Introduction

Holding Space: Deconstructing disability experiences and navigating ableism in therapeutic conversations [A manual]

Holding Space: Deconstructing disability experiences and navigating ableism in therapeutic conversations [A manual]

People with disabilities experience ableism on a daily basis. It is present in our schools, our workplaces, our homes, our relationships. It impacts every aspect of a disabled person’s life and in turn impacts disabled people’s mental health. Despite this reality, we see that the mental health needs of people with disabilities remain invisible.

To respond to this glaring gap, we created a one-of-a-kind self learning manual: Holding Space – Deconstructing disability experiences and navigating ableism in therapeutic conversations – Part 1.

On a beige background is the cover page of the manual. Right on top is the RF logo. Next to it: Holding Space: Deconstructing disability experiences and navigating ableism in therapeutic conversations. Below an illustration of multiple people in a gardenwalkway setting. The person on the bottom left is wearing a hijab and using a rollator walker as they move closer to join the group. On the bottom right corner are two people mid laughter. They are both standing. The person on the right has curly hair which is tied in a bun on the top of their head. They are wearing a kurta and leggings with a dupatta. They are leaning against a pillar with one of their hands resting on it. They are wearing compression gloves and have kinesio taped their arm. The person on the left has short cropped hair and is wearing a patterned shirt with pants, with their hands behind them. They have a nasogastric tube connected through their nostrils. Behind them, a person is walking down the slope while holding a light brown dog with a leash. They have short cropped curly hair and are wearing a white tee shirt with an open purple flannel shirt and red pants. There are flowers growing behind them. There are stars of different sizes in the background, sparkling.

Illustration by Sonaksha Iyengar

This manual is the first of a series that we will be working on to expand the understanding of mental health practitioners on disability experiences and ableism’s demands on disabled people’s lives, and its effects on their mental health. We hope through this manual to highlight the need for mental health professionals to specifically learn about this and bring these learnings and ‘unlearnings’ into their mental health practice supporting disabled people.

This manual has the intention of making the effects of ableism on people’s lives more visible. It is aimed at making us more aware of ableism in our lives, in society and in the lives of people around us.

The exercises, activities and worksheets in this manual are designed for self-learning, they can also be used in workshops and trainings as a guide to build disability related sensibilities of counsellors and therapists for the future. This manual is rich with the work and wisdom of people with disabilities from India and the world.

The manual is available for download here.

[Note for screen reader users: This manual is best read on a pdf reading software after downloading it.]