Psychology

The Psychology Department Report (2018-19) and a journey through time.

 

In the year of our sesquicentennial celebration, the Psychology Department not only reports its activities for the year 2018-19, but delves into the quantum realm, to emerge, for a few moments in other time periods, to give you, glimpses from the past. As you journey through the multiverse of our department with us (thanks to the Pym particles in this article), we hope to share with you, our gratitude for the past, our appreciation of the present and our anticipation of the future.

Let us begin by giving thanks for the two Spanish priests who had the courage and vision to put psychology on the map of higher education in Bombay. It is 1957 and the Psychology department of St. Xavier’s is founded under the guidance of Rev. J.  Filella and Rev. J. M. Fuster, pioneers in our field. Over the years, with the support of faculty such as Prof. Madhavrao Ghorpade, Ms. Emma Vaz, Miss Ravinder Ahluwalia, Miss Mangala Nath, Miss Geera Boywala, Miss Maureen Rego, Miss Bunny Mistry, Miss Medha Kotwal, Fr. George Rosario, Miss Edwina Pio and others, the Psychology department and  the co-curricular ‘Psychology Group’ organized activities such as visits, guest speakers, symposiums and films as part of ‘Psychology Week’ to provide interesting and insightful learning experiences. I would like to put in a personal word of appreciation to my own teachers and mentors Ms. Bunny Franco, Ms. Geera Kalanjee and Ms. Maureen Almeida who have inspired and guided me in my own journey of growth with the psychology department of our college.  Another source of inspiration was Fr. Terence Quadros. He was a faculty member for a few years as well as director of the counselling centre for several years, and conducted workshops on themes like self-awareness, communication skills, creative thinking. 

 

Coming back to the present, in 2018-19, we organized 3 workshops that were conducted only for our TY Psychology students and  13 workshops on varied themes in Psychology, that were offered as credits for honours students of psychology and other disciplines. Most of these were conducted by alumni who were happy to share their time and expertise as resource persons to guide our undergraduates. The list of workshops conducted by them is as follows:

 

Dates 

TOPIC

Resource persons

Sr. No.

9th June 2018

Team building for TY psychology

Ms. Rhea Gandhi

1

13th& 14th June 2018

Research Capacity Building & Report writing for TY psychology

Monk Prayogshala

2

15th & 17th Jan 2019

Possibilities (training for TY counseling students)

Aspi Shroff

3

28th& 29th  July 2018

Sports Psychology

Ms. Maurelle D’Sa & Ms. Nicole Menezes

4

11th& 12th August 2018

Psychology of Storytelling

Ms. Toru Jhaveri

5

19th& 20th  Jan 2019

Forensic Psychology

Ms. Janavi Doshi

6

24  25 Nov 2018

(also on 3rd & 4th Feb 2019)

Dance Movement Therapy for dealing with Anxiety

Ms. Devika Mehta

7

1st& 2nd September 2018

Mindfulness 

Ms. Prerana Dharnidharka

8

1st& 2nd September 2018

LGBTQIA and Affirmative Therapy

Ms. Jagruti Wandrekar & Ms. Advaita Nigudkar

9

8th & 9th Sept 2018 (Also in Feb 16th& 17th)

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Ms.Shama Shah

10

21st  & 22nd  Nov 2018

The phone’s hold on you (psychology and social media)

Ms. Saindhavi

11

12th  & 13th  Jan 2018

Positive Thinking

Ms Alisha Kalidhar

& Abisha Fernandes

12

9th & 10th Feb 2019

Winning at work with Emotional Intelligence

Ms. Shruta Nayak

13

2nd & 3rd Feb 2019

Narrative Practices

Ms. Jehanzeb Baldiwala & Ms. Shamin Mehrotra

14

27th, 28th and 29th August 2018

Communication in Relationships

Ms Rupa Kalahasthi & Ms. Shruti Murali

15

16th & 17th February 2019

Assertiveness Training

Ms Tarana Pithawalla

16



The annual Khandala seminars have been on the landscape of psychology department activities since the 1980s, with a range of themes such as Attitudes, Child Psychology, Personality, Positive Psychology, Controversies in Psychology, Relationships and Sexuality, Learning & Memory, application of psychology to everyday phenomena, to name a few. In the year 2018-19, we had 117 psychology students who attended (38 FY, 55 SY, 24 TY) the Khandala Seminar, along with all 3 staff members of the department, Fr. Dean Fernandes, Ms. Linda Dhakul and I. Across simultaneous sessions over one and a half days, 43 papers were presented on topics covering the theme: Individual and group differences: exploring and appreciating diversity. Many of these were Honours students who earned themselves credits for their work and few of the presenters chose to engage in the endeavour purely for the learning experience. 

