Nitin Shah of ICHARS tells us about empowering mental health professionals.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nitin Shah: Very good.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ICHARS.
Nitin Shah: I am the Founder & CEO of ICHARS Support Foundation, CEO of the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and Related Sciences (ICHARS) and author of Destiny of Choice.
As an internationally renowned transformative coach, I am committed to guiding change facilitators like Coaches, Psychologists, and Trainers to reach their highest potential.
I began supporting change facilitators in 2012 after understanding the limitations of the existing support available both in terms of quality of training and willingness for mentorship.
This was also the year when we incorporated our parent company – the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and Related Sciences. The company was incorporated to enable us to help change facilitators develop advanced coaching and/or therapeutic skills.
Since its incorporation, ICHARS has trained over 4000 mental health professionals, including 1000+ coaches and 2500+ psychotherapists based on a unique, eclectic approach that integrates concepts and practices from major fields of psychology (Cognitive, behavioral, humanistic and psychodynamic) with Clinical Hypnosis, NLP and different types of Meditations.
ICHARS Support Foundation (ICHARS–SF), a not-for-profit organization, was incorporated in 2018 to create awareness about mental and emotional well-being. ICHARS–SF organizes free workshops, seminars, and group activities for parents, students, teachers, and individuals to equip them with effective tools for managing their emotional and physical state.
ICHARS–SF has also initiated certain initiatives to help people deal with COVID19, and Lockdown-related Anxiety and Stress. These initiatives include video-based support groups, phone helplines, and weekly talk shows.
Special counseling certifications on Anxiety, Relationships, and Sleep were also designed as a part of the ICHARS offerings to help psychologists help clients with these issues as they gained prominence during the COVID times.
During this period, we also initiated the Visit MHP challenge to create a shift in the focus from curative to preventive benefits of visiting/consulting a mental health practitioner.
How does ICHARS innovate?
Nitin Shah: ICHARS specializes in creating a step-by-step, structured approach to therapy and coaching that mental health professionals and coaches can use with their clients to help clients overcome emotional challenges and accomplish their goals within a short period, naturally and effectively.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Nitin Shah: The first 4 months of the pandemic were difficult from the point of view of the organization, as we had to find a way to adapt to the new normal. Over a period of time, we have started offering most of our training programs via online mediums.
What made this adaptation slightly challenging is the nature of the programs that we conduct and the responsibilities as an organization that we need to consider as a part of this transition. The need to offer online training meant we needed to make our courses even more structured and offer more extensive post-workshop support. It also provided us with the opportunity to save on certain costs that were associated with in-class training.
We looked for ways to reinvest the savings into ways to offer more extensive post-workshop support. Our students’ results and feedback have been amazing both for how the overall quality of the programs has been further enhanced, and the extensiveness of the support being provided.
We were also able to move most of our not-for-profit services online. This provided us with the opportunity to reach out to and support people from marginalized sections of society.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Nitin Shah: The most difficult choice was to shut down the Training cum counseling center, where we were offering in-person services from before COVID-19. Almost all our plans prior to COVID revolved around the various activities we had planned at the center. The fact that people could not come physically to the center and the cost associated with maintaining the center meant we had to give up on all our plans and more or less start afresh from the brainstorming stage.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Nitin Shah: Social media, especially Facebook and YouTube, LMS, Online booking calendar (Wp Amelia), Click up for team tasks management, and zoom for online workshops and consultations are the key software and tools that helped us during this time.
The fact that we train coaches and psychologists meant that we already had the skills and support required to focus on what we can do from here instead of what we have to give up as a result of the uncertainty that came with COVID-19.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Nitin Shah: In terms of the target audience, any organization that offers coaching or psychotherapy-related certification or diploma courses is our competitor.
But in reality, given the quality of work we do and the unique curriculum we offer, there is virtually no competitor. Our focus and efforts are directed towards improving both the quality of our courses and the post-workshop support, which is, in our assessment, the best way not just to stay in the game but stay ahead of the game.
Your final thoughts?
Nitin Shah: It is important to remember, no matter how bad things may seem, there is always something that can be done. No matter how small that something seems in the beginning, doing that can open some amazing unexpected opportunities.
What really worked for us during these times and should probably work for other organizations as well as the ability of the members of the core team to keep the vision, mission, and values of the organization at the center of their thought process while focusing on the present and future possibilities instead of past possibilities and lost opportunities.