Honey Oberoi Vahali did her Master’s in Psychology from the University of Himachal Pradesh in 1990. Subsequently she completed her training as a Clinical Psychologist (MPhil in Medical and Social Psychology) from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore in 1993. Her PhD is from the University of Delhi. Her PhD thesis, A Psychohistorical Reconstruction of the Tibetan Self in Exile was later on published as a book, Lives in Exile: Exploring the Inner World of Tibetan Refugees (Routledge 2009). Using a psychoanalytical sensibility in this work she had explored the inner world of three generations of Tibetans living in India and had also worked extensively with Tibetan torture survivors. Her research efforts were geared towards studying the intimate manner in which culture and psyche are interwoven with one another, also how Buddhism functioned as a creative force in helping the Tibetans to work through their losses that displacement and refugeehood had imposed upon them. Some critical reflections on Chinese Communism as a political movement heralding social change are interwoven in her research, which attempts to find a way of bridging models of inner and outer change and possibilities of transformation.
Subsequent to her PhD she went to pursue her training as a psychoanalytical psychotherapist and then as a Psychoanalyst with the Indian Psychoanalytical Society, Kolkata. At present she is one amongst the few fully accredited psychoanalysts in India. She is also a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association.
Honey Oberoi Vahali started her academic carrier at the Department of psychology, University of Delhi in in 1993 as a research Associate. She became an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the same Department in 1996 and worked there as an Associate Professor till 2010 when she moved on to join Ambedkar University Delhi. From 2005 onward, she was instrumental in setting up the Centre of Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Delhi along with her senior colleague, Prof Ashok Nagpal.
As a teacher, her work has also been geared towards looking at the processes- both cognitive/intellectual and emotional/experiential –in the field of higher education. Her efforts have been to provide a place to a reflexive and empathically attuned form of teaching, which attends to the life history and emotional struggles of students as well. She believes that an experience-near pedagogy should be given equal significance to the intellectual pursuit of knowledge in institutions of higher education where by “sensing their subjective feelings and also by being touched and recognized in their core” students can eventually become reflective social subjects in the various contexts of their lives.
Her research interests focus on studying dreams and other subtle articulations of the unconscious As a researcher and a psychotherapist, she is also interested in forging bridges between psychoanalysis, human suffering, spirituality and models of social justice. Her attempts have been to link visions of psychotherapy with those of social and emotional justice and for several years she has been advocating for in-depth low cost psychotherapeutic and mental health services to be accessible to all in need of help, irrespective of their economic capacities. A concern with disadvantaged lives has been a running theme in her psychological and social explorations and engagements She looks at psychotherapy as a humane and deeply attuned spiritual process of reaching and caring for the suffering of the other. She has written on all of these issues as well as on the practice of psychotherapy, psychoanalytic pedagogy, visions of engaged spirituality, the history of psychology and insanity and that of psychoanalysis in India. Presently she is writing on models and possibilities of psychoanalytic research, the psychosocial clinical perspective, on psyche and literature and on the mother daughter dyad. She has an active interest to pursue research and to develop perspectives of care in asylum contexts in India. In her research work she has been advocating for a place where the larger formulations of thought are routed through the subjectivity of the researcher. The value of attending to the callings of the unconscious marks her intellectual and research oriented interests.
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