Understanding the Psychological Impacts of Leaving Afghanistan, Part 2: Afghan Americans

Understanding the Psychological Impacts of Leaving Afghanistan, Part 2: Afghan Americans

An interview with Sara Stanizai, LMFT, on how Afghan Americans are responding as the US leaves Afghanistan. Curt and Katie talk with Sara about her experience as an Afghan American therapist, looking at the misconceptions, lack of knowledge, and bias that can harm Afghan American clients. We look at clinical best practices for immigrants to the US, as well as some of the history and cultural norms of the country, the uniqueness of the experience, and the importance of finding primary sources to understand what is really going on. Sara also shares ideas for what we can do to support the Afghan people in Afghanistan and the diaspora at this time.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Sara Stanizai, LMFT

Sara Stanizai, LMFT (she/her) is a licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, and the owner of Prospect Therapy, a queer- and trans-affirming therapy practice based in Long Beach, CA, with a special focus on serving first-generation American and immigrant communities. A queer first-gen herself, Sara’s clinical and professional work focuses on serving the Afghan diaspora, specifically, fellow Afghan-American women, and bicultural communities in general. She runs a weekly Afghan-American women’s group and will be offering this free of charge in the coming weeks to meet the mental health needs of her community.

In addition to running her group practice, she is on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Bisexual Task Force, a 501c3 organization that champions education, advocacy and visibility for the bi+ communities of greater Los Angeles. She is a certified cognitive therapist through the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and holds an advanced certificate in transgender affirming therapy from Widener University. She completed her MA in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Sara’s experience being an Afghan American, especially since 9/11; as well as her response to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • Afghan Americans: the displaced among the displaced
  • The real issues that folks in Afghanistan are facing, separate from the perspective of western cultural and the differences in the Afghan American experience
  • Historical context for Afghanistan and the memories of Afghan Americans that shape their views: Culture, art, progressive, beautiful, diverse
  • Not feeling Afghan enough or American enough
  • The value of hospitality and how Afghanistan will always welcome Afghan Americans
  • How Islam intertwines (but is not equivalent) to the Afghan culture
  • Modesty and values and the bias toward Muslim women who wear headscarves
  • Bias and misperceptions that can negatively impact clients
  • The complexity of Islam and how it can be perceived both as beautiful and nature-loving as well as dangerous and militant
  • The challenge to identity being an Afghan American
  • The danger of pity coming into the therapy room
  • The importance and nuance of educating yourself outside of the therapy room, while also encouraging the client of sharing their own experience. Not: What does this mean? Instead: What does this mean to you?
  • The Afghan culture requires offering 3 times before determining that the answer is no
  • Collectivism and the importance of family
  • Impact of intergenerational trauma and military involvement in a home country
  • Seeking out primary sources, with a focus on Afghan voices as the experience is truly unique
  • Avoid sensationalized headlines and images
  • Challenging what has been “truth” especially when looking at these sensationalized stories
  • Ways of healing and clinical practice that are better aligned to these clients
  • Prayer and healing within safe community spaces
  • Considerations on scheduling session around prayer time and understanding fasting
  • The lack of language for what is being experienced
  • Offering connection, even when you don’t know what to say
  • The focus on trying to get family and friends out of Afghanistan, constantly watching the news
  • Ideas for what you can do to support the people of Afghanistan
  • The importance of legal support, translation services, and advocacy at this time
  • The support group for Afghan women that Sara runs

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Sara’s website: Prospect Therapy

Sara’s Instagram: Prospect Therapy

Sara’s group for Afghan Women

Literacy and Love

Hand to Hand Sadaqah group

Instagram – ideas of how to take action from Sara

Article from New York Times: How to Help Afghan Refugees and the Relief Effort

Relevant Episodes:

Invisible and Scrutinized

Iran, The News, and Our Clients

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Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

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Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/

Transcript (Autogenerated)

 

Curt Widhalm  00:00

This episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide is sponsored by Buying Time.

