Prateeksha Sharma - Peer Recovery Specialist & Therapist
Thank you for your interest in reading about me.
This website shares everything I do professionally. My work lies in the domains of research, therapy, teaching, classical music and entrepreneurship; nearly in the same order. Since other pages share these engagements in detail, I write here only about why and how this seemingly disparate set of things came together, and how they all interrelate.
I am a Recovery Specialist/ Expert
Since an ‘expert’ is defined as someone who understands exactly what a particular situation demands, I am someone who understands recovery from that multidimensional perspective. There are three locations from which I derive my knowledge about recovery - my own ‘recovery’, my Phd research and recoveries I see happening around due to the work I do. Each of these sources routinely gives me new ideas, friends and knowledge. But equally significantly, I do not lean on any clinical or psychological theories to accomplish my goals. My therapeutic work and philosophy is unlike anything you would ever have encountered.
I call my counseling practice recovery oriented counseling. But my preferred phrase is collaborative therapeutic practice. Collaborations are made with a respectful stance and an acknowledgement of our shared histories and experiences. I constantly engage in a dialogic ‘engagement’, as opposed to a counseling ‘practice’, because dialogues are more likely to generate meaningful outcomes than ‘guidance’ or ‘counseling’ which the average counselor/therapist offers.
‘Recovery’ is a contentious, and multi-layered phenomenon in mental health. It began as a movement from the experiences of those who had ‘recovered’ (primarily in North America and Europe, from the 1970’s onward) themselves but was soon adopted by psychiatric practices in many countries of the world, and later even in mental health policies in the those countries. In India, people are unsure about the idea of recovery, because they are not exposed to it. I regularly do advocacy about recovery and I am happy to respond to queries, doubts, dilemmas and misgiving about it. You are welcome to invite me for a talk, a discussion, panel discussion, or symposium in your organization, university, department or institution.
Since I have many similar experiences like someone who comes for dialogues with me, the manner in which I understand their story/point of view is markedly different as compared to counseling/therapy with someone who comes from a university based knowledge of mental ‘illness’ labels. Usually our dialogues produce different outcomes. One of the key differences is that I do not look at people through the lens of ‘illness’ or labels as though they are ‘psychiatric patients’ who need to be guided by me. Fortunately for me, the sources of my knowledge do not lie in psychology, but in a wide spectrum of knowledge, as I share further. My relationships with my ‘collaborating partners’ (instead of ‘clients’ or ‘patients’) is a fulcrum of new knowledge- which is unlike the work of most others in the field. I invite you to read what some who have been in dialogues with me have to say- Testimonials.
Chronologically speaking, the first thing to start was my training in classical music, which began when I was a pre-adolescent. My training continued despite bumps and crashes, informed by many gurus, touched by several gharanas of Hindustani Classical Music. To read in further detail about my musical work, please click here.
I went to college to study Economics, but life had other plans for me, and in the third year of college I found myself in the throes of a strange and unusual experience. There was no explanation what was happening, nobody in my vicinity understood anything at all. It seemed like a huge turmoil and I was given a diagnosis of manic depression. The year was 1992.
How life’s plan for me unfolded
While I dealt with my ‘bipolar’ disorder over the span of the next couple of decades, I remained inquisitive and continued my musical training on the one hand as well as inquiry into other areas simultaneously. I became research oriented, in search for a solution for myself and in looking for ways that music could help people, and entered the domain of social psychology. Social psychology led me to social construction and to understanding the social roots of mental ‘illness’, and instead of a clinical perspective forced me to think of why the clinic was not making people get better, in spite of decades of medical treatment.
A diploma is the early 2000’s was only my starting point in counseling, the knowledge had to come much later- upon discovering collaborative approaches from social constructionist theory, discourse and its impact on society from Linguistics and other areas of inquiry, Chaos theory, Open Dialogue Approach in recovery from psychosis, narrative approaches, and the theory of positive disintegration.
At present my work-day is divided between study/research/writing, counseling and teaching (classical) music. The main research I am presently involved is about understanding recovery from psychosis in India; and this knowledge also goes into informing a small part of my counseling practice. The rest of the counseling practice is derived from two sources- the first of which is experiential perspectives from my own recovery, something I have extensively studied and analyzed for a long time. You are welcome to read the things I have written about myself in research. The second source is what I have written in the paragraph above- collaborative approaches, narrative therapy, Chaos theory and so forth. This is also an area of practice-theorizing-research for me at present. In future, I will be training others in this therapeutic method, informed by people’s lived experiences.
Music has been one of the key aspects of my recovery and I have understood the recovery in a multimodal way, written about it. Please read this article about it, if you like.
I do not work out of a clinical space nor do I not know many who have gone to a hospital, clinic, half-way home, day-care center or any other institution from where they come away healed, empowered, recovered. Healing from traumas, setbacks, suffering does not require a clinic but an open heart, willing to pay attention to what another is saying. Usually people already know ‘what is the matter’ with them, if only therapists knew what to do with it further.
I am in the process of creating a space where people can come, heal and recover.. As my musical work is seamlessly interwoven into my life, when someone comes to meet me for a dialogue they could pretty much be coming for a music class- it remains completely anonymous. I have three addresses that I operate from, but while my doctoral research goes on, I am mostly available at my Haryana address.
My entrepreneurial venture is called Hansadhwani- mind.mood.music
Philosophy and goal
Being a researcher who dons many hats I am naturally inclined towards philosophy, and there is not much I do which does not have a philosophical mooring. While I may write about it in research, the overall philosophy of my life is to work towards all that I can towards my own emancipation from ignorance, in diverse aspects of life AND to offer the best of my mind, knowledge, ideas, efforts, encouragement and support to everyone I engage with. I endeavour to keep three words at the heart of all my work, derive them from emancipatory research in disability and extend them to one and all. They are reciprocity, gain, and empowerment.
I look forward to engaging with you and support with creating positive outcomes in whatever you do. If you are someone given a mental ‘illness’ diagnosis and would like to work/train with me, please connect. Life is always pointing us towards newer configurations.
I am also an avid gardener, nature lover, and enjoy cooking occasionally. And my family mostly comprises of animals and birds, especially dogs.