Episode 76 – Unstoppable Drive with Homeyra Faghihi
Homeyra Faghihi is a licensed social worker and psychotherapist. Born in Iran she came to the United States on a student visa obtained with a lot of persistence and commitment. She will tell you her story of immigrating to America after the Iranian revolution.
Homeyra truly is a survivor and someone who works to achieve the goals she sets for herself. Her drive comes through with everyone today who she coaches and helps through her company Power to the Self online coaching. She is also the creator of “Empowerment 4U” Blueprint.
I personally am always fascinated to have the opportunity to speak with people who overcome personal challenges and obstacles. I believe you too will be inspired by Homeyra’s stories and thoughts.
About the Guest:
Homeyra Faghihi is a Psychotherapist of over two decades. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has a doctorate in Psychology. Homeyra has years of experience with developing and offering group programs for women. As a Social Worker and Therapist, Homeyra has helped women with all sorts of struggles, including intimate partner violence. Homeyra is the founder of Power to the Self online coaching, and the creator of “Empowerment 4U” Blueprint. Currently, she provides services to women as an Empowerment Coach. In this role, Homeyra serves women who have left an unhealthy relationship, to transform their self-doubt into self-worth.
Empowerment Coach – Founder | Power to the Self online coaching
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:21
Hi, there, this is once again, unstoppable mindset. I’m Mike Hingson. Your host glad that you’re here with us wherever you happen to be or wherever you’re driving, or however you’re listening to our podcast. And I want to thank you again for being here with us. Today we get to meet Homeyra Faghihi Homeyra is a licensed psychotherapist, she has a PhD in psychology, right? Doctorate Yes, doctorate. Yeah, PhD doctorate in psychology. So she’s, she’s got lots to tell us. And she helps, especially women dealing with overcoming challenges, which is, of course, for our purposes, another way of talking about being unstoppable and helping people become more unstoppable than they think they can be, which is what we’re all about. So, we get to have a chat, man, I’m sure it’s gonna be kind of fun. So Homeyra Welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Homeyra Faghihi 02:16
Thank you. I am so happy to be here. Michael, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Michael Hingson 02:21
Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you, especially kind of your early life and so on. It’s always a fun place to start. I think Lewis Carroll always talked about starting at the beginning. So why don’t we do that? And go from there?
Homeyra Faghihi 02:33
Yes. I was born and raised in Iran. And I experienced the revolution. During my preteen years, and half of the Iran Iraq war, I was in Iran. So I, in addition to my own personal life difficulties, then we had this collective trauma that we were all going through in Iran. And at the age of 19, I left and I came to the US, by myself, and I have been living here in Los Angeles since then. And I don’t know how quick you want me to move forward?
Michael Hingson 03:14
Well, let’s, let’s do this. So what got you interested in moving to the US of all places? Certainly, that’s a major culture shock from living in Iran. And, of course, with all of the things going on with the revolution, so on, they would consider us the big enemy and all that. So what made you want to come to the US?
Homeyra Faghihi 03:35
Yes, as a child, before the revolution, of course, I was very aware that many, many Americans lived in Iran, and we had American TV and American radio. And so I was always fascinated, I would always listen to the American radio in Iran. And I even though I didn’t understand what they were saying, I just, you know, at least enjoyed the music. And I would watch the TV shows, again, not understanding what was happening, but enjoyed it very much. And also, I had family members who lived in the US, so I always had this fascination with America.
Michael Hingson 04:11
And so that translated into you deciding to move that was still a big step.
Homeyra Faghihi 04:17
Yes, very much. So especially at that time, after the revolution, with all the friction between the two countries. It was not easy to get here. It was very, very difficult to get here, but I made it.
Michael Hingson 04:30
Oh, did you get a visa? How were you able to come to the US? I mean, you had to be pretty committed and had to obviously go through all sorts of steps to make that happen. I’d love to hear the story.
