Meet Mishaal Riaz! Therapist, Coach, and Public Speaker Breaking Barriers and Healing Wounds Through Counseling

Jul 18, 2023 | Main Blog | 0 comments

In a world where mental health resources are often scarce, Mishaal Riaz, a passionate counselor, educator, and advocate, is breaking down barriers and offering a safe haven for those in need.

Her unique background, personal experiences, and unwavering dedication to helping others have led her on a remarkable path to becoming a beacon of hope for individuals navigating life’s challenges.

“I have always loved helping people,” Riaz said. “Growing up I somehow seemed to find people that always needed someone to talk to even when I was in middle school and high school – it [counseling] has always been a part of me.”

Her love for helping others through serving as an open ear continued in college, where her future became more defined by counseling and mental health.

Hear from Riaz and other speakers about their experiences in the mental health arena. Join us for It’s OKAY! Pause, Breathe, Proceed – BIPOC streaming on Monday, July 31st at 4 pm PT/ 6 pm CT/ 7 pm ET. Learn from experts who are making a difference in BIPOC communities and underserved populations. Register for this free event here.

“I’ve always been interested in the brain, and I really got on fire about therapy so I began exploring what a career with that could look like,” Riaz said. “I’m a child of immigrant parents so I think for them it wasn’t really well-known what a career as a therapist could even look like. The main careers, that they knew would help me succeed in life were your typical medical or engineering profession and things of that sort.”

Despite the hesitancy from loved ones and her community, this lack of representation and understanding inspired Riaz and her pursuits.

“Over time I realized that there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me that could provide counseling or any kind of mental health care whether it was someone who was a minority or just someone who had actually been through some of the things that I’d gone through,” Riaz said. “Because of that it truly became a passion of mine.”

Today, Mishaal has established her own practice, offering services to a diverse clientele.

“I see a large range of people,” Riaz said. “Sometimes people come into therapy for anxiety and then we realize that okay, stuff is stemming from potentially a trauma or something that’s just been pushed down for a long time.”

Riaz supports individuals grappling with significant life transitions and addresses issues related to independence, self-esteem, and trauma. Trauma and religious trauma in particular are a special focus for Riaz.

“My niche is religious trauma,” Riaz said. “I’d say probably half of my clients are people who have gone through some kind of religious harm.”

The objective of Riaz’s work isn’t to influence clients towards or away from religion, but rather to provide a neutral space where they can discuss and heal.

“I think that ministry, faith, and religion are such great forms of support for a lot of people in general,” Riaz said. “It breaks my heart that there are times when there are some people who use that and kind of pervert that — so creating a safer space for people to show up and be vulnerable…that’s my goal.”

A lot of Riaz’s expertise comes from experience and identity. Her journey has played a pivotal role in how she currently helps others, making it even more effective and personable.

“A lot of Southeast Asian families are apprehensive about therapy and mental health, but when it’s someone that looks like them, it’s a lot more comfortable for them,” Riaz said. “I love getting to play a role in that.”

Through her compassion, resilience, and commitment, Mishaal Riaz is transforming lives and making a significant impact in the field of counseling. Her personal experiences and dedication to breaking down barriers enable her to provide a safe haven for those who have struggled with trauma, identity, and religious harm. Mishaal’s journey serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the transformative power of empathy, representation, and culturally sensitive mental health care.

Connect with Mishaal here

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