The Alchemy of Trauma


As an Iranian female immigrant born and raised in Dubai who has lived in the United States since 2000, my identities have been shaped in a social context of “Middle-East meets West.” Intrigued by the differences between Eastern and Western worldviews around mental health, wellness and social privilege, I rooted my professional foundation in the academic world of psychology. My identity has since been molded by my experiences with marginalized communities and those impacted by trauma. Add to all of this my travels abroad and the current high-pressure political climate in the U.S., and I’ve focused my current professional efforts on human-rights advocacy and social change.

My doctoral training emphasized a multicultural approach to mental health and I was fortunate to study with community leaders and healers abroad. While in Mexico, I learned of the folk healing practices of curanderos, the role of rituals, religion and spirituality and the power of healing through community. In Cambodia, I witnessed the resilience of a nation while being immersed in the collective experience of intergenerational trauma created by a long history of civil war ending in genocide.

Almost a decade later, I re-entered the world of trauma and healing, but this time it was on a personal level. While working as a psychologist at a maximum security prison, I was assaulted by an inmate in the prison yard. I was forced to take pause, recover, re-evaluate my career and reconnect with my inner being. I started seeing a psychologist but I felt something was missing. My exposure to, and appreciation for, non-Western healing approaches led me to engage in self-care practices that emphasized the intersection of mind, body and spirit.

I learned that healing is not a linear process, but a natural ebb and flow like that of ocean waves. These practices have given me the tools to work through the tides without feeling like I'm drowning. This journey has given me the desire and fortitude to take a leap of faith, to listen to my intuition and to honor my soul's purpose. Two years in, I have noticed an energetic shift. I have reconnected with my Self and found my strength amidst the chaos, accessing my divine light through the darkness. My helplessness has transformed into empowered choice. My suffering has shifted into liberation. My alchemy.