THE FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy studying in senior KG of a Sewri municipal school was quite aggressive with other children when a social worker attached with the school through NGO Ummeed noticed him for the first time. He would throw books around and hit tables. A visit to his home revealed that his father was a drug-addict and his mother did odd jobs in the slum they lived in. Social workers with the NGO then used a relatively newer mental counselling technique called narrative therapy to make the child realise that his aggressiveness was hampering his own growth.
In Mumbai since 2001, the Ummeed Foundation’s mental health team has a group of psychologist, occupational therapists, developmental paediatricians, counsellors and doctors who are helping children through narrative therapy. Though the therapy was first used in Mumbai in 2006, it is not widely practised, say experts. It is a counselling technique in which discussions and stories are used to make the patient resolve personal issues.
In the 5-year-old’s case, he attached himself to the movie character of Singham. The counsellor used that character and certain questions to show him how he could do good. The boy soon started attending classes regularly and became a “role model” for other students for good behaviour. On October 15 and 16, nine international speakers are set to hold workshops for the city’s psychologists, social workers, clinical therapists, teachers, and doctors on narrative therapy.
Ummeed receives about 800 patients every year who are counselled through narrative therapy. The basic premise in narrative therapy is that people are experts of their feelings and as a counsellor we ask questions to bring out their story and make them understand themselves better,” said Jehanzeb Baldiwalam, director of the mental health services department at Ummeed.