Determined Alum Achieves Hard-Won Successes

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The path to success in life is rarely straight or true. It can twist and turn and take years – even decades. And for many the journey never ends.

Nazila Amighi’s journey to success took her across continents, oceans, and from one end of this country to another. She invested years into a college degree she never had the chance to use and then became an entrepreneur with two successful ventures. During that time she got married and raised a son.

But Nazila’s search for identity – for the opportunity to say one day, ‘this is who I am,’ was not over.

Part of that search took her into therapy and she was impressed with how much it helped her. More importantly, working to better understand herself provided the opportunity to pursue another career path. ‘Perhaps,’ she thought, ‘I can help others.’

“I wanted people to understand they don’t have to live with their pain – they can change their story. There’s so much more to their life!”

So she applied to, and was accepted to The Chicago School’s Masters program in Marriage and Family Therapy.

“Graduate school was very hard for me – extremely difficult because of all the writing – I wasn’t used to all that writing. My classmates would start three days before assignments were due.  I needed three weeks. I had to work hard to prepare to write all our assignments.”

Nazila’s challenge was language. Although well educated – the product of elite schools as a child and a rigorous technical education – English was still her second language.

“No matter how long you stay in this country I’m still ESL. I did whatever I could but I was always concerned about my English.”

At The Chicago School Nazila credits Dr. Joseph Futerman, the Associate Chair of the MFT program, with giving her much-needed academic but mostly moral support.

“I got great support, I was encouraged – told often that I belonged there and that I was going to be a great therapist. That support meant a lot to me.”

Nazila has been a licensed therapist for three years now and almost immediately after graduation there were new opportunities that seemed to validate her new career decision.

First, recognition by her peers – she has served as president of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the CA Assoc. of Marriage and Family Therapists – for more than two terms.

Then Hollywood came knocking. Nazila was cast on the popular reality show, “The Shahs of Sunset,” facilitating therapy sessions for cast members.

“You have no idea what they will show,” she says. “I was worried how they would portray me.” But she was pleased with how those segments were produced primarily because the show gave her an opportunity to promote the benefits of therapy.

“I really wanted to stand up to the stigma of therapy – especially couples therapy. I wanted people to understand therapy and not be afraid of it.”

When Nazila describes her experience on the show – and when she talks about her practice, the passion she feels for her work is apparent. As is her dedication to the principles of narrative therapy.

“The client knows more than I do. I’m a facilitator – we’re equals trying to figure it out. It’s a very humble theory. I feel it’s very creative. I have the tools to help them get to where they want to go and I’m doing all of this with a sense of care.”

The journey to this place Nazila has found – where she works to help couples, and special populations such as incarcerated youth – may have taken a long time in coming. But Nazila says it makes enjoying her work that much more satisfying.

“This is who I am. When I come to work I honestly don’t feel like I’m going to work. I’m excited about seeing my clients. What are we going to talk about – where are we going today?”


1 comment
  • James C Taliaferro April 3, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    This was a really inspirational story. Knowing that a fellow student can succeed in the classroom, in practice, and on the screen in 2019 is heartwarming. I am finishing up my dissertation proposal and this story gives me a small boost to keep going!

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