Katie Vernoy  00:04

Buying Time is a full team of virtual assistants with a wide variety of skill sets to support your business. from basic admin support customer service and email management to marketing and bookkeeping, they’ve got you covered. Don’t know where to start, check out the system’s inventory checklist, which helps business owners figure out what they don’t want to do anymore and get those delegated ASAP. You can find that checklist at buying time.llc.com/systems-checklist

Curt Widhalm  00:31

Listen at the end of the episode for more information.

Announcer  00:34

You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings to support you as a whole person and a therapist. Here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm  00:50

Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast that deals with All Things therapists and the things that show up in our office and in our continuing conversation around the world events happening in Afghanistan, and our reactions. And as we’ve continued to do throughout our podcast history of trying to bring in very timely episodes to help our community. We had spoken yesterday with Rob Bates about working with military members. And we are also very fortunate to have one of our very close friends from the show. Sara Stanizai is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Prospect Therapy talking about working with Afghan Americans and people from the community of people who have personal ties to Afghanistan, whether familial or friends. And helping us to be able to work in the healing process for this community as this very deeply and troubling time for them is coming out. And we’re just so thankful for the expertise and the opportunity to have this discussion here. Today’s thank you for joining us, Sara.

Sara Stanizai  02:13

Thanks for having me.

Katie Vernoy  02:14

There’s some some things to talk about today. And, and so I want to just open this space. And the first question that we ask all of our guests is Who are you? And what are you putting out to the world?

Sara Stanizai  02:26

I’m a lot of things. I’m glad to be here. And I’m glad to have this conversation. It is a very weird time. But you know, a lot of the organizers that I’m in communication with reminded us to take every opportunity and say yes to the interviews and make sure that this issue gets accurate visibility. And we hear from people who are affected by it. Like  Curt said, when he introduced me, my name is Sara Stanizai I’m a licensed therapist, and I run a group practice based out of Long Beach, California, we focus on serving the queer and trans community as well as first generation Americans like myself. Over the past almost two years, I have focused more on serving the African American community, my family’s from Afghanistan, my sister and I were both born here, born in West LA. But both of my parents were born and raised there and came, you know, in 79, escaping something similar to what’s going on now. But I think, you know, it’s also true that we haven’t really seen anything like this. So what I put out into the world is my goal is to really help people understand and accept all the different parts of their identities. And for myself, my relationship with the Afghan part of my identity has been, you know, a lifelong process. And so I’m really happy that I get to help others on that same journey as well.

Katie Vernoy  04:02

I started watching your video on your website around accepting your identity as an Afghan American and how hard that has been for you. What do you feel comfortable sharing about that now?

Sara Stanizai  04:15

Yeah, it’s really interesting. I am comfortable sharing about it, which in itself is testament to how I’ve kind of integrated that as part of myself. But I work with a lot of African Americans now and we’re all at different parts of that process. There are some common themes such as, there’s so much mystery around Afghanistan and people didn’t know what it was that never heard of it. Many people don’t understand Islam in general. And that was hard to. It was hard to kind of be the only one that a lot of people knew. But many times that’s actually preferable because then when people did become aware Around 911. And now after this, their understanding and the associations they make with a when it’s done are misinformed often or, you know, there’s a whole spectrum. But it’s we have had to kind of choose between either being invisible or being hyper visible for terrible things that have nothing to do with it. So, you know, I work with immigrants and children of immigrants, people come from all over the world, but the Afghan experience is very specific, because, you know, I refer to us as the displaced among the displaced, because we come from a place that it’s almost as soon as our families left it, it almost, it feels very inaccessible. And I do also want to point out the fact that, you know, I was born and raised in the US, I do come from a very westernized culture, people are always surprised, at how, frankly, like, educated I am, and but I have tattoos and but I I like to think I have cute style, but

Katie Vernoy  06:03

you definitely have cute style, let’s like, straighten that out right now, you definitely have cute..

