Dr. Sharanya Anil (formerly Saranya Srinivasan), Founder-Director, DIRECT, is a cognitive and educational specialist and has been in the field of child development, mental health, and inclusive education since 1997. She graduated with her PhD from Purdue University, USA; with a focus on neurocognitive deficits caused as a secondary effect of psychoactive drugs. She is a registered member of the prestigious American Psychological Association, as well as the American Counseling Association. She has received several awards in recognition of her outstanding work in these fields both from USA and India.
While at Purdue she has also worked extensively with the Gifted Education Resource Institute, where she worked with enrichment programs for gifted youth, psychology of giftedness, and creativity. Prior to this, she completed an Educational Specialist (EdS) degree from the University of Virginia, USA and has a Master’s and double Bachelor’s degrees’ from India. She is a Fellow in Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychology Counseling from NHCA Singapore.
She aims to uphold the concept of Sarva Siksha Abhayam (Education for all) and break down the barriers to education. Her areas of work and specialty include assessments, neurocognitive development and diagnostics, cognitive training, behaviour disorders, behavioural interventions, Adult, Child & Adolescent Counseling, early augmentative and alternative communication, and childhood special education.
She currently conducts post-graduate training programs at DIRECT in the areas of cognitive sciences, behaviour, educational therapies. and counseling. She is passionate about research and firmly believes that good research is essential to best practices.
Aside from her passion for work, she is an avid reader, enjoys travel, connecting with nature, adventure and the arts. She is energized by a morning run or a bike ride and enjoys solving crosswords and other mental puzzles. She tends to see life through new lenses and enjoys the experiences each day brings. She de-stresses through yoga, cooking and watching movies.
Anil S Bajaj, Business and Financial Advisor, focusses on the business and financial development and has a vested interest in the growth of the institute. He is backed by an MBA and has over 20 years of experience in the field of finance, marketing and advertising. He currently also has his own company, Portfolio Ventures, which provides financial and property consultations. His company has seeded the growth of DIRECT.
He enjoys sports and is a fervent golfer. He likes to travel to new places and experience the local cuisines and culture. In his spare time, he likes to engage in the culinary arts to whip something new.
Kavya Srinivasan, HR Administrator, has completed her Bachelors’ degree in Psychology and Masters’ in Applied Psychology. She has specialized in the field of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. She believes that Psychology plays a major role in influencing the science of behavior in human beings such workplace relations, attitude and behaviors within an organizational setting. Her focus to help the organization through strategic management of human resources, promoting job satisfaction and mental wellness among employees. She has gained administration, interpersonal, customer-relationship skills while working as a HR Coordinator of Organizations such as KONE Elevator India Private Ltd and World Vision. She is a people-person, involved in volunteer programs such as medical camps, blood donation camps, career guidance for school children conducted by Lions Club. Apart from work, she enjoys teaching children, reading fiction, stargazing, driving and sporting at leisure.
Shamala Chandran, Cognitive Trainer and Behaviour Therapist, being a people oriented person, wanted to pursue a career in the field of psychology as it helped her learn and understand human psyche and behaviour. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Counselling psychology. Her research thesis, as part of her masters program, involved an intervention program for children and this experience sparked her interest in working with this specific population. Shamala began her career as a teacher with an inclusive school. Her initial work with special needs population motivated her to pursue her training as a cognitive/behaviour therapist.
Her strengths include patience, tolerance and perseverance to see the goals of her children through. She enjoys the learning and application of new therapeutic techniques. Her other interests are dancing, spending time with people, experimenting with food, visiting places and snoozing when possible.
Akshaya P., Cognitive Trainer and Behaviour Therapist, has completed her Under-graduation in Psychology and holds a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology. She has worked in a pre-primary school with inclusion and believes that her strength of being a keen observer of behaviour(s) developed from there. Her strength also lies in the area of recording child’s behaviour and cognition and their progress in the same.
Her passion that’s driven her to work with children with special needs stems from her belief that they have their own capabilities and can be more. She believes that, when bestowed with a challenge, they will find a way to hone their strengths and channelise them to become more productive. She enjoys reading and listening to music in her leisure time. She also has a flair for doodling and uses that as a way to moderate the stress in her daily life.
Apoorva Sriram, Cognitive Trainer and Behaviour Therapist, has completed her under graduation in Psychology from the Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. She went on to complete her master’s in M.Sc. Psychology from Montfort College (Affiliated to Bangalore University), Bangalore. Venturing into psychology was a major step towards finding the reason behind existence for her. While working at a pre-school with inclusion, she found her life’s purpose. She is constantly fascinated by the unique ways in which children with special needs perceive the world and she believes that there is exceptional beauty and a reservoir of potential in them. All we need is a little bit of patience and a lot of love and unshakable belief to tap into them to see how amazing they can be. Her love for children and her purpose of being a medium of making a difference in their lives, is what makes her passionate. She finds working with children has helped her find and experience happiness at its true state. She is fervent about research and always looks forward to learning more.
She is a writer and she loves indulging in music as much as she can and during her free time, she likes to play the violin . She always finds a way to use her creativity by being crafty when she is up for new projects which include making new activities and materials. She hopes for a world where everyone is appreciated and accepted for their uniqueness and for who they are.
Manisha Roy, Cognitive Trainer and Behaviour Therapist, is an amiable person and is driven by her passion to understand the human mind. She completed her Under graduation in Psychology and Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. She has worked with children in an Inclusive School where she recognized the limitless potential among children with varying abilities. On her journey of self-discovery, she realized that working with children brings happiness, gratification and meaning to her life. Her zeal to work with children with special needs stems from her firm belief that the brain can be trained for ‘anything’ and that every child has the capacity to learn and grow in their own unique way. She also believes that creating a safe environment for children by nurturing them with love, care and support promotes holistic development of a child. The purpose of her life is to heal and inspire many more lives.
