You are currently viewing KCS Session 1: Understanding the Mental Health Needs of Muslims & Emerging Islamically Integrated Psychotherapies

KCS Session 1: Understanding the Mental Health Needs of Muslims & Emerging Islamically Integrated Psychotherapies

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This is the first session in the 6-session Khalil Center Educational Series

Presented by Rania Awaad, MD, Abdallah Rothman, Ph.D, and Hooman Keshacarzi, Psy.D.

This program, when attended in its entirety, offers 1.5 APA CEs for Psychologists and other professionals, and 1.5 BBS California CEUs for LPCCs, LPSWs, and LMFTs

Workshop Description

This particular workshop will provide mental health professionals and students of the behavioral sciences an opportunity to better understand the mental health needs of Muslim populations. The particular cultural and religious factors that may impact this group as a special population will be explored with an attention to the prevalence of mental health conditions, help seeking behaviors, barriers for service delivery and responsiveness to various therapeutic modalities. Given that Muslims tend to be more reluctant in seeking mental health treatment for their psychological distress relative to other groups (Sheikh & Furnham, 2000; Pilkington, Msetfi, & Watson, 2012), solutions will be provided to address the religious, spiritual, and faith based cultural sensitivities that serve as barriers for service delivery (Inayat, 2007; Aloud & Rathur, 2009).

Additionally, many religiously adherent Muslims not only need culturally sensitive psychotherapy, they are also likely to want their therapist to demonstrate spiritual competencies and provide spirituality integrated care (Weatherhead & Diaches, 2010). In light of this and the growing research and interest in spiritually integrated psychotherapies (Richards & Bergin, 2004; Pargament, 2007), emerging Islamic psychologies will be discussed in detail. There will be a brief overview of the rich historical scholarly tradition on human psychology within the Islamic tradition. Then an orientation to the broader contemporary movement of Islamic psychology with a focus on providing an overview of the various Islamic models of psychological well-being and treatment will be presented.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this introductory-level workshop, participants will be able to:

– Demonstrate a stronger understanding of Muslim culture and the Islamic faith and be able to utilize this information to provide more culturally competent psychotherapy.

– Assess the applicability of certain therapeutic interventions or modalities in their suitability for Muslim populations

– Integrate Islamic spiritual concepts into psychotherapy.

– Provide psychotherapy to Muslim patients within an Islamic context

– Describe Islamic concepts, culture and Islamic scholarly contributions to human psychology

Professional Bio of Rania Awaad, MD. Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Stanford University). Director of the Muslim Mental health lab at Stanford University

Dr. Rania Awaad, M.D., is a practicing Psychiatrist based at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and pursues her clinical practice through the department’s community psychiatry track. She is also a researcher and the Director of the Stanford Muslims and Mental Health Lab where she mentors and oversees multiple lines of research focused on Muslim mental health. She completed her psychiatric residency training at Stanford Hospital and Clinics where she also pursued a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Her research and clinical work are focused on the mental health needs of Muslims. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants for her work.

Through community partnerships established by the Stanford Department of Psychiatry, she is currently the Psychiatric Director of the El Camino Women’s Medical Group (Mountain View and San Jose) where she pursues her interest in women’s mental health. Additionally, through another community partnership with the Stanford Department of Psychiatry, she serves as the Clinical Director of the Bay Area branch of the Khalil Center (Santa Clara), a spiritual wellness center pioneering the application of traditional Islamic spiritual healing methods to modern clinical psychology.

Dr. Awaad also has an interest in refugee mental health and has traveled to Amman, Jordan multiple times with the Care Program for Refugees (CPR) sponsored by Al-Alusi Foundation, a local non-profit organization. She has worked on developing and presenting a “train the trainers” curriculum to aid workers and therapists in Amman working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Dr. Awaad is passionate about community mental health and lectures widely nationally and internationally, particularly in communities where mental health is highly stigmatized. Recently, she was invited by President Obama to present her work on Muslim Mental Health at a convening at the Department of Health in DC. Dr. Awaad received this invitation as a leader who is nationally recognized for her work on the mental health needs of Muslim populations.

Locally, she hosts a monthly meeting at Stanford for Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals (BAMMHP) that facilities mentorship and networking opportunities for mental health professionals, paraprofessionals and students interested in working with the Muslim population. Her other interests include psycho-spiritual well-being and interfaith work as it relates to mental health. In this vein, Dr. Awaad co-teaches a course to Stanford Psychiatry residents entitled, “Culture and Religion in Psychiatry.”

Professional Bio of Abdallah Rothman, Ph.D, Executive Director of the International Association for Islamic Psychology & Principal of the Cambridge Muslim College.

Dr. Abdallah Rothman, Ph.D is the Executive Director of the International Association of Islamic Psychology, working at the intersection of Islamic spirituality and mental health practice. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Board Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC), licensed in the United States. He also serves as the principal of the Cambridge Muslim College in the UK.

