Statement from Penguin Random House India: New
“I am delighted that Penguin Random House India will be publishing Anna Chandy’s book "Battles in the Mind". I believe this book will serve as a platform for spreading awareness about mental health issues, and help us be more open and accepting of people facing them. I am really excited about working with Anna and her wonderful agent Jayapriya Vasudevan of Jacaranda Books on the book.”





Coping with depression  by Anna Chandy, 4 February 2017,New

Get Therapy When time does not heal an emotional fracture, seeking help from a mental health professional may be the best thing to do, advises Anna Chandy

Duration, degree and quantification of symptoms help distinguish exogenous depression and what can be called a low phase

Click to read more...




Meet Anna Chandy, the woman who helped Deepika Padukone come out of depression  by Anna Chandy, 2 February 2017,New

Anna Chandy, the country’s first supervising and training transactional analyst, who today dons the hat of chairperson of the Deepika Padukone-led Live Love Laugh Foundation.

Nestled among leafy branches in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar locality is a board marking the headquarters of the Deepika Padukone-founded ‘The Live Love Laugh Foundation‘. As I take a deep breath and enter the building, I am welcomed by walls documenting the foundation’s journey over the past two years. Blue cushioned chairs and indoor plants breathe life into a space that has been successful in brightening up the lives of hundreds of mental health patients.

Dressed in a crisp blue kurta, Anna Chandy is grace personified. Chairperson of the Live Love Laugh Foundation, she is the first supervising and training transactional analyst from India accredited to the International Transactional Analysis Association with a specialisation in counselling. She is also certified in neuro-linguistic programming and art therapy. Originally from Chennai, she has spent much of her life in Bengaluru. Owing to her over 30 years of professional experience, Anna is intuitively able to connect to various situations and roles, as is made evident by her diverse clientele.

Click to read more...





HEALTH, CULTURE & LIFESTYLE  Healthy Lifestyle,

Transactional Analysis and Neuro Linguistic Programming for mental health treatment
Hectic life schedules have adversely affected the mental health of many individuals. Various organisations associated with mental care are coming up with several innovative programmes to prevent and cure mental illnesses.
BE’s Anirban Sen spoke to Anna Chandy, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of The Live Love Laugh Foundation,   to know about various mental health care treatments undertaken by the foundation.

Q. Are mental illnesses on the rise in India? If so, then which are the most prevalent among these?
A. Mental illnesses are indeed on a rise in India. The cause of this rise is quite complex. I believe the very context, the psychological texture and the essence of our society is changing rapidly. There are some obvious systemic cultural changes taking place. For example, we are transitioning from a collective society to an individualistic one. At this juncture, we seem to be neither here nor there, which leaves us unanchored. Some of the other contributing factors are psychological malaise associated with the need for instant gratification, socio-economic conditions, which cause immense distress, and feelings of failure contributing to higher incidents of depression and anxiety.

Q.What is transactional analysis? What do you use it for?

A. Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory of personality and systematic growth for change that was formulated by Dr Eric Berne, an American psychiatrist who lived from 1910-1970.Transactional analysis follows the humanistic principles of psychology that believes that all human beings have the resources within them to engage, solve problems and function efficiently to attain their maximum potential.

In the Indian context, I use transactional analysis to assess the intra-psychic patterns and behaviours of an individual and the group they belong to. This assessment enables me to understand what is significant as individual issues and systemic issues. When an individual is facing an illness or is suffering from mental crisis, they need support in coping with it and healing, which involves their family as well. Assessment helps me build this collaborative mechanism.

Click to read more...





ANNOUNCING THE ACQUISITION OF ANNA CHANDY’S BOOK ON MENTAL HEALTH  by Anna Chandy, Dec 20, 2016,New

We are delighted to share that we have acquired Anna Chandy’s book on mental health.

