[Now] Haleh Banani,Clinical Psychologist/ TV personality- Cairo, Egypt
| 1. How did you get started in psychology?
I was very fortunate with the family I had in my childhood. They made me feel very secure and confident which made me want to be a source of strength for others. All throughout school, people used to seek me out for advice and that came very naturally for me. My first introduction to the field of psychology was a course I took in the tenth grade. It was taught by a young energetic teacher who brought psychology to life for me.
|2. How do you blend psychology with Islam?
From my college years, I was very cautious with the knowledge I was receiving and liked to put in through an Islamic filter. Dawah and psychology are my two passions and they blend so perfectly together. The way I blend psychology and Islam is by taking the best of psychology and putting it in an Islamic framework
|3. Why do you feel that it’s important to include Islam with your career?
I feel that the ultimate cure comes from Allah and I like to help my clients realign with their creator. Muslims are in need of someone who can give them advice who understands their religion and culture and helps them use their religion to get through their problems. After getting some years of experience, I quit working at the hospital and focused on working exclusively in the Muslim community. At the time, I was the only Muslim therapist in Houston so there was definitely a need.
|4. How did the idea for your show come about?
I was giving lectures in Dubai for 2 ½ years and now Alhamdulillah here in Egypt, I have been giving lessons in my house every Friday during Juma’ prayers for almost five years. The ladies that attend my halaqa have expressed how much they had been affected positively by them. One of the ladies put me in touch with some producers at Al Fajr tv station and we prepared a pilot for them, which they loved. My show, With Haleh, was the first show to have a woman host on the channel. I included all the lectures from the lessons I have been giving.
|5. What other shows or projects are you working on for the near future?
Currently I am setting up some very exciting webinars about effective communication, conflict resolution and living in harmony with your spouse. I will be doing a parenting series to assist parents with positive discipline, bringing out the best in your teenagers and establishing long lasting bonds of friendship with your children.
|6. What advice do you have for other Muslim women who are interested in this field?
I highly encourage it for two reasons. The first is that it is really needed in our Muslim communities and there is a lack of individuals in this field. It would be a way for you to participate in helping this umma. The second reason is that is an extremely gratifying career that helps people and helps you to enhance your own life, whether it be in your marriage, socially or as a parent.
|7. How do you balance being a wife and mother with your career?
I always feel that my roles as a wife and mother are the number one priority. Nothing infringes on that. When you make your household a priority, it becomes easier to balance everything else. I make sure I am not over committing, hiring help when I need it, spending time with my family each day and making each member of my family feel like they are a priority.
|8. What do you think are some of the biggest issues we need to address in our communities?
In the Islamic community specifically, there is a problem with finding an Islamic identity, which can affect a lot of the choices that are made in a person’s life. Other problems include marital issues and parenting ineffectively. Some issues that are present in both the Muslim communities and other communities in general are self-esteem issues, eating disorders, depression, recognizing ADHD and being proactive versus giving in to helplessness.
|9. What differences have you seen working in the US versus working in Cairo? In what ways can one use Islam when dealing with a difficult situation?
There is a difference when it comes to commitment and the approach to therapy. It’s still a bit of a new concept in the Middle East to seek help and ask for it and few people do it. Of the few that do, many of them want an instant cure, which is not possible. Many of my clients now are international clients, from Europe, America, and the Middle East, whom I do Skype therapy with.
|10. In what ways can one use Islam when dealing with a difficult situation?
Believing in predestination and knowing that there is wisdom in everything that happens really eases a person’s heart and mind. I like using the following analogy to describe our relationship with Allah and how it helps us during difficult times: Imagine if you are in the middle of the ocean all by yourself and you only have a rope that you are holding on to which leads you to safety which is dropped to you by Allah. Every worship that you do makes up the fibers of this rope. The more worship you do the thicker and stronger this rope becomes so that when the tsunamis in life strike you will be able to survive.
To learn more about Haleh, check out her website
Check out Haleh’s episodes and some of her articles here
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