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Meet the Therapist: Emad Zahedi, R.P.

Every month, we interview one of our therapists to learn more about their story, what motivates them in working with clients, and how men can leverage therapy as part of their overall health and wellness journey.

What are you reading off your therapist bookshelf at the moment?

What inspired you to become a therapist, and how do your personal experiences shape your approach to counseling?

My journey was not linear and in fact deeply influenced by my own experiences with hardship, hopelessness, and seeking therapy during a particularly challenging time in my life. I have been on the other side and as I navigated through my personal struggles that once seemed insurmountable, I found great comfort and guidance in the therapeutic process. Witnessing firsthand the transformative power of therapy ignited a passion within me to help others similarly navigate their own struggles, find their path to healing and eventually inspired me to pursue counselling as a profession.

My personal experiences have instilled in me a profound sense of empathy and understanding of the courage it takes to seek help. I recognize the importance of creating a safe and non-judgmental space where clients feel heard and validated. Drawing from my own therapeutic journey, I emphasize the collaborative nature of therapy, where we work together to explore issues, set goals, and navigate towards healing and growth.

My experiences have also taught me the value of resilience and the potential for personal growth that can arise from facing and processing difficulties. I bring this perspective into my practice, encouraging clients to tap into their own strengths and existing resources as we work through challenges together. 

Can you share a bit about your therapeutic philosophy and the theoretical approaches you integrate into your practice?

As a psychotherapist, my philosophy is simple: many of our challenges, whether in connection with anxiety, trauma, or conflict, can often be traced back to dishonesty – with ourselves and/or with others. Discovering your truth is vital to your healing journey. l am committed to building a strong therapeutic relationship with my clients so that we can uncover root causes and embark on this journey together. 

Therapy doesn’t have to take years. I like to help facilitate my clients from chaos to order as efficiently as possible because I understand that they want results and relief, and they want them yesterday. Much like a GPS, which requires knowing your current location to plot the best route, therapy starts with understanding where my clients are today. Clients often come to me with a clear destination in mind (their goals and aspirations) but with little or no self-awareness of where they are today. This is what we work on together in sessions. 

My therapeutic approach is eclectic, collaborative, and tailored to each individual's needs. I believe in the value of taking my clients’ physical, mental, and spiritual well-being into account, and as such, I draw from a range of therapeutic modalities and theoretical approaches. You may find me using evidence-based approaches such as CBT and CPT, humanistic ones such as SFT and narrative therapy, as well as out-of-the-box approaches like life coaching skills to offer an integrative approach that is tailored for you. I tend to meet my clients where they are and many would describe my style as laid-back, relaxed, and casual. I have a great sense of humour, tend to be more direct, and value the use of psychoeducation. I welcome the use of swear words if that’s your style and above all, I provide a safe and judgement-free space that allows for clients to freely speak their truth.

What specific populations or issues do you specialize in, and what unique insights or techniques do you bring to those areas?

I have experience supporting individuals and couples with a range of issues including depression, anxiety, self-worth/self-esteem issues, high stress, grief and loss, life/career transitions, and trauma/PTSD. Over the years, I have found myself specializing in working with adult men of all ages to address issues specific to men and masculinity as well as other niche areas including infidelity, porn/sex addiction, anger management, and motivation to reach one’s potential. I have invested in developing my expertise in men's issues and couples therapy, offering the latest and most scientifically-backed methods to quickly help my clients feel better and achieve their goals.

I acknowledge the unique societal pressures and expectations that men face and I aim to provide a supportive environment for men to explore their emotions, challenges with masculinity and societal expectations, and relationships. I help couples navigate those tricky situations, complex emotions, and communication barriers that arise from conflict. I focus on rebuilding trust, enhancing communication skills, and exploring underlying issues to strengthen relationships. 

Drawing from cognitive-behavioral techniques and mindfulness practices, I assist clients in understanding and managing their anger constructively. I help identify triggers, develop coping strategies, and promote effective communication. Finally, I utilize strengths-based approaches and goal-setting techniques to help clients identify their aspirations and overcome obstacles. I encourage personal exploration, skill development, and mindset shifts to foster confidence in my clients to achieve their potential through meaningful life goals.

In your experience, what are some common misconceptions about therapy, and how do you work to address and overcome them in your practice?

I have encountered several misconceptions that affect how clients perceive and engage with the therapeutic process. The first being that therapy is a quick fix. There is a common belief that therapy will provide instant solutions to problems, and often with little or no work being put in by the client. In sessions, I emphasize that therapy is a process that takes time and effort; it's about developing insights, skills, and coping strategies that together lead to long-term positive change. 

The corollary to this misconception is the misconception that therapists have all the solutions. Clients might expect therapists to simply solve their problems. While I may offer a differing perspective or identify blindspots, therapy is largely a collaborative effort where we work together to explore issues, set goals, and find solutions that fit each client's unique situation and strengths. 

Finally, the misconception that therapy is for the weak often prevents individuals from seeking help out of fear of appearing vulnerable or inadequate. Specifically, societal expectations often dictate that men should be stoic, self-reliant and tough so men may feel ashamed to admit they are struggling or need help. I promote the idea that seeking therapy is in fact a sign of strength and self-awareness, demonstrating a commitment to personal growth and well-being.

What’s your favourite self-care activity?

I have always found solace in nature because it offers a profound sense of peace and connection. It allows me to disconnect from the demands of daily life and provides a haven where I can reflect, recharge, and gain perspective. Whether it's making a fire or going for a hike, I love being outdoors. I have also recently learned about the myriad of benefits that cold plunging offers (both physical and mental) and one of my go-to self-care activities is a sauna and cold plunge circuit. It is always an instant mood booster!

What do you find most rewarding about being a therapist?

Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding aspects is witnessing the positive transformation and incremental growth in my clients. I find it immensely fulfilling to see individuals progress from feeling stuck, hopeless, and/or overwhelmed to gaining clarity, deeper insight, and a sense of empowerment in their lives.

What I also find deeply gratifying is the ability to build meaningful connections with clients while supporting them through hardship. Being entrusted with my clients’ intimate and personal stories, raw emotions, and vulnerabilities creates a profound bond predicated on mutual trust and respect. Helping clients navigate through difficult emotions, heal from past traumas, and develop healthier ways of thinking is not only truly humbling but also incredibly rewarding. I am very grateful that I get to do this everyday. 

What would you say to someone who has never been in therapy before and may be considering taking that first step and reaching out?

I’ve been there. I know it can seem overwhelming at first and you may be skeptical or unsure about starting this journey. Please know that this is very common and you’re not alone. 

Imagine therapy as a gym for your mind and emotions. Just like going to the gym helps you build physical strength and endurance, therapy helps you strengthen your mental and emotional well-being. It's a place where you can “work out" your thoughts and emotions, stretch your perspectives, and develop healthier habits for handling life's challenges. Taking that first step is like starting a new workout routine — it might feel unfamiliar at first, but over time, you'll notice yourself becoming more resilient, fulfilled, and equipped to achieve greater well-being. If you're ready to make positive changes in your life, I'm here to support you every step of the way.

Emad offers individual and couples counselling to men and their partners across Ontario. To learn more or to book a free 20-minute consultation with Emad, please reach out via our contact us page to get started. You can also click the link below.


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