Homeyra Faghihi 04:41
Yes. I would love to tell this story. As a kid as a teenager. Obviously I didn’t know anything about creative visualization are these manifestation tools that everybody strategies that everybody knows these days and talk talk about? But I knew In my soul that I will be living in the US at some point, I just knew that. And so the whole process was a miracle one miracle after another, basically, because there was no embassy in Iran, I had to go to another country to go to the US Embassy there and get my student visa from there. And I have an uncle who lives in London. So the plan was for me to go to London, and then apply to the US from there. And the fact that I got a visa to England to the UK, that was a miracle on its own. Because that day, when I was when I went to apply for my visa, they did not give these to any young people, except for me. I mean, it was, again, a true true miracle that I was the only person of all the young people there who got the UK visa that day. Then I applied when I was in London, I applied to the for the US visa twice. And both times, they just looked at my documents, they didn’t really look at them. They didn’t I don’t remember if they gave me any good reason, they just put the denied stamp on my passport, which was devastating. It was devastating. I can’t even express describe the feeling that you get that that you have that happened to you twice. So the decision after then was either to go back to Iran or try one more time, and I didn’t know what to do. And one of my uncle’s friends came over just happened to come over. And I told her my story. And she said, You talk about the US with such passion. I wonder if you wrote that in a letter and just took it to the next interview, maybe somebody will read your letter. And I said, you know, I’m desperate. I do whatever. But I don’t I my English is not good enough for me to write such a letter. So she said, You just tell me and I write it. So I told her in Farsi, she wrote the letter in English. And before the third appointment that I had with them, I went the day before and I gave the letter to the guard and asked him if he could please give it to whoever’s in charge there. And the next day, when I went in, for my interview, the shocking thing that happened the moment I walked in, because normally the other two times, they would, they would basically take your name, then you would have a seat. And then there are these windows that they would assign to and you would go to a window and talk to an officer in the window. But when I got in this time, they just said to me, come come on around the back. So they took me to the back office, which was really shocking and confusing to me. Why would you take me there? And a gentleman who I believe was a top person there, he came and saw me back there. And he only asked one question. He did not even look at my documents. He just said, Did you write this letter yourself? And I said, Well, these are my words in Farsi translated into English. So yes, I know. And I explained to him how my English was not good enough to do a letter like that. And he just said, Wait right here, he went to another office and came back with my visa without even looking at my documents. And at the time, this is truly miraculous, because at the time, I don’t know how things are right now. But you would need three weeks before they responded to your application. And but he gave me the visa right there. And then and it was one of the best moments of my life dream coming true.
Michael Hingson 08:34
That must have been really exciting to have that happen. You know, we’re over here. So used to paperwork, so used to bureaucracies. But I also know that oftentimes the way to cut through a lot of bureaucracies is to get to the right person to say the right thing. And to get people to really understand where your heart is. Yeah, if you can make that happen. A lot of doors can open.
Homeyra Faghihi 09:03
And all of those things aligned that day. Yeah, yes, exactly. And he was definitely the top person there. So he could decide that we don’t have to wait three weeks for you to get the visa here. I’m giving it to you.
Michael Hingson 09:17
So that, you know you You’ve waited already and it had been denied. So you know, yeah, that’s a way to justify it to
Homeyra Faghihi 09:23
Yes, yes. Yes, exactly.
Michael Hingson 09:25
So you came to the US and your English wasn’t really very good, as you say, how did you deal with that? Because you clearly speak quite well now.
Homeyra Faghihi 09:37
Thank you. I do try. But yes, at the time, you know, because I had studied English through all through my 12 years of school, so I knew grammar a little bit. Somewhere. I would say I was somewhat good at grammar, but I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t understand what people were saying. And so those were the skills that I needed to work on. And so for the speaking ability, the best thing that I did was I started to work right away. And so when you, when you’re forced to speak, you learn, you have no other way but to speak. And, and so that was really helpful. And also, of course, going to English school English a second language school as well as in Santa Monica College, I took a, an English course. So those, of course helped to but I think the, the, the one that helped the most was. And this may be funny to some, but it was really a lifesaver for me at the time they had Three’s Company and family ties back to back on TV, and watch those two shows every night. And they were very, very helpful. And also, just to let you know how poor my English was. My first movie here in the US was the Breakfast Club. And for those who have seen it, The Breakfast Club is a story of five kids sitting in a library on a Saturday in detention and speaking and there’s so there’s no action, there’s no story to follow those five kids talking. And it was terrible, terrible experience for me because they did not understand anything. And I felt so out of place because I felt so like out of place, I felt that I was at a place because everybody was laughing at every single line and I wasn’t getting what was happening. So my first job was at a video store. What I did was I would I would watch this video of the Breakfast Club over and over and over and over again. And every time I learned, you know, one line, it was a victory and motivation to watch it again to learn more. And so it’s a very special movie to me. And aside from the fact that it’s a really good movie once I got it.
