Stability and Self-Control: How the MAI Psychological Service Works

9 April 2020

Stability and Self-Control: How the MAI Psychological Service Works
In October 2018, a therapy room began working at Moscow Aviation Institute. MAI students and staff can ask for help there. The service was in demand, so from February 2020 the staff of psychologists was increased and the psychological service of Moscow Aviation Institute was formed. Its work makes an invaluable contribution to maintaining a positive emotional background among students and university staff.

Elena Aleksandrovna Grischuk, the Head of MAI psychological service, told the university PR department about the work of the psychologists, and gave valuable advice on preserving of innate resources.

How is the work of the psychological service of Moscow Aviation Institute organizing? What has changed for you now, when the university switched to a distance learning mode?

There are three psychologists in the service, and all of them receive patients in different places. We see patients in the hostels at the Fakultetskiy Lane, 10, and at the Festivalnaya street, 4/3, as well as at the Student Cultural Center at Vilisa Latsisa street, 16. The patients can be admitted by appointment. Such dispersal of psychologists was organized with the aim of high convenience for students who live in MAI hostels, located far from the main territory of the university. However, if a person wants to go to a specific psychologist, he can do this, there are no restrictions.

Now, while we are in quarantine, all consultations are held only online. The MAI psychological service has its own page on VKontakte. I conduct educational activities there, post articles on how to cope with stress, what psychological techniques to use, how to motivate ourselves to work in conditions of self-isolation, how to cope with ourselves. Together with colleagues we communicate with those who ask questions in messages. MAI students and staff can also consult with us by phone, WhatsApp or Skype.

In the future we have big plans. Make seminars, trainings, metaphorical and transformational psychological games at the end of quarantine, when we enter standard mode. Also in the future we will conduct part of educational activities in the LMS MAI distance learning system.

Due to the pandemic and quarantine, has the flow of people wishing to seek help grown?

No. But I still write general recommendations related to problems that may arise in the midst of what is happening. As a rule, they are divided into two types: either a person is very panicked and anxious, or vice versa - goes into a state of apathy. I tell how to cope with one and the other condition. And if a person has read a post and wants to clarify something in the comments or face-to-face, then we are actively communicating with him or her. But I cannot say that we have high activity in terms of such requests.

What is the most frequent request from MAI students? For example, stress due to the session?

Sometimes the students come and ask, “what if I have a question about my studies?”. For some reason, many believe that if the service is university, then you can come and ask only the question about study. Absolutely not. A problem with mom, anxiety for a sick grandmother, conflicts with friends, quarreling with someone, unhappy love, difficulties with self-organization - any issue that worries, just doesn't go away, makes you cry, keeps you awake at night, causes unpleasant, depressing and stressful condition is an occasion to come to talk.

Sometimes the cause of the problem is just a lack of information. We talk, I explain how a person works, why he is reacting like that now, how soon it will end. Sometimes you just need to explain that this condition is a natural reaction to some situation. Sometimes you need to help self-organize, because the same session is a really stressful situation, and you need to relate to it correctly, not to perceive it as the end of the world. And in fact, after a few sessions, the students come and say: "I feel better", "it let me go."

How to help someone who is reading your interview now, understands that he is ill, but does not know the reason?

You can not just bring any questions to the MAI psychologist. Sometimes they come and say something like this: “I do not know what to talk about, but I just decided to come.” And this is also normal. We will either unearth the root of the problem and solve it, or spend time with useful communication. There is always something to talk about, because curiosity, the desire to communicate, and learn something new is the most important thing that we expect from our visitors.

Do you gather any statistics? Are there any differences in calls between courses?

Everything is completely confidential. I do not submit anywhere information. Internal statistics are kept only because the psychological service needs to monitor the change in the number of requests both in general, and at the schools of Moscow Aviation Institute. This is necessary in order to more actively raise awareness in those departments where few people come from. This does not mean that there are no problems. This means that there are people who know about the psychological service.

Of course, there are differences in the course appeals - each has its own alarm zones. For example, at the very beginning of training, a freshman often addresses adaptation issues: separation from the family and the usual circle of friends, you need to somehow merge into a new life. The second semester of the first year is about how to survive a fail at the exam and the drop in the status of an excellent student in the first midterm. In the third year often raise questions about how to find yourself after leaving the university, how to be realized in the profession, how to present yourself to the employer. The fourth and fifth year, master's program - questions about how to have an interview, how to present yourself correctly, how to cope with anxiety during an interview and get out of a stupor, because “I am rooted to the ground, they ask me, but I am stupid and I cannot answer simple questions."

How often does university staff turn to you?

Much less than students. I think this is due to the fact that not everyone knows that we are focused not only on working with students.

Please give some general recommendations that would be useful to most in conditions of self-isolation?

It is important to understand that self-isolation, quarantine is a temporary measure. Nobody isolates us for a year, two, or ten years. We cannot say for sure the date when this will end, but we know for sure that this is temporary.

Our main task now is to preserve our resources. Because otherwise, when isolation ends, we may not have the strength to start doing something abruptly. We must constantly adjust ourselves, calm down, abstract ourselves from this situation, not give in to panic, not be included 24/7 in the study of some hysterical and panic messages.

Keeping our emotional calm works for us. Because immunity depends on our mood. If we are in an emotional decline, immunity drops, and the chance of getting sick increases. Of course, there should not be a careless state of “I do not care, I will not get sick”. But a panic state should not be allowed.

We wash our hands, ventilate the room. And it is a must. When we are at home, the regime must also be there: we get up on the alarm clock, devote a certain amount of time to classes or writing a diploma, sports warm-up, proper nutrition.

And do not relax: do not unbrushed for days, do not chew everything from the fridge. Today, there is practically no external control, and everything is based on our internal. This is a good situation in order to engage in self-organization, work on ourselves, and to check how mature you may think you are, and how much we can control our lives. 
PR Department

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