Psychological counseling in Nepal is in its infancy, although many children suffer from emotional trauma. NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center is a pioneer in psychological therapy for disadvantaged children in Nepal. Ankur also offers a wide range of training for people who work with youth.
Since the Ankur Counseling Center began in 2006, it has provided free psychological counseling to 2213 underprivileged children. In 2011-2012, 604 people benefited from therapy at Ankur. The Center also held 28 training sessions and workshops through the year for 415 participants.
Emotional health is largely neglected in Nepal and psychology is only beginning to gain acceptance. However, many people, especially disabled children, orphans, and homeless youth, suffer from oppression and discrimination.
To meet this need, the Nepal Youth Foundation established the Ankur Counseling Center in 2006. Ankur’s counselors, who have Masters degrees in clinical psychology, provide psychosocial therapy to hundreds of underprivileged children every year. This counseling is enabling children who have endured unimaginable hardships at very young ages to fulfill their potential.
In addition to individual counseling, Ankur’s therapists run group therapy sessions and workshops for youth. These are very beneficial to the boys and girls who live at J and K House, NYF’s children’s homes, many of whom face similar emotional and behavioral challenges. The therapy sessions teach children about interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and leadership, and the workshops cover topics such as stress management and drug abuse.
Ankur is the first center in Nepal to use sand play therapy, a form of psychological therapy which transcends language and is therefore particularly suitable to the needs of children. Ankur’s counselors now train other psychologists to use sand play therapy.
The Center complements its psychosocial counseling with a wide range of trainings and workshops for hundreds of people every year. The participants, who come from throughout Nepal to attend the trainings, include professionals and students in the field of psychology, child care professionals, teachers, and parents, as well as children. Ankur also provides trainings for child care professionals, such as are therapists, teachers, and staff of orphanages. Some of the topics are Peer Counseling, Parenting skills, Creative Movement Therapy, Positive Discipline, and Motivational Communication Skills.
Additionally, Ankur offers internships to college students in Nepal who are pursuing degrees in social work. The interns actively participate in many of the activities at the Center and gain a greater understanding of the importance of psychosocial care.
Counseling for Girls Rescued from Bondage
Ankur has established a second counseling center in Western Nepal for girls NYF has freed from childhoods spent in indentured servitude. Many of these girls have been severely traumatized and their emotional needs have largely been neglected. NYF has trained 45 rescued girls to be peer counselors, and in 2011-2012, the girls formed 75 support groups with a total of 783 members. Ankur’s counselors traveled throughout the program area to monitor the support groups and arrange further training for the peer counselors.
Sustainability of the Program
The Ankur Counseling Center has made its counseling and other programs available to everyone in the Kathmandu area, with an emphasis on children. The income generated through this counseling partially funds the free treatment for disadvantaged children, helping the Center become sustainable. The counselors use television and radio to raise awareness about the importance of psychological counseling and encourage people to come to Ankur.
Some of the programs that generate income include a Psychological Care Camp for children and teens during their winter vacation from school, parenting classes that teach parents and teachers how to create child-friendly environments in schools and homes, and specialized training programs for child care staff.
A Mysterious Illness Cured by Therapy
Sunita, a student in 9th grade, suffered from headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, and was performing poorly in school. Ankur’s counselor found that she was very afraid of the future and felt pressured to excel in school to "be somebody." Her fears had produced physical symptoms.
Through techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Sand Tray Therapy, Ankur’s psychologist explored Sunita’s problem and reduced her fears. The counselor taught her relaxation techniques and had her study, eat, and sleep according to a set schedule. After six therapy sessions, Sunita passed her high school examinations and is now studying in college.
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