Michael Hingson 11:45
Well there is that. Yeah. And and of course you watch family ties. So Michael J. Fox taught you English.
Homeyra Faghihi 11:51
Oh, for sure. And Jack, you’re
Michael Hingson 11:53
exactly right. And yeah, and all the people on Three’s Company what a what a collection of people to teach you English. Have you ever had a chance to tell any of them? What a good job they did?
Homeyra Faghihi 12:05
No, unfortunately, I did not. I did not however, iMovie that later on affected me in a different way. Which was the I don’t know if you’ve seen Goodwill Hunting, but that was a very special movie. And I was able to communicate that with Ben Affleck not Matt Damon but Ben Affleck and I. It’s a long story. But anyway, I was able to do that. I got a signed script from him. And a CD. Yeah, the CD of the No, not the CD but the DVD DVD. Yes. I thought it was a soundtrack but about bought the soundtrack myself.
Michael Hingson 12:37
Well, that’s pretty cool. Well, you did get to tell him and that’s that’s a good thing. Yeah, it’s kind of an odd compliment to get from someone because I’m sure most, most of the time they want to hear and they do get to hear what a great movie it was. Or the critics say what a bad movie. It wasn’t here. You taught me English.
Homeyra Faghihi 12:56
Yes, I never I never really wrote to I believe was it. Was it John Kelly? I don’t know the creator of The Breakfast Club. I forget his name. He did a bunch of big movies. I don’t I forget his name, unfortunately. Yeah. But anyway, so.
Michael Hingson 13:13
So you got to the US. You went to college. And you studied?
Homeyra Faghihi 13:21
Yes, I had that on pause for a while because of financial issues. I was on my own and I wasn’t able to manage all the costs. So I had to put that on hold to work full time and two jobs many, many years. I’ve worked two jobs. So yes, but eventually I was able to go back to school. Yes.
Michael Hingson 13:39
So you, but you, but you did get back to it. And you ended up getting a doctorate. And that’s pretty good.
Homeyra Faghihi 13:46
Yes, yes. So I got my bachelor’s in psychology master’s in social work, then I became licensed as a clinical social worker here in the state of California. And when I went back to school, I got my doctorate and thank you for reminding me I wanted to say, I did not get a PhD, I got a Psy D, which is a psychology doctrine. And the difference between sidey and PhD is that PhD is very research focused. And Psy D is clinical focused,
Michael Hingson 14:12
and I stand corrected.
Homeyra Faghihi 14:15
That’s okay, thank you. But I just thought because if you’re not in the field, for those who are not in the field, they probably most people don’t know the difference between the two, but there’s a difference.
Michael Hingson 14:24
But you’ve got a Psy D in psychology. So you didn’t, you didn’t get an actual medical degree in psychiatry use psychology, but, but that’s pretty important. And it’s a good thing that you did. Well, you you certainly have taken a number of risks and are a risk taker in a lot of ways and I want to come back to that in a little bit. But you went to work though. So what did you do when you you got your Psy D? or what kind of work did you think go into?
Homeyra Faghihi 14:54
Yes, so right after my master’s is in social work is when I got my My first professional job as a therapist, and I worked in your hometown of Palmdale, for over 13 years in a community mental health clinic, I helped kids, many of them were in foster care. And that’s where I worked for 13 and a half years, I would say. And then after that, I worked at the VA for about nine years. And that was last year when I resigned from the VA. Last year. Yes. And I haven’t had a practice on the side for some time in the past. So
Michael Hingson 15:30
which branch of the VA Did you work at?
Homeyra Faghihi 15:33
So I was in the, the main one here in the LA area, greater Los Angeles area is in West LA, I worked in the second biggest branch, which was in the valley. That’s where I was in North Hills. for about nine years,
Michael Hingson 15:49
it seems to be also isn’t there a fairly substantial one in Long Beach?
Homeyra Faghihi 15:53
Yes, definitely. There’s one in Long Beach, and downtown LA. Yes. And then little offices in other places?
Michael Hingson 16:02
I think a lot. I think a lot of the visual, I think a lot of the visual issues. Go through Long Beach, or I may be mistaken. That’s what I remember.
Homeyra Faghihi 16:11
Yes, I think so too. Although we did have a person who came to our branch, but I believe you’re right, she came from Long Beach, I believe I could be wrong.
