Let the training begin!

Following a month of virtual training, connecting our 20 Indian psychologists around the globe via videoconferencing, we are finally all in the same room together in the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology training center! We have just completed Day 1 of our 3-day training, in which we aim to put into practice all of the concepts and skills we have been learning over the past month. Our psychologists have flown in from across India (and even Abu Dhabi…shout-out to our most dedicated members Insiya and Sheela!) to engage in 72 hours of role-playing, learning, lots of chai, and preparation for the journey ahead. Today, we introduced the concept of Motivational Interviewing, a core skill for a psychologist practicing online guided self-help, who we call a “coach.” Following this introduction, we asked a few brave souls to demo what they learned in front of the group.

Two clinicians from HAP are practicing a role-play activity to prepare for working with university students dealing with anxiety and stress.
Two clinicians from HAP are practicing a role-play activity to prepare for working with university students dealing with anxiety and stress.

After they so graciously broke the ice, we had the entire group practicing role-plays and getting prepared for working with university students in the new year.

Our clinicians from the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology are discussing a recent role-play in which we practiced how to build a counselor-client relationship over the phone. The Director, Dr. Diana Monteiro, is providing feedback.
Our clinicians from the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology are discussing how to effectively communicate and connect with someone when you don’t have the cues of body language and facial expressions inherent in face-to-face conversation.

To finish, we had a feedback session with Dr. Monteiro, the founder and director of the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology (HAP) and the ‘mother hen’ of this flock of HAPians. I was introduced to her back in May by Nomita Divi, a project manager in Stanford’s India Health Policy Research Initiative. She grew up with Diana in Hyderabad and suggested she would be the ideal person to contact to identify a group of counselors in India who we could train to become “e-coaches.” Diana grew up in Hyderabad, got her Ph.D. in the U.S. in Counseling Psychology, and then returned to India to bring some of the structure of her training back to her hometown. She started HAP in 2009 as a way to help bring some of the clinical training / supervision she received in the U.S. to the primarily theoretical training counselors receive in India. Given Dr. Monteiro’s unique background and her passion for reducing the stigma around mental health care in India, Nomita could not have been more correct in her recommendation. Diana corralled the best clinicians from her training batches and provided me with an eager group of clinicians ready to try something new. Diana, for your initial and continued support, thank you. (To note, she is 4 days away from bringing a new person into this world and is still with us all day, reporting nothing more than a few kicks here and there. Like mother, like child…calm amidst chaos).

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