 

We organized guest speakers some of whom were invited during class hours to address a specific group. Others conducted their lectures after class hours and these were attended by diverse groups of students. Two of the resource persons were in fact alumni and retired faculty of our college. It was a pleasure to have former head of the Mathematics department Mr. Felix Almeida and Mrs. Maureen Almeida (who was head of the psychology department from 1979 to 2015) interact with our students. The list of guest speakers and the dates of the events have been tabulated below.

Dates

Topic

Guest speaker

19th Sept 2018

Hypnotherapy

Ritu Kabra

25th Jan 2019

Intervention for Bullying

Dr. Noellene Fialho 

School counselor & visiting faculty for XICP

30th Jan 2019

Counseling & services for the Elderly

Dr. Vandana Nadig 

co founder ElderAid, Bangalore

5th Feb 2019

The road ahead as a social science major

Shabbir Ghatila from The Chicago School of professional psychology (in collaboration with The Red Pen)

5th Feb 2019

Counseling with Children

Ms. Kavita Bhatia (Chetana Foundation)

25th Feb, 27th Feb, & 1st March 2019

Advanced Inferential Statistics

Mr. Felix Almeida Retired Head of Mathematics Dept. St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai

20th, 25th, 27th Feb and 1st March 2019

Understanding the Extraordinary Behaviour of Ordinary People

Ms. Maureen Almeida Retired Head of Psychology Dept. St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai

21st Feb 2019

Organizational Life Skills (enhancing employability)

Ms. Shruta Nayak

21st Feb 2019

Aegis4Seniors services for senior citizens in Mumbai

Ms. Manjusha Battle and Ms. Smita Zankar

9th March 2019

Narratives on Mental Health and wellbeing 

Ms. Priyanka with Team Tarasha (TISS)

 

A special series of lectures on courses and career paths after graduation with Psychology called ‘The Next Step’ was started from 2015-16. This endeavour was undertaken to help students make a more informed choice for further education or work. It was held on Friday 22nd February 2019, and attended by 58 students (16 FY, 18 SY, 24 TY).  Many of the resource persons (who are listed in the table below) were alumni of the department and served as an inspiration for the students in the audience. 

RESOURCE PERSON

COURSE/AREA OF WORK

Shweta Ravi

Entrepreneurship (has started her own company CHINKOR)

Sailee Biwalkar

SNDT Churchgate 

Ashini Shah

Diagnostics & Therapy

Neha Shah

Special education

Rupal Vora

SIES institute for comprehensive education

Dr. Danielle Pereira

TISS entrance process (School of Human Ecology)

The proposed Xavier’s MA Psychology: Lifespan Counseling

Caroline Francis

TISS Education course

Dr. Umesh Bharte

Courses at UDAP, Kalina, University of Mumbai

Dr. Noellene Fialho

Human Development, Nirmala Niketan and school counseling

Praneeta Katdare

MNWC Parla 

Sharon Miriam

Azim Premji Institute

Priyanka Bajaj

Montessori course, currently teaching  in a school

Sharon D’Souza Pretto

Social work career and (currently studying at)  Garware Institute MA in Emotional Intelligence

Yashi Gandhi & 

Pooja Shah

Taking a gap year for work experience (internships)

 

The core team of SYBA students who were responsible for publishing the department magazine ‘Uncommon Sense’, chose the theme ‘Psychology of Symbols’ for 2018-19. A tour through the archives of the past tells us that although psychology magazines were occasionally published by students (such as ‘Pstuff‘ in 1996-97), Uncommon Sense has been an annual feature since the year 2000-01. One of the memorable issues of the psychology department was called ‘Grey Matters’ and was published in 1990-91. That year the department also held an Exhibition that was titled ‘Mind Your Head’. Quick detours while (we are in the past) reveal that we have also had exhibitions in 1986-87 ‘Inside Out’, then in 1999-2000 the theme was ‘Health Psychology’ and the exhibition in 2003-04 called ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was on Communalism. This one was held along with an interdisciplinary lecture series, organized in collaboration with the departments of History and Sociology and Anthropology.

