1st Edition

Many Ways to Heal Therapeutic Choices in Mental Health

By Prateeksha Sharma Copyright 2025
    110 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book creates a scope for achieving mental wellbeing apart from the currently dominant mental health practices, critiqued for their damaging effects on individuals and families. By broadly drawing on salutary possibilities, it brings evidence of existing and emerging approaches to resolve to mental distress.

    This unique volume brings several practices and testimonies together that can support people’s healing and recovery, focusing on the following key interventions:


    • Different ways of looking at emotional suffering beyond psy-knowledge, which many doctors, social workers, disability scholars, legal or policy experts and psy-professionals advocate for.


    • The role of expressive arts employed by both professionals and peers.



    •Efficacy of peer engagement of a professional nature in India, the newest globally emerging phenomenon, often heralded as the future of mental health worldwide.


    Deftly interwoven with patient and peer narratives in jargon-free language, this one-of-a-kind book brings practices and choices that can facilitate healing and ways out of permanent psychiatric patient-hood. This volume may be of interest to psychiatric and other helping professionals, therapists, researchers, current patients, caregivers, service providers, social workers, non-profits, students of psychology, social work and disability studies , as well as legal and policy experts.

    1. Ways people heal and the zigzag nature of recovery

    Prateeksha Sharma                  

    Section I: Recovering life and the myriad ways to heal

    2. Learning from mistakes, a path to autonomy

     Roma Bhagat                               

    3. Restoring Children’s Mental Health through Empathic Listening

    Smriti Sharma and Abdul Mabood  

    4. Pride, Prejudice and Diagnosis


    5. Somatic Practices: Body as a resource in the healing process

     Tanvi Bajaj      

    6. Can mental health professionals have alternative stories? 

     Sudarshan Kottai


    Section II: A brush with the peer

    7. Building pathways of return – stitching community rehabilitation, together

      Porkodi Palaniappan

    8. Healing with words

     Rashma N Kalsie

    9. A palette that mixes voices and colours

      Reshma Valliappan                                       

    10.   “I feel like a person now”: Negotiating twin challenges of peer and parental figure in peer therapy

       Prateeksha Sharma




    Prateeksha Sharma (PhD) is a peer-psychotherapist, researcher, musicologist working out of New Delhi. She is founder Bright Side Family Counseling Center, an organization committed to helping people recover from all setbacks. She wears research and teaching hats almost permanently and her first monograph is titled, Barriers to Recovery from Psychosis.

    The freedom to make choices holds little meaning if there are limited or no options to choose from. Providing the person with mental distress only the choice of accepting or rejecting psychiatry is not providing choice but putting people in a double bind, even when other alternatives exist. This book familiarises the reader with existing alternatives and incites them to devise their own.

    -       Amita Dhanda, Professor-Emerita, NALSAR, Hyderabad


    Edited by Prateeksha Sharma this book presents an elaborate set of ideas about, what are known as psychosocial or nonmedical therapeutic approaches, in the management of mental health problems. It appears like a whiff of fresh air in a scenario where organic somatic concerns are pervasively dominating the treatment of mental illness. Among other deleterious effects, prolonged use of psychiatric drugs leads to cognitive deterioration, by now a well-known reality. This needs to be addressed with a focus on recovery rather than treatment or cure.

    Illustrative descriptions using diverse therapeutic interactions with sufferers of severe mental illness makes the book an interesting reading for mental health professionals whether psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and all  academics and professionals concerned with mental health and wellbeing . It is a valuable addition to the available literatures on mental health.   

    -        Tej Bahadur Singh, Former Dean: School of Human Sciences and Chairman, Dept. of Psychology, Central University of South Bihar, Gaya



    Acknowledging human diversity, whether in suffering or knowledge Many Ways to Heal brings together a unique collection of ideas in mental health to the reading public. It offers a solid foundation to look beyond the dominance of the medical professional who enforces compliance to psychiatric medication, for years and years.

    To parents and caregivers this book and its opportunities may bring great relief, for their suffering is no less than their children’s and loved ones’. I especially recommend this book to the medical professional urging them to take a closer look at the diverse possibilities presented here and wherever possible incorporate it in their own work, in the spirit of care and a commitment they all enter the profession with. Best Wishes to the editor Dr. Prateeksha Sharma with appreciation for the yeomen service to offer a set of possibilities to scores of people.