Sara Stanizai  06:12

But people are often surprised by that. And it’s true, I think, you know, we in the diaspora have very specific experience that is even removed from what’s happening in Afghanistan, and I think we owe a lot of respect and deference to the people who do still live there, you know, probably had opportunities to leave and chose not to run away and leave a home that they have known their whole life. Just one example, you know, people are very excited to see, of course, you know, resistant to the Taliban, or, or, you know, people doing things that are very dangerous and risky. But that’s not how everyone feels, I don’t want to stand because there’s been fighting and war for so long that, you know, it’s easy for me to go to the protest this weekend. And, you know, that’s not lost on me, I want to and I feel proud to and I can’t not do that. However, I have an immense amount of privilege doing that, where I think our responsibility in the diaspora is to amplify Afghan voices as much as possible, not just Afghan American, or Afghan Canadian, or any other immigrant voices

Curt Widhalm  07:26

is part of this mystery for many of us in the West, around Afghanistan, that it’s a place that for the entirety of my lifetime has been a place of conflict, very confusing, and not, it’s a country that’s not set up in the same way that many of us here in the West really conceptualize things. And I think it might help our audience a little bit to talk about Afghanistan, even before the US occupation and operations over there. Of a little bit more of what some of these generations of people from Afghanistan, Afghan Americans are facing in this very transformative change, not just here in the last week, but really over the last 40 years.

Sara Stanizai  08:17

Yeah, you’re talking about the Afghanistan that my dad and mom would tell me about when we were growing up. that exists, you know, only in their memories, and Afghanistan is not a perfect place. It there was and has always been corruption in the government Find me a government that doesn’t have corruption, there is racism and intolerance with among different tribes and communities within Afghanistan there have been lots of imperfect things. But what I remember, what I grew up hearing about was a very I guess I’ll use the word modern. I don’t know why I need to like point that out. But just a really beautiful society. Both of my parents, you know, my parents met and fell in love at Kabul University. I see pictures of them. My mom also had a really great sense of style. I really think it’s an Afghan thing. To make sure we look good. I went to a protest last two weekends ago definitely saw very nice handbags. I was like, Yes, I’m among Afghans like this. We always make sure we look at but you know, my mom would tell me that she was obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor and the Beatles and also Afghan culture and music as well. My dad in many places in the country and actually came here twice. The first time he came as a Fulbright scholar and lived in Seattle. So he did a year of high school in Seattle, actually, with the Vonnegut those running, which is wow, favorite story. And he went back but then when my parents married then they came shortly after that, as well. So a very progressive, open society similar to many other places around the world, really beautiful tons of art and culture, and tons of history. What a lot of what I often tell my clients and the people I work with their concern is, I don’t feel Afghan enough. And I don’t feel American enough. I don’t speak the language. I don’t feel connected to my culture. I didn’t think that was allowed, and no one really encourages where I grew up. And so we have, we’re stuck in this in between place. And what I remind people is that it is never too late. Afghanistan always welcomes us. Our culture always welcomes us. That’s a defining characteristic of Afghan culture is hospitality. It’s super annoying when you’re like, a 12 year old, and everybody’s offering you food multiple times. And you’re like, Okay, I cannot eat anymore, but it is very rude. I think a lot of children of immigrants have that experience. But hospitality and generosity is a hallmark of Afghan culture. And that also applies to us that our our Motherland, and our culture always welcomes us, no matter how long it takes. So I grew up understanding Afghanistan as a place full of ancient culture, some really good looking jewelry, really strong fighters, and just a very diverse, beautiful place. And that place doesn’t seem to exist right now.

