indigenous Counselling

Indigenous therapeutic Counselling in the Indian Context

Dr Janetius

 October 2010

The problem with many scholars who exert their efforts in defining Indian Psychology today is that they try to magnify the ancient mystical, mythological,puranic cosmological thoughts and the assorted religio-philosophical systems as glorified psychological thinking rather than providing practical pragmatic principles and comprehensive theories of human life, development and behaviour. Dr Janetius

India has a long history of many philosophical, educational and healing systems that have been focused on the holistic wellbeing of people. However, counselling per se has not existed in the Indian subcontinent as a well-defined therapeutic modality. Although psychology in India is fully interwoven with the ancient philosophical and religious systems, knowledge related to mental health and human behaviour are not clearly articulated and noticeably applied in the daily living. People tend to attribute various mental health issues to evil spirits, evil eye or supernatural powers and prefer to go for magico-religious remedies even these days (Bhasin, 2007).

In this current Indian scenario, the demands of industrial globalisation and the globalised education that influence various sectors, consequently have introduced counselling and guidance services. However, as acknowledged in many parts of the world, the therapeutic counselling that focuses on the comprehensive development of the person has not become popular, with the exception of some urban centres. Taken as a whole, counselling is narrowly identified and popularly associated with academic advising, career guidance and, further in the industrial setting as performance counselling.

Whilst therapeutic counselling is slowly gaining popularity, there arise a need for indigenous therapy models for efficient intervention and effective outcome. This is evidenced by the fact that culture and worldview of the people in the Indian sub-continent are different than what the western theories suggest. In spite of the fact that some Indian therapists integrate yoga and meditation practices into counselling and psychotherapy process (Clay, 2002), there are no indigenous counselling models, that define unique counselling setting and stages, culture-specific theoretical basis and the mode of practise which affect the process and outcome of counselling for Indian clients.

The current research identifies some of the basic practical difficulties in using Western models of therapeutic counselling in India, both in structure, stages and process and, it also postulates a culture-specific therapeutic counselling model.
This is a longitudinal study, which evaluates the counselling process of the researcher for over seven years, utilizing autoethnography qualitative research method. The author, a professional counsellor, uses self as the subject, to identify the dilemmas in applying Western models of counselling in the Indian context. The study also explores ‘the process and outcome evaluation reports’ of more than 400 clients and drafts an indigenous therapeutic counselling model for India.

(Paper presented at the 2nd Asia Pacific Rim International Counselling Conference - Indigenization and Multiculturalism - at Hong Kong 6th to 8th July 2011)

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