Yassi Banietemad is a transpersonal therapist in London and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

When I was in my late 20s, I came across Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Travelled. I found myself so intrigued by the description of psychological structures and their relation to concepts of spirituality, love and grace, that I could hardly put the book down. 

At that point in life, through my spiritual practices, I had started to assess my life and was searching for a career more aligned with my soul and its calling. I had a degree in chemistry and had had various successful jobs in sales and marketing up to that point but deep down I knew something was missing. 

I started to pray for guidance and direction to find a career which would feel more fulfilling and meaningful for me but something in which I could be of help and service to others. Shortly after reading this book, in an induction for a voluntary position to support vulnerable kids for a charity, I “happened” to sit next to a lady who was there to do a placement for a diploma course in psychotherapy at CCPE. I later found out this centre is one of the best known places in Europe for the training in transpersonal integrative psychotherapy. I took this as a sign, which pointed me to the direction of undertaking this path. 

Going through this long and rigorous course at CCPE, where it was believed that you cannot take your client where you haven’t been yourself, meant that I had to journey deep and wide into sometimes very dark and painful places of my inner world. It also meant that I unearthed, discovered and retrieved truths about life and myself that I never knew before. 

My journey of transformation, healing, learning and re-learning continues through walking alongside my clients on their journey of psycho-spiritual transformation. This work feels sacred to me and I feel truly at home when I sit with the souls who find their way to my therapy room. Helping another fellow human through this work while I continue to evolve myself is deeply rewarding.

Where did you train? 

Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (CCPE) in London.

Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?

I practice transpersonal integrative psychotherapy. This is holistic approach taking into account all aspects of a person, the mind, the body and the soul. 

Transpersonal means that, although my work includes and often starts with working through the psychological structures (such as personality traits, defences, ego operations, etc), it doesn’t end there. It will go deeper by transcending the personal realm and connecting with the essentially spiritual being which is sitting behind the veils of conditionings, hurts and learnt behaviour.

I view each client as a unique and irreplaceable expression of the spirit who is on this earth as part of a much bigger reality to discover and fulfil his or her own unique soul’s calling and purpose. I help my clients to notice the phenomena of interconnectedness between people, events and experiences and consider the possibility of a higher purpose and meaning hidden in what could be seen as coincidences. 

The integrative side of my training means that I am trained to use various techniques from different modalities and I choose the right approach at any given time based on where my client is on their process. I particularly enjoy working creatively through mediums of drawing, breath and sound, dream work and creative imagination. 

How does transpersonal therapy help? 

I look at presenting symptoms as symbols. I help my clients to look at the pain with curiosity, and to wonder what particular quality or change this particular challenge or even life crisis is calling forth in them. The symptom is to be welcomed and embraced as a signpost guiding us to what needs to be seen, expressed, changed or learned. It is only then, that the symptom will have delivered its mission and no longer needs to linger.

I’ll give you an example. Having migrated twice within the last 15 years myself, I have a special interest in working with difficulties around the sense of having lost one’s home and not fitting in a new society. When issues around belonging are presented, whether the client has moved to a new country, new town, new job, or they are not feeling part of their own family or society, I would invite the client to befriend this feeling of exclusivity and to ask what is the healing it is here to offer? 

Together we would explore their past experiences and possible projections of childhood woundings into the present events. This is often followed by the process of grieving and mourning the losses of connection and attachments in their past. The work will be accompanied by helping the client to build and strengthen their sense of self. Fostering a solid and secure base within, which will be there as an internal home providing safety, comfort and a sense of belonging no matter where the individual is and what the external circumstances are. 

What sort of people do you usually see?

I have worked with adult clients from all different age ranges. 

The presenting difficulties have been mostly around co-dependency, relationship issues, substance abuse, chronic fatigue, anxiety, imposter syndrome, loneliness, bereavement and grief.

Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?

It gives me hope to see the stigma of mental health struggles melting away slowly in the last few years, especially in the light of the immense effects that covid has had on the mental health of people of all ages. Talking openly about common human experiences of depression, anxiety, insecurities, vulnerability, and isolation will help those who suffer, feel less alone and more hopeful.

What do you like about being a therapist? 

To witness clients breaking free from the prisons of self-abuse, old destructive messages, their inner saboteur, and limiting beliefs and thoughts. 

I also consider it to be a deep honour to be trusted by another soul in sharing their innermost fears, fantasies, feelings and thoughts. 

What is less pleasant? 

When a client isn’t ready to fully immerse themselves into this process. While I really appreciate that commitment to embarking on this journey is by no means easy, I find it hard when it feels as if the client has one foot in and one foot out of the process since in those situations not much productive work can be done.

How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us? 

I was in Welldoing for about six months in 2020. I then went on maternity leave to have our beautiful daughter and re-joined the platform a few months ago. I love the sense of community that Welldoing offers. I enjoy reading the weekly newsletters. I find the organisation’s approach very warm, inclusive and supportive of therapists and coaches from all different levels of experience and expertise which is not something you can find easily. I am looking forward to getting more involved by attending peer support and CPD courses. 

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I have recommended The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild and The Soul’s Code by James Hillman to clients before.

What you do for your own mental health? 

I use prayer and meditation (specially when I manage to wake up before the dawn) to ground myself and to return to my centre. I love taking myself to the woods with a hot drink and a book to read. I experience release and joy in doing crazy dancing around the kitchen with my kids. Socialising with my friends and having open conversations with my husband is my way of feeling connected, heard and seen. 

What’s your consultation room like? 

My practice is mainly online and is conducted via Zoom from my home office. I keep my background plain and simple to offer an environment with minimal distraction for my clients. 

I also work once a week from a room I rent at CCPE. There is something amazingly calming and therapeutic about the location of the building (next to the canal in Little Venice). The room is cozy, warm and lit up with a table lamp and furnished with two armchairs and a side table. The window has the view of the trees by the canal.

What do you wish people knew about therapy? 

That although hearing over and over again in therapy about the connection of our current pain to our childhood trauma, can feel repetitive, pointless, ridiculous or irrelevant, in my experience it is a huge part of the process. 

I believe it to be true that we all carry our inner child (of all different ages) with us at all times and it is through embracing and accepting the young and vulnerable child, while keeping a hopeful eye for discovering and nurturing potentialities for the future, that healing and change can happen. 

I want to encourage people to keep an open mind and to approach their resistance to this subject with curiosity and love.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy? 

I learnt how to be true to myself and appreciate that the ease and lightness that comes with that “being ok in your own skin” is a priceless gift.


Contact Yassi here

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