Katie Vernoy  11:35

Seems like there has been such a huge transformation of the perception of Afghanistan. And you mentioned September 11. I, we’ve got a couple of other conversations that are relevant that will we’ll link in the show notes that I think provide we have one that’s about Iran, and one that’s about the MENA culture generally. But I think it’s it’s something where when you talk about this, and each time you kind of, well, I don’t know why I need to say modern or I don’t know why I need to say it this way. And it seems like there is a perception. And this is kind of a different take on or what therapists get wrong question, because we asked that for most folks, but it seems like there is this misperception and this deep seated bias that has plagued Afghan Americans, at least since September 11, if not, prior to that. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Sara Stanizai  12:24

Absolutely. That’s a really good point. I think there’s also a misconception to something that is very intertwined with Afghanistan, which is Islam. You kind of can’t, they’re not the same thing, but you can’t talk about one without the other. And of course, just like any community, there is a spectrum of how devout people are, how conservative people are, what cultures they choose to continue, you know, and that’s always people’s choice. I think people in the West love to latch on to these sensationalized out of context, images and swoop in with savior savior ism about well, we have to liberate people from their own culture. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot like, the whole modesty thing about people wearing headscarves or wearing modest clothes. Like, we were all cheering when Billy Eilish was doing it on the cover of whatever magazine and her political statement about wearing baggy clothes when nobody can objectify her body. But when all countries have women do it, it’s apparently Oh, poor things. Anyway, that’s a side note. that’s a that’s a blog post in the making. But I think there has been, it’s we, unfortunately, we we suffer from this either complete invisibility and mystery, or that’s not my concern, or that’s over there. Or just this really distilled, stereotypical highlighting of things that may or may not even be part of our culture, some of those things are part of our culture, and there’s nothing wrong with them, many of those things are not. And I had a conversation with a client who is really exploring Sufism, and mysticism and other aspects of Islam, which my dad is a scholar and will take any opportunity to teach me slash lecture me about. So I grew up with a very peaceful, merciful beautiful, like nature based version of Islam. That is very, I mean, I just have warm fuzzy feelings about it all the time. And I know my peers did not. So it’s for me personally, it’s really hard to wrap my head around the idea of Islam as some sort of oppressive scare, you know, God fearing like any sort of, there’s a spectrum you can be very conservative about certain things but that has never been part of my experience and not part of a lot of people’s experience. And so I think I do feel this obligation to say like, you know, not all Muslims. Because I’m sort of it’s either there’s no idea of who we are. Or I have to overcompensate for these negative ideas about who we are. And we, politically, culturally, socially, have never been able to define ourselves to other people. Right? As long as I’ve been alive.

Curt Widhalm  15:32

Normally, during an episode like this, we’d ask some question around what are some cultural considerations that working with a specific population like Afghan Americans would be? And it seems like you’re answering that question for us as far as providing a lot of open space and let somebody define what what it is because our ideas might be very much entrenched in kind of what we’ve seen, and especially for those of us who really only paid attention to Afghanistan from American occupation sort of perspective. I don’t know how to answer this without kind of asking the same question anyway. In addition to clients being able to define what their Afghan identity is, are there some cultural considerations that therapists should be aware of when working with people from this community as far as their approach to mental health treatments? and things that therapist can be prepped with?

Sara Stanizai  16:40

Yeah, that’s a great question. You’re asking me this today. And what’s top of mind for me right now is, don’t feel sorry for us. Please don’t bring pity into the therapy room, we can feel it from a mile away. And it’s condescending we’ll say, That’s number one. There are some things that apply to working with any sort of immigrant community from anywhere, which is definitely educate yourself outside of the therapy room, understand some basic history, vocabulary, you know, political, religious, cultural players, just so that you have a frame of reference at all. But then, yes, it’s okay. In therapy, when you’re working with anyone, I think, to let your client educate you about their own personal experience, but not about not having them be a representative and educate about the experience of their country or their culture as a whole. And that’s a different, that’s a pretty specific, it’s a nuanced thing to do. Which is, rather than saying, what does that mean? I’ll say, what does that mean for you, for example, also understanding the like I said, for example, generosity, and hospitality is a huge part of Afghan culture. So, you know, most of us, you know, grew up, were born and raised here. So it’s not a huge cultural shift, but understanding that that might be what they’re experiencing at home. Or if you do if you are working with an immigrant, a recent immigrant even to understand the power structure that we talked about the privilege in the therapy room is always there with someone who is very deferential or polite. It’s going it’s going to take you there’s this thing and Afghan culture, you have to always offer three times. And so you might think you’re saying, well, I asked them and they seem fine with it, you know, you may have to double check, or triple check, just to make sure that the person is comfortable. If there’s something else that they want to tell you. Again, I’ll say that, that would more apply to someone who’s closer to Afghanistan, but it is something that I see with my family all the time. And again, the the collectivism and the obligation to family, the importance of honor and pride, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s as much about, we do love being boozy. We do care about like financial success. And you know, but it’s all in service of respect and honor for our family, that there’s a lot of pressure to not exclusively, but to have a strong connection to your community through your cousin, your hundreds of cousins that everybody has, or, you know, every Afghan knows every other Afghan basically. So to not shy away from that, like I did for a long part of my life. So those are some things that kind of come to mind when I think about what you would need to know if you were working with an Afghan American point.

