January 18, 2011
If you need a pick-me-up today, something to inspire you, maybe this will do the trick:
Ishita Sanyal is founder of the Calcutta-based grassroots mental health group, Turning Point, and an avid promoter and proselytizer on behalf of a social therapeutic approach to mental health. On a subcontinent where there are only 600 practicing clinical psychologists and a devastating shortage of mental health services, Ishita advocates for a group/community-based, performance therapeutic practice everywhere she goes. She recently registered “Social Therapy India” as the official organizational platform in India.
Ishita has introduced therapy games with mothers and children struggling with rigid social roles and rules. Mothers tend to watch others play, for example, but not play themselves. Performance helps them take the state, she reports. And in her group therapy work at Turning Point, Ishita reports how the improv work has helped her “discover new capacities of the clients, simultaneously as they discover new capacities in themselves.” She describes, for example, a young woman who rarely spoke with others. “As she struggled to perform in the dramatic play,” says Ishita, “and as the group showed its appreciation by enthusiastically applauding, there was a change in her performance… After some time, she began for the first time to speak with other group members.”
Read about more people like Ishita, graduates of a unique program focusing on the performance of community, in