Commenting on the acquisition, Milee Ashwarya, Editor in Chief-Commercial and Business, Penguin Random House India, said, “I am delighted that Penguin Random House India will be publishing Anna Chandy’s book Battles in the Mind. I believe this book will serve as a platform for spreading awareness about mental health issues, and help us be more open and accepting of people facing them. I am really excited about working with Anna and her wonderful agent Jayapriya Vasudevan of Jacaranda Books on the book.”

Anna Chandy feels that the book will provide a sense of hope to its readers.

Author’s Statement: “This book is written from the heart and based on my personal experiences. The purpose is to provide hope to those feeling hopeless. Over the years, I have fought many battles in my mind to finally become who I am today. I believe that my life’s journey was well worth with it - even with the pain and struggle. I am hopeful my readers will draw strength from my life and its lessons.” - Anna Chandy

The book addresses a very sensitive yet critical concept- mental health- at a time when the country is finally opening up to a open conversation around it.

‘Books about subjects that are difficult to discuss are very important today. I am so pleased that Anna Chandy brought her wonderful story to me. And that Milee Ashwarya at Penguin Random House found it a compelling book to publish.' Jayapriya Vasudevan

About the Author: Anna is a columnist, author, counsellor, mentor and coach to senior leaders and executives as well as to individuals from diverse walks of life. Anna believes difficult times provide a space for deep self-introspection, reflection and learning. She is the Chairperson of The Live Love Laugh Foundation founded by Deepika Padukone.

Click to read more...





The changing flavour of caregiving - by Anna Chandy, Sep 3, 2016,

Why has depression become so commonplace among individuals today, especially among the womenfolk? There are several reasons pointing to it, a pivotal one being the fact that the Indian society is going through an era of transition. Many factors and characteristics of the society are changing. Let us take a look at how these seemingly innocuous changes are affecting our mental health in a serious way:

Joint families to nuclear families  :    

Earlier, a system of a joint families prevailed. But with nuclear families, people do their tasks themselves, handle their own money, and if they feel a particular emotion, they bottle it up as they have no one to share it with. Especially housewives, who have to stay home alone all day long, end up internalising it.

Click to read more...





What is the meaning of connecting to your client?

Neeraj was coming back to see me after a gap of 5 years. When the appointment was fixed, I could not recall him by his name. When he arrived and sat across me, his entire narrative just came flooding back. Neeraj was so moved that he broke down.

It struck me that he was drawn to the therapeutic relationship instantly when I shared his narrative. He felt he had been listened to. He felt recognised. Even after 5 years, he felt that he could expose his psychological vulnerabilities within a few minutes

I was curious – "What does it mean to make contact with your client?"

My understanding - I have in my mind an imago which is a mental picture of my client. This imago could be an image, a metaphor, a song, a tune or a cliché. When Neeraj sat across me, his imago instantly sprung up, immediately connecting to his narrative that he had shared 5 years ago.

I recognise that therapeutic contact with my client has been built when I sense a flow, when they disrobe themselves psychologically and expose their inner vulnerabilities and engage with further curiosity.

Therapeutic contact is built in the counselling space within an hour when I am present. Presence to me is the whole self - the social self, the psychological self, the existential self and the spiritual self. The transactions are verbal and non verbal. Presence is authentic.

Authenticity

To be authentic is an ability to be open and real, to myself about myself.

When I am authentic to myself about myself, I am much more aware of interplay of feelings that’s going on within my own body. I let my feelings come into the session, knowing that this is mine and it is here. I don’t block myself from feeling.

There’s an awareness of me and my feelings and there’s an awareness of the feelings of my client. In this interplay of exchange of feelings between us, my awareness enables me to differentiate between what’s mine and what is the client’s.

Till a few years ago my focus in the role of a counsellor was to build expertise in the techniques of counselling. Today, I just present myself as I am. This, I believe, comes from a sense of acceptance of self, ensuring that the client does not experience any blocks, boundaries or effort from my end, thus enabling the sessions to be seamless.

