Are you equipped for counselling?

Are you equipped for counselling?

Are you equipped for counselling?

Indian society is beginning to see the inclusion of special persons with physical or mental challenges in mainstream educational institutions, work places, and organisations.

Like all of us, challenged individuals too suffer from emotional trauma, which may or may not be related to their disability. This brings into focus the need for counsellors, psychiatrists, and social workers equipped to counsel challenged persons, so that they are able to understand issues from the point of view of the challenged person, which will enable them to address the issues that crop up.

While there is no programme in the country that includes understanding of special needs as a component of counselling curriculum, Chennai-based Vidya Sagar, (formerly the Spastics Society of India) has launched Special Needs Counselling, a three-month programme (conducted over two days every week at Vidya Sagar) —  ‘Counsellor Education-Disability and Mental Health from January 18 to March 31, 2012.

“Many counsellors do not even know of the impact of many disabilities. This course addresses the issue of vocational, educational and personal adjustment of persons with physical and intellectual challenges in varied environments”, informs Shirin Mammen, HRD and Course Coordinator. Vidya Sagar has  been in existence for over 26 years, working on education and empowerment of persons with special needs.

The course would discuss disability, aging, coping with care givers’ death, school and exam-related issues, societal issues, etc. “The reason many therapists do not feel comfortable working with people with disability is because they haven’t had an educational foundation and clinical experience in it, and so they feel unprepared”, Shirin mentions.

This course focuses on understanding disability and disability issues related to mental health along with the implications of related pertinent factors in counselling, and working through a systemic orientation, in keeping with the rights-based perspective along the lines of the UNCRPD (United Nation Convention for Rights of persons with disabilities)

Besides faculty from Vidya Sagar, experts like Dr Radhika Soundarajan, a practising clinical psychologist who teaches at Saveeta University, and Sivakami, special educator, psychotherapist and family therapist, will be in charge of the course. The course will be held twice a week — on Tuesdays (4 pm to 7 pm) and Saturdays (9 am to 5 pm), with a two-hour practical session on Saturday.

The course fee is Rs 3,000 and is sponsored by the Oil and Natural Gas Company (ONGC). Practitioners in the fields of psychiatry, counselling and social work are eligible to apply for the programme. Filled in forms have to be submitted by the first week of January. Seats have been limited to 15. For further details, contact Shirin Mammen at 9382877073 or email or write to Shirin at Vidya Sagar, 1, Ranjith Road, Kotturpuram, Chennai 600 085.