Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Party at our office




Thank you all for attending our Christmas dinner. This was time to chill, relax and say "thank you" to all who have associated with us.

We have done several activities in the past year and that would not have been possible without you wonderful people. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Department of Social Defence


The session was on Positive Disciplining

There were around 32 participants from 18 children's home all over Tamil Nadu. They were teachers, superintendents, house masters, head masters etc. 

The question which they always had was on if children are not to be given any sort of punishment like beating or verbal abuse what else should be done to discipline.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Parenting workshop and Teachers workshop in Olcott Memorial School Dec 20 2008

Parenting workshop:

Parents of 7 th standard students attended this workshop. We had parents complaining about
  1. Children becoming more angry, moody and rebellious
  2. Not concentrating on their studies
We brought up the issue of disciplining children without beating them. This raised a lot of discussion. This session surely raised consciousness about positive ways of disciplining children.

Followed by this workshop we did a second part of the 

Teachers Workshop

Here the teachers discussed some of the points they had discussed in the last session. The last session the teachers discussed their personal experiences of childhood where adults had physically, emotionally or verbally abused them. They had made a list of insights based on their sharing. 

They shared those insights with others and we led a discussion of why children should not be abused in the classroom. It was very interesting to note that almost all the teachers said they beat their own children.  During the course of the discussion these were some issues that came up:

  1. Maybe we beat children because we are unable to cope with our own emotions of frustration or tiredness
  2. We maybe making children into very aggressive or angry adults
The third meeting we planned to show some techniques of positive disciplining of children.

Second Grief Counselling Workshop Dec 17 to 19, 2008

Center for counselling ran another workshop on loss and grief. The feedback of this workshop is given below:

“The workshop sessions were effective and good and in a way helped to rethink the learnt subjects. Also new informations were shared by  the trainer in the areas of understanding the actual situation of the person in / living with grief due to a loss and how to deal / help himself by getting into the “Shoes of that person” and making him to cope up with the situation.  The few points I learnt from the workshop was about the grief strategies that different people adopt based on his personality in different situations of loss and grief. I also learnt about Elizabeth Kubler Ross Stages of grief and the rating scales and how to use it carefully and correctly. Understanding people and using words carefully especially towards the minority groups. I also learnt about the difference between grief and trauma and also better understanding about grief, stress and depression. I liked the methodology small group was very effective to get the concentration of the participants and also the attentiveness. The hospitality was good and very homely atmosphere. Some comments and suggestions are some more materials can be given, role play can be made, time management can be enhanced. On the whole the training was very flexible and good”- S.Godwin Ebenezer “Caruna Bal Vikas” Chennai.

“The workshop session was good, different and practical. The few points that I learnt was to speakless, to be oneself , render help from the receivers perspective and not from the giver. I liked the methodology and the hospitality was good” - Lawrance  David “Caruna Bal Vikas” Chennai.

“The workshop session was a new experience and had a chance to know different organization and intellectual people. It increased my confidence level to continue my job. The few points that I learnt from the workshop was more things through this workshop. I learnt about what is loss and grief, difference between grief and stress and also how to identify the level of depression and grief and also about how one can cope up for one more loss and grief . It was a good opportunity to realize my loss and  grief in my life. I liked the methodology very much. The Hospitality was very good”- Mercy Vinola “Selvi Memorial Illam Society” Chennai.

“The workshop session was very good I learnt a lot personally and for my area of work. The few points that I learnt from the workshop was to personally understand my role (i.e) to be more sensitive to little thing that children bring about and also learnt that every action has something to tell. This helps me to understand the client and also my own family better. The methodology was good. The games could be bit focused but we loved the games. The hospitality was good and the workshop was good and nice. I enjoyed it and it was more a learning process and learnt a new concept” - Samuel Pradheep Rajah “Caruna Bal Vikas” Chennai.

“The workshop was excellent especially the Oppari Video document was very good and new and it also shows the importance in a particular situation (death). The few points I learnt from the workshop was handling of crisis situation, pointing out a criticism in a very right manner. I also learnt about the ritual connection to the context” - Siva kumar “ Sangama” Chennai.

“The workshop session was very good and I felt very comfortable, language was very clear and fluent. Maintaining time was good and nothing was wrong. The few points that I learnt from the workshop was to understand the difference between grief, loss, depression and stress. I also learnt about the different types of grief and how o overcome loss/ grief. I like the methodology it made me comfortable and happy. The hospitality was good and the atmosphere was relaxed and homely. Some of the suggestion and comments is that all the best for your continuous session. Make policy and strategies charges for our social services in border perspective” - Daisy David “World Vision India” Chennai.


Peer Counselling and group therapy Discussion


Peer-Counselling Training Intiative - Steering Committee Meeting

The Shakti Center & The Center for Counselling

Date: Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Venue: Center for Counselling, Chennai.

Members present:

Magdalene Jeyarathnam, Center for Counselling

Padma Govindan, The Shakti Center

Anirudhan Vasudevan, The Shakti Center

Thamilarasi, Center for Counselling

Sankari, Center for Counselling

Sunil Menon, Sahodaran

Anto, SWAM

Siva (Sangama)


Srivath Kumar


Sundar Sahodaran

Sudhakar Sahodaran

Srinivasan SWAM

As a step towards the next level of their LGBTQ peer-counselling training intitative, The Shakti Center and the Center for Counselling organized a steering group meeting. It started with a brief introduction to the peer-counselling training intiative and a recap of the separate sessions that were conducted in June-July 2008 to assess the counselling-related needs of transgender women, lesbian and bisexual women, kothis, gay and bisexual men. Group counselling sessions held at the Center for Counselling were also briefly discussed to understand both individal and collective needs.

