Here’s What Muslim Therapists Have To Say on Mental Health
Lena Felton is a multiplatform editor at The Lily.
Previously, she was a politics editorial fellow at the Atlantic.
Mental health is a widely important topic that is not talked about much in the Muslim community. One of the most common ways that people take care of their mental health is through therapy. I spoke with Fahad Khan, Abdulaziz Syed, Saaudiah Muhammad, and Afshan Mohamedali, four professional psychologists. I asked these psychologists, why is therapy important for Muslims? How should one seek therapy? Can therapy help with issues revolving around gender, age, and toxic cultures?
Afshan Mohamedali, PhD
“Anyone can benefit from therapy given that it’s a safe space for self-reflection and growth.”
Therapy is a place for identifying obstacles and solutions in your life. Muslims are not superheroes they are everyday people who also deal with mental health issues. Mental health issues are just as prevalent to Muslims as they are to the general public. Therapy is a holistic approach to healing.
To begin seeking therapy one must identify what kind of help they need first. When you contact therapists be sure to ask about their different helping methods to help you decide what works best for you. “Feel free to schedule first sessions with a few different providers before choosing one you’re comfortable with and be sure to communicate any concerns you might have about treatment to your therapist.”
“Therapy can absolutely help with issues relating to gender, age, toxic environments, and much more. I find it helpful to explore the ways in which these factors are impactful on mood and anxiety, while also identifying and employing agency in difficult situations. A therapist can help with developing adaptive coping skills, identifying unhelpful behavioral patterns, tolerating uncomfortable emotions, and more.”
Therapy is important for anyone that needs “an impartial and nonjudgmental perspective.” Therapy gives people the opportunity to discuss things that may be harder to discuss with the people closest to you. Therapists do not “fix” clients or tell them how to live their lives. Therapy is a way to get suggestions and different perspectives on difficult issues. However, it is important to remember that therapy is not a replacement for spiritual guidance.
“Our relationship with Allah should be personal and private.”
There are various websites and sources to find therapists. “I have listings in several sites, however, the bulk of my clients find me from my Psychology Today profile.”
Profile pages are comprehensive and can be very detailed. I include on my professional profile pages that I have client focus in faith for Islam so that Muslims in my area can find me if they use filters such as Muslim, Islam or specific gender or ethnicity for instance when searching for therapists. Also, word of mouth is also a viable means to find a therapist. I have gotten many new clients based on referrals from other clients. It is extremely important for clients to feel comfortable in seeking therapy.
Therapy can help with a multitude of issues. Many people fall into the “perfect reality trap” on social media. This leads to people developing low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, etc.
“Areas such as gender, age, and toxic cultures are highlighted in social media in particular.”
Abdulaziz Syed, Therapist Khalil Center
“First, I think it is important to define therapy. While you may get different answers, the American Psychological Association defines it as the following: ‘Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. A psychologist provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who is objective, neutral and nonjudgmental.’”
Modern-day Muslims get so many mixed messages and face several sources of stress from personal to political. So seeking therapy to ensure the wellbeing of their mental health is essential.
The easiest way to seek therapy is to “look online and see someone who you feel would be a good match. You can look online for Muslim therapists if you feel they can understand your situation better”. Khalil Center is one organization out of many more services. Psychology Today is a good place as well. “More and more states are allowing for web therapy so even if you do not have anyone locally, you can find people online.”
Seeking therapy can be difficult when related to “addictions or one’s relationship with parents or seeking a spouse or getting over childhood trauma/neglect or performance anxiety etc.. The list goes on.”
No matter how hard it gets therapists can always help and guide you.
Dr. Fahad Khan
Besides the obvious fact that if you are not okay mentally you should seek help, therapy is essential for Muslims because it allows a person to become more self-aware and gain more insights into their actions and behaviors, which they are required to do as Muslims.”
It is a saying in Islam that whoever becomes aware of themselves can become more aware of their Lord. Knowing yourself is a blessing that everyone should want to gain.
People should go about seeking therapy depending on what works for them, what is more affordable, what or who is more, comfortable for you? You need someone to bring you back to the right path, this could even be a Sheikh. Whatever is most accessible to you, there are even online therapists. There are countless resources for people to gain access to therapy.
Therapy can help with whatever issue in the metaphysical issue. For example if you have a broken leg you would obviously need to seek out physical help such as surgery.
However, you could get therapy to help you deal with the fact that you have a broken leg. Poor family dynamics can definitely be helped with counseling.
Essentially therapy is a basic tool for your mental health. There are countless resources for people to seek out therapy, begin with what you find is comfortable. Issues relating to gender, age, and culture, may not be able to change, however, therapy can help you deal with them. For example, let’s say your culture has disparities between ages or gender – therapy can you help you deal with that.
Therapy is not, or should not, be a luxury. It should be a blessing to ensure that your mental health is in the best quality.