Please tell us about yourself

FEW days ago, the women’s hockey team was assigned a group activity – to let their hair down to the tune of a Korean song. The girls enjoyed it to the hilt. It was a bonding exercise prescribed by the team’s new psychologist Abhilasha Saharan. Abhilasha is a new addition to the team’s support staff trying to prepare them for the tough road to the Rio Olympics. “They work hard. I am interacting with them and trying to assess their needs and make it more fun for them. I am working to improve their understanding and co-ordination,”Abhilasha told Mail Today. “We are working on group activities at the moment which include giving them common tasks they can enjoy and explore the beauty of life and learn something new every day.”Having a string of coaches and strong support staff has become important for success in international sport. Assistant coach CR Kumar believes a psychologist’s role is crucial. “We want them to gel and understand each other better. They come from different parts of the country, different cultures and backgrounds. We expect them to have a set target and move towards that. It is a common responsibility. The fun activities help in releasing pressure,”he said. “You may be very good in your hockey and may be physically 99 per cent but for even that one per cent, I feel a psychologist plays an important role. If that one per cent is not there, then the 99 per cent may go waste. Sometimes certain things may be troubling them and a woman psychologist can understand can communicate with the coaches.”

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Tell us about your experience in Psychology?

I have done Bachelors in Psychology and Master’s in Applied Psychology from University of Delhi South Campus in 2015. As soon as I finished my master’s I joined Snr. Women’s Hockey Team of India as sports psychologist, I am life time member of Sports Psychology Association of India. I have also completed level 1 in Hypnotherapy from California Hypnosis Institute. I have worked with athletes of various discipline from individual to team athletes from the time I started working with in sports industry after finishing my master’s course. Also, I have been awarded for best paper presentation in 2016, warm camp international military psychology conference held at Jaipur, Rajasthan. Apart from that I have done guest lectures for M.P.Police for Counter terrorist squad “Hawk” on urban warfare psychology and constable training program on “role of psychology in improving quality of life”.

What are your interests?

I have quite wide range of interest areas and all lead to learning new things and gathering information on various matters which will lead me to understand and expand my knowledge of understanding culture, society and sports in blend. because of that it varies a lot from doing social work to doing studies which includes reading, writing and learning new languages. In broader terms psychology is there in everything we do; the choice of my interest varies from need of the mood in particular duration of hour – so I always end up feeding my fascination of bucket list quite a lot new exposure and experience. I love everything about life and it all started from sports and again end up at sports.

Tell us about a life changing experience or adventure you have been on? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

I am a state level Hockey Player and Junior brown belt in Karate. For me holding a hockey stick to reaching where I am today being no less than adventure. The day I got introduced to the game it was no less than a miracle path finder for me. I have grown and learned through my playing career. I left playing hockey in 2015 when I was not selected for Delhi hockey team which seemed quite unfair to me at that very moment, as soon after that I learned that everything happens for a reason, if not for that particular moment, I would have never been able to find right path and reach where I always wished to be. Just like any other athlete I was passionate about hockey too, and I too had a dream to be part of Indian hockey team. since I could not make it to team as a player I was determined to try it through m educational qualification. Just soon after finishing trials for nationals I finished my M.A exams and applied for the vacant post of sports psychologist in Snr. Women’s Hockey Team after giving interview with director of high performance, chief coach and SAI, I was selected to work with the Women’s Hockey Team for the most crucial time of there in History, when they were preparing for participation in Olympics. That very moment was a life changing experience for me.

What is your area of expertise?

Working in the sports setting for improving quality of life and performance appraisal of athletes is my area of expertise apart from that I have been working with athletes specially in the duration of rehabilitation, pain and injury management of athletes with psychological counselling in collaboration with physiotherapist.

What is most fulfilling part of your job?

I love my job a lot, and it is that very much kind of work I always wanted to do, that is to provide a help to the person in need. Even though being a sports psychologist, we are the last man standing in the line of need and when required when we successfully able to help out the person in need is the most fulfilling part of my job. When an athlete smiles and says that they were successfully able to do what they wished for is most fulfilling part of my job. The change I make and contribution I have in improving someone’s life and performance is what I choose to be designated as Psychologist.