One of the privileges of running Collectivitea is being able to share stories of people doing wonderful things around the world. Today’s storyteller is Nikita Vyas, a trained psychologist, who is based in Chennai, India. She has set up an online, and a small physical space called The Dreamscape Studio as a way to offer counseling, share inspiring stories, and positively impact people. There is an expression that I have heard quoted, seen in Mary Engelbreit’s art, and which is variously attributed to many sources including the Bible, and it is ‘bloom where you are planted’. This is how I interpret it- all of us, and each one of us, can use the resources at our disposal to positively impact our surroundings. Start where you are, do what you can. Do it with joy. Every measure helps. BLOOM! I was reminded of this quote with every line of this story. – Priya
Nikita Vyas – Founder of The Dreamscape Studio
“My name is Nikita Vyas. I’m a psychologist by profession, and personally, I enjoy writing, poetry and art. I was born in Mumbai and spent most of my childhood days there. I was around 12 years old when my father passed away, and we moved to Chennai. I first discovered Psychology when I was in my Junior college in Sophia College of Arts and Science, Mumbai. I had to move back to Chennai due to my mother’s heart surgery and was late in applying to colleges there for Psychology and eventually had to take up Sociology, at M.O.P Vaishnav College for Women. While I was studying Sociology I was lost because my goal was to study psychology. I was unhappy as well. Chennai was a drastic change for me from Mumbai, from the language, to the people. During the 3rd year of under-graduation, I learnt that it was possible to study Counselling Psychology even though my bachelors was in Sociology. I applied in Madras School of Social Work and went on to do my M.Sc in Counselling Psychology and later a M.Phil.
I interned (unpaid) and worked (paid) at several places as a clinical and school psychologist. I worked with the issues of schizophrenia, mental retardation, clinical depression, learning disabilities, de-addiction etc. I was not happy with full-time jobs, and started freelancing. I conducted workshops at schools and institutions. At times, I freelanced as a counsellor at the clinics of general physicians for psychological problems of their patients.
However, wherever I worked, my services felt limited. I wanted to make a difference. There was way too much indiscipline at the places I worked; more than a service, it started looking like a business. Nothing can work without money but one must also understand the needs of the patients. I was not allowed to treat the way I wanted to. I decided to start something on my own. It wasn’t exactly a company, but I started counselling people on issues such as self confidence and body Image for teenage girls. . I was hardly earning any money because people in India hesitate to pay for a service such as counselling where they are not given a prescription, and according to them counselling is similar to advising. But I was truly making a difference and my counselling was working.
Being bullied most of my school and college years, not to mention depression, I knew what it meant to lose self confidence and crawl into a hole. I was lucky to have psychology constantly with me during my dark and gloomy days. Along with my personal depression, a pressure from family to get married took a toll. It wasn’t easy to come out of it, but it wasn’t impossible. My only support was my mom. She never once asked me to settle, and she believed in my dreams and took all the heat from society to be okay with an unmarried daughter at 27! Well, my name means “one you cannot conquer”, and that is exactly how I am. That is when I decided to do something different.
I am a dreamer. I believe in dreams and I dream all the time. I believe that it is important to dream. I find freedom in dreams. In our busy lives ruled by time and society, we forget many critical and crucial things about ourselves. Dreaming is one amongst many such things. I always wanted my own counselling studio. I didn’t want a centre, but a studio where nobody is a patient. A place where people could come and talk to me about their dreams and the obstacles they face in order to achieve them. So when I decided to name the studio I was confused. I tried to seek help from a few friends to help me find a name that would reflect exactly what I wanted to do. When you name a company or a product it needs to have an impact on you first and your clients next. One late night, I was browsing some articles and came across a word that was new to me, so I opened my dictionary (mobile app), and before I could punch in for my quest, a word flashed across the screen. “DREAMSCAPE”. Now dreamscape means to paint a surreal picture. And voila, I found my studio’s name.
THE DREAMSCAPE STUDIO
At The Dreamscape Studio, my vision is first to work with women and teenage girls. I do not have any issues working with the male population nor am I a feminist. I have seen a lot of women who lose their self identity at such an early age due to several reasons, and I wanted to help such women. I work towards improving their lifestyle, their self esteem, and confidence. I have always believed that people have all the solutions to their problems all they need is some guidance, a direction, and a push. I like to work via one-on-one sessions. My studio does not work at light’s speed, it’s slow. For me, more than the number of clientele, improving their lives is a lot more important. Second, I work towards relaxation. In our lives, no matter what we do, whether we have our own business or a job or if we work from home or an office, there is always some stress around. The Dreamscape Studio is also a relaxation space where people come for a small session of meditation with a few relaxation techniques. Mediation does not work for everybody. I try to modify relaxation methods according to their needs.I also have online segments such as Dream Tales that features stories of eople who worked towards achieving their dream. This is a weekly segment. I have always loved stories and this segment gave me the opportunity to come across a lot of talented and creative people out there. The Reading Corner features inspiring book for the week and Ask the therapist is a free online consulting segment where people are free to post their issues or just vent. I reply depending on the queries. Also sometimes people want to maintain their anonymity and this segment helps maintain that.
I have been very happy since this journey started. The only obstacle I face is the stigma of counselling and mental health. People fail to understand that by going to a counsellor you do not necessarily become mental or crazy. Especially in India, people do not mind taking a pill but they find therapists very expensive. I am not conventional and I usually have sessions with clients at a cafe or my house. Usually the relaxation sessions are at my place. People are smart and they have the answers to all their problems, but they are stuck with old patterns of thinking and habits. I only try to brainstorm along with them and always encourage them to take the next step. I am not sure if this is enough, but, I would like to reach to all those who are stuck in their lives and cannot seem to find a way out. I feel as if this is only the beginning. I am a lot wiser than what I started. I hope people believe in dreams and dream fearlessly to witness the magic they crave for.” – Nikita Vyas.
Visit The Dreamscape Studio here.
Images: 1) Studio Collectivitea; 2) Courtesy of Nikita Vyas
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