• Attendance is compulsary for all 3 days of the Conference for issue of participation and presentation certificates

About the Conference

About the Conference

Today's world is considered to be an era of technology. Remarkable change in the workplace culture is brought by Globalization. Both employer and employee experience uncertainty. To cope with the changing environment and especially the uncertainties leads to workplace stress. These problems can affect an employee's work performance through lowered productivity, increased absenteeism and conflict with coworkers. Apart from work related issues, personal issues can also have a similar effect in the work place as everyone experiences life-crisis issues at different stages of their lives.

Both employers and employee are in search of mental health providers to maintain their mental wellbeing. Workplace counselling services can play a powerful role in supporting a healthy work environment. Workplace counselling is therapy offered to employees of a company, often through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), that provides employees with a safe place to discuss any issues that they're struggling with. In 2012, UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) reviewed the outcome of more than 28,000 EAP counselling interventions. A key finding from the study is that 70% of the EAP clients were demonstrably shown to recover or improve after their counselling intervention. Workplace counselling is helpful for employees to cope with life challenges and employer to establish a reputation as an employer that cares about staff.

The Department of Counselling Psychology, University of Madras, has organized the present International Conference to explore and experience the latest development in the field of work place counselling. Also to help the professionals to update themselves with the challenges and concerns faced by the employers and employees.

Chief Patron: Dr. P. Duraisamy,
Vice Chancellor,
University of Madras.



Dr.R. Srinivasan,
University of Madras


Organizing Secretary:

Professor & Head
Department of Counselling Psychology,
University of Madras

Organizing Committee:

Dr.U.Vijayabanu- Joint Organizing Secretary
Ms. Shruti Rao- RF
Ms. Shalini L.- TRF
Ms. Deepika Theagarajan - RF
Ms.Sridevi C - RF


Advisory Committee:

Dr. Christina Augustine,
Head - HR, NESS technologies, Canada

Research Review Committee:

Dr. U. Vijayabanu, Guest Faculty
Ms. Vidya Muralidharan, Clinical Psychologist, Guest Faculty
Ms. Darshini Madanagopal - SRF
Ms. Sonali Srinivasan, Consultant Psychologist, Guest Faculty



Dr. Philip Armstrong

Dr. Philip Armstrong is a world-renowned counsellor, author, international speaker, presenter, MC, trainer and facilitator who has been featured in TV, radio, digital and print media across the globe including Vogue, Cleo, The Financial Times and The Age. Dr. Armstrong won the Brisbane Business Achievers Awards for Community Services. He is best known for his work as an international advocate of counselling, passionate about the ethics of accountability within the profession of counselling and is the founder and editor of Australia's only peer reviewed paper back counselling journal "Counselling Australia". Dr. Armstrong has authored and contributed to numerous books on counselling and psychotherapy.

Pre-conference Workshop: "Introduction to Clinical Supervision as Best Practice"

Mental health workers have been identified as being one of the most vulnerable professions to stress and depression which can lead to burn out. To mitigate this vulnerability, all therapists are now strongly urged (in many countries, this is now a mandatory requirement) to seek ongoing supervision whilst practicing.

Supervision is now recognised internationally as a separate specialty that requires skills and knowledge of that beyond counselling and psychology. Supervisors are required to undergo specialist training prior to becoming accredited/registered/licensed. To ensure continuity beyond geographical borders, supervisors need to practice using best practice principles. Counselling, psychology and social work students need to understand the principles and concept of supervision so as they are able to determine the quality of supervision they are being offered. This workshop will introduce the participants as to what Supervision is and its best practice principles.

Inaugural Address: "International Delivery of EAP"

Early intervention and upper management support are vital for the success of an organisation's EAP program; as is the commensurate change in organisational culture, whereby the organisation recognises that the individual brings their whole self to work. EAP's have evolved their service breadth to deliver short term counselling, critical incident debriefing; support and management coaching that can be used to manage a variety of personal and professional concerns which have a positive impact on the family. However, cultural challenges do impede this process in countries such as India and China. Dr. Armstrong will discuss the evolution of EAP's through the USA to Australia and now India and the challenges that lay ahead.


