Hadjar Omayon is our mental health counsellor, who has been with us for over 6 months.She engages in both individual and group counselling with clients.
We sat with Hadjar and asked her a few questions about her life in Prague, her road to become a psychologist, and to share some useful tips on how to stay mentally strong in these pandemic times.
Hadjar, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself – how did you land up in Prague?
Actually, I was just passing by Prague on my way to Greece for holidays, but I never made it there! I liked Prague so much that I decided to stay here and settle. I love the architecture, the location of it right in the heart of Europe, but especially the multiculturality. Indeed, the community of expats here made it so easy for me to feel at home- and perfecting my pronunciation of “Na shledanou” definitely helped to put a smile on Czech people’s faces.
As a psychologist, can you tell me what the main motivation was for you to study psychology?
It started when I was a kid, I’ve always encountered many people who shared their story with me. I loved to hear and learn about their lives and what they have been through. Later on, when I studied Marketing and Business, I got to know more about consumer psychology and it even gave me the drive to research about human psychology and how to understand the processes behind people’s attitudes and behaviours.
Can you tell us a bit more about your position as a mental health counsellor-psychologist in Prague Integration? What are your main responsibilities?
I handle individual counselling sessions, which consist of talk therapy using different kinds of theories that are adapted to the client’s situation and needs. It’s teamwork, where both myself and the client are actively processing the emotions and behaviours related to the issues that they experience and that we are both dealing with.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy most is to meet people from different backgrounds and see how different cultures, traditions and countries of residence all affect one’s life. The most rewarding feeling is to watch the progress that the clients are making; their growth gives me a deep sense of professional fulfilment.
Is there any specific field you are interested in? If yes, can you tell us more about it?
I am specialized in Social Psychology so I am more interested in topics related to social interactions, all kinds of relationships (friendship, romantic, with one-self.) I often deal with couple conflicts, especially during this time. It’s quite challenging to manage being in a relationship while not losing yourself in the process and keeping healthy boundaries.
Can you tell us more about the main areas of concern that clients who come to you look for help with?
Well, currently most people are experiencing more anxiety due to the situation in the world. It leads to increased symptoms that differ from one person to the other. Mainly the issues that I deal with lately have been anxiety, depression, relationship problems, work related issues.
Are there any specific issues that foreigners-expats tend today with in the Czech Republic?
Usually it’s about not feeling like they can fit in because of the language barrier and cultural difference. They experience feelings of isolation nowadays, because they can’t connect as much with other people, and the few physical social interactions that they do have are now limited to the cashier at the shop or a barista.
From your point of view, what are the 3 main benefits of individual counselling?
The first one is that you have someone to talk to that is safe and neutral, to whom you can say anything without the fear of being judged or criticized.
Secondly, that you are the one in control of your therapy, and you are proactively involved in it which will bring you a sense of empowerment.
Thirdly, it’s adapted to your current needs and your daily life so it is a fully interactive experience.
Any advice for our expats on how to keep themselves mentally strong?
The main advice I would have for expats here is to try and reach out to the existing communities. Since isolation is the main enemy of expats all around the world, it’s important to have and maintain a support group around you – whether it’s connected to your personal or professional life; online or offline. Another fundamental thing is to prioritize yourself by knowing how to set up healthy boundaries with yourself and others, saying no more often and just being you.