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Creative touch: Urban Indians are seeking art

Creative touch: Urban Indians are seeking art

Posted on : 09/01/2015 12:19pm
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For 13 long years, Chetna Mehrotra, now 40, lived in an abusive marriage, coped with the stress of her hectic corporate job and parenting her little boy.

Finally shaking off what might be called a case of the Stockholm Syndrome (where a person develops a psychological alliance with their oppressor, as a survival strategy), Mehrotra left her husband’s house six years ago. Emotionally and physically scarred and alone in the city of Mumbai, Mehrotra desperately searched for a space to talk, share and most importantly, grieve.

She travelled to Bengaluru for a workshop on 'Theater of the Oppressed', a form of creative arts therapy, which uses theatre techniques and games to heal and empower people in a group setting. An exercise of image theatre freed her from the overwhelming emotion that had her in its grip. “I realised that I had so much anger and sadness all pent up. I realised that my mind and body were both oppressed,” says Chetna. “I grieved in the process, discusses and shared my problems and felt a sense of release.”

She thus embarked on a journey to self-discovery and empowerment and later also attended workshops on psychodrama and dance and movement therapy, other emerging expressive arts therapies in the country.



Growing awareness

With a dedicated institute of psychodrama in Chennai, a diploma course in dance and movement therapy at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Kolkata, and visual arts courses in Pune and Delhi, urban India seems to be warming up to creative therapies with the goal of seeking mental well-being.

It’s no longer a taboo to seek help if you are disturbed or going through a tough, challenging time — thanks in some part to Bollywood and media. “So many of my clients now tell me that they experience the same symptoms that actor Deepika Padukone did when she was depressed,” says clinical psychologist Nipa Shah. Movies like Dear Zindagi and Tare Zameen Par have also changed people’s perception of mental health.

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