The Guild of Service Family Counselling Centre offers counselling to the under trials / convicts at the Special Prison for Women at Puzhal, Chennai and to women at the All Women’s Police station and Chennai Police Commissioner’s Office. This programme is funded by the Central Social Welfare Board through the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board.
Qualified and trained counsellors visit these Centres five days a week and offer counselling and organise therapy for the women (placed) there. They offer individual as well as group counselling. Detailed case studies are prepared by the counsellors and submitted to TN Social Welfare Board. The Unit holds workshops and counselling sessions for the personnel/ staff of the prison, police stations and office of the commissioner of police. Private organisations have also requested the counsellors to address their staff and teach them relaxation therapies.
At the SPW, Puzhal, group counselling is provided on a regular basis. One-on-one counselling is conducted for the under trials and convicts when they approach for help or when referred by the prison officials. Apart from counselling, recreational programmes like sports and motivational classes are held twice a month for under trials. This helps them settle down and adjust to the prison environment. The FCC also conducts sports and art competitions (are also held) amongst the inmates (and is conducted by FCC).
The counsellors also enlighten the under trials and convicts on the various government schemes which they can avail once they are out of the prison. At the All Women’s Police Stations and Chennai Police Commissioner’s office, the counsellors help aggrieved complainants, mostly married couples, by counselling them. The social workers are witness to a variety of marital disputes and help women to access help in several ways.
Since end March 2020 the SPW, AWPS and COP counselling centres were closed due to COVID. The counsellors were assigned other duties and were able to reach out to a wider section of people. They were put in charge of the Help lines started by the government to give information on Covid protocols/treatment and also to help allay the fears of the general public regarding the pandemic. Once the counselling centres were reopened in Oct. 2021, they have successfully started counselling at SPW, AWPS and COP. Apart from the above, the counsellors counsel the children and sometimes the parents of the Guild of Service schools and children at the GOS Seva Samajam Girls Home and the elderly beneficiaries of GOS Meals-on-Wheels.
Case study 1
VS, a 11-year-old girl and her elder sister are residents of GOS Seva Samajam Girls Home. Their mother who was a daily wage earner and a widow admitted them to the Girls Home to provide them a good education and safe stay.
VS volunteered for the counselling session which is held regularly at GOS Seva Samajam Girls Home. After initial hesitancy she opened up and said that when she had gone home for the holidays, she was abused by a man of around 45-50 years who lives near her house. He forced her to watch adult movies and tried to molest her. VS felt uncomfortable and escaped from his clutches. She added that she feels fear whenever she sees men in any place or situation.
The counsellors through various therapies like cognitive restructuring therapy, systematic desensitization etc. were able to help her feel normal again and face men and women without any fear. After the intervention, VS felt validated and stated that she had forgiven the molester and was no longer afraid of him. She has now moved on and is able to focus on her studies and her is living a normal childhood.
Case study 2
RP, a 32 year old woman is serving life sentence at the Special Prison for Women Puzhal, Chennai. Her case was referred to FCC by the Prison officials.
RP had a difficult childhood and started working in her early teens. At around 15-16 years, she fell in love and married a man. She had two children in quick succession. After some time, she discovered that her husband was already married and had 2 children from his first marriage. The first wife had runaway and now the responsibility of the two children also fell on RP. She was now looking after 4 children.
One day one of her stepchildren had a seizure and was admitted to a hospital where the child died. The man’s 1st wife lodged a complaint with the police. RP and her husband absconded along with her children. Soon her husband deserted her. After 4 years the police found and arrested her and her husband. They were both convicted and imprisoned. The children were sent to an orphanage.
Since her conviction, RP went into depression fearing the future of her children. The GOS counsellors counselled her and assured her of practical help to reduce her stress regarding her children’s future. She was made to reconcile to the fact that she had long years to serve in jail and she should accept reality. Her children would be admitted to a good residential hostel where they would be safe and get a good education. This assurance calmed the woman, and she became less stressful.
Keeping to their word of assisting her, the counsellors took up this case in all earnestness and with the cooperation of relevant officials and help of the GOS FCC Chairperson and Guild of Service (Central) RP’s daughters were admitted to GOS Seva Samajam Girls Home. This gave the client a lot of relief and she is no longer depressed .
Case Study 3
Mrs. Roselin is a homemaker, and her husband works as a mechanic in a workshop. She lives in a joint family with her in laws.
In the beginning of their marriage life, the couple had a satisfactory relationship. When they went to the hospital for treatment to have a child, the doctor advised her husband not to consume alcohol since that was the main cause of his problem. This made Roselin resentful of her husband and her in laws who always supported him. She demanded to move into a nuclear set up. Her husband was not willing for it. This led to their frequent conflicts. On further exploration, low-income was also associated with the serious threat of the marital quality of the couple.
The counsellors spoke to the couple. Roselin was worried about her husband’s drinking habit, and he felt guilty that he was the reason for not having a baby. They helped him to understand that proper treatment and quitting alcohol could help them have a baby. The issue of a nuclear family was addressed so that they could have quality time and a compromise solution was arrived at. They decided that initially they would opt for a nuclear family and later move back to their joint family.
The couple reunited and in the follow up sessions, the counsellors could witness that they were happy together.
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