Alumni of Fergusson College’s psychology department offer free counselling
PUNE A group of alumni from Fergusson College’s psychology department has banded together for a cause. The collective goal is to offer free counselling to those in need.
Helmed by arts-based therapist Gauri Kaulgud, and actor Parna Pethe, both former Fergusson College students, and post graduates in clinical psychology, this stint involves the participation of 20-odd highly qualified, practising and experienced counsellors. Speaking about what prompted her to spearhead this activity, Pethe explains, “The second wave of the pandemic hit the city, and wreaked tremendous havoc. There has been constant news about a lot of people being hospitalised, some losing their loved ones, quite a few going through unemployment, and the others trying to come to terms with the anxiety and uncertainty around. I felt in these harsh times, there is an immense need for people to find a place to express, grieve, vent, and seek help, without worrying about money.”
To put her ideas into action, and to launch a free emotional support intervention, Pethe joined hands with Kaulgud, a counsellor at the city-based Avasara academy, a school. Kaulgud’s work spans a range of demographics, and includes young adults, children with special needs, primary caregivers, and children from lower socio-economic and vulnerable backgrounds. Speaking about how the initiative works, Kaulgud said that they have been circulating flyers on social media, so the ones who need to connect with them, are able to find them.
Throwing light on the modus operandi, she said, “When we get a call, either Parna or I take it; we are the first points of contact. Then, based on the nature of the caller’s concerns, we direct them to the most relevant counsellor from our group. That counsellor takes it forward from there.”
Pethe added that all counsellors who are a part of this initiative have dedicated a fixed set of time slots for taking calls. This helps keep the process organised.
“We also arrange follow-up sessions, if need be. And after a counselling session, we take feedback from the callers about their experiences,” said Pethe.
So far, their group has counselled at least 100 people. These people can broadly be put into two categories; first, those in a quandary either because they’re Covid positive, or someone from their families has succumbed to the infection. The second category is people who are unsettled due to prevailing circumstances. Their issues are typically about feeling fretful due to constantly being confined at home with family members, or they’re anxious about getting infected, and losing jobs, among other concerns.
Pethe said, “The concerns surrounding the pandemic are not just about physical or mental health; they’re also largely social, political, and administrative. Unemployment is a pressing concern. Another big segment of disturbed callers is students, who think that if the situation doesn’t improve, their future is bleak.”
For this group of counsellors, the way forward is still taking shape. “This group came to life rather spontaneously, but we’re functioning in a very organised manner. The response has been overwhelming, and only reaffirms the need for such an intervention in the long run. We are planning to conduct group sessions for frontline workers. We are also open to collaborations, or any new ideas that will help us better doing our bit,” concluded the duo.
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