Restorative Mental Health: The Ashiyana Foundation’s Pioneering Approach with Kshipra Marathe

In an illuminating presentation, Kshipra Marathe showcased her collaborative work with Ashiyana Foundation in Mumbai, detailing how restorative mental health interventions are creating transformative spaces in child care institutions across the city.

Kshipra Marathe, with a rich academic background, having earned a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from Coventry University, UK, has dedicated her professional life to the well-being of children. In her role as a counsellor with the Ashiyana Foundation, Marathe’s interventions focus on holding restorative and safe spaces for children, significantly reducing the detrimental effects of institutionalization and guiding them towards a path of recovery and rehabilitation.

The presentation commenced with an overview of the Ashiyana Foundation and its commendable work in various child care institutions. Their primary mission is clear – to create alternative spaces where healing and community are paramount. These spaces, as Marathe stressed, empower children to retell their stories, which are often tainted by trauma, societal bias, and a sense of alienation.

Marathe’s presentation was rich with detailed insights. She revealed how the team, comprising of dedicated mental health practitioners, seamlessly blend values of therapy with restorative practices. The inclusion of processes like listening and sharing circles stood out, offering children a safe environment to express themselves, share their experiences, and find collective solutions to the challenges they face.

An intriguing aspect was how Ashiyana Foundation’s counseling work navigates within the confines of the existing juvenile justice system. Despite the system’s often punitive nature, the foundation firmly believes in, and consistently embodies, a restorative approach when addressing harm. This approach plays a pivotal role in diminishing feelings of shame, stigmatization, and other emotional burdens that arise from the dual challenges of institutionalization and criminalization faced by the children and youth.

But what resonated the most was Marathe’s reflective segment on their journey as psychologists and restorative practitioners. It was evident that their work, though deeply rooted in restorative mental health support, frequently ventures beyond the confines of traditional counseling frameworks. Their innovative practices, tailored to each child’s unique needs, offer a beacon of hope for many ensnared in the juvenile justice system’s complex web.

Drawing from her experiences, Marathe emphasized the vital importance of upholding values and principles of restorative practices, especially given the intricate nuances of the Indian context. With the myriad challenges that the landscapes of harm, healing, and community present, Marathe’s commitment to intertwining restorative practices with India’s cultural and societal fabric is commendable.

In conclusion, Kshipra Marathe’s talk was not only a deep dive into the transformative work of the Ashiyana Foundation but also a testament to her unwavering dedication. The blend of her academic prowess with the hands-on experiences at the foundation showcased a holistic approach to child care, emphasizing the potential of restorative mental health interventions. For those in attendance, the presentation was not only enlightening but a poignant reminder of the change that dedication, compassion, and innovative practices can usher in.