Mr. David Levine

Mr. David Levine is a behavioral health wellness and multinational expert with 28 years in the field. He helped push the evolution of workplace-based employee support services from occupational alcoholism programs to Employee Assistance (EAP), WorkLife Managed Behavioral Health, and Wellness. Mr. Levine has authored publications on employee counselling and support and has spoken on global wellness at conferences including National Business Group on Health, Global EAPA, Asia Pacific Employee Assistance Roundtable (Tokyo, Goa, Melbourne & Seoul), Asia Emergency Assist Conference, and more. He is on the Board of Directors for Alternatives, Inc., a non-profit youth outreach center in Chicago. Mr. Levine's key achievements include starting substance abuse and employee support programs for NFL, DEA, IBM, & GE, Integrating EAP and behavioral operations into Aetna Health, Growing ComPsych from small regional EAP to multinational provider of EAP and FMLA administration as well as establishing multinational growth for PPC/Optum through key EAP & Wellness programs.

Pre-Conference Workshop: "Certificate on Employee Assistance Program – Intermediate"

This session will acquaint participants with Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), including the evolution of workplace-based counselling, different EAP models, service features, informational requirements and privacy and case examples. Discussion of leading providers, industry challenges, and particular cases will add to the didactic remarks and training videos. A certificate of completion will be issued by the instructors for attendees of the workshop.

Keynote Address: "Why India Needs Employee Assistance"

Drawing on years of experience with programs in India and around the globe, this session will provide a brief history of how programs have evolved, what needs they could address, and how EAP and wellness services provide a win-win for employees, families, and employers. With the importance of India in the global economy and key to the operations of many multinationals, supporting a creative and vibrant workforce is critical to organisational success. The speaker will emphasize on the human side of the successful workforce and the important role behavioral health professionals can play.

Plenary Session 1: "Engaging Employees to Improve Health and Performance"

Workplace-based counselling and employee support is a good idea, however good ideas do not necessarily flourish on their own. Even if, offered as free and confidential, professional services compete with job demands, stigma, culture, family needs, and individual pressures. This session will emphasize the importance of selling EAP and wellness services to key stakeholders, promoting programs to potential clients, delivering relevant services, engaging employees, and documenting impact and outcomes.


Mr. Amber Alam

Mr. Amber Alam is an accomplished leader with 14+ years in Healthcare and Employee Wellness and Benefits market space. He heads the India business as a Country head for Optum India and also manages Business Development and Sales for India and Singapore. Mr. Alam is a PRINCE2® practitioner and a seasoned program manager with experience in handling high profile projects over multiple geographies. Mr. Alam has presented as a Keynote speaker at EAPA and also at various APEAR, NHRDN and other HR benefits forum across the globe. Mr. Alam has been serving the APEAR board as a board member since 2015.

Plenary Session 2: "Building a Holistic EAP Solution through Integrated Work Life Services"

In the light of how traditional EAPs have evolved to become a holistic health and wellbeing core component over the last 10 years, this session will outline how modern day EAPs are able to impact the overall organizational engagement and act as a solid binding force to organizational strategies towards employee wellbeing. Modern day EAP can be integrated fully with various work life services to diminish the taboo around seeking mental health support and add to productivity and reduce absenteeism at workplace. Indian organizations have started to consider having a solid EAP program for their workplace and this is only going to become more popular. The speaker will talk about his experience of working in the Indian and APAC markets and highlight how an EAP type of program plays significant role in building a strong people centric organisation.


Dr. Mohan Raj

Dr. S. Mohan Raj is a Consultant Psychiatrist, Founder and Director of Tharu Clinic, a Multi Specialty Clinic which provides comprehensive Psychiatric Care. He is an accomplished mental health specialist who from 1992 to 1995 has been teaching Post graduate students at NIMHANS and has presented many research papers at National and International conferences. He was awarded the 'P.V. Subramaniam Gold Medal' for proficiency in Psychiatry and he was also the recipient of the 'Jayaram Award' for the best research paper at the Annual conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society, South zone in 2000. Dr. Mohan Raj is a reviewer for the Cochrane network for Evidence based medicine.