    -       Harish Bhalla, Physician and De-addiction Specialist



    Many of us who have loved ones, friends, relatives and sometimes even students living with mental health issues, which are debilitating, worrisome and at times seeming to go nowhere, this is a book to turn to.  It is absolutely brilliant, replete with narratives and testimonies of lived experiences. They bring hope and wonderfully point to the fact, that there are many pathways to be explored, which may lead us to healing and wellbeing. Healing pluralism or the plurality of options for healing are “meaningful and potent alternatives”.

    So, to feel joy and enjoy the good things of life, this is a must read. I think our exploration can begin here, to take us towards clarity, and perhaps, fulfillment.

    -       Poonam Natarajan, Founder, Vidya Sagar, Chennai                                                                                       


    The word “recovery” is fraught with insinuations that the person is not “normal”. While the world is full of slogans like “it’s okay not to be okay”, sometimes the person suffering wants to be in charge and heal, taking agency into their own hands, just so they can find a way of navigating a complex world. As a person who found wellbeing and meaning through poetry and art, I urge you to read this book, written by people who have walked this path, showing you a plurality of ways to heal, away from medication to other alternatives. 


    — Jhilmil Breckenridge, mental health activist, writer and poet. Editor: Side Effects of Living  


    This book shifts away from dominant, mainstream ideas about recovery that are closely tied up with the medical model to demonstrate that recovery from mental illness is a complex process that is facilitated by multiple factors. The availability of multiple therapeutic options is central here, and Other Ways to Heal highlights the importance of therapeutic pluralism. Written in an engaging and accessible style and drawing from the richness of lived experience and research, this book will serve as an important guide to those invested in the path to recovery. The use of personal narratives and research stories concretize and animate the pages, while providing encouragement to those struggling to heal from mental distress. Importantly, Many Ways to Heal illustrates that recovering from mental distress without medication is indeed possible. 

    -       Shubha Ranganathan, Associate Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad


    Just as there is a great diversity within the human race, there can be no one way of healing distress. This insight is particularly important when there is a strong dominant discourse that shapes our notion of mental illness and how recovery must happen.Prateeksha Sharma’s book deals with ways other than psychiatry and medication, that can enable recovery from ‘Distress’ the term she uses for what we know as mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and much else.

    Writing simply, she walks us through her journey and that of many others who talk to us in this book. There is no linear straight path to recovery but a “zigzag” one with some steps forward and some backward. But the important elements are the “agency” and will to move forward. This book is not only for those of us who wish to explore avenues to deal with our pain or distress but will be must read for anyone interested in the human condition and willing to explore myriad paths  to wellbeing.

    -       Radhika Mullick Alkazi, Founder and Managing Trustee, ASTHA ( Delhi)

    Through candid self-narratives and testimonies, Many Ways to Heal invites readers to explore alternative avenues of healing beyond traditional psychiatric interventions. From peer support to alternate therapies, each chapter offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of healing possibilities, inspiring hope and fostering a sense of empowerment. Whether you are a patient, caregiver, or mental health professional, this book offers invaluable insights and guidance for anyone touched by the journey of mental health recovery. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a beacon of hope for those navigating their own path towards healing.

    - Neelam Chawla, Founder, Maxable4all, UK: A Global Mental Wellness Mission 



    In a world where mental health discourse often follows conventional psychiatric paths, "Many Ways to Heal" stands out as a beacon of hope and possibilities. This transformative book prefers the language of mental health issues (MHI) over mental health disorders and illnesses, challenges the dominant ideas of clinical recovery, and promotes agency and learning over surrender and resignation.  Dr. Sharma has built on her lived experiences of navigating the mental healthcare system in India, academic explorations of barriers to recovery, and recognition of the potential of healing pluralism to bring together unique and insightful perspectives "to heal the tortured spirit."  

    Through a diverse range of contributions from practitioners, researchers, and individuals with lived experience, the book comprehensively explores alternative therapeutic approaches and their efficacy in fostering holistic healing. With its commitment to inclusivity, compassion, and innovation, "Many Ways to Heal" is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking alternative perspectives on mental health and healing. 

    -       Arpita Gupta, PhD, Assistant Professor at Jindal School of Psychology and Counselling Regional Chair, International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (India chapter)