When I am not authentic, I am not accounting for the client’s ability to sense and account, creating a stance of hierarchy.

Bringing your whole self into the space

Therapeutic relationship is far more complex than the technique of empathy. It is about the therapist bringing their whole self into counselling space.

In each session, when offering my whole self, even if the client has an inability to offer their whole self, it promotes them to offer more of themselves when they experience me offering my whole self. In the process, the client slowly begins to unfold themselves.

To me, whole self in an Indian context is:

  • Social self
  • Psychological self
  • Existential self
  • Spiritual self

Spiritual self is inherent in an Asian culture and gives a very potent message of hope to the client.

Professional expertise in counselling profession is a journey that takes time and focus. It happens in stages.

Stage 1 – Empathy through learnt technique

Stage 2 – Empathy and facilitating problem solving through learnt technique

Stage 3 – Empathy, problem solving and building a profession and identity

Stage 4 – Coming into my own and being myself

Throughout these stages, the constant enabling factor has been personal work.

Once I reached stage 4, counselling transitioned from being a science to an art. This is when all the techniques and frameworks are internalised, it’s seamless and becomes an art when I bring in my unique flavours and experiences. This is a profession that needs a lot of time and energy to build. It does not just happen.

How does this play out in the counselling space?

In a therapeutic space, there is an exchange of transactions that take place at both an overt and covert level. At overt level, it is the social self that is engaged in the transactions. At a covert level, exchange of transactions is from existential, psychological and spiritual self. And that is what gives the validation and forms the contact. It is a very potent communication of hope.

It’s important to be aware that while we take in the frameworks and knowledge from the western world, we do not block our spiritual self. Spiritual self is about trust at an implicit level.

So that’s what it is - putting together all the techniques and knowledge, being authentic, bringing your whole self, including your spiritual self, being committed to personal work, and then to let it evolve.

This can come only from personal work.





My personal journey

Human self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence” - Wikipedia.
Five years ago I was settled in a conventional career, living a regular life that had unfolded the way possibly how it was supposed to be. However, there was something amiss… not in the life I was leading but possibly in the way I was feeling about it and about myself. It was during this time, stumbled upon some interesting people and started on a astonishing journey of discovering the person called me. This article is an attempt to capture my understanding and personal experience so far.

THE PROCESS

The exploration process of self works at two levels:

  • Thinking level - this is where one uses intellect and cognition to assess and understand what has been happening
  • Feeling Level - here the work through body to facilitate our cognitive awareness. Yoga, meditation, massages, energy healing are some of the methods I have worked with.

Intellect has always been my strength and I very naturally gravitated towards the first of the two when I started. However, I have realised that both have to compliment each other for effectiveness. Beyond a certain level, cognitive awareness cannot sustained a wholistic experience and body work becomes critical for us to be able to break through the limits of our own intelligence.

STAGES OF EXPLORATION

When it comes to Human journey, there is no formula because each individual experiences it differently. It is a continual journey - towards freedom from my own limitation. While reflecting on how it has been for me, I uncovered a pattern that I have largely followed, possibly a lot of times in my unawareness. I experienced these stages differently for different issues/beliefs/values. For some things, I breezed through the stages right to the last one and for some I am still oscillating back and forth on these.

Stage of Identification:

This is what I call as Induction stage. This is where I decide on which experiences to explore on. During the earlier days, I used to spend a lot of time at this stage because I was dealing with almost all my experiences till then. And it was quite overwhelming.

Stage of Confusion

Once the experience has been identified and the work on it starts, the intellect kicks in to block the thinking process by creating numbness. The typical responses for this stage is - I don't know, I am not sure, Not really. This is a stage when there is a lot of discounting that happens of the criticality of issue.
For a long time this was my favourite stage where I used to linger around.

Stage of Understanding

Once I move past the confusion, I am able to draw a fresh understanding of my experience and how I am contributing to it.