Plenary Session 6: "Application of Psychodrama in the Workplace Counselling"

Psychodrama is a method of Psychotherapy developed by Jacob L. Moreno, incorporating the aspects of drama in a therapeutic way. It is an individual therapy done in a group setting. Psychodrama has wide application, both in illness and in wellness. It is used for resolving both interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts. Moreno laid emphasis on spontaneity and creativity as the main factors bringing change in Psychodrama. The main participant (called the Protagonist) uses spontaneous dramatization to understand and gain insight into one's conflicts. The protagonist invites others to play the role of auxiliary egos. The therapist who conducts a Psychodrama session is called the Director. A typical Psychodrama session is divided into 3 phases – Warm up, Action and Sharing. In a work place setting, Psychodrama can be applied in team building, leadership training and in conflict resolution. Some of the Psychodrama techniques will be demonstrated during the lecture-demonstration.


Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar

Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar founded 'Sneha' in 1986, India's premier suicide prevention centre. Dr. Vijayakumar was instrumental in the inclusion of suicide prevention in the National Mental Health Policy of India and she is currently working towards decriminalization of attempted suicide. She is a member of the WHO's Network on suicide research and prevention and a member of the International Academy of Suicide Research. She was the Vice President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention for four years and is currently the national representative for India. She has been conferred with 'BharathiGnananda', 'Woman of the year' and 'For the sake' honor awards in India. Dr. Vijayakumar was the first Indian women to be awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, United Kingdom.

Round Table Discussion: "Stress and Psychopathology"

Stress is defined as the difference between the demands a person perceives are being made on them and how many adequate resources they believe they have to meet those demands. A certain amount of stress keeps a person alert, motivated and primed to respond to danger. Excessive stress or chronic stress can lead to Anxiety and Depression in susceptible individuals. Anxiety is perception of threat. Chronic stress leads to Depression and Anxiety both directly and indirectly. The stress effects are low mood, irritability, sleep disturbance and impaired cognition. However, it is the indirect stress that often causes Depression and Anxiety. These are disruptions in coping strategies, low mood generating further stress, disturbed relationship, unhealthy coping and disrupted routines. It is difficult to differentiate between stress, depression and early psychosis in adolescence. Stressors like exposure to abuse and violence in childhood is associated with suicidal behaviour in later life. Loss of a parent in young age is associated with increased suicide in adults. Chronic stress plays a significant role in the progression of psychopathology and mental disorders.


Dr. Prithika Chary,

Dr. Prithika Chary has been practicing medicine from 1974, neurology from 1978 and as well as neurosurgery from 1990 in the city of Chennai. She has vast experience in managing patients with various neurological disorders. Her interest and specialization is in Brain Disorders Like Migraine, Stroke, Epilepsy, Dementia, Degenerative Disorders of the Brain like Parkinsonism, etc. and Neurorehabilitation. CREATIVE KARMA is the brainchild of Dr. Prithika Chary to make a person lead better and happier lives, which is facilitated by Wealth and Wellness solutions. Through Creative Karma, Dr. Prithika Chary uses her knowledge of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP Master Practitioner), Image Consulting (Qualified by Image Consulting Business Institute (ICBI), India), Training skills (City and Guilds of London certified trainer and ICBI trainer, NABET & Scottish Qualifications accredited) and Soft Skills (ICBI certified) to enable a person to be their best in every sphere of their lives.