She loves connecting with nature and various forms of art. She enjoys listening to music, singing, reading as well as meeting and interacting with new people.
Devasena Shiphrah, Educational Therapist, completed her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition, FSM & Dietetics at Women’s Christian College and a Master’s in Child Development and Child Nutrition at JBAS college for women.She is currently working part-time as a Dietitian at Pink Fitness Studio, Kodambakkam and also a member of an NGO called “Happy2Help(H2H)” involved in social work that include conducting events for orphan kids, social issues, etc. Her keen interest to pursue her future with children led her to choose a career that’s children-oriented. Knowing Dr. Sharanya Anil, through her University lectures, and DIRECT’s work towards ensuring healthcare and therapies for children for their overall development motivated to start her work in this field with DIRECT. She believes this is her big dream-come-true career and a great opportunity to render her services. She believes that when educational services are provided appropriately to special children it helps them gain confidence and hope in life, at large. She intends to work towards basic and due care, education and nutrition for all children so they enjoy a holistic childhood. She is fascinated by her work and believes DIRECT to be the right platform for such goals.
She is also a passionate throw-ball player, athlete and dancer. She enjoys babysitting and pampering babies and children. She is also interested in spending time gardening, fish-keeping, enjoying nature’s scenic beauty, traveling, with people and to be physically active and fit always. She is a staunch believer that the Almighty Lord is in control of everything in life!
Sneha Subramanian, Educational Therapist, has completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Applied Psychology. With a keen interest in inclusive education, she has further specialized in training kids with Dyslexia. Recently she has also completed an Indian Sign Language certificate course. As a proponent of inclusive education, Sneha believes that a conducive and nourishing environment at family, school and societal levels is vital for holistic development of every child. Her advocacy for inclusive education stems from the fact that she herself was identified with dyslexia fortunate to go to an inclusive school in the formative years. The support she received from her educators empowered her to grow into a self-reliant woman. With a sincere intent to pay it forward, she is passionate about enabling children with diverse abilities, as she truly believes that every child has the potential to grow into well-balanced, contributing individuals of society. This motivated her to undertake formal training in Diploma in School, Corporate and Family Counselling in CCS Academy and to pursue a certificate course in Child and Adolescent Counselling from NHCA Singapore.
With few years of formal Carnatic training, Sneha still considers herself a hesitant bathroom singer. Her hobbies include listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and binge-watching content on OTT streaming services. She manages to enter the kitchen to cook up some food for the family once in a blue moon. She has preserved her inner child which enables her to easily connect and relate with children from diverse ages and background. She truly finds happiness in nurturing children with love and care.
S. Sahana Lakshmi, Expressive Arts Therapist, is backed by a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Diploma in Expressive Arts Therapy. She is currently an expressive arts therapist at DIRECT while simultaneously pursuing her M.A. in Psychology.
After pursuing her passion for art, she wanted to test her newly flaring urge to work with children. This was fueled by her work with children in Adrian school, Karur, as she nurtured her skills for the same. Her personal experience with people with special needs was an added impetus and made her determined to work with them. She witnessed that having unwavering faith in them and investing resources in their progress could bring a positive difference to their entire life structure. Expressive arts therapies opened up doors for her to use the arts and her own creativity to bring about this change that she was growing so passionate about. Art is eclectic and its use universal and she employs these powerful tools to impact a child’s learning. She further urges that a paintbrush is a more powerful and creative tool to write a simple ‘A’ than the mundane pencil!
Outside these walls, she is a voracious reader, a writer and artist, whose space is always filled with music.
Firdous Banu, Speech & Language Pathologist, graduated from Sri Ramachandra University in 2008. After gaining clinical experience for a few years, she pursued her post-graduation. She is also certified and/or trained by international centers such as Hanen, PROMPT institute and Lidcombe.
She has worked in different rehabilitation centers and hospitals both in India and UAE. She has served in multiple capacities, as a consultant, clinical instructor, pediatric speech-language pathologist, and as a clinical director in these setups. She shifted her focus to providing therapy for children with special needs when she moved to UAE.
She believes that it is every child’s right to communicate to their fullest potential, and takes pride in facilitating this process. She advocates empowering parents to help their child communicate by training them to facilitate their child’s communication. She enjoys the challenge of incorporating innovative as well as evidence-based practice in her therapy.
Chandrasekar Venkataramanan, Counseling Psychologist/ Psychotherapist by passion, graduated with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Madras School of Social Work after collecting life experience in corporate and non-corporate environments. He knows first-hand, the value of self-empowerment and healthy family dynamics in the development of a happy and healthy individual. He believes that people are the true experts on their own lives and loves being a team player with his clients.
He is an enthusiastic movement oriented mental health professional with a feminist, queer affirming approach to counseling. He believes that we all have an inner child that can get us through difficulties, and that harnessing our own inner strength can help us take flight into true wellness.
As a trained martial artist, believes that martial arts are a way for the body to express authenticity and emphasizes the importance of mind-body connect, incorporating that into counseling as well. He is also an avid biker and loves to meditate during his two-wheeled therapeutic rides. Apart from movement, he loves creating art, music and mimicry.
He is passionate about making a difference to the culture he grew up in and has learnt that all paths up a mountain lead to the top. Sometimes to see your own mountain better, climbing an adjacent one helps.