Michael Hingson 16:22
So you now have your own private practice, and that I definitely want to learn about but as I said earlier, you are a risk taker, what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done in the United States,
Homeyra Faghihi 16:36
the bravest thing that I’ve ever done in my life, altogether, is at the age of 21, where I was already here for a year, and I was living with a family member. But it was really interested in moving on to live with two friends that I met two girls, I met in Santa Monica College, and we became very good friends. And I really wanted to move in with them and live with them. And unfortunately, I didn’t get any support around that. And not because my family didn’t believe in me, but because they had never seen that done. And they kept reminding me that you have you don’t have any money. You don’t speak English very well yet. How are you going to do this? We are very much against you moving out, because you’re going to end up back in Iran. Is that what you want? And I said, Absolutely not. I do not want to end up back in Iran. And so it was very brave. I think. And I’m recently in fact, I was thinking about the 21 year old in me and I was in awe of her courage. Because I said, I, this is what I’m doing. And I know in my heart that I will not go back to live in Iran. That’s not my plan. And so with any without any financial support any emotional support with no money, because you know, I would just work paycheck to paycheck, I had no savings, no backup. I just decided to be on my own. And here I am 30. Some years later, still in Los Angeles, and very happy. This is my home.
Michael Hingson 18:09
Why did you decide to do that? I mean, we all talk about support systems and so on all the time. And clearly you were leaving a lot of your support system behind, although they were still your friends, but you wanted to be on your own. Why did you want to do that?
Homeyra Faghihi 18:24
I think it was important to me at the time to live my life the way I wanted to live my life, I had this freedom idea in my head that I need to live my life my way. And that was big to me even a 21 which is really incredible when I think about it, but that was me, I needed my freedom and live life my way. Well,
Michael Hingson 18:49
that’s pretty important to be able to do and the fact that you were mature enough and understood it and obviously thought it through. Yes. Because you you knew what your situation was. And you’ve made it work.
Homeyra Faghihi 19:03
Yes, because at the time I you know, this is we’re talking 30 Some years ago, so a one bedroom apartment in West LA was $600. And I was already paying $200 and helping out with the rent for $200. So my thinking was I went to these two friends and I said, What if I live with you and your rent will come down from 300 to 200. So you benefit from this and I’m paying the same rent so but I live I get to live with you because I enjoy being with you too. And and they thought it was a good idea because they were getting money sent to them from Iran and the dollar was very expensive and today is like ridiculously expensive. But to them they were helping out their parents by moving me in with them. So it was a win win situation we definitely did think
Michael Hingson 19:51
it through. And that makes a lot of sense. Clearly.
Homeyra Faghihi 19:54
Yes, that apartment right now is probably $2,000 But
Michael Hingson 19:59
oh at least Yes, our home we bought six years ago when we built this house. And I think with all this happened, it’s pretty much doubled in value in six years. Wow. Yeah, it’s it’s amazing what’s going on. And, and I hope it’s it, I certainly don’t mind the high property value, but at the same time, it makes a lot of unaffordability for a number of people who dream of getting a home. We were blessed. Yes, yeah. Do you still live in an apartment? Or do you own a home now or,
Homeyra Faghihi 20:34
when I was before I got married. I was single. And I wanted to have my own place. So I bought my own place. At one bedroom. It’s a tiny little one bedroom. But I never gave it up. I’m renting it out. And so I have it, I just, it just felt good. I have always been very independent. And I always thought I, you know, I need to instead of paying for rent, I need to buy my own place. So I worked extra in order to be able to afford it. I got a Saturday extra job on Saturday so that I can buy that place. And I still have it. But right now I live with my husband. So yes, we own our place. Oh, that’s good. Well, the bank owns it. The
Michael Hingson 21:09
other bank owns it. That’s true. Yes. How long have you been married now?
Homeyra Faghihi 21:14
It’s been 10 years now.
Michael Hingson 21:15
And you guys put up with each other, huh?
Homeyra Faghihi 21:18
What we do put up with each other when you when you when you get married later in life, like the both of us did. It’s it can get tricky. But at the same time, because we got married later in life, we both respect our need for privacy and get like individual time. So we both get that and that it works. It works fine.
