Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Thanks to Hyderabad; people are now aware of art therapy’

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Saher Ali, a certified holistic psychological counsellor, who has been one of the few(s) to start the concept of art therapy in the city, gets candid with The Pioneer, sharing her association, and love for the city, in an exclusive chat for our exclusive Hyderabond column.
Tejal Sinha
Home is where your heart is, and for many, Hyderabad has been that place. Well, that’s also for our interviewee Saher Ali, who shares about it in our special segment of Hyderabond, this week. Saher is a certified holistic psychological counsellor, who uses art as a technique for her therapy. Born in New Delhi, she has travelled to many cities, reason; her father’s Army posting. But with her dad, hailing from Hyderabad, she kept travelling to the ‘City of Nizams’ at times for her holiday.
After his retirement, they’d shifted here to Hyderabad. However, Saher was doing her studies at a boarding school inOoty, and thereafter, completed her graduation from Hyderabad. But again, had to go to Bangalore for her post-graduation.
Her association with the city, she playfully says, feels like ‘100 years’. “Hyderabad has been the best city I’ve been to.” begins the founder of Totums Art Studio. “I love the culture of the city, politeness, peace and the city is so much more accepting. More than the word tolerant, I would say the city is more accepting, and an inclusive kind of place. People are so good and have been very polite and nice here. Fortunately, to date, I haven’t had any unpleasant experiences here. It may defer to the rest, but for me luckily, that’s how it has been. People have never been rude to me, be it the cab or auto driver. I might have been rude but people have been kind.”
She has purely practiced as a psychotherapist for a really long time. However, she introduced art into her practice around 2017 as a tool for self-reflection. She started doing workshops to use the art for mental well-being, creativity, and distress, which in fact broke the stigma of counselling.
For the unaware, art therapy is a creative process in psychotherapy that uses a holistic approach toward wellness and healing. Saher has conducted individual, family, and group therapy sessions with children, adolescents, and adults experiencing emotional difficulties in different settings.
“I’ve been using art as a medium in my therapy. When I started it, initially people were a bit hesitant like they might be judged. However, I worked on that, focusing on the process rather than the product. That has helped people become more open to it,” she shares adding that now there’s a lot openness towards it “I started it as a therapy and then saw in cafes that they had started with this painting and all. So somewhere I kind of kickstarted the movement in my thought process because when I started there was no one doing the art therapy. But now I’m happy that there are many who have provided this therapy.”
One thing that reminds her of the city, when she thinks of it— space and humour. “The city has a good sense of humour. There is always a general attitude here that no matter from where you come, you become a Hyderabadi someday. Hyderabad ka paani peeya hai toh wapas aate hi hai. Post my art movement there has been a lot of openness. People are open to it and they have a changing attitude. I don’t know if it has to do something world as a whole or particularly Hyderabad, they have been open to it. There is always a flow of clients, which means, it works. I got a lot of references. Most of my clients are through references; word of mouth. And that, people are now aware of the art therapy. The city has been good for me professionally .”
However, she feels that the youths of the city have to be more motivated. She feels their attitude is more towards attendance and making quick money, rather than planning for their career.
“Honestly, it is the GHMC, police, and RTO,” she says as we ask her about what makes the city different from the rest of the cities, she’s been in. “They’ve always been supportive and help you find the right place to go to. The police here are not at all intimidating like in Bangalore. For example; I borrowed a friend’s car and drove out. I was stopped 5-6 times in a day, which feels so pestering and they keep asking things like your name or if you’re Muslim. But in Hyderabad, the police officials are very supportive and are always calm,” she further signs off adding, “Hyderabad to me is a home it brings a lot of peace and you can do what you wanna do without being judged and very friendly. I feel very accepted and a homely feeling in the city.”
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