Round Table Discussion: "IQ/EQ/SQ – Ultimate Intelligence"

The challenges of today's workplace are characterised by rapid change, multiple options and choices, global travel, working with multiple cultures and speed. The millennials of today prefer flexible hours, high monetary compensation, sacrifice loyalty for reskilling and growth, and are risk takers. This requires agility, continuous learning, resilience and clarity of purpose over the short and long term to rise and shine. Young people today are well qualified academically but the education system does not always prepare them for employability which requires skills other than mere book knowledge. After a few years in the work environment, they are either laid off or get frustrated and quit; in severe cases develop behavioral symptoms of anxiety and depression and in extreme cases commit suicide. Only the stable few make it to the top, while majority trudge along leading a mediocre life with a tricky work life balance. A balance between action, intention and purpose is needed. What we do and our capability(IQ), why we do what we do and our will to do it (EQ), and how we do it (SQ) need to be aligned. IQ is being book smart and helps us in logical thinking and problem solving. EQ is being street smart and being able to deal with people and SQ gives meaning and fulfillment in life. In summary, IQ gets you the job (how I think), EQ keeps you in the job (how I feel), and SQ keeps you happy in the job (how I believe). These three intelligences are processed differently in the brain and have to be in tandem to satisfy the four basic human needs of connectedness, uniqueness, comfort and variety.


Dr. Hema Tharoor

Dr. Hema Tharoor has over 17 years of experience in the field of Psychiatry and has completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Fogarty International Center, Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA in ADHD pharmacogenomics. Dr. Tharoor is currently working as Consultant, focusing on clinical work, post graduate training, psychotherapy and research. Prior to this, she was the Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, where she received the 'Dr.TMA Pai Gold Medal' for Excellence in Medical Research. She was also awarded the Fogarty International Center Clinical, Operational and Health Services Research Training Award (FIC-ICOHRTA). She has also received other awards like the 'Dr. G. Udya Kumar Memorial Award' for Best paper on Family Issues from the Annual National Conference of ISPSW (Indian Society of Professional Social Works), in addition to being selected for the 'Dhruv Kumar Award' for Best paper in Psychotherapy twice, from the Karnataka State Annual Conference of Indian Association of Psychiatrists (KANCIPS). Dr. Tharoor has many publications in peer-reviewed and indexed journals, co-authored several chapters in books in psychiatry.

Round Table Discussion: "Stress and Marriage"

The discussion will highlight how in addition to workplace stress, marital stress also plays an important role in the health of working individuals. Literature has shown that couples with increased level of marital stress have decreased immune function and higher blood pressure and heart rates. Increased social engagement and focus on positive aspects of relationship and work are established ways of coping with increase in marital stress among working individuals.


Dr. Shriraam Mahadevan

Dr. Shriraam Mahadevan is one of the eminent and well known Consultant Endocrinologist in India having more than a decade of impeccable experience in the field of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Health. He has been serving across major hospitals in Chennai viz. Apollo Group of hospitals, Sundaram Medical Foundation, Malar Hospital and SRMC in Chennai. Dr. Shriraam Mahadevan believes in empowering the next generation of Endocrine Physicians with world class knowledge and expertise in the field of Medical Endocrinology and is one of the distinguished and qualified Medical Endocrinologists within India. As a passionate investigator in various clinical research and drug trials, Dr. Mahadevan actively contributes to the field of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and also serves a Visiting Faculty for the Blue Chip Medical Institutions across Chennai like Apollo Group of Hospitals, Fortis Malar, Sundaram Medical Foundation, and Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute to name a few.

Round Table Discussion: "Stress and Lifestyle Disorder"

The ideal definition of "stress" is still elusive. However, for conceptualization purposes atleast in the medical literature a reasonably acceptable definition of stress is: "a state of threatened homeostasis caused by intrinsic or extrinsic adverse forces (stressors) that is counteracted by an intricate orchestra of physiologic and behavioural responses aiming to maintain/reestablish the optimal body equilibrium (eustasis/homeostasis)". The adaptive response to the stressors depend upon an intricately intertwined neuroendocrine, cellular and molecular infrastructure, the "stress" system. Key components of the stress system are the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which interact with other vital centers in the central nervous system (CNS) and tissues/organs in the periphery to mobilize a successful adaptive response against the imposed stressor(s). Dysregulation of the stress system (hyper- or hypo-activation) in association with potent and/or chronic stress can markedly disrupt the body homeostasis leading to a state of cacostasis or allostasis, with a spectrum of clinical manifestations. The maladaptation of the stress response system to stressors especially on a longterm basis is the main hypothesis postulated for many chronic diseases/disorders encountered in the last century including metabolic (obesity, diabetes), neurodegenerative (dementia), psychological (depression, anxiety), immunological (rheumatoid/other autoimmune disorders) and even cancers.

