Two years ago, through the Hank Nunn Institute (HNI), we started working with Swakshatra, a rescue home for young girls in Bangalore, Karnataka. The home aims to provide post trauma-care and rehabilitation for the girls.

This opportunity presented us with a twofold challenge – a) communicating with the girls with no common spoken language between us, and b) addressing their trauma and providing psychological care without them re-living the experience .

All of the girls speak Kannada (official  language of Karnataka, India) which is different from both our mother tongues. The language barrier seemed to have added to the ‘us and them dynamics’ which already existed because of our privileged backgrounds.

The idea to use play-based groups seemed like a safe intervention to begin addressing both these challenges. Over time, play has helped us form a relationship with each of them, understand the nature of their inter- and intrapersonal relationships, their dreams and nightmares, and their desire to reconnect with their families. This paper is an attempt to share our journey and in the process answer the question – How do you begin to relate through play when it has been the symbol of abuse?

Ishani Bayal & Reshmi Sahadevan
Feb 13, 2021
The Language of Play: When the Unspoken Takes Centre Stage
Developing therapeutic practice in a girl's shelter home in Karnataka, India
Reshmi Sahadevan is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience in Psychotherapy. She is also a trainee Group Analyst and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She has experience in building mental health spaces in organisations. She is passionate about working with community and reaching more people through the application of psychology beyond the therapy room.

Ishani Badyal is a psychologist-psychotherapist working in a personality disorder/difficulty service since 2016. She has a keen interest in working with people with complex trauma. She has worked in various community mental health spaces, both in rural and urban settings. She is training to become a group analyst and is part of the Therapeutic Environments Practitioner Course (TCEPT). Her long-term goal is to set up therapeutic communities in the semi urban and rural areas of India.

email: info 'at' limbus 'dot' org 'dot' uk
For more informtion, contact: Farhad Dalal 0778 222 0385