OpenHearts: Transforming minds with Art Therapy in Lucknow

OpenHearts: Transforming minds with Art Therapy in Lucknow

"So many people face eating disorders, anxiety, depression. That's where dealing with emotions becomes crucial," OpenHearts founder tells Knocksense.

Ever thought about the essence of holistic fitness—inside and out? If the thoughts of nourishing your body, staying active, and fostering a positive mindset are on your mind, you're on the right life track, my friend.

Today, let's delve into the realm of therapy and introduce you to individuals from Lucknow, who not only lend support but also illuminate a path to a richer life. Meet OpenHearts, a personal odyssey for those wanting live a better life. They're introducing a new culture of art therapy to the city-ites.

Tête-à-tête with co-founder of OpenHearts & ZoeFit

Started by the power couple, Janet Jacob and Gibson Joy, OpenHearts opened its doors and arms to the public in March 2020. Yes, that's the midst of the pandemic when the concept of mental health made a roar on the streets.

"We started during the COVID wave. While we had a baby in the house, we realised it was the need of the hour. People were losing their jobs and dealing with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty," explains co-founder Gibson Joy.

"Through word of mouth, we became seen and were able to build an entire community. And it transpired to what is now our vision - being fit for life."

While OpenHearts is a counselling centre, its sister branch 'ZoeFit' is a gym. Yet again, very distinct from traditional gym setups, ZoeFit believes in letting people enjoy movement and the fitness process. The functional fitness centre aims at creating a community around holistic fitness, where they feel belonged and are accepted.

"Fitness has to be a multi-pronged approach where one is healthy from inside out."

Gibson Joy, co-founder of ZoeFit & OpenHearts

Bringing in a new culture - Art Therapy

"One of the most effective techniques that we find resonating with people is art therapy," he introduces the method. Herein, one expresses their emotions through art forms like painting, sketching, sculpting, singing, dancing and so on, or as Joy calls them "creative expressions of the soul".

"Art therapy moves beyond the conventional method of sitting down and talking. It involves creativity and incorporates psychotherapeutic techniques to boost the overall well-being," Joy explains.

While OpenHearts does not have a separate programme involving Art Therapy regularly, they have practised the same on numerous occasions, in group settings and in individual therapy sessions.

"One such instance was of a teenage boy. He could not put words to what he was feeling. Boys generally grow up in homes where they are not in touch with their emotions, especially Indian households," Joy shares. "So, we asked him to draw a picture of whatever came to his mind and that became a great way of opening up."

"It is an indirect way of expressing one's feelings. Art Therapy helps people open up and talk through a medium."

Gibson Joy on Art Therapy

"We are now also welcoming a lot of couples. So in couple's therapy, we often find men finding it hard to express. In one of the group sessions, one of the counsellors asked the husbands to create animals from clay that they most relate with. We got from lions to turtles that day," Joy laughed. "It was a rather fun experience for the participants, too.

The experts at OpenHearts also ask people to compare themselves with objects. "An emotionally inexpressive person finds it simpler to communicate through the lens of something else."

Beyond quick fixes

In an era that still is adjusting to the still quite taboo subject of mental wellbeing, Lucknow is one of those cities talking openly about it and we couldn't be prouder of that.

Setting high standards in mental wellness for Lucknowites, OpenHearts goes beyond quick fixes and symptomatic remedies, aim at reaching the root of issues and helping alleviate pain in the mind and body.

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