“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Soaked in the same spirit, the shared dream at UNREAD is to build a sustainable community mental health system, by shifting the focus from learning therapeutic techniques and becoming the expert in ‘curing illnesses’, towards developing a yearning for a dignified, inclusive, conscious and humane society.“
At Hank Nunn Institute (HNI), we focus on distress over diagnosis in all our interactions – be it with those coming in for therapy or among ourselves as those unwittingly placed in their paths as fellow travellers. A shift from the conventional biomedical and clinical models, we challenge top-down, expert-driven narratives and the resulting power dynamic between those offering and seeking mental health care.
UNREAD is an attempt to journey towards more anthropological views on mental health: to look at the world we are born into, and develop an understanding of the complexities of existence as they impact mental health. It aims to facilitate a critical examination of the role of the mental health professional in the Indian context, and draw attention to experiences and stories that are overlooked and unspoken in psychology classrooms.
UNREAD is designed to offer you a minimum of 550+ learning hours with the aim to cover basics of psychotherapy along with encouraging the development of an eco-bio-psycho-social perspective on mental health. Our robust and culturally congruent ‘distress over diagnosis’ framework primarily draws from principles of relational psychodynamic practice, group analysis, and therapeutic community methodology. We have structured UNREAD to function as a Learning Therapeutic Community over 6 months. This will offer participants the experience of being a community member and complement the knowledge and understanding gained in other learning spaces throughout.
The (un)learning components at UNREAD, curated as knowledge sharing and experiential spaces, provide a basis for beginning the conversation and peel back the layers to explore what lies at the heart of building ecosystems of care.
October 2023 to March 2024
Applications open: Tuesday 19th July 2023
Intake conversations: 24th July- 7th August 2023
Last Date for Applications: 4th August 2023
Extended deadline for applications: Monday, 7th August, 2023
Announcement of finalised list of participants: First week of September 2023
We are inviting applications from those interested in
– learning to engage with people as people
– exploring mental health care beyond the conventions
– developing a community based systemic approach to mental health
– reflecting on the impact of their own power, position, and privilege within a system
– engaging in their own personal therapy
Educational Qualification: Masters in Psychology (Applied, Clinical, Social, Counseling, Forensic, Organisational Behaviour), Sociology, Psychiatric Social Work, Nursing, Psychiatry, Public Policy, Developmental Studies, Social Work, Behavioural Sciences, Business Communications.
Sliding Scale: ₹10,000 – 16,000 + experiential group fee / month
1. What is the duration of the program?
6 months – October 2023 to March 2024.
2. What is the application and selection process?
Once you fill out the application form, you will receive the date and time to meet us for an intake conversation. This conversation with the HNI staff team will be focused on getting to know you better, discussing your responses on the application form, and understanding your journey so far. It is also a space to respond to your concerns and anxieties about the program, and help you assess whether UNREAD is the right step for you. We will announce the final list of participants by the first week of September 2023.
3. Who can join UNREAD?
It is open to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria, who is willing to commit to the community for 6 months, and is not a patient at HNI or does not have a boundary conflict with an existing patient or therapist at HNI. While UNREAD helps to develop perspectives and skills for therapeutic settings, it also aims to complement work in other fields that are intersections of mental health & society, by encouraging the development of a holistic view of community and mental health.
4. What are the topics covered during the program?
UNREAD aims to cover the basics of psychotherapy along with encouraging the development of a holistic perspective on mental health. Our robust and culturally congruent ‘distress over diagnosis’ framework primarily draws from principles of relational psychodynamic practice, group analysis, and therapeutic community methodology. Each month is designed to focus on one of the following themes, inspired by the therapeutic community principles: Attachment, Containment, Communication, Involvement & Inclusion, Agency, Separation and Loss
5. Does participating in UNREAD ensure employment at HNI post-completion?
While being a part of UNREAD does not confirm your employment, it is a requirement for being hired at HNI. Depending on the hiring needs of the organisation in the coming year, the selection is based on mutual feedback and assessment of the team’s and applicant’s experiences with each other during the training.
6. Do I have to pay for the program?
Yes. We are offering a sliding scale with the intent to make this affordable for people from varied financial backgrounds.The fee ranges from ₹10,000 to ₹16,000 per month. Each participant will also be required to engage in the experiential group as part of their learning experiences and will need to bear the cost for the same independently.
We have done our best to keep the fee at the lowest end possible. As there are no external sources of funding to support this program as yet, we are unable to offer any scholarships.
7. Do I have to relocate for the program?
No. UNREAD is being held online for 2023-24. All you need is a room of your own and good internet connection.
8. Does UNREAD qualify me as a psychotherapist?
Psychotherapy, unlike clinical psychology, is not yet a recognised licensed profession in the Indian mental healthcare system. Thus, UNREAD, while robust and application based, is not a qualifying course. However, it does equip one with necessary therapeutic skills and builds capacity to work in high stress settings. Certificates provided at the end of the experience are endorsed by our international partners (logos on the poster above).
9. What are the timings of the program?
Your time at UNREAD will be structured across 5 days a week. Most of the learning spaces will be accommodated between Mon-Fri from 08:30 AM – 08:30 PM with breaks through the day. Since HNI works 7 days a week between 8:30 AM-8:30 PM, certain spaces such as assessments and other ongoing programs like the community awareness events, alternative large group, webinars, and occasional informal meetings happen over the weekend as well. There is enough space for each participant to design their own week outside of the regular weekly spaces.
10. Can I participate in UNREAD in parts?
Participants will be required to complete all 6 months at the community in order to receive the certificate of completion. Since the program is revised each year, and components often overlap or follow through in continuation, it is not possible to attend it in parts.