Stage of Running Away

This is the most interesting phase in which the struggle is between Familiarity Vs Discomfort. This is where there is a lot of internal debate about effort and output and if the issue is worth enough to shake and challenge a lot of deep rooted and familiar systems. There is also discounting of ability to work on these. I have realised the need of a support system and structure in this phase to keep me anchored. However, being aware of this has been my greatest strength.

Stage of Acceptance and Action

As is obvious from the name, this is when finally the work to change responses and behaviour happens. However, it doesn't always follow the order.. and even after starting of the action, the quantum and scope of action have changed during the course. In my earlier days, this stage was marked by a definitive outcome . However, now it is about a direction.

My journey has possibly not even reached half way, but as I write this, I realise the distance I have travelled. And I feel good about it. I still don't control what happens to me, but I sure do control the choice of response.





The overlap of Therapist and Supervisor

I was reading somewhere the other day that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are not a leveled off pyramid of layers, with one layer being tackled in one go, then upon completion moving on to the next. Rather the writer compared the hierarchy of needs as a sort of interlaced puzzle that eventually slots together to form the 3D shape of a pyramid. No one piece being stable without the impact and edges of the other segments to hold it up.

This, like much of contemporary TA, reflects the idea that we work on aspects and strengthen or regenerate them. We also repeatedly come back to them as we continue to evolve and change. Anchoring our Adult is vigorous work and involves ALL aspects of us.

Anna recently discussed this idea with great clarity for me, in one of our Supervision sessions. It resonated when I re-read the piece on Maslow the other day. Anna talked about a cultural prism and much like Maslow’s pyramid, this prism is held up and pieced together in a beautiful, colourful 3D way by allowing all aspects of the individual to co-exist together. In the West the TA community requires that the person who gives you Supervision is not the same one providing you with Therapy. Looking through the Indian cultural lens though it could be argued that it is this very overlap that strengthens the individuals’ position and prevents information slipping between the layers.

So to divide the role of trainer and therapist seem to be cultural introjects that we have accepted whole from Western TA and not challenged. Another requirement of Western TA is that you cannot have a diverse and mixed group when working in training and development. Yet Delhi and Bangalore students have learnt side by side for some time now in various groups that have been formed both by Anna and Rosemary, and this North South divide is just one example of cultural difference that has co-existed in Anna’s learning environment. The flip side is that we form other similarities that hold us together and this relates to the Relational Model

Anna shared her experience of being in the role of a trainer and although her experience, her gut and all her knowledge pointed at information about trainees that she knew well in the training sphere, she chose to follow the Western model and did not become involved in providing feedback regarding these individuals and their Supervision. This role separation meant that Anna discounted her own knowledge. Much like Robert Goulding’s work Anna put forward to us in our TA Supervision that one cannot see parts of individuals as separate components but rather we must look at them holistically.

Picture again your 3D prism with each colour of the prism representing a different part of you. Now look closely as the edges fuse into each other solid blue mingling around its edges with solid orange, red, green and yellow. The spaces where the colours meld creating an overlap just like the different roles and aspects of ones life overlap with one another. Even if we were to take hammer and chisel to this prism and separate the blue out again, there will be parts of other colors that have seeped into the blue. When I talk about the blue section to my Therapist and the red to someone other, my Trainer perhaps? Am I then not skimming over the fact that each aspect impacts the other? As someone who works with more colour (and what each colour represents) The Trainer / Therapist will have a more holistic approach to dealing with us in our entirety. By knowing aspects of my therapeutic healing would that person not be well suited to pin point more affectively why I hook the same issues with clients in my Supervision?

Anna suggested that to strategize according to our cultural context is not wrong and can have very potent results. Like the Relational Model the connection between person providing support and person seeking it originates and develops up from the C1 to C1 interaction. Which is likely what most of Anna’s trainees also have in common with her. Why then not allow for more coverage through this relationship rather than prescriptive parameters that do not fit our cultural context?