Fresh out of the shock of the death of Sathya, a transgender woman and a participant in the group therapy sessions, members present at the meeting found it necessary to talk about it and the issue involved: sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), myths and beliefs, medical practice, etc. Satya had gone to a quack for her surgery and had died right after the administering of the anaesthesia. This brought us squarel to the issues around SRS, the illegal and uncertified procedures performed by quacks in places like Pazhamaneri, Dindigul and Cuddapah, and the importance SRS assumes in the minds of pre-op transgender women. Besides the reiteration of the dissatisfaction and health complications discussed by some Aravani (transgender women in Tamil Nadu) participants of this program, the group also identified the need to collate accurate information about the Government Order regarding legalizing SRS, the proper  procedures followed at hospitals like Ramachandra Medical College Hospital and the Govt. Hospital in Vellore. It was decided that this information, along with an explication of the risks involved in going for the emasculation procedure to quacks, without any medical profiling, has to be published and publicized. This would form part of the peer-counselling training manual the preparation of which will be the main focus of the initiative for the next six months.

It was also noted that this step should lead us towards looking at establishing counselling-related criteria when it comes to legalized SRS. Creating basic medical profiles for Aravanis considering SRS also becomes crucial, since complications in this irreversible procedure are often due to a complete ignorance of prior health profiles.

When it came to the discussion of the increase in number of people opting for the emasculation surgery these days, Aravani and Kothi members shared narratives about themselves and their choices. The connection between the tendency to consider one's physical and emotional wellbeing and one's self-esteem repeatedly emerged in these narratives. Everyone felt that to be at the root of several issues. Participants from the group counselling sessions said that they benefit from the sessions not only in terms of getting to discuss and hear psychlogical issues, but also from meeting and forming new bonds with new people periodically. These group counselling sessions for members of the LGBTQ community, conducted at the Center for Counselling, have been successful and have resulted in requests to continue them. So both Tamil and English group sessions resume next week onwards. The question of documenting the sessions was also discussed.

While some participants in the peer-counselling training intitiative have experiences working in HIV/AIDS programs and hence have a functional knowledge of HIV and other STIs, some others have only a peripheral and inadequate understanding of the same viz-a-viz risks, protection, modes of transmission etc. Therefore the need for a clear discussion of sexual health issues both in the sessions as well as in the training manuals was emphasized.

Work ahead:

(a) Collation of data on SRS - hospitals where it is performed legally and with proper medical care, specialists

(b) Clear information about the SRS procedure - difference from emasculation procedures performed by quacks - health risks etc.

(c) Outlining of the peer-counselling training manual

(d) Continuing the group counselling sessions - documentation of issues discussed. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Loss of our dear friend Sathya


Sathya receiving a certificate from Eric Miller for attending the relationship skills workshop held in our office in Jan 2008. Sathya has attended another of our workshop on Group therapy.
Sathya also attended our group therapy sessions. The last session she was present was on the pros and cons of going for surgery. Sathya was very keen on emasculation. 

In fact, it was heart warming for me to see group members tell her that she must have one on one sessions with me before she goes for the surgery. But, Sathya had other plans, she did not want to wait, she had waited long enough. She was looking forward to becoming "a woman". 

We heard Sathya died friday 14th November in the hospital where she got herself admitted to undergo the surgery. We had convened a group session on Dec 1st to discuss what Sathya's death meant to each of us. 

We had mixed feelings... sometimes we felt angry, sometimes we felt guilty, sometimes we felt sad, we still feel a lot of pain and no denying the fact that we all miss her. She was very kind and gentle to all who knew him. She was also a pillar of support to her family especially her sisters.

We  don't have to wait for another death, we at Center for Counselling are resolved in getting together and supporting those who want the surgery, and  give counselling support for all those plan to undergo this surgery.

Approaches to counselling Children

This 4 hour workshop was for 14 people working with Orphan and vulnerable children. The participants were from various NGOs and the training was organised by Community Health Education Society.  

This training was again very new to almost all participants. We got a very good feedback from the participants.

We introduced Storytelling and Art as approaches to working with children. We used a series of activities to explain why these approaches will work.

"It was nice to having you both(Magdalene and Thamilarasi) with us in our learning process. Today's session was a excellent experience for all the participants and very special for me in learning about the child's feeling. I was much impressed."Valavan V.S, Program Manager (Technical), CHES, Chennai

Pediatric Counselling

This session was for around 15 counsellors working in the Pondicherry State AIDS control Society's Integrated counselling and testing centers (ICTCs), which comes under the National AIDS Control Organisation. 

This was a refresher training session planned for counsellors in the ICTCs. The session carried very practical methods of working with children. We introduced storytelling exercises which helped the counsellors understand what really was meant by child centered counselling.

Most of the counsellors felt, this was the first time someone was explaining how to work with children. The counsellors were very appreciative about the session which they conveyed to us directly and also had given a feedback to the training institute which is South India AIDS Action Programme.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Issues in counselling adolescents Nov 7,2008



This half a day session was conducted for the counsellors working in Tambaram hospital. These counsellors see clients of all ages. Government Hospital ,Tambaram is one of the biggest hospitals which treat HIV/AIDS patients for about 20 or more years now. They have a case load of 17,000 patients a year. Patients come for treatment of TB as well as HIV/AIDS with TB as co infection.

This hospital has 28 counsellors and the counsellors come from many NGOs as well as about 5 employed by the TANSACS directly. This session was requested by the counsellors as one of their needs in improving counselling skills.