The Anand Bal Marg Darshan Kendra is a community-based child guidance centre that treats children going through emotional turmoil that disrupts learning and progress in life. It also counsels the child’s parents and teachers who deal with the child undergoing treatment. The primary aim is to help deliver psychological care to children and young people who may not be in a position to access help directly. The centre was formed in 1996 by eminent child educationist, Savitaben Nanubhai Amin, and operates under the auspices of the Bal Shikshan Samiti, a registered Educational Charitable Trust. Its activities are co-ordinated by Pubali Basu, an experienced child psychologist trained at the Harvard Medical School and with work experience at the Language and Cognitive Development Center, Boston, Ma., USA (1982-84).
The Kendra helps alleviate problems in children that range from mental retardation, communication disorders due to speech problems or hearing impairment, various kinds of emotional disorders and various learning difficulties that hinder normal school life. As a procedure, treatment begins only after an assessment is done through standardised tests to identify the conflicts, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, sensory and somatic difficulties. A detailed description is taken of the existing problem, where and when it occurs, and how long it has been in existence, how is it perceived by others who interact with him. Through the test findings it becomes clear what intervention method is applicable to the symptoms that are apparent.
The Kendra then takes a treatment approach that follows either single or a combination of the following methods: Play Therapy (direct or non-direct), Cognitive-oriented Therapy, Behaviour Modification, Psychoeducation, Speech Therapy. Counselling of parents is an integral part of the treatment of the child and includes regular meetings, updating of the child’s progress, and maintaining consistency of approach. Teacher counselling is offered so that teachers (working with the child in school) are sensitive to the child’s problems and help him/her ‘settle down’ and be ‘accepted’ in the classroom during treatment and after.
The Kendra has several outreach programmes especially dealing with schools where the concerned staff involved with vulnerable children, can be empowered to enhance their skills and confidence. This also takes care of conflicting situations where the parents, teachers and school administrators lock horns in a power struggle over ‘who is right and who is not doing what’ for the ‘problem’ child. In such a no-win situation, it is ONLY the child who suffers, since his/her schooling is grossly affected.
The Kendra is housed in the large basement space of the Anand Vidya Vihar School run by the Bal Shikshan Samiti. There are separate rooms for Counselling, Play, Speech Therapy and administration. Outdoor play therapy is conducted in the play areas of the school. Children for treatment are charged according to slabs indicative of parents’ income. A few who may really be unable to pay are treated free-of-charge. On an average the Kendra handles 8-10 children every day, 4 days a week (a sitting with a child is at least one hour long.)
However the Kendra is still in its nascent stage. Though it is adequately equipped with numerous games and toys for therapy as well as all the standard tests, there is still much that it needs. Most importantly, it requires more trained personnel who can be paid reasonable salaries so that it can be run for two more days per week and more children could be attended to. As the sizes of Indian families decrease (an average of 1-2 children per family) and as more mothers are educated, children’s hidden problems (where there is no obvious physical handicap or disability) are more easily noticed and hopefully attended to.
Persons in charge
- Funding in Cash: Any donation amount is welcome. Small amounts will help pay for treatments of children with poor parents. Larger amounts are being collected in fixed deposits whose interest will help pay staff salaries.
- Display materials for the Kendra, educational games and toys for therapy.
- More up-to-date testing materials and instruments (second-hand but in working condition will do fine).
- Training inputs. We would love to meet all those of you working in this field to exchange ideas, discuss cases and so on. You can also address teachers and parents of our children, a face-to-face that we can organise for you.
- Mrs Savita Amin, Founder and Chairperson
- Ms Pubali Basu, Co-ordinator, Child Psychologist