11. Can I participate in UNREAD while pursuing my job or college?
We would advise against joining UNREAD if you have already committed to engaging in another program. UNREAD is designed to be a full time intensive program. Along with intellectual stimulation, it also places emotional and psychological demands on participants. Learning to work with others requires us to develop consistent awareness of our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in a community set up. This means the time that is available for rest and leisure is also important for you to be able to absorb and digest all that has been churned up during the week.
12. I am in therapy at HNI/in private practice with a therapist from HNI. Can I still participate in UNREAD?
We do not encourage individuals who are currently in therapy at HNI or those who share other sensitive boundaries with existing therapy seekers/therapists at HNI to join UNREAD in order to maintain the safety that comes with keeping these boundaries intact. However, if you have terminated therapy 2 years ago with no contact with your therapist, you could apply for UNREAD with the awareness that this will take away the opportunity to resume therapy with the same therapist in the future, if needed. Like other nuanced aspects, this can be a longer conversation that we have during the intake conversation.
Please read everything above including the FAQs before making an informed choice to apply.
“It may sound cliché but I see my life in the before and after filter of UNREAD. It was shitty before, it is shitty now, the difference is I HAVE BECOME AWARE OF IT- my life, my role & initiative in it- I am not a mere passenger, I have the capability of being the sailor myself, maybe I already am, just need to start commanding it, owing it. I got to witness WHAT MY LIFE CAN BE LIKE, all my thoughts weren’t “khayali pulao” anymore, I EXPERIENCED how to feel the change, how to bring it, bare the tides and survive those that come along with it. Learning how to do assessments, clinical work, etc was the minutest part of it, but the major impacts were:
1. Feeling ready for the world- the ease with which I was able to make some decisions and in fact felt at ease when it surfaced in consciousness like becoming a private practitioner.
2. Experiencing what support feels like and community belongingness is NOT “ji hazuri of others”. It is becoming a part of the network where others fall, you hold, you fall and others hold and feeling of being an equal, a connected individual.
It is like melody chocolate- Khao aur khud jaan jao!
This program is a major event of my life and fills me with emotions everytime I think or have to share anything about it.”
“UNREAD was a self-exploratory journey that encouraged me to reflect on myself as a learner, an enthusiast to understand others, and a newcomer to being in a group. The group discussions taught me to critically think, question my own view, and deliver my own perspective in the conversation. The course taught me to break down mental health into an experience, beyond a label or a diagnostic description. This shifted my perspective, making me curious to understand the context behind the difficulties a person experiences, including mine.
The course was designed to be experiential through community meetings, therapeutic community, adjusting and confronting the realities of working collaboratively in groups through community projects and outreach work.
Expressing my feelings openly showed me the strength of vulnerability and the power of learning new ways to overcome my own distress. Our training sessions have left me with more questions and perspectives when we connected the learning material to our own lived experiences. The course symbolizes how learning can be about exploring ourselves, our narratives, and experiences by getting a glimpse of what we appear as in groups, as interactions unfold and we learn about ourselves through others.”
“We must grope around each other through a dense thicket of absent others” When Janet Malcolm wrote this, she intended to summarise transference. Interactions had through the course of UNREAD entailed navigating through these dense thickets for me and how. The experience was instrumental in the creation of an internal environment, capable of facilitating a dialogue between conflicting needs and experiences, which is more than I can say for any other learning environment I have been in.
My wish for alone-ness and capacity for togetherness felt acknowledged across spaces and I learnt the importance of ‘responsibility without blame’, which is key to taking onus and learning. My journey was filled with ambiguity but HNI provided me a reparative experience and contributed to my development as a therapist. It is the kind of learning that is hard to put in words, it prepares you for life and reminds you that at any given point whatever you carry Is not just your own, but a shared experience. I have three degrees but what I learnt in these 6 months about myself and being a practitioner far exceeds anything I have ever learnt. Not perfect, but a ‘good enough’ environment is what it is. You’ll find parts of yourself buried deep within in the process and even if people don’t understand them, they will respect your journey and help you chisel out a version of yourself you never knew existed.”
“The journey was filled with more questions than answers. It was like stepping into another universe where everything is governed by different laws. I was fascinated by the conversations here, from our community meetings to the training spaces to thinkatory to phooltympas (not to forget NRTFP, Chai logue, mosaic and green cloud, the spaces I am part of even today) I loved every bit of it. I also got to learn how to hold on to conversations in a space. I have always been a very distracted kid in school and college but this time around, instead of looking out the windows in a learning session, I managed to be the kid who stares at other people’s faces, be there for most of the conversation and rearrange everyone’s zoom screens by colour order rest of the time.
The first few months were especially overwhelming. Suddenly I was in a space where people wanted to hear from me. The process was full of learnings and unlearning. I had always thought about power from a distance, as something that people have and use but that was the first time, I realised that even I have some kind of power. As much as I learned new things, I also let go of my urge to always know everything, I learned to sit through the discomfort, learned that conflict doesn’t mean the end of the world and it can be resolved, I understood how important it is in relationships to have difficult conversations and still have that support and how with support comes accountability and responsibility. This time I wasn’t an outlaw or the one who just can’t fit in but an integral part of the group. I felt a sense of belongingness that I haven’t felt anywhere else.
To be honest, I still don’t have all the answers I was looking for but this time I am okay with not knowing all of it, I understand that there will always be more of something, more to learn, more to grow, more time to spend and more to discover and to create but just because there is more to go doesn’t mean I haven’t come far.”