We had the good fortune of connecting with Kiran Syed, Psy.D. and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kiran, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As a clinical psychologist, my work primarily entails assisting my clients with the process of exploring their personal values so that they can ultimately make the best decisions for themselves. I went through this values exploration process myself during my clinical training years and found it to be tremendously helpful as I was able to really determine how to make decisions in my life that would feel, ultimately, satisfying to me. I have observed, over time, that I highly value freedom and that the value of freedom doesn’t really shift for me as I proceed with various endeavors in my life. Seeking freedom from the traditional brick and mortar, 9-6 grind, with two vacation weeks a year was mainly what motivated me to start my private practice. I wanted to create a balanced life for myself, one that would be flexible, exciting, creative, as well as financially rewarding.

As a virtual psychologist, I now have the flexibility to be available to my clients when they need me yet, simultaneously, I am able to design and create my practice in a way that feels fulfilling and compliments my own hobbies, interests, and lifestyle. Aside from seeking freedom, I also wanted to set an example for many of my patients who find themselves stuck in ruts during quarter life, mid-life, and late-life crises. Taking risks in life is scary and change is definitely uncomfortable sometimes, but marching to the rhythm of your own beat hits different you know?

When I am not a telepsychologist, I love being in nature and practicing nature photography. I also surf, snorkel, and enjoy hiking. I can do that now living in Hawai’i and I don’t really feel the need to “escape” from my day to day life anymore. My hours are very convenient for my Texas clients as I am available to them when many providers in Texas are not, evening hours after work. The time difference really is a win-win situation for all.

What should our readers know about your business?
I initially started my business to make weekend side hustle money as a weekend contract therapist at a pain management clinic while I was working a typical Mon-Fri 9-6 job as a psychologist at a community health clinic in Honolulu, HI. It was just my name at first, Kiran Syed, Psy.D. Then, a year later, the official name for my business, Global Psych, spontaneously plopped into my head. It happened circa 1 a.m. on a random weeknight while I was falling asleep. It was the winter of 2019, a month prior to the COVID-19 pandemic being announced. I remember thinking “that’s such a catchy name, someone must be using that already”; however, after some researching, I was shocked to discover the .com, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channel, were all available for Global Psych. So, I decided that would be the name of my divinely inspired business.

My initial desire (which still remains my dream up to this day) was to travel, explore how different random cultures around the world tackle various mental health issues, use that information to guide my practice with my clients, and create my Instagram and Facebook page content. However, that plan came to a rude and abrupt halt when COVID-19 spread and all international travel was banned. The traumas of the pandemic led to mental health awareness being spread all throughout the world in ways that surprised and shocked everyone in the mental health field. Working through the pandemic was the most difficult work I have ever done in my life, as my father died from a two year battle with cancer the week the lockdown was announced in Texas. I found myself navigating a whole new world of telemental health, and it was somewhat different from my usual work in brick and mortar settings. However, becoming a telepsychologist gave me the ultimate freedom and flexibility I truly desired, That is a gift the COVID-19 pandemic gave me that I will forever be grateful for.

I think what sets me apart from other psychologists is the diversity of my own life experiences. I am a second generation South-Asian American woman, meaning I was born and raised in the U.S. and am the child of immigrants from South Asia. I was born Muslim, but I am half Shia and half Sunni (this is rare). I was raised in a secular way by my parents at home. I went to a Catholic school for most of high-school, where we were required to formally study the Bible. I also attended Sunday school to learn about Islam and how to read the Quran in Arabic. Religion was a subject to be openly explored, and I was not pushed to practice anything. All of these experiences and my unique upbringing made me versatile and I think versatility in a psychologist is pretty important. Some would call me an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) but I think I am a ABBD (American Born Badass Desi). If you don’t know, “desi” is a person of South-Asian decent.

I became a psychologist because, in general, there is a serious paucity of licensed South-Asian psychologists in the U.S., especially in the Muslim community where Imams at mosques are usually the go to people for mental health issues. It is very difficult for liberal Muslims to find a licensed mental health provider they can build rapport with and relate to. I take pride in providing a safe space for them to process their issues. My niches are grief counseling, fertility stress management, postpartum depression, treating people in the “helping professions” who may be experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout, and guiding clients through quarter, mid, and late life crises. I completed a forensic postdoctoral fellowship, and subsequently trained in conducting immigration psychological evaluations including Extreme Hardship, T Visa, Asylum, and VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) cases. This is a newer niche in my practice which I aspire to expand in the upcoming years. My practice is LGBTQIA and sex worker friendly.

In addition to being a psychologist, living in Hawaii exposed to me to a Japanese healing modality known as Reiki, which I don’t think people really understand until they experience it’s benefits. It is strange, and makes no sense at first, but the results are phenomenal and there is evidence based research indicating it really helps people. Major university hospitals such as Yale and Harvard have incorporated Reiki as an alternative treatment modality into their healthcare systems. I love Reiki so much I became Level II Usui Reiki certified. I now incorporate distance reiki into my sessions if my clients request it.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my childhood best friend was visiting Hawai’i (I can’t believe this is a question because I have been nagging her to do this for months now!), I would first take her to Hanauma Bay to snorkel because it is the best place to snorkel. I would then do a sunset hike with her at Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, Then, I would take her to Uncle Bo’s for some pupu’s (appetizers) and cocktails (virgin, of course, because she doesn’t drink alcohol). Day 2, we would hit North Shore, eat some pineapple ice cream at the Dole Plantation, go to the soap factory and buy organic handmade soaps, watch the professional surfers surf massive 30 ft. waves, and then we would hit up a food truck for some dinner. Day 3, we would relax at the Kahala hotel spa and hang out at the hotel’s pool and hot tub after eating lunch at Plumeria. Then, we would go to Ala Moana and shop because it’s fun to shop there. It’s the biggest outdoor shopping mall in America! For dinner we would go to Pig and the Lady because they have the best Vietnamese food ever. After dinner, we would go to a show at the Blue Note. Day 4 I would have her rent a longboard and teach her how to surf at Waikiki Beach where the waves are the best for beginners. After a good morning surf, we would go on a boat tour to Turtle Canyon to snorkel with the massive honus. After that I would take her to Hau Tree Lanai, my favorite restaurant by the beach for dinner and we would watch the sunset at Kaimana Beach. Day 5, I would take her to Waianae. We would snorkel at Electric Beach and swim with the dolphins. Then, we would eat at Kahumana Organic Farm and Cafe. Day 6 would be a morning hike at the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, breakfast at Whole Foods Kailua, a peaceful day at Lanikai Beach, and then a sushi dinner at Tokoname. Day 7 would be the Ka’ako Farmer’s Market, cooking dinner at my place, and then a stroll through the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. I miss my besty so much and hope every day that she visits!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am grateful to my parents, as I wouldn’t be where I am today without their unconditional support. I am also grateful to every professor and mentor who ever crossed my path during my clinical training and 9-5 grind years. I wouldn’t be doing what I do today if it wasn’t for their guidance and training. If I had to pick a book, any book, that has helped me the most it would be The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening by Steve Taylor.

Website: www.globalpsych.com

Instagram: @global.psych

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kiransyed/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/global.psych

Image Credits
Picture of me (Korey Howell Photography) Nature Pics (Kiran Syed)

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