Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice, Delhi
“An apology in essence has two dimensions, namely the acknowledgment of having done a wrong and the expression of a willingness to atone for it" (http://altlawforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/RightToLove_PDFVersion-1.pdf)
Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised non-normative sexualities was read down on September 6th 2018. The judgment went beyond the detached language of the law to uphold the Right to Love for queer people. It acknowledged the oppression of a section of people pushed to the margins due to their genders and sexualities and stated that ‘History owes them an apology’. The judgement also centres a collective responsibility. For too long, the mental health community has been complicit in upholding oppressive structures of gender binarism and heteronormativity by providing a "cure" for the non-normative. When we speak of being queer affirming, we are beginning to challenge these structures that pathologise and discriminate against queer persons and participate in promoting their wellbeing in a deliberate and affirming manner.
How might we, as mental health practitioners, contribute, generate and operationalise ways to make amends? QACP, a six-day training program, is an opportunity for practitioners to reorient themselves to an anti-oppressive therapeutic practice. The training covers both perspective building to recognise inequalities and their impact on mental health and also provides tools and techniques to address distress and promote well-being of LGBTQ persons.
Over 60 mental health practitioners were trained through Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI)'s QACP program acros three cities in Indian -- these included psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors — specifically, those with experience of working with queer identified clients or families of queer identified individuals.
The QACP Team:
Ketki Ranade, Ph.D., (gender queer, pronoun: they) is currently Faculty and Chairperson, Center for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Ketki has worked for almost two decades as a mental health service provider, trainer, researcher and activist. Their recent publications include, 'Growing Up Gay - A critical psychosocial perspective', Springer (2018) and 'Sexual Rights of Women with Psychosocial Disabilities - insights from India', ARROW (2017). Ketki is also author of Gay Affirmative Counseling Practice, a resource and training manual (2013). Their areas of teaching include mental health policy, legislations and advocacy, clinical social work, interdisciplinary perspectives in mental health and qualitative research methodology. They were a member of the Expert Committee on Transgender Issues formed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India in 2013. Ketki is an advisor to the Mariwala Health Initiative.
Shruti Chakravarty (ciswoman, pronoun: she) has experience of 15 years in the non-profit sector, as a mental health practitioner, researcher, trainer and social worker. Areas of engagement have been mental health, gender and sexuality from a rights based perspective. She has an independent therapeutic practice based in Mumbai and has in-depth experience working with LGBTQ clients in a therapeutic set up. She has co-authored a training manual on Gay Affirmative Counselling Practice and conducts several interactive workshops on this topic on a regular basis with students of social work, psychology and counselling, with NGOs working with young people, with MHPs and social workers in a variety of settings. She is currently pursuing her PhD on queer intimacies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. She is also Chief Advisor at Mariwala Health Initiative.
Pooja Nair (ciswoman, pronoun: she) has been part of the non-profit sector for over a decade. She has worked variously as a researcher, documentation consultant, trainer and now as an independent therapist. She has an MPhil in social work and has worked in the areas of life skills, gender, sexuality, violence and child sexual abuse. She has also worked with adolescents on life skills development. She's currently working on her PhD in addition to being a mental health practitioner and trainer.
Gauri Shringarpure (ciswoman, pronoun: she) is a counselor and psychotherapist with practice in Thane. She has been involved in gender and sexuality training in colleges and NSS students for more than two years. She is also an experienced (22 years) researcher in consumer behavior and is also an ethnographer.
Aryan Somaiya (transman, pronoun: he) is a clinical psychologist. He has delivered talks at Human Library, Mumbai as Human Book at various places like TCS, Thane and Sardar Patel College, Mumbai. He has represented transmen community at Social Conclave, 2018 conducted by NMIMS, Mumbai. He has also conducted workshops on gender, sexuality, desire and pleasure at HR and Women's Studies departments in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and has conducted sensitization programs at MES Garware College, Modern College, Pune and Amity University, Lonavala.
Aanchal Narang (ciswoman, pronoun: she) is currently studying in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, doing her MA in applied clinical psychology. She has experience in conducting training for the last 6 years on various topics such as debating, public speaking, gender and sexuality at various schools and colleges. She has worked as an assistant clinical psychologist in Cooper Hospital and is currently interning as a school counselor at Shree Geeta Vikas Vidyalaya. She works with clients on palliative care at Make a Wish Foundation and has experience working with LGBTQ clients and also has been managing a phone line for LBT individuals for LABIA- an LBT queer feminist collective in Mumbai.