 

Having caught the timestamp for 2018-19 in our journey through time, let us share some of our initiatives at social outreach. As part of their Social Involvement Program, 34 FY students participated in the initiative involving the task of assisting an exchange student/outstation student to adjust to the college and the city. This mentoring and befriending program was initiated since 2015-16 and has been appreciated by students who have participated in it. 

Another initiative was designed around improving emotional wellbeing. There were two parts to this,  one called Emotional Connect was conducted by our TY students of Counseling psychology and the other called Emotional Uplift, was conducted by a group of SY and TY students. Emotional Connect was proposed to provide an opportunity for anyone on campus to accept and express their emotions in a safe space, characterized by empathy, positive regard, a nonjudgmental attitude and genuineness. The objective of this intrapersonal and interpersonal experience was not to 'solve people's problems', but to help individuals connect with their own emotions and with each other. The underlying assumption being that we grow through interpersonal experience. Although we kept ourselves available in the break, for 6 Mondays from end July to mid September, very few persons availed of this ‘Listening Space’ in our Psychology Lab. Emotional Uplift was designed to increase the happiness quotient of random persons on our campus, through short de-stressing activities. These exercises were conducted by our students in their break, for 6 Tuesdays during August and September.  For each session, around 6 of our student volunteers chose an activity for positive energy (such as writing a gratitude note) and then engaged others in it for a short duration. Each time, they returned to the lab with positive feedback and a warm smile. 

 

Moving beyond the walls of the college, here is a glimpse of participation in festivals, competitions and conferences outside of Xavier’s. 

This year, 19 psychology students from FYBA volunteered for a program titled Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, dealing with mental wellbeing, specifically dealing with emotions in children of various schools in Mumbai. The venue was   Dominic Savio School Andheri East. Ms. Linda Dhakul personally supervised their work and contribution at the venues on 11th and 12th January 2019. Their contribution involved handling Logistics for the event. It enabled the successful completion of this program as designed by Prafulta (which is the largest NGO working in Mumbai in the area of Mental Health).

Few of our students attended at the 26th Annual BPA Conference that was organized in collaboration with Shri M.D. Shah Mahila College of Arts & Commerce. It was held on 1st and 2nd Feb 2019 at their college in Malad. It was a multidisciplinary National conference and the theme was Millennium Challenges for Psychosocial Adaptation. As an executive committee member of the BPA Ms. Ruby Pavri assisted the organizers and moderated the session on caring for the elderly. There were 4 students who attended from St. Xavier’s College, Autonomous, Mumbai, and three papers were presented at this conference by our students.

Despite their busy schedules and academic demands, 11 of our students (TY and SY) participated in the Jaihind college psychology festival PSYCHINSIGHT held on 9th January 2019. They secured first place in the event Psych Surprise and also won the overall trophy for the festival and deserve our heartiest congratulations! 

 

To conclude this report, after travelling through the past, let us turn our gaze to the future. In 2019, we got approval to begin two new Post Graduate courses.We now have an MA Psychology: Lifespan Counselling, a two year course designed to train competent mental health practitioners to work with persons and populations across the lifespan. Along with two new in house faculty members (Dr. Danielle Pereira and Ms. Ruchi Brahmachari) who will teach courses, guide research and monitor field work, many of our alumni and their colleagues who are practising psychotherapists, have agreed to come on board as visiting faculty and therapists for personal counselling that students need to experience. The modules on therapeutic skills will be taught by those who are willing to bring their professional experience into our PG class.

We are also starting an intensive one year PG Diploma in Expressive Arts Therapy which offers training in the therapeutic use of Art, Drama, Music and Dance Movement as modalities for practitioners to help diverse groups of people. This course has been designed by specialists in each of the expressive arts modalities and will be coordinated by Ms. Devika Mehta. The objective is to develop competent practitioners in this highly specialized field of expressive arts therapy. Internationally certified faculty from across the country have been invited to teach on this course to give participants a solid theoretical foundation and hands on skills to be applied in socially challenging environments within educational and developmental settings.

 

We have now run out of Pym particles, time and space... so I end this report with a universal appeal to all alumni, parents and well wishers. Find a way to contribute towards the legacy that is St. Xavier’s... reach out and help us to shape a better world... for the future is now!

 

Ms. Ruby Pavri

Head, Department of Psychology.

 

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