Katie Vernoy  19:51

You mentioned kind of doing some research and kind of the Google search as well as you know, kind of informed research. If this is someone’s Google Search. If this is the beginning of their Google search, are there things that you think that therapists should know when working with an Afghan American client or topics that they may want to plug into their search engine that we can help them with right now?

Sara Stanizai  20:15

They will definitely want to read more about the impact of intergenerational trauma and military involvement in their home country. They will definitely want to seek out primary sources, basically, so people who are Afghan or Afghan American, there are a lot of, you know, we have many sister cultures, but there is nothing else like being from Afghanistan. Yes, the US has done this in many other countries. But it is, there are many parallels, but it’s not the same. So just saying like, Oh, well, I had a Middle Eastern client or I had an Egyptian client, or That’s great. That’s their experience will be completely different from ours. So just making sure you hear as much as you can from actual Afghans and Afghan Americans, to keep on the lookout for sensationalized headlines and images, and to really understand, to challenge your own biases. You know, I think I’m still learning history as well. I’m by no means an expert on anything other than my own experience. But I think when people do, it doesn’t take very much digging to realize, whoa, a lot of the things that I was told or I just assumed to be true, actually have nothing to do with I want to thank Oh, I think it’s pretty eye opening for people.

Curt Widhalm  21:37

Oftentimes, there are healing practices or, or ways of healing that people from various cultures embrace that we are woefully not even taught to think about and ask, in our cross cultural practices. Are there any unique things to consider as part of this grieving process, part of this healing process that made me things that we would encourage, if we are working with clients who are Afghan American right now?

Sara Stanizai  22:12

That feels like a pretty tough question to answer? How do we cope with something on this scale? As you were asking me, I was remembering that prayer is pretty healing for a lot of people, not for everybody. Some people are not religious. But I think the ritual and the act of prayer is really healing for people. Being in community spaces. So making sure that, you know, if you’re not Afghan as the therapist, you might say, like, of course, I’m here to support you, in my way, but do you have connection? Do you have safe connection to people that do accept you and that you feel comfortable with, and it’s not always accessible to people, a lot of people, my you know, when I was growing up, I went to a pretty progressive, friendly mosque. But I was rebellious, I just like, hated it, I just, it was very boring, I never wanted to go. But if I did have that, that would be one of the first places I would go. But that’s not the case for everybody. So that’s something to ask about. You may or may even affect the time of day that you have your session. If someone is devout, and they’re praying five times a day, your session May, you may need to just make sure your session time doesn’t interfere with prayer time. And also remembering that for many Muslims, fasting is an act of devotion, and it can be very healing and cleansing for people and it can give a sense of I don’t want to say control, it can give a sense of agency and at a time when everything feels out of control.

Katie Vernoy  23:54

What is it… What is it important for those of us who are not African American to make sure that we’re checking in on and for us to know about the experience over this past week? And an honestly for much longer than that, but what is it important that we’re aware of that maybe we don’t know as a non Afghan Americans?

