Today we’d like to introduce you to Shahrzad (Shazi) Mahmoudi.
Shahrzad (Shazi), please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up principals like unity, peace and serving towards the betterment of the community was very present in my heart and mind. I remember I had many conversations with trusted individuals in the community regarding choosing a program to study for my bachelor’s degree. One statement resonated with me “We should try our best to choose a program to serve us as a tool to expedite universal peace”. I was committed to find something within that path. I didn’t know much about Psychology but when I was reviewing the university pamphlet with those intentions, this program felt right to me. I could envision myself embodying a role to help people work through their inner conflicts that disconnect them from inviting peace internally, and later on in my career I got introduced to the idea of collective resilience, meaning your inner resilience can invite more resiliency within your community, and that can expand to larger scale. I guess I am becoming a facilitator of peace through this journey.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There was always a daily reminder that I am deprived of my basic human right, a right to pursue education in my own country, solely because of being a Baha’i. The Baha’is are members of a persecuted religious minority in Iran that many of their human rights including access to higher education are not recognized by the government. The Baháʼí community of Iran in response established a university for people who have been systematically denied access to higher education. The Baha’i institute for higher education (BIHE) has helped the Baha’i community to meet their higher educational needs since 1987.
BIHE has been through multiple major attacks from the government since its establishment. I remember I was 12 years old when my older cousins were BIHE students at that time and the government confiscated locations, materials like computers and arrested some of the faculties. When I got accepted to the Psychology program at BIHE, I knew there would always be a chance to be harassed, questioned and arrested even as a student. I was in Turkey, May 2011, one year after I graduated, when another major attack happened and a significant number of BIHE faculties including some of the Psychology department faculties got arrested and faced 2-6 years. I remember a campaign called “Education Under Fire” was established in the US to raise more awareness.
Once I was in the US, I was facing so many new challenges as any new refugee does in addition to finding a university that would recognize the credibility of BIHE despite not being recognized by the Ministry of Education in Iran. I left Iran knowing that it’s not going to be a smooth way and sure it was not. I was in the land of opportunities as they say and my options were highly limited. Getting adjusted to a highly white-dominated field as a student, trainee, and associate when English is your second language has not been easy either. The system has pushed me to internalized negative believes such as; “I have to play catch up”, “I am less than”, “I am invisible” that I yet to process and reframe are significant sources of the anxiety I struggle with.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about License Marriage & Family Therapist – what should we know?
I have had the privilege of finishing my training at Southern California Counseling Center, a non-profit facility that offers affordable therapy in Mid-City, South Central, and Korea-town. I was exposed to a diverse group of clientele, facilitated community counseling courses, a social justice informed training under the valuable mentorship of Marianne Diaz, got exposed to postmodern ideas, and finished my EMDR training. By the time I left SCCC, I was already in private practice as well but didn’t want to exclude my services to those who could only afford therapy out of pocket. Having those values in mind, I have been part of a group practice, Silverlake Psychology that works with wide ranges of insurance panels and about to join the Care Center for Mental Health that offers integrative affordable services.
I am curious about my client’s stories, challenges they have faced, and meanings they’ve made. My work is collaborative and my commitment is to accompany them to connect with their preferences. I have a deep appreciation for the connection of mind, body and soul through EMDR, mindfulness, meditation and movement. I believe because of the experiences I have had with oppression, and immigration they will allow me to bond with my clients in a unique way and that has been creating a deeper appreciation and understanding of what my clients are experiencing. Having my values being grounded in the nobility of human beings has helped me to expand my relationships to clients beyond focusing on pathology or problems.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My BIHE faculties Mr.Ramin Zibaei and Mrs. Faran Hessami, my BIHE friends Tarane Bazrafkan, Mona Moshtagh, and Shiva Sabet. My supervisors Lyrra Berrera, Larry Zucker, Clay Crosby and most importantly Marriannee Diaz, and Kim Cookson at Southern California Counseling Center. Charley Lang who I came to really appreciate his mentorship for the past year, and Shana Kale who I had the privilege of building a private practice with. In addition to those individuals, my communities of friends and family trusted colleagues who I am deeply grateful for.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
This city has been trying to value inclusivity, has opened up its arms to different cultures, ethnicities and lifestyles, and I have had the privilege of receiving the generosity of LA as an Iranian immigrant. As a minority who was “othered” in her home country situating myself with inclusivity has been very important to me. When I started interacting with LA it brought trust and reassurance that my presence is welcomed, honored, and appreciated. I would love to hope that we will all do our fair share of fighting in order to bring more equity, and justice to those who have less privileges compared to myself. I have been living here since 2015 , and been proudly calling it home. My practice has been growing steadily even through pandemic and I am deeply grateful for that.
- Address: 4620 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90027
- Website: www.shahrzad-mahmoudi.com
- Phone: (323)673-3132
- Email: email@example.com