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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UAE Portrait of a Nation: A relationship counsellor who is an advocate of kindness

Dr Laila Al Helaly moved to Abu Dhabi from Saudi Arabia in an aim to help more people overcome obstacles that hinder a healthy family life.

Dr Laila Al Helaly, a family therapist, founded Kalimatna Al Hilwa (Our Loving Words). Christopher Pike / The National
Dr Laila Al Helaly, a family therapist, founded Kalimatna Al Hilwa (Our Loving Words). Christopher Pike / The National

One kind word could save a marriage, that’s the simple doctrine Dr Laila Al Helaly teaches the women who seek her counsel.

A specialist in familial relationships, Dr Helaly, a Saudi national, works closely with people to develop their social capacity and understanding to build a healthy family life.

“I decided to open a family counselling centre in Riyadh, which focused on solving marital issues and problems of adolescent girls and offering pre-marital counselling”.

There she received a lot of support from the Saudi government, ministries and the media for helping to heal many broken families.

Her passion for helping others led her to Abu Dhabi where she has also begun campaigning for women’s empowerment and worked on spreading her message of how words can impact people’s well-being.

“Women are my main targets, I believe that they are the core of society and so by educating and empowering them we can change society for the better” says Dr Helaly.

She turned her focus to women’s empowerment due to the increase in divorce rates in the region.

Dr Helaly believes the reason behind this increase is a lack of understanding between couples, and “the fact that they do not fully comprehend the proper foundations of a marriage”, which she says are communication, forgiveness and respect.

Her counselling focuses on helping individuals rid themselves of obstacles that can hinder the building of a healthy family life.

“Spouses like to keep a record of one another’s mistakes and shortcomings, they forget that they represent a united front rather than two independent individuals so that each party ends up doing what it pleases without taking the other into consideration,” she says.

“One kind word can be dictate whether a couple will choose to separate or stay together.”

That mentality lead to the foundation of “Kalimatna Al Hilwa” (Our loving words).

Inspired by her late mother, the campaign aims to raise awareness of how words can impact people's lives and well-being. It also works to eliminate hate speech and promote kindness through lectures and workshops, led by Dr Helaly.

“We encourage individuals to converse in kind and respectable dialogue, we condemn hatred and violent speech, which will eventually change lives and hopefully can set an example for the next generation” says Dr Helaly.

More than 10,000 people between the ages of eight to 80 have participated in the campaign since it launched four years ago.

Nine months ago she decided to move to Abu Dhabi in an attempt to reach more people from different backgrounds.

“There is a greater opportunity for my campaign to prosper and to influence many individuals from all background as this wonderful country has the capability to cater to such projects”.

With the assistance of Haifa Al Mubarak — who organises lectures and training sessions through her business Knowhow for Management Consulting and Training — they began tackling issues such as divorces, bullying in school and the impact of hate speech on the security of society and empowering young women.

Thus far their efforts have been well received by academics and professionals in the UAE.

“One of my most successful moments here in Abu Dhabi was at an event we host at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. More than 150 teachers and students attended the lecture, which was focused on how kind words can change the methods of teaching” said Dr Helaly.