Sara Stanizai  24:20

What I’ve been thinking several times this week is that there isn’t there doesn’t seem to be language for what we’re experiencing. It is it feels very fundamental and it feels painful on a large on a scale that I can’t it’s really hard for me to even grasp myself, let alone describe that there’s, it’s, it’s new, it’s brand new, it’s well, it’s not new, but it’s very present. It’s fresh, and it feels like people are reaching out and saying I didn’t know What to say, but I wanted to say something. And those messages are helpful. And it’s hard for me to I kind of go back and forth, because people are reaching out and saying, Well, what can I do. And part of me is like, thanks for asking, I am in the midst of a lot of things right now between trying to make sure that my family is safe and alive. And some of them are seeking emergency visas, some of them do not want to leave, I’m, I’m looking at my phone all day making, just waiting for them to have service to. So I can just hear from them to make sure that they are alive. So you may want to do a Google search and just look for fundraisers, look for advocacy efforts, there are scripts laid out for people to contact people in the government to make sure that visas do get approved and that refugee are welcomed. There is that really exciting fundraiser for the rescue missions. And it’s got $5 million, or something, which is pretty badass, which is like, it’s amazing. I wish I could just like see who that pilot is, which is great. But there are also millions of people who either don’t want to, or are not able to leave. And, you know, I said this earlier, I don’t think people should. You don’t have to be American to deserve aid. You don’t need to be a refugee to deserve aid. So I really encourage people to give to the efforts that are on the ground that are staying in front of Stein, who are really handing food and clothes and water and medicine to people who don’t have those resources.

Curt Widhalm  26:43

Are there any particular organizations that you would encourage our listeners to look at supporting?

Sara Stanizai  26:49

Yeah, there are so many literacy and love is one organization, although I heard that they recently paused their donations until the banks open, but check with them hand to hand. So DACA group is another organization that has been in Afghanistan, since before this, and their hand to delivering supplies to people. I think there are a lot, Instagram is lit right now. So there are a lot of financial donations that people can make. There are organizations throughout the country, throughout the US that are coordinating airport pickups, and hotel vouchers. And you know, if you have a bag of clothes, you’re taking to Goodwill, you know, they’re taking everything because people are showing up with nothing. I would also really encourage anybody who has access to legal services, if you are a lawyer, you don’t have to be an immigration lawyer, really helping people understand their just the basic visa paperwork will be very, very helpful. People are overwhelmed and a phone call. And a plan will help people a lot. Attending protests and just showing up and being visible is really, really helpful because that leads to media exposure, and then that leads to people deciding that it’s worth it, but it looks good for them to say something about when it’s done. So we’ll take it. There are so many, making sure that you are either letter writing or phone calling or emailing members of Congress to make sure that people are able to come in expanding the process that it’s pretty limited about what people are qualifying for right now. Half of my family qualifies, there are some people who may not also anybody who is a Farsi speaker or a pesto speaker. You don’t have to be a lawyer, you don’t have to know how to do anything. If you can do translating services. All of these are ways that people can help. So I think if you want, you can definitely look, look on my Instagram, but there are a ton of Instagram, Instagram accounts that have been doing this activism for a long time. We’re glad that people are paying attention to it. Now. It’s a little frustrating that people think this is brand new or that they’re suddenly interested, but we’ll take it Hey, well, we’ll take it. And the other thing I would say is, you know, we’re so organized and we’re still activated right now. I’m myself personally, I’m even new to this, but it feels like home I mean, it just feels like whenever I see all these other African people I’m like it just it feels like I’ve always been here. So I would really encourage people like to get involved. You don’t have to earn your way in you don’t have to qualify you don’t have to be like welcomed in like we Afghans love allies and we love welcoming people. So that will be really helpful. Definitely check out a lot of the organizers who were coming together on social media. And if you have any questions you can always just ask

Katie Vernoy  29:58

before we close up because I think this is an important conversation that needs to remain out there. There needs to be support given all those things. But before we close up, are there any… Are there any, any additional points that we need to make? Are there anything? Is there anything else that our modern therapist needs to know?