Though therapeutic modulation to modify the mal-adapted stress system seems attractive, extensive research is necessary from this perspective and may pave way in the prevention and treatment of many of the "modern day" disorders.


Dr. S. Karthikeyan

Dr. S. Karthikeyan is a Chennai-based L & D professional with a proven track record in the area of Human Resources. His doctorate is on Training Psychology and Health Psychology and he employs his 20 plus years of rich professional experience in making RISEN Consultancy a company that delivers. Starting off as a project fellow in the University of Madras, he went on to work in the HR departments of many big companies including MRF, KONE, ISEL and CavinKare. He was working as a freelance consultant prior to co-founding Risen Consultancy. An expert in assessing and consolidating training needs across an organisation, Dr. Karthikeyan has been acknowledged for his proficiency in a wide range of activities and practices related to HR.


Mr. Arul Dev

Arul Dev is the Founder CEO of People First Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a reputed HR firm that offers Learning &Development, Coaching and Talent Hiring solutions for the last 24 years. He offers coaching and facilitation for leaders and supervisors to develop their 'being' and ' doing' competencies - to offer their unique expertise to their organizations and lead culture transformation.

Through the CSR wing of People First he has been anchoring Integral Education workshops and guidance for teachers and students for the last 8 years. He is the guest faculty at IIT Madras for the Self Awareness course for students and Self Awareness and Higher Goals in Education (SAHGE) courses for teachers, since 2011. He leads the 'Beyond Schooling' project, which focuses on the holistic development of students, since 2017.

He is the author of the book 'Into Great Depth of Your Being', published by Auro Publications, a source book on Self Awareness, Integral Education and Self Leadership.

He is a co-founder of Telos Model, an Integral map and tool of inner consciousness. He is the founder of the Integral Inner Presence Model, InPres ™ tool and InStrengths Individual™, which helps people to become aware of and develop their Inner Presence.

Plenary Session: "Mentoring and Coaching for transformation"

Coaching and Mentoring are emerging powerful tools to support the inner change and competency development of individuals, teams and organizations. The inner state of the coach and expertise in coaching methodologies are equally important to develop. This short talk shares some pointers on evolution of the coach and their coaching skills. The following will be explored:

  • 'Being' and 'Doing' Coaching
  • Advising Vs Invoking and Inspiring
  • Deep listening for underlying patterns of problems and solutions
  • Asking powerful questions that invokes insights and reflection
  • Enhancing self-autonomy, accountability and resourcefulness

Dr. Vijayalakshmi V

Dr. Vijayalakshmi is a faculty with the Department of Management Studies (Broad Area - Organizational Behavior and Human Development), Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras). Her current teaching and research interests include: positive organizational behavior (spirituality in work, generating positivity, happiness and work, finding meaning, strength-based approach, discovering calling, integral leader development); workplace emotions (emotional contagion, emotional social competence); cross-cultural management; teaching, learning, and education (holistic education, contemporary teaching and learning beliefs and practices); women empowerment and entrepreneurship; creativity and innovation capability of firms, the learning organization, unlearning, among others. She is involved in projects that strive to create a positive and transformative ripple effect among (a) Women entrepreneurs, (b) Integral or Holistic education (Faculty, Learner, and Administration). She also works in close synergy with the industry in Psychometric Assessment and Individual Dynamics in organizations. Dr. Vijayalakshmi is involved in projects that strive to create a positive and transformative ripple effect among Women entrepreneurs (small and medium scale entrepreneurs) and empowering them.