Mind Managers


Chairperson, TheLiveLoveLaugh Foundation, and transactional analysis practitioner, Bengaluru

For the first 10 years of my professional life, I volunteered because nobody would pay,” says Anna Chandy, who was in the news recently when she was interviewed with her patient, actor Deepika Padukone. “I have been working in this field for three decades now. All these years, my extended family used to think, ‘What is this counselling?’ Now, they are impressed,” she says.

How she got here : Chandy completed her bachelor’s in child development from Bengaluru’s Mount Carmel College in 1984. She settled down to a conventional married life, with no thoughts of turning counsellor. In 1989, her husband’s younger brother had a nervous breakdown. He came to live with the couple, and Chandy became the primary caregiver. “I knew I needed to go out and get some training in order to look after my brother-in-law,” she says.

In 1993, Chandy joined a Bengaluru-based mental health organization called Vishwas and trained to be a counsellor. She turned out to be skilled at it and continued volunteering. By 1994, she had moved into supervisory and training positions at Vishwas.

“I had a tough childhood. There was conflict between my parents. I am also the survivor of abuse from a relative. I have worked through all of that and maybe that has made me a better counsellor,” says Chandy.

"There are all sorts of titles flying around. Like life coach. It sounds very stylish but who is a life coach?"

When business process outsourcing firm Firstsource Solutions asked Chandy to join as a consultant counsellor in 2003, she realized she needed more formal training. She joined the firm but simultaneously started studying transactional analysis (TA) at Bangalore University (2003-06). TA is a theory in psychology that examines interactions, or “transactions”, between people.

The firm employed many youngsters, who were open to talking about their problems, and Chandy’s office was always full.

Today, Chandy works with companies like Mahindra Retail, Titan and Intel as a consulting counsellor, sees patients privately and trains young counsellors in Bengaluru.

Work: People of all ages come to Chandy. “A majority of my patients are males, often at senior positions in their profession,” says Chandy. “Sometimes it’s depression (‘I have everything, why am I not happy?’), sometimes a feeling of being ‘stuck’ (‘Why am I not being able to do better?’). Counselling can help tackle such feelings by exploring where they come from,” says Chandy.

At other times, Chandy has review sessions with peers, often on Skype. “As a counsellor, you have to constantly work on yourself, so talking to a peer who can change you in your assumptions and attitudes is necessary.”

Once a month, Chandy travels to Mumbai for meetings of the TheLiveLoveLaugh Foundation, set up by Padukone to raise awareness about mental health issues.

Skill set: Empathize and be non-judgemental. “If someone says, ‘I am having an affair’, I don’t hear it as having an affair because that term itself is highly moralistic. I hear it as ‘some needs of mine are not being met’, therefore something is happening.”

The biggest challenge: There is no regulation in this country in terms of minimum qualifications or certification. You can just put up a board saying “therapist” or “counsellor” after doing a course or training for 10-15 hours, she says. “There are all sorts of titles flying around. Like life coach. It sounds stylish but who is a life coach?” she asks.

Proud of: “In March, I was invited by (management consulting firm) Accenture to address a group of 3,000 students in Pune on my journey from a housewife to a confident counsellor. My journey has been about transformation,” she says.

Money matters: Experienced counsellors can charge Rs.1,000-6,000 per hour. Annual income could be in the range of Rs.50 lakh or more.

Click here to know more....





Do I ?   Do I Not ?

Being a transactional analyst practitioner in India is quite unique or different. This is specifically in relation to boundaries and multiple roles in relationships.

As Counseling and Psychotherapy is new to our country, it is often viewed with suspicion, associated with stigma and questioned. The western models of counselling that insist on individuality,boundaries and one role -one relationship are almost impossible to adhere to in this framework.

I will highlight this in the example given below.

Recently a young lady Rekha who was coming to me for counselling specifically to deal with her move to India and its complexities promoted me to ponder on two questions Do I? Do I not?

