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Aqseer Tara graduated from the National Law School, Bangalore in 2012. Two years later, after a battle with depression, she enrolled in an M.A. course on Psychosocial Clinical Studies at Ambedkar University.
Driven by a need to provide psychic healthcare to all, she started MirrorWork’s, an organisation dedicated towards making “contentment and creative expression accessible to all.” MirrorWork’s offers “listening services”, with prices that start from rupees twenty.
In an e-mail interview with Bar & Bench’s Anuj Agrawal , Tara talks about how Aaina has been received, why she chose to offer these “listening services”, and more.
Anuj Agrawal: What is MirrorWork’s?
Aqseer Tara: MirrorWork’s’ has a ten year vision. Its first offering is Aaina which is being registered as a Section 8 company. We aim to be self sustaining as much as possible – by selling our merchandise, organizing workshops and reaching a critical mass of people availing our listening services.
AA: You have deliberately called your offerings as “listening” services. Why?
AT: I call it a listening service because the words “therapy” and “counselling” meet with a lot of resistance. I think they make people feel like there’s something wrong with them or that some stranger is going to start dictating to them what their life should look like.
I want empathic listening to be acknowledged for the massive skill it is. I want listening to be acknowledged as the fundamental need it is. If we all had access to non judgmental spaces where we could be heard at the right points in our lives – our suicide, depression, anxiety, alcoholism rates would plummet.
AA: You once said, “For a lot of people just acknowledging that they have emotions is such a big thing.” – Can you give examples of how people have reacted to the listening services?
AT: People are reacting well. A lot of people have reached out to me offering help, sharing stories and saying they love my approach and sense how it is different from what is available in the market right now.
AA: How big is your team right now and do you receive financial aid?
AT: I have four people with me. My mentor Gagan Sethi from Jan Vikas has promised to get us some money – just enough to offer the team small stipends. We are coming out with a very interesting line of products soon. That, along with money coming in from clients should keep us going. Sensitive funding is very welcome!
AA: Do you plan on reaching out to students as well?
AT: Yes absolutely. Twenty-somethings are facing very particular crises and we are well-placed to address those. We will be proactively targeting Class 11-12 students and college students soon. Another big target group is 35-40 year olds who do not have the luxury of breaking down.
AA: Any advice for law students who may be undergoing some form of mental turmoil?
AT: Well. Don’t be a frog in the well. Appreciate the versatility of your degree. Look around you. You can have the life you want. Risks are worth taking. If you don’t, who will?
You are still the creative, idealistic kid you were before moots knocked it out of you. Forget changing the world. Figure yourself out, the world will change as you do.
Picture Credits: Sneha Mohanty Photography