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TA Diploma Reflections From Trainees

Phases of thought process during TA Diploma

Heading into the writing of my TA diploma, I was worried about my lack of understanding of the theory. When I realised that the diploma was going about me, I was even more worried. Just thinking about it made me wonder if I was ready to bare my soul among people I didn't know. Eventually, I came around to the understanding that among peers and teachers of the TA clan, we had contracted that it was a safe space, much like our TA classes. Here, I would not be judged. This allowed a free flow of thoughts, memories and feelings I never knew existed. As I wrote, I had several 'aha' moments leading to the theory coming alive in my own life experiences. The revelations have created an awareness that I carry with me as I go about my life.

And finally, the day dawned when that much-awaited email arrived. As Murphy's Law would have it, I could see that I had mail, but couldn't view the mail! My TA Diploma is the first I have received since I graduated from college decades ago. Basking in the congratulatory positive strokes took me back to that time when I was in college. The anticipation and thrill were the same!

- Archana Muthappa

What did it mean to you to write a diploma?

Our pictures are a true reflection of us, as it shows us, how and who we are. Yet you know how it is sometimes when we look at our pictures - we are surprised/unprepared.

I thought I was getting to know myself better even as I was learning TA. It was instantaneous of sorts. Like taking pictures with the digital cameras of today & looking at them instantly. When I was writing the Diploma, it was slower & longer and felt similar to the time when we would have to get a film roll developed to see the pictures. The Diploma required me to be contemplative & evaluative of myself & the changes I assumed I was already making with the awareness from TA concepts. When I zoomed in on something specific & attempted to spell out my efforts at change, the structure of the answer compelled me to zoom out & get a panoramic view instead. It was slow going yes & although the lens was focussed on me, I found myself becoming more appreciative of some TA concepts.

In the end this effort gave me a picture of myself that I was partly prepared & unprepared for. Yet it was me and my picture. And somewhere in its composition, I discovered the presence of understanding, support & appreciation which helped me see the picture for what it is.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It took me a couple of thousand words to get this picture of myself. And yeah, it was worth it.

- Lokesh Rasinkar

My journey through writing the diploma answers

When I started off with writing the diploma answers initially, there was a sense of excitement and intrigue about penning down my interpretation of myself, intertwined with the theory that I had been learning. Once the initial set of paragraphs were written down, it started dawning on me that this exercise was a journey by itself. Delving deeper into my memories from childhood, reliving some of those times, taking an objective, third person view of myself as a child, a teenager, and as and adult stirred up such a plethora of emotions that I found myself pausing, reliving, sometimes even breaking down with an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

Over the process of writing the answers across several months, getting more and more intense in my self-reflection and analysis helped me understand several aspects of me that I was either completely unaware of, or was unwilling to acknowledge. What initially started off as a painful, and often overwhelming exercise, gradually turned into an intriguing excursion into my persona. I could sense myself getting more and more interested (and even excited) over time and attempted more answers than was required for submission in the exam.

In the end, I was able to appreciate the reason for the diploma exam process, the format of interspersing theory with application and the overall thought process behind the exam requirements. I am glad that I went through with this and had the help from my trainer, my colleagues and my family in understanding myself better through ‘completing the task’ of writing the answers

- Vikas Thakkar

Behind the scenes of Diploma Writing – the conversations in our head

Vijaya: When I heard, to write one essay question for a diploma, I thought this is about me, can it be so difficult?

Ravi: Trainer commented 'Very nice flow!' and I thought “Oh okay! Super!” It’s so easy.

Mathangi: I had no concept of what goes in the essay, how to connect theory with my thought process. When I sent the first one and the trainer said, “it’s quite good”. I feel like it’s done!!! A few days later, it came back with “more comments”, and then the back and forth began

Ravi: Trainer asked us to look at the handbook, how they assess and look for consistency across all essays in terms of content and clarity. There shouldn’t be any conflicting information and this is important to academic writing.

Vijaya: I too thought about how to connect concepts or retain congruence between four essays?

Ravi: Initially, I thought I understood the drama triangle; ego states I function from and how I enter and exit games. As I wrote I recognized my patterns. I wrote interpersonal communication. Susan said, “very nice! Please come over”. During discussion, I realized the essay was an intrapsychic process. She said, this is good, just change the question!

(All laugh)

Ravi: Susan said “you are seeing clients why don't you write about diagnosis?” I was like  Finally, it came up well. Confidence from the first two essays helped.

Mathangi: Reading essays again brings clarity, but after a couple of reads, I got tired. I remember eagerly awaiting mail from my trainer.

When the essay goes back and forth, a lot happens within us? I wanted it to be over.

Ravi: For me the Be perfect and Please others were emerging. When my trainer was happy, I was happy.

Mathangi: In TA, people have been on the journey for long. In spite of the effort in showing up for weekend classes, supervision, making the presentations; expected outcomes (Diploma, Adv. Diploma) is not realized. 

Ravi: They have knowledge and are consistent in their effort. Some may be writing a draft, some could be reviewing and stopping there.

Mathangi: Perhaps essays going back and forth is difficult? if it’s one shot it will get over.

Vijaya: It’s how much a person invests in this. Writing is a journey into personal space.

Ravi: Writing is commitment to self and level of self-work is considered here.

Mathangi: I think the process of waiting for feedback is also life learning.

Ravi: You learn to take feedback, criticism, compliments.

Vijaya:  Learning happens with writing; exams give a glimpse of who we are under stress, what do we do which is part of our script? Do I complete what I start?

Ravi: We climb one mountain…and then there is another….

Vijaya: I did not consider passing an achievement. Then I decided to ignore my marks and celebrate. Irrespective of when and how I cross the finish line I am not going to discount my achievements.
Silence for some time from everyone…

Mathangi: Some of the old memories I have let go some time back returned when I started doing TA.

Ravi: TA brings a lot of new things to our consciousness.

- Mathangi Ramprasad, Ravi Ramanathan and Vijaya Ramkumar

This might initially discourage aspiring diploma writers, yet, please read on. My first attempt at writing an essay was for the question on recurring patterns, which went for a total of eleven iterations. Each time I sent an email to my trainer, my heart would unusually beat fast for the next few days till I received my essay back, beautifully colored and corrected in red, yellow and green all over. Little did I realize the truth in my trainer’s words, “Diploma happens when true change happens".

One evening as I sat discussing my essay (corrections) with my trainer, I understood the real drama and game that I was playing in my recurring pattern. I felt like a bad person. My trainer reassured me that with my earlier awareness, that was the best I did to protect myself and now I had a choice, to change. Yes, I wanted to change. This helped me in writing my Part A essay really well. The day I received my results, was a very emotional one. I felt validated not just for my score, but for the change within, for my growth as a person. Thank you to my trainer, for your patience and prudence in guiding me.

- Devadarshini Chetan


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