Dr. Sharanya Anil (formerly Saranya Srinivasan), Founder-Director, DIRECT, is a cognitive and educational specialist and has been in the field of child development and education since 1997. She graduated with her PhD from Purdue University, USA; with a focus on neurocognitive deficits in children and its impact on learning with school children. She is a registered member of the prestigious American Psychological Association and has received several awards in recognition of her outstanding research work in the field.
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 also the Founder of Grassroots, an inclusive school in Chennai, which 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, augmentative and alternative communication, early childhood special education, behaviour disorders, and behavioural interventions.
The goal of true education is not only to build acumen but also to shape the personality of an individual. She believes Education is the most powerful tool which can be used to change the world and the function of education is to teach an individual to think critically with passion. She currently conducts post-graduate training programs at DIRECT in the areas of cognitive sciences, behaviour and educational therapies.
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 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 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.
Minnu Mariam Jose, Cognitive Therapist, completed a MSc. in Counseling Psychology after her BA in Sociology. Minnu absolutely loves working with children. She feels like she learns as much from them as they do from her. She admires a child’s endless energy, honesty, creativity, flexibility and resilience. She firmly believes that focus should be on a child’s strengths rather than on their difficulties. As a conscientious therapist, she reflects daily on her walk back home: the progress each child made and how she could take their skills further.
Her motivation to be a better human comes from the children. Her belief “Somehow, children seem to know when you’re feeling a little bit lost, unappreciated, or generally down, even when you do your absolute best to make sure you leave your personal life at home. When children love, they love so wholly and without judgement, that it can warm even the coldest of hearts”.
Her other passions include: music, travel and camping, mobile camera photography, socialising, reading, bathroom singing and watching sitcoms and movies.
Abidha Anwar, Cognitive and Behaviour Therapist, sees psychology as a doorway to explore, understand and interpret the human mind and its functions. This propelled her to complete her Bachelors in psychology and Masters in counselling psychology. She has been working with children for the past few years and considers it to be extremely exciting and gratifying. Working with children has made her realize that happiness can be brought about by simple things, and she feels that they have taught her what “unconditional positive regard” is.
She strongly believes in the time spent with the children, for every minute spent towards their development touches their life in so many significant ways.
She loves getting lost in the world of fiction and mythology. She is multilingual and shows keen interest in understanding different cultures and their traditions. She considers learning as a lifelong process, if she would ever be a super hero then she would like her super power to be “Knowledge”. Visiting Japan in the Sakura season is the next to-do on her travel list.
“Who says a dream must be something grand?
Just become anybody
We deserve a life
Whatever, big or small, you are you after all.” -Paradise, BTS.
Apoorva Sriram, Cognitive 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 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.
Purnima J Bhatia, Cognitive and Behavioural Therapist, completed her under graduation in psychology from the Delhi University and went on complete her masters in Counselling psychology from TISS (Balm, Chennai). She has interned with children in various settings where she recognised the potential of working with different abilities. She firmly believes that faith, love and persistence goes a long way when working towards a goal. Children always bring out the brightness in her and she wants to do the same for them.
Purnima loves connecting with nature and people by traveling. She loves capturing moments through the eye of her lens and expressing herself with different modalities like music, painting and writing.
Sasi Vijayan, Expressive Arts Therapist, has her Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Counselling Psychology. She attended a workshop on expressive arts therapy which inspired her to pursue expressive arts as a serious career. She went on to complete a Certificate course in Expressive Arts Therapy in USA where she also worked in a NGO for underprivileged children. She has always been interested in working with children and firmly believes in the expressive arts as a therapeutic modality. She strongly feels that music, dance, art, and drama as a form of therapy is very healing and loves seeing the happiness and satisfaction in the child’s face when they achieve their goals. She wants to show the world that you don’t have to have an artistic flair to do any kind of art.
Apart from loving her work, she is influenced by her love for harry potter books and believes she has magical secret identity. She loves cooking and the view of the early morning beach. She is adventurous, and has tried her hands on skydiving, bungee jumping, trekking and surfing but still has more in her “to do list”. If travelling was free, she won’t be here but since it is not, she is going to be saving up her money to travel the world in her free time.
Her philosophy is “Choose a Job You Love, and You Will Never Have To Work a Day in Your Life”.
Anjana K. Thampy Animal-Assisted Psychotherapist completed her Bachelors in Psychology from Ethiraj College for Women, and then pursued her Masters in Counselling Psychology, from the Madras School of Social Work in Chennai, India. Having grown up around dogs, both her own and others’, she experienced first-hand how special the bond between animals and humans is. Certain that she wanted to explore it more, both personally and professionally, she decided to pursue Animal Assisted Psychotherapy (AAP/AAT).
Considering that the chances were then limited in India, she spent 18 months, after completing her post-graduation, training to be an Animal Assisted Therapist, under the direct supervision of Dr. Linda Chassman, founder and executive director of Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado (AATPC), in USA. During her time in Denver, Anjana worked alongside horses, goats, rats, rabbits, cats and dogs, and helped various clients work through a range of different mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, attachment concerns, and mood disorders.
Anjana believes in creating a safe, and accepting environment, with the client at the center, so that they may explore and delve deep into their issues in a comfortable manner, without feeling judged. She does this in partnership with her therapy animals; Arya the cat, and Omana the dog.
Anjana enjoys every single minute spent with her little menagerie of animals at home, and when she is not busy with them, she likes to read fantasy fiction, listen to music, take to her guitar and strum a few tunes, or surround herself with as much nature and trees as she can.
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, travelling, 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!
Shruti Hari, Educational Therapist, intrigued by the various factors that influence the shaping of an individual’s life, decided to pursue her under graduation in the field of Psychology. Through the exposure she received while pursuing an honours degree in Psychology at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore she realised that working with children gives her happiness, confidence and kindles a sense of responsibility and hope. She believes that providing an enriching and supporting environment along with instilling values to children at a young age leads to the positive development of the child.
Her meticulous and calm nature allows her to execute all her work seamlessly. She loves traveling, long drives and exploring new places. She enjoys humming along to the tune of music and catching up on the latest TV shows.