Sara Stanizai  30:18

No, I don’t know. I’m tired.

Curt Widhalm  30:23

Even on that now, when we were first responding to this news, Katie and I, and the balance between wanting to share this message and hating this message, while also knowing that people like Sarah are responding in a time of very, very complex feelings, and not always knowing kind of the best balance that we can bring as hosts of this show. And it’s with a tremendous amount of gratitude and respect for Sarah and all of the other people going through a time of existential crisis and just complicated feelings around so many things that we hear you that you’re tired. We’re, here we’re trying whatever it is that we can even in perfectly to help with everything. And for you to show up, and share your story, share what you’re going through in order for the rest of us to be able to step in, so that way, hopefully, you can get some rest, and you can get some resolution, and know that our modern therapist community is grateful for you and your time and willing to step up. And that’s our call to action for our community here is find what you can do. It might be time, it might be action, it might be money. But there are a lot of people going through some very, very complicated feelings right now. And always, whenever you can step up and do what you can. Yeah, we will include some links in our show notes to the organizations that Sara has suggested. And as well as her practice, which I do want to give you an opportunity to let people know where to find you and your practice.

Sara Stanizai  32:37

Oh my gosh, that’s right. I didn’t even mention my women’s group. Yep. It is the best. It was the best when I started it, it is the best every time I run it. It is more timely and needed now than ever. But we have been meeting. Oh my gosh, this sounds like something I probably don’t want to puton the air, like we have been meeting online and secret. These Afghan women, we were toying with the idea of putting together a retreat, and we were like, oh, where can we go do it and somebody was like, they’re never gonna let 12 Afghan women on the same flight ever. So we laughed at it. Nobody else laughs when I tell that story, because they’re like, I don’t know if I’m allowed to laugh about it. But it was. But yeah, we have been meeting in a peer support group, I run a shorter six week version of it. And then I run a three to four month version of it. So we’re actually wrapping up one group now. And so when I run it again, when I get my life together and wrap this group up, I’m going to be offering it free of charge. And that’s for any Afghan women. You don’t have to be in California, you don’t have to be in the United States. You just have to be awake at the time that we offer the group. And I’m putting the details together now. But I’m anticipating there’ll be a pretty big need. And it’s just one of the joys of my life. To run this group, I make sure that I speak to every single group member first to kind of matchmake the right people in the right group. So everybody feels comfortable and safe and is challenged a little bit but not too much. I love running groups, and we get lit like it is everybody is so happy when they sign on to group. First everybody checks if you know their cousin or family members in the group, which I don’t think has happened yet. But then everybody realizes how much we have in common how much our stories parallel. They’re like, I didn’t realize that you could be Afghan and blank like every other thing that we are and it’s really really healing and beautiful and now more than ever. It’s it’s been a gift for myself to be able to kind of give to this to my community. But also for me to heal because nobody else gets it. And so when we, you know, this week when we’ve been having sessions with my one on one clients as well, it’s just been, nobody else gets it. And so it’s been very I feel really grateful that this has been put in place that I put these in place by me. I did it, but but I’m really grateful that I have it now.

Katie Vernoy  35:26

So where can people find about the group about your practice? Like, what what, what are the actual contact info there?

Sara Stanizai  35:33

Yes. The best place is our website, which is prospecttherapy.com. That’s also my Instagram handle, which is prospect therapy. That’s me, I run that account. It’s not some company. So if you message me there, I will answer, but you can find all of our information on our website, and information about our group about therapy, about everything that we’re offering. Those are the two best places to look.

Katie Vernoy  35:58

And any final thoughts?

Sara Stanizai  36:01

Thanks for having me. It was nice to talk to you two.

Curt Widhalm  36:04

We will include all those links in our show notes at mtsgpodcast com. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy and Sarah Stanizai.

Katie Vernoy  36:14

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Curt Widhalm  36:17

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Katie Vernoy  36:45

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Announcer  37:01

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