Sunday, May 30, 2010

Teacher who helps draw out kids' worst fears through art

Mumbai: When Shaam Kodilkar, a commercial artist and a drawing teacher by profession, asked five-year-old Rahul (name changed) to draw, the child painstakingly sketched a crying duck surrounded by a pool of tears. Kodilkar was taken aback and wondered what may have prompted the boy to draw such a picture.

After probing a little, Kodilkar found out that Rahul had painted himself as the crying duck. The child was feeling extremely unwanted and would go into a shell at the sight of his own father.

Later, Kodilkar found out that Rahul was deeply affected after seeing his parents in one of their intimate moments.

Similarly, a young girl whom Kodilkar taught drawing, initially drew nothing. After almost three months, Kodilkar’s coaxing finally made the child draw several squares. They represented her school, benches and classmates, the girl said.

When Kodilkar enquired about the missing teacher, the girl told him that the teacher was dead. Kodilkar sensed something amiss and on checking further found out there was a problem between the child and the teacher, which was also the reason for the girl not attending school.

The child’s parents were informed and she was shifted to another school, which worked wonders.

Making several such analyses by observing drawings, along with an in-depth understanding of human psychology, Kodilkar has, over the years, become a self-taught art therapist.

Unlike other drawing teachers, he teaches as well as observes the child’s social, cultural and emotional problems and then helps them. “Art therapy is a form that uses art material and drawings to open up an individual’s mind and understand his deep-rooted mental problems. It reveals emotional problems which even a doctor may not be able to gauge,” said Kodilkar, who has been involved in the field for 30 years.

A JJ School of Art graduate, Kodilkar was earlier involved with the NGO Young Indians and organised various art competitions to encourage young minds to draw and paint.

However, what began as curiosity to understand young minds soon turned into a passion. And, now Kodilkar successfully uses art therapy to tackle emotional problems in children, teens and adults.

Six months ago, he was roped in by the superintendent of the Thane Mental Hospital to teach drawing to hospital inmates and conduct art therapy sessions.

“The drawings are used as an analytical tool to open one’s mind and the use of certain themes, lines, and colours reveal a certain mental pattern that can bring inner conflicts to the fore,” said Kodilkar, recalling how once boy drew a child sitting next to a woman with his hands outstretched.

The boy said that it was a child who wanted to be with his mother. Kodilkar then found out that the boy’s parents were planning to get divorced and he was distressed. He advised the parents to avoid separation and asked the mother to shower the kid with love.

Within a few days, there was a distinct positive change in the child.
“My understanding of human behaviour and ways to deal with it has made me understand the subject well,” said Kodilkar who, on occasions when he is unable to solve a case, advises parents to approach a psychologist.

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