Mental Health disorders are real, but we don’t talk about it enough in Malaysia. Many struggle from it, but are either afraid or unsure of where and how to seek help. Today, I speak to Mr. Ko Teik Yen, a certified Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Therapist & Teacher who helps individuals battle with the disorder.
1) Tell me about yourself
My name is Mr. Ko Teik Yen and I’m a clinical Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Therapist & Teacher based at Pantai Therapy Centre. I specialise in trauma healing & PTSD, chronic/persistent pain & somatic complaints, phobia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, burnout, stress and other anxiety related disorders.
2) Where did you study at?
My background is in Lifescience and I was in the medical pharmaceutical line for 26 years. I decided to transition into the therapy industry and took up a Clinical Hypnotherapy course at London College of Clinical Hypnosis 10 years ago – from Certificate to Diploma and Advance Diploma level. Since then, I have traveled to many countries to further my understanding of human behaviour and Psychotherapy, which includes the University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre; Centre of Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School and many others. About two years ago, a few of us started a practice at Pantai Kuala Lumpur.
3) Can you tell me a little bit about Mental Health issues and what are some of the causes?
I do not view mental illness as purely a sickness or disease. Human beings are constantly in search for purpose and are constantly pressured to achieve results. We are complex beings and as we search for new purpose, we may get stuck. How we used to approach certain things may sometimes not work anymore, prodding us to learn to deal with things differently. Mental disorder is like an awakening, to point us towards the direction of where and what has gone wrong.
4) Why did you choose to pursue Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy?
The pharmaceutical industry focuses a lot on medicine, but I noticed it was only a small part of healthcare. You don’t get to explore the psychology and social aspects of the complex human body. However, within Psychology, you are able to touch on the conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the emotional aspects. There is a much greater interest within me to understand the bio-psycho-social aspects – to manage illnesses and diseases, which are not restricted to just antibiotics and medication.
5) Can you explain what is Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy?
Essentially, Psychology is the study of human behavior and Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy sits under its umbrella. They are two of the many different ways used to helping people with their thoughts and emotions.
The use many types of psychological techniques, such as communicating with a Psychologist, Psychiatrist or a Counsellor.
Deals directly with an individual’s subconscious mind by inducing him/her to enter a state of relaxation and calm, with their permission. With that, they are able to go back to the past and address underlying issues. When the mind is more open, flexible and a little distant from the problems at hand, they are able to look at it differently.
A combination of Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness intervention is probably the most efficient way to address symptoms of depression and anxiety because it deals with the subconscious thought processes, which is usually the cause of many people’s problems. One session can last for 60 to 90 minutes.
6) Describe your experience thus far as a Hypnotherapist
I have to say, it has been a very satisfying and fulfilling journey, being able to help others become better versions of themselves.
7) Describe one or more memorable patient you’ve attended to, and how you’ve managed to help him/her?
I’ve handled a case of a 46-year old depressed patient on medication. Her battle with the disorder began when she was 19, and from time to time, she would relapse and get out of control. She was referred to me by a Psychiatrist, and I’m very happy to say that she is now learning how to handle her emotions better. Instead of relying on just medication and adjusting the dosages, she is now finally able to deal with her emotions more effectively. In fact, she’s started to look for a job, after so many years!
There is this other 21-year old patient whom is a very talented musician. Classified as perfect pitch at the tender age of 4, she was offered a scholarship by a university to pursue music. However, she unfortunately succumbed to depression last April which led to a hiatus from school and music. She received treatment from me and by November, she started playing the piano again. I’m so glad to see her rebuild her life and not let her talent go to waste.
8) Do you treat only a specific age group?
As long as the individual is not too young. Patients from 10 and above are fine.
9) What is the one thing that makes you want to get up in the morning to go to work?
Doing what I’m passionate about! I’m driven to help individuals live fulfilling lives. One of my career goals is to help a patient, but in more ways than just getting rid and dealing with symptoms. I want to help my patients deal with the underlying issues – what is driving the anger, anxiety and depression.
10) Once someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness, can he/she get better again?
Yes, it’s definitely possible with the right management and approach – from medication, to managing the psychological and social aspects.
11) How does one even begin to tell if he/she is suffering from depression/anxiety etc?
With anxiety, you can almost always identify the symptoms. You’re constantly –
- Constantly anxious
- Heart keeps pounding
- Perpetually tense and restless
- Phobias develop
- Repetitive panic attacks
- Anger is triggered by almost anything
As for depression, you’ll notice –
- Lost of interest towards things and activities you used to love
- Apathetic towards life
- Zero drive and energy
- Constantly feel that there’s no purpose in life
There is also this thing called mask depression whereby depressed/anxious patients are extremely high-functioning. Some of them are very good at suppressing and controlling their emotions. However, they manifest it in other forms like binge drinking alcohol, smoking or even cardiovascular related diseases.
12) Do you treat sleeping problems?
Yes. Insomnia is a symptom of anxiety, depression or both. It can be a result of trauma. I will teach techniques to relax that will help the patient sleep better. Sleeping pills are not a long term solution.
13) When should someone who is feeling depressed decide to seek help?
At the point the disorder affects your function. Otherwise, if they can reach out to their support system (friends and family) and try to find some kind of way to balance their life in terms of recreation to relax, before the condition escalates.
14) What treatment options are available?
If the condition is mild and moderate, then I’d recommend going for the non-medication approach first – which includes various forms of Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy, as well as learning how to regulate our emotions, our thoughts and stabilise our focus of attention.
However, if the case is serious, these individuals would usually need medication to help them stabilise their condition – therefore a Psychiatrist would be the perfect go-to person.
15) What is the difference between various mental health professions?
- Hypnotherapist – Deals directly with an individual’s subconscious mind. Induce him/her to enter a state of relaxation and calm, with their permission. No medication prescription.
- Psychotherapist – Focus extensively on Psychotherapy. Treat emotional and mental suffering in patients behavioral intervention. No medication prescription.
- Psychiatrist – Spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.
- Counsellor – Focus on patient’s concerns and difficulties. Teach how to assist individuals develop an understanding about themselves to make changes in their lives. No medication prescription.