Plenary Session 3: "Positive Organization Culture"

An organization's meaning is derived from its manifestation of purpose, values and vision. There is a need to go beyond profits or market share, and look at how systems (in this case, the organisation) can play a larger, more positive and impactful role in the world. Using a micro, meso and macro perspective, this session will address ways to build a strong positive and meaningful culture at these different levels, such as engaging employees to push their limits of potential, achieving positive synergy, focusing on creating shared clarity and overall build an ethical institution.


Ms. Narmadha

Ms. Narmadha is a Cambridge Certified Psychologist and Specialist in Teaching and Training, with several International Certifications in the application of Psychometric tools and techniques, and is a Counsellor and Coach certified by the International Coaching Federation. She has more than a decade of experience in analyzing and facilitating performance improvement of people as individuals and as a team, across various organizations and sectors. Ms. Narmadha is an expert in HR processes and has specialized in OD initiatives and delivering high performance work culture.

Plenary Session 7: "The Role of EAP providers in Recruitment and Appraisal"

Organizations, across sectors, have come to realize and accept that people (employees) are the crucial and differentiating resource, more important than technology or customer base. It is this realization that has brought the right and due focus on recruitment, appraisal and development. And, these HRD processes will be incomplete without the infusion of psychology, as understanding behavior and personality and the key requirements. In Talent Acquisition, analyzing cultural and job fitment (personnel psychology) in terms of attitude takes precedence today. Creating appropriate assessment methodologies like simulations, BEI, cognitive & personality assessment, administering them and inferring them to make a decision has more psychological orientation than HR. Delving into the appraisal process where management seeks psychological inputs. Appraisal process of an organization has 3 facets: Appraising individuals, Appraising teams / functions, Appraising organization as a single entity:

Panel Discussion: "Success Stories of EAP"


Dr. B. Udaya Kumar Reddy

Dr. Reddy has more than two decades of post-doctoral experience in the areas of stress training, research, consultancy and counselling and is presently strengthening Stress Management Lab, Hyderabad, India in the capacity of Director (Training and Consultancy). Dr. Reddy is the founder of International Stress Management Association (ISMA), India chapter (estd.1999). He chairs International Conferences on Stress Management for the past five years (ICSM 2014-18 and 19). He is serving as Editor-in-Chief for a Scientific Journal "Stress Management Professional An International Journal". Dr. Reddy has conceptualised and developed International Certification Programme "Stress Management Professional (SMP) and also Stress Safety Net (SSN) for organisations. Earlier, he worked as Professor in Dr. MCR HRD Institute, Govt. of A.P., Hyderabad, India. He also worked as Stress Management Consultant (Hon.), Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit, Mediciti and Care Hospital, Hyderabad, India. Dr. Reddy conducted need based training programmes and consultancy work for corporate companies like Oracle, Avaya, NTPC, SCCL, NFC and his areas of expertise are Stress Safety Net, Stress Management, Stress Audit, Emotional intelligence, Work-life Balance, Executive Healthcare, Creativity, Competency Mapping, Stress Counselling Skill.


Ms. Jyothi Varma

Ms. Jyothi Varma is an Organizational and Industrial Psychologist, having about 15 years of experience in Organization Development and Human Resource capability building. She has worked with several types of organisation—Manufacturing, Engineering, Services, FMCG, Sales, and Entertainment. Her expertise lies in assessing the leadership team that takes the business forward by identifying gaps in leadership styles, understanding psychological fixations and burn-outs that significantly impact business goals. During the years, her professional experience includes designing and developing customised learning solutions for various organisations after assessing and consolidating their training needs. She has guided companies in developing strategies for creating employee engagement programs. She helps organisations in promoting positive IR climate by designing attitude development programs for unionized workforce. She is involved in developing Performance Management Systems and creating measurement metrics for managers. Ms. Jyothi Varma is currently the Director of RISEN HR Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.