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  • Writer's pictureTulsi Radia

What is Therapy?

As South Asians, immigrant or Canadian born, when you hear the word anxiety, depression, or even mental illness; try to notice what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

My grandparents said it’s a “myth” and my parents knew not much better than that. They would say “it’s all in your head” and that feelings of low mood or constant sadness, consistent worry about general life events, or not wanting to socialize and interact with anyone was all an “excuse” as a teenager. And because that was the education I got at home, I began believing that it was all in fact in my head. Crazy right?

My grandparents said anxiety, depression and mental illness were a myth.

That’s the mentality and cultural influences I grew up with in a typical Gujarati household. It was only after I moved to university 13 years ago and went through immigration and acculturation struggles myself; did I realize that there is so much more to depression or anxiety or even mental health overall. One of the toughest barriers within South Asian culture is the stigma and lack of awareness regarding mental health and thus the need to seek therapy. We can blame this on generations of neglect, trauma, lack of education and more currently a significant lack of resources to support South Asian mental health.

So then what is therapy and how can it help? Therapy can be a safe space for you to initiate self- awareness, insights, have an open dialogue, break the stigma, and enhance your approach towards your overall well-being.

Then why do people hesitate to go to therapy? There’s never one reason but most often it’s due to the unknown and uncertainty of what to expect, fear of judgment and/or oversharing paired with the negative societal dialogue around mental health struggles being classified as a “sickness” or “illness” within South Asian culture.

Hesitation and influences can raise several questions such as “where would I even start”? or “therapy sounds confusing and may make things worse”. All of which seem valid, but therapy is quite the contrary. The goal as a therapist is to allow clients an opportunity to express, learn about themselves, and process thoughts, emotions and feelings in a way that results in healthier processing styles and enhanced self-care and coping mechanisms in order to optimize performance and well being.

I allow clients the opportunity to express and learn about themselves.

Therapy is also not one size fits all – keeping an open mind and knowing that your therapeutic journey will be unique to your life and experiences is a key driving factor to success.

So then, what are the 5 most important aspects of therapy?

  • Open and safe space – the time here is yours, so let’s talk about you, your experiences, your goals.

  • Cultural considerations – working with a fellow South Asian, immigrant and coming to Canada as an international student, I attribute my own lived experience and can relate to the cultural nuances more deeply in order to understand and validate your experiences through affinity.

  • Collaborative approach – working together to identify gaps, encourage learning, and create realistic goals that make you feel a sense of ownership, capacity, agency and accountability towards your positive well-being.

  • Judgement free zone – dealing with stigma can be hard, and often results in denial, closing off, or an inability to express one’s true self. There will be no judgements or bias towards your experiences. Everyone has their own unique story!

  • Confidentiality – trusting someone you don’t know can be tough, and scary, therefore all dialogue will be kept private (except for the limits of confidentiality) as is your legal right to privacy as a client.

Know that you don’t have to go through this alone and while you might think the process may be a drag, often taking the first step is the hardest. I encourage you to #breakthestigma and take the first step towards your overall well-being.

Tulsi Radia, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

I believe that the beauty of life is in its ups and downs, however there are times in our journey where life comes with challenges that may feel overwhelming or unmanageable. Connecting with a therapist can allow individuals the opportunity to unpack feelings of stress and emotional distress, while identifying effective ways to cope.

I strive to create a safe, non-judgmental, and collaborative therapeutic space where individuals feel heard and hopeful. I work towards validating emotions, identifying and highlighting strengths and collaboratively working on goals towards change and growth.

My approach is eclectic, and I draw from various therapeutic models, including the principles of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, strength-based, solution focused, and person-centered techniques, among others. I aim to help clients better understand their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and address unhelpful behaviors. We highlight effective coping mechanisms through trauma-informed practices.

Working from a culturally responsive lens, I work with individuals experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, issues with self-esteem, time-management amongst various other concerns.

I am fluent in and can provide services in English, Gujarati, Urdu and Hindi.

Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Waterloo, a Social Services diploma in Gerontology from Sheridan College, and a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. I am registered and in good standing with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).


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