order to help reconstruct its roles, functions and tasks and emancipate the
family system from relationships that "do harm." This allows the individuals
involved to develop themselves and integrate themselves back into society.
Tetsuko: Just listening to what the patient has to say and trying to understand
their suffering, helps relieve their anxiety. Thinking together of ways in which
the patient can live without drinking is also very helpful. I believe the kind
of encouragement that assures the patient that he or she is not alone in the
world is what brings out the courage and hope to live.
What kind of advice can you give to youth who are struggling to overcome
Anna: Whether explicitly or not, my intention and that of my team toward all
users is to help them become free from fear--the fear, for instance, of not
knowing how to live without having at the center of one's life a mind-altering
substance. Living this way may be difficult for them, but the alternative is
ultimately even more complicated and intolerable. We try to help people overcome
the fear associated with addiction and trust the person who is trying to support
them until, even if with some trepidation, often gritting their teeth and
sometimes at the risk of relapsing, they challenge themselves to take the first
step toward the joy of self-worth.
Tetsuko: People possess infinite potential. I'd like to say to them: You will
definitely overcome your addiction, so there is no need to feel rushed.
Everything in life has meaning. Please appreciate the fact that you were able to
endure such a valuable struggle, and consider it your chance to change for the
better, reflecting upon yourself. You possess the power to heal yourself.
Remember that you are never alone and that there are many people out there who
are willing to offer a helping hand.
Thank you very important to support oe of my members that is suffering .I very appreciate this guidance !
Aa always in our site I find answers !
thank again !