Dr. Abdallah earned an M.A. in Psychology from Antioch University and earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from Kingston University London. He is a student of Professor Malik Badri in Islamic psychology and in addition to his academic training has studied privately with a number of traditional Islamic scholars throughout the Muslim world. Dr. Abdallah’s clinical practice as well as his academic research focus on approaching counseling from within an Islamic paradigm and establishing an indigenous Islamic theoretical orientation to human psychology that is grounded in the knowledge of the soul from the Islamic tradition. He publishes on this topic in books and journal articles and gives presentations, leads interactive workshops, and is invited to public speaking engagements at universities and organizations around the world. He is visiting professor of psychology at Zaim University Istanbul, International Islamic University Islamabad, and Al-Neelain University Khartoum.

Dr. Abdallah has over 15 years’ experience as a counseling psychologist working with individuals, couples and youth in a variety of settings. His experience with many different styles and methods of therapy enable him to offer a well-rounded, versatile approach to counseling. He uses an integrative approach in his practice, which means that he combines different techniques to cater to the unique needs of each client. In addition to Islamic psychotherapy, some of the other methods of therapy he is trained in include; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Art Therapy, and Spiritual Counseling. Abdallah draws on aspects from each of these frameworks and methods as appropriate for the personality of the client as well as the issues with which they are struggling. He does this in a seamless way, creating a comfortable environment that makes it easy for his clients to uncover the core of their issue and attain relief and growth.

Professional Bio of Hooman Keshavarzi, Psy.D, Executive Director Khalil Center and Assistant professor at Ibn Haldun University

Hooman Keshavarzi, Psy.D is a licensed as a psychotherapist in the state of Illinois, he holds a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology, a Masters of Clinical Psychology and a Bachelors of Science – specialist psychology track/minor in Islamic Studies. He is currently a visiting scholar for Ibn Haldun University (Istanbul, Turkey), Adjunct Professor at American Islamic College, Hartford Seminary, instructor of psychology at Islamic Online University and founding director of Khalil Center – the first Islamically oriented professional community mental wellness center and largest provider of Muslim mental healthcare in the US. He is also a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding at the Global Health Center, conducting research on topics related to Muslims and Mental Health. Hooman Keshavarzi is an international public speaker and trainer currently serving as a Clinical supervisor of graduate students of clinical psychology at the Village of Hoffman Estates (DHS). He also delivers seminars on specialized topics around multiculturalism and psychology.

In addition to his academic training, Hooman Keshavarzi has studied Islamic theology both formally and informally. He is a student of Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya from Toronto, Canada, where he attended his hadith and spiritual discourses for a number of years. After moving to Chicago, he studied informally with Shaykh Azeemuddin Ahmed, later formally enrolling in Darussalam Academy for 4 years. During this time he also did some specialized coursework with Shaykh Amin Kholwadia in Islamic counseling. He then transferred to Darul Qasim where he is continuing his higher Islamic education.

Program Standards and Goals  

This program meets APA’s continuing education Standard 1.3: Program content focuses on topics related to psychological practice, education, or research other than application of psychological assessment and/or intervention methods that are supported by contemporary scholarship grounded in established research procedures.  

This program meets APA’s continuing education GOAL 1: Program is relevant to psychological practice, education, and/or science. 


Ahmed, S. & Amer, M. (Ed). (2016). Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and  Interventions. New York: Routledge.  

York al-Karam (Ed). (2018). Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy: Uniting Faith & Professional  Practice. Templeton Press: 1599475413 

Keshavarzi, H., Khan, F., Ali, B. & Awaad, R. (Eds.) (2020). Applying Islamic Principles to  Clinical Mental Health Care: Introducing Traditional Islamically Integrated  Psychotherapy.  New York: Routledge. 

Keshavarzi, H & Ali, B (2018). Islamic Perspectives on Psychological and Spiritual Well-being and  Treatment. In H. S. Moffic,, J. Peteet, A. Hankir, R. Awaad, Islamophobia & Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment. Switzerland: Springer  

Haque, A., Khan, F., Keshavarzi, H. & Rothman, A (2016) Integrating Islamic Traditions in Modern  Psychology: Research Trends in Last Ten Years. Journal of Muslim Mental Health 

Rothman, A. & Coyle, A. (2020). Conceptualizing an Islamic psychotherapy: A grounded theory  study. Spirituality in Clinical Practice. American Psychological Association. Advance online publication.   


Target Audience: Any mental health or heath care practitioner engaged in therapeutic care and interested in furthering the discussion about evidence-based practice. Graduate students are welcome.  

Psychologists. This program, when attended in its entirety, is available for 1.5 continuing education credits. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.  

MFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Course meets the qualifications for 1.5 hour of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. If you are licensed outside of California please check with your local licensing agency to to determine if they will accept these CEUs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to offer continuing education programming for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, and/or LCSWs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is an accredited or approved postsecondary institution that meets the requirements set forth in Sections 4980.54(f)(1), 4989.34, 4996.22(d)(1), or 4999.76(d) of the Code.  

Other Non Psychologists. Most licensing boards accept Continuing Education Credits sponsored by the American Psychological Association but non-psychologists are recommended to consult with their specific state-licensing board to ensure that APA-sponsored CE is acceptable.  

Participation Certificate. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is able to provide students and other participants who simply wish to have documentation of their attendance at the program a participation certificate.  

*Participants must attend 100% of the program in order to obtain a Certificate of Attendance.  

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.