A passionate writer and personality’s reader!
Among thousands of attendees at the Presidential Initiative Summit, the president of the United States at the time Barack Obama named Dr. Naif Al Mutawa as one of the most public influential figures that contributed in paving a discussion path between Muslims and the West. The series of heroic stories written by Dr. Naif under the title of “99 heroes” was one of the first steps that made him an influential and creative figure in many areas. And because he is an academic expert and psychologist in everything related to human psychology, we decided to have a special talk with him to discuss his work and psychological preparation for both the mother and the child to start a new year with a good mental health…
Dr. Naif Al Mutawa is a Kuwaiti psychologist holding a PhD in clinical psychology from Long Island University in New York. He has been a member of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kuwait since 2005, where he teaches communication skills, cognitive therapy, psychology, writing and many other courses. Dr. Al Mutawa has one PhD, three Master’s degrees and three Bachelor’s degrees in various fields including a BA in Clinical Psychology. Founder of the Soor Center for Professional Therapy & Assessment which combines methods of treatment with behavioral evaluation, and a center specialized in the treatment of developmental problems such as autism and “Down Syndrome”. Dr. Naif is also an accredited hypnotist. Forbes has described him as one of the most influential figures in the Arab world.
Why did you choose to specialize in psychology?
My childhood dream was to become a writer but my father advised me to take it as a hobby and to choose another major. When I grew up I found that the closest major to writing was psychology, so I chose it without neglecting my literary ambition in writing.
Do you think psychotherapy is still a taboo in the Arab societies?
Kuwait is considered an exceptional case. After the invasion, the Amiri Diwan focused on educating the society about the resulting problems of the invasion. And what I noticed was that people turned to psychotherapy after the invasion and load it with all their problems, knowing that the psychological problems were the result of the accumulation of many years, but in return it was a positive thing as it pushed people to accept psychotherapy and not to consider it a “taboo”. On the other hand, there was a high need for psychotherapy, and not enough specialists to absorb this need, which led to the granting of licenses to unqualified persons who had damaged the reputation of the psychiatric profession.
I chose to study psychology to benefit my writing by understanding what makes people tick and how they interact with and understand each other.
Who needs to visit a psychiatrist?
Most people who come to me do not have psychological problems but they need help to manage their stress and pressure at work. There are two types of psychotherapy: The psychotherapy that requires medication and the psychotherapy that is based on thinking and behaving for those who are not able to focus, or have problems in their relationship with others. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the best treatments for depression and stress and it gives results similar to those we get from taking pills. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the methods of psychological therapy used in many mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions, and it is based on helping patients recognize and explain their negative thinking, in order to change it into more positive thoughts or convictions.
What is the reason behind your success as a psychologist and what distinguishes you from others in this field?
One of the reasons behind my success is that I am in a constant research and study. I teach in the medical school almost 300 hours a year and in return I study 300 hours. I recently returned from New York after undergoing a 60-hour training course. The only person with an experience similar to mine in the Gulf region is a European lady from Serbia who works for UAE Airlines. Moreover, one of the reasons behind my success is that my interests are not limited to psychology only; I also have a degree in business administration and have established several companies.
What advice can you give us to prepare ourselves for the start of a new business season?
Planning is a very important element in this case, as well as the need to set specific goals to be implemented and the most important thing is to feel the eager need to direct our work.
As a therapist, my task is to transform unhealthy negative emotions to healthy negative ones.
We try to find a way to change how we approach these realities on the road to accepting them, because often it can’t be changed.
Do you believe in Mantra and what is its psychological impact on us?
Yes, I believe in this type of message if it was realistic. That is why in my work I ask my patients to write their negative thoughts on a paper so we can work together on finding positive alternatives. I can’t be the most successful person on earth, but I can be successful and distinguished in my field. This is why, the way of thinking plays a role in influencing how we feel and this helps us manage our relationships with others.
Is there anything we can do to overcome our everyday difficulties and pressures at work?
First, we must change our way of thinking and the way we see our work. The negative way of thinking consists of 4 parts: imposed, non-tolerant, exaggerating things, evaluating people as one entity. The positive way of thinking is: I hope, I will bear, finding alternatives to doing some things that cannot be done, assessing people based on their actions.
What are the foundations of success from your point of view?
Passion is very important: we should ignore the material things in first place and do the work we want. Each individual should know his own abilities and never compare himself to others. We should set achievable goals and give ourselves time to rest, relax and stop thinking about work related matters.
Can we plan our success? Or it is the fruit of a simple coincidence, luck and hard work?
One of my favorite quotes is: “Luck helps the person who is ready for it.” Luck helped me in my life along with my hard work to reach what I want; I never stood still and waited for opportunities. I pursued them and luck helped me.
What is the secret of humor in your marketing campaigns for your clinic?
It is important to communicate with others through multiple ways in order to address all the society segments. Maya Angelou, the famous American writer says: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And the way I follow in teaching and promoting for my clinic is based on making people laugh throughout my ads. This will make them feel closer to me.
How can we take serious issues such as our career future for example, in a more healthy way? Avoid making it our main concern and forget to enjoy our lives?
One must be reassured that opportunities will come and that anxiety and excessive thinking will not make them come. The best ideas I have implemented and the projects I have done, came to me while I was training or walking by the sea.
What is the best cure for failure from your point of view?
Failure is very important, because without it we will never appreciate success. A failure in a particular job does not mean that I am an unsuccessful person. The important part after any failure is to re-evaluate things and change our perception.
What is your philosophy in life?
A person must be steady and flexible at the same time. He should be ready for the things that will come to him. Planning is important, but it is not a sacred text that can’t be modified.
Any final thought?
Pay attention to your children, especially that today social media has changed our world and invaded our lives.