Rekha was of Indian origin and had lived in 12 countries except India. Yet she carried many Indian values in psyche. She had been very well educated in prestigious universities like Mcgill and Harvard and had been living the last few years independently in New York. She was now moving to India as she was getting married.

She shared with me her fears, her joys, her needs and her concerns. Thereby we had built a relationship in our role as counselor and counselee. Rekha was open, vulnerable and reflective as she shared the details of her forthcoming wedding.

A week before her wedding at the end of her session she said to me ”Anna I want you at come to my wedding, please at least attend one function and bless me, this is very important to me. I know this is impossible in the west and yet it is important to me”. I was taken aback and confused. What should I do ?I did not respond immediately.

I played around with do I ? Do I not?

I though about what this means to me professionally? What does this mean to our relationship?

Finally I took the plunge and attended one function, wished the couple all the best and returned with a sense of calm. In retrospect I am sure I had taken the right decision as I saw the look in Rekha’s eyes when I went and wished the couple.

Yes, the boundary had blurred and it was not as stark as it ought to be. I knew that in my culture personal and professional roles are not well defined and yet we manage. Successful Indian Businesses have been built inclusive of grey areas.

In our culture we consciously and unconsciously accept and nurture intangibility.

I leave you with this question. Does this mean that an Indian Counsellor is less professional or less effective?




I Knew You. I didn't Know You. Your Story Moved Me.

I did not know you well yet you have moved me. I am in Mumbai busy preparing for the launch of our foundation and I receive a message that a distant cousins son has passed on. A flood of thoughts … How old is he? What happened ? My inner voice says he decided to go!!

The beauty of life lies in its fragility and the way it resonates through each and every one of us irrespective of caste, creed and social standing. Every one has a story and as the Iyanla Vanzant’s saying goes “Its important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and heal somebody else. When you tell your story you free yourself and give others permission to acknowledge their own story."

As the story of Deepak begins to unfold I feel both moved and sad at the same time. Nobody recognised that Deepak was depressed. How could he be? He was a high achiever, he had everything! Deepak did his best to “feel happy”.

He also tried to be happy. Each day he portrayed a happy outlook, not letting his true mental self be displayed to his family and friends. But the game of pretence, was starting to affect him deeply and deep cracks were forming.

As each day passed he was moving closer into the dark vortex until he finally plummeted never to come back. In the last few days he tried to reach out to friends, and one of them realized that he was going through something, but no one knew the extent of damage. He felt unworthy, he was useless, he was a failure, he was “nothing”. His self image was negative almost non-existent , and was in total contrast to the image “society” had of him.

To “society” he was a perfect son, a high achiever and a brilliant student. To everyone who knew him, he was a friend who was always available to anyone and everyone no matter what the need was he was there to help. The tragedy is he never let anyone know this time it was he who needed helping.

Life in the 21st century has becoming largely impersonal, we are in touch but not really in touch. Do we really know the inner struggles of our closest friends? Everyone seems happy but when the cracks form who is there to help and who is really there? Are we cracking under the game of pretence?

Above all this I feel disappointed as I belong to a community that is considered well informed and educated however I realize that in reality “My community is grossly uninformed”. I reflect on the ridicule, gossip, shame I have faced when I chose my profession as a counsellor in the field of mental health. I reacted by making a decision never to share my expertise, knowledge and skills my community. Today I am ashamed!

A young man took his life because his struggles were unrecognized. If only someone realized there was something behind the happy outlook? If only he felt comfortable enough to share his inner struggles?

We need to create a space for people to share their true feelings and emotions. We need to encourage the importance of mental health and all that it entails.

Today I feel compelled to take this decision, and do my part in educating society on the importance of mental health.

“Deepak I did not know you and yet you have moved me. I reverse my reactive decision and will return to my community to honor you by sharing information, teaching the uninformed the value of mental well being”

Let us not let his death go in vain and become another statistic. Let it be the start of a movement.

And Deepak, God bless you as you float in the clouds finally at peace.