Thursday, 21 May 2015

About the color of grey cells by Anshuma Kshetrapal

Envisioned in 2014, CoGC functions primarily under the expertise of Drama and Movement Psychotherapist, Ms. Anshuma Kshetrapal. As an independent organization, it aims to spread the word about psychotherapy through the oracle of the arts. Though it is based primarily in the cities of Delhi and Bangalore, the endeavour extends itself to groups and individuals all around the world, who are keen to learn, experience and benefit from Creative Arts Psychotherapy. The main mission is to emphasise on the inclusivity of the psychotherapy, such that, every individual, irrespective of their proficiency in art, can access creative arts therapies and traditional psychotherapy. It aims to spread awareness in the community on several such ideas. This is the essence and spirit with which CoGC functions. To know more, pls visit


They say we can’t wear masks. They say we can’t paint walls. They say we can’t make up stories. They say we can’t move without inhibition. Why then drama & movement therapy? Merely because we say, you CAN. The creative arts therapy as a revolutionary approach arose in the middle of the 20th century. It was in stark contrast to the traditional psychotherapies, although it draws on principles from Psycho-dynamism, Humanism and few other schools of thought. The Color of Grey Cells essentially follows the Sesame approach to Drama and Movement therapy.

What does Drama and Movement (Sesame) mean? 
Drama and movement based therapeutic techniques in the Sesame approach are vividly metaphorical and symbolic. Routine everyday activities and life changing events contribute greatly to our thoughts and behavior. Their influence most often cannot be measured by simple words. They lie embedded in our muscles, dreams, imagination, fantasies, gestures, dreams and other hidden spaces. Thus creative arts therapy taps into the unconscious realm and uses stories, movement, drama and visual art to access it.

Won’t I be vulnerable?
The beauty of the therapy is that it gives life to various aspects of the self, forbidding interpretation. The therapist in this context is referred to as a facilitator; absolutely free of judgments or analysis which may help pave the way to self-enhancement. This open, safe, confidential space is not to make one feel weak, but to feel secure.

Is it just fun and games?
Drama and movement therapy, although highly liberal and unstructured, is based on a number of theories. Carl Jung’s work on the unconscious, Rudolph Laban's art of movement, Peter Slade's work in children's play and Marian Lindkvist's nonverbal language of movement-with-touch-and-sound, are some of the theoretical frameworks. The sessions are also based on well-planned stages. The nuance, however, is to provide freedom within boundaries and structure within the unstructured. Therefore, the work happens without feeling like its work.

How is it different from other therapies?
Compared to other techniques, movement therapy is less verbal and drama therapy’s verbal content is less direct. Clients will, however, be given the opportunity to speak, though the purpose of speech will be different. After the initial steps of discovering and expressing emotions, familiarizing oneself with the new found emotions follows. Now the individual has the luxury to decide an appropriate method to deal with the emotions, thus leading to a healthier emotional environment. Despite the mysterious connotation, it uses activities which are spontaneous, entertaining and novel. There are still plenty of sessions that may be just about processing and bringing cognitive insight through traditional talk psychotherapy.

Who can engage in it?
Drama and movement therapy is universally applicable. There is no age, gender, race, or social class restriction. It is also not necessary to be an artist to be a consumer. Even those with impaired movement or cognition can benefit from art based therapies. People facing any sort of emotional, mental, psychological or somatic distress ranging from 'high functioning' work or relationship stress to any sort of post traumatic work or even just self exploration is possible under creative arts therapies. Thus, drama and movement therapy can provide an all encompassing and highly enriching experience as it marries us to our primal and instinctual gift of art.

About Anshuma Kshetrapal

Anshuma Kshetrapal is a practicing Drama, Movement and Visual Art psychotherapist. Her qualifications include an M.A. in Drama and Movement Therapy from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK, a certification of completion of a Foundation Course in Creative Arts Therapy from SMART Bangalore, which is recognized by the International Dance Council, Paris and a Masters in Psycho-social Clinical Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi.
Anshuma has been a trauma counselor and worked within that capacity with adult mental health clients with a range of presenting difficulties in hospitals, hospices and nursing homes in Delhi, Bangalore and London, since the last 8 years.
Currently, she is one of the five national advisory board members for Creativei Movement Therapy Association of India, looking to expand and strengthen the creative arts therapy community. She is responsible for heading the committee for introducing standardization and professionalism in the field by making a code of ethics for CMTAI, for which she is running panels and gathering data about the cultural ethical nuances of working as an arts therapist in India.
She is also running groups and conducting workshops to introduce the therapeutic aspect of the arts to fellow therapists, artists and educators. She is a core faculty member for the certificate course from CMTAI, in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, involved in teaching and designing the course. She also has a private practice in which she sees individual clients and supervises the work of junior arts therapists in two clinics located in Delhi and Bangalore. Last year, she organized and completed a pan India tour, over three months, in which she gave several talks and experiential workshops along with her colleagues from the UK throughout the country.
 Previously, she was working with MIND, a nationwide mental health charity in London, UK as a consulting Dramatherapist seeing individual clients and running specialized groups for clients with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.
She also worked as a drama and movement therapist in Ashiana, a refuge for south Asian women who have suffered from domestic abuse, in London which helped her conduct research that focused on the cultural aspects of domestic violence and how drama and movement therapy can work with the body and trauma in such cases, which is a subject close to her heart.
Since 2010 Anshuma has also consistently worked with children, working with the Dil Se Campaign Delhi, Shishu Mandir and Winds of Change, Bangalore and The Oakleigh School and TCE Schools, London wherein she has worked with movement with touch and sound to do non verbal work with children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or those on the autism spectrum with behavioral difficulties.
Anshuma has always been passionate about the arts. She began her dance training at the age of five and uses her training in Jazz, contemporary, Bharatnatyam and Kathak within her work as a movement therapist. It was this passion and her love for psychology that drove Anshuma to Drama and Movement Therapy.  Now, having been trained in psychoanalytic, CBT, humanistic and Jungian analytical psychology, she has an eclectic approach to therapy in which she uses talk therapy, drama techniques, movement exercises, dream work, symbolism, myths, stories as well as visual art to work with the nexus of the body and psyche.