Michael Hingson 21:40
Well, my wife and I got married, I was 32. She was 33. I love to say I taught her everything she knows. But you know, we got married fairly later in life. And our position is we knew what we wanted. And, and you can know that earlier, but we really knew what we wanted. And so we when we got married, we were pretty sure it was going to be something that would work. And you know, we have to communicate and there are times that we get angry and and we deal with it. And then that’s the biggest issue is you got to deal with whatever comes along. Exactly. Yes. Yeah, it’s all about communication
Homeyra Faghihi 22:19
very much so very much so. And I think the older we get, the more hopefully all of us are recognizing how important it is because, you know, in younger days, there’s so so much of low self esteem going on for myself. I know for many of my clients that we’re not able to express ourselves, we just take everything, most things and say yes to many things that we don’t want to and so yeah,
Michael Hingson 22:46
well, so you worked in Palmdale for 13 years. And I don’t know what the population of Palmdale was when you were there. But when I went off to UC Irvine in Oh, a long time ago, 1968 Palmdale had a population of 2700 people. Now of course, is huge. Yes, yes. And Victorville wasn’t even a speck compared to Palmdale. And when we came down here to look for property to build a home, we decided to move down here in 2014 to be closer to family. And when we came down here to look for property to build a home, we were amazed that Victorville had over 115,000 people in the whole Victor Valley area was like close to 600,000 people.
Homeyra Faghihi 23:30
Wow. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. And how was it? If I may ask, how was it for you to move from Irvine to to Patna to Victorville? How is that? Well,
Michael Hingson 23:42
it a lot of moves in between? Oh, okay. So I went to UC Irvine. And then I was part of a research project developing the first reading machine that would read print out loud for blind people developed by a guy named Ray Kurzweil. And so I moved across country on my own to be involved in that and then lived in Massachusetts until Oh, yes. 1981 when the company I was working for Kurzweil Computer Products asked if I would go back out to California because Kurzweil was in the process of being acquired by Xerox, and they wanted me to help integrate Kerswell into the Xerox world. So we did, and kind of it all went from there. But I’ve been on both coasts a couple of times. And then in 2002, I moved from New Jersey, having worked in the World Trade Center on September 11, we moved to the Bay Area because I had an opportunity to work at Guide Dogs for the Blind where all of my dogs have been from and also people were asking me to come and speak and tell our story. But then in 2014 We decided to move down here, circumstances made that happen, so I never thought I’d be living close to Palm Bay. Again,
Homeyra Faghihi 25:00
yes, you ended up here, Anna. And I knew this I’m sorry that I had forgotten but yes, I knew that you had moved between the two coasts. Back and forth. Yes.
Michael Hingson 25:11
Well, how did you end up? After working in Palmdale for 13 and a half years or so? What made you go to the VA and leave what you were doing? Was it just the job thing? Or how did that happen?
Homeyra Faghihi 25:25
Yes, I really, really enjoyed my work work in Palmdale, it was very rewarding. And I loved it very much. There came a point when I was ready to do something different maybe. And I got to that point. And this is when, actually, before I even came to this realization, I let me go back before I came to that realization that I need to do something else. I actually had this client and usually my clients were teams. But for some reason I ended up again, you know, universe does put things in order and aligns things sometimes. But I had this first grader that I was helping. And he always came in with his grandfather, which the grandfather was also his adoptive father. And he was a Vietnam War veteran. And I ended up working with him individually, because his anxiety was affecting the kids anxiety. So we did a lot of work together with the Father. And I was so honored every time he told me, you know, you have helped me much more than the VA. And I was like, how is that possible? I’m not even your therapist, I’m your kids therapist. But he kept saying that. And so I was very honored by that. And also I was my work with him was very, I was very touched by him, because he was just such a beautiful soul. Whatever it was, he was just such a beautiful person. And to know that this beautiful soul had experienced the type of traumas that he had experienced I, it just shocked me and inspired me and affected me in all sorts of ways. I thought, Okay, I’m interested in working, maybe with more veterans. So at the time, I was in private practice, and on the side, and so I signed up with the bid the soldiers project, which is a group of therapists who donate their time to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to for whatever reason, if they’re not able or willing to go to the VA, then they would come to us for therapy. So I helped another veteran in private practice that way. And then I thought, Okay, I think I like working with veterans so much that I’m going to apply to the VA. And so this position came up for Women’s Health social worker at the VA here in the Valley. And it was the very first job that I applied to, I didn’t think that I would get it because at the time, I noticed everybody who found a new job, they went on interview after interview after interview, so I didn’t think that I would get this job I just applied. And again, another miracle I believe I ended up getting the job. And I was super, super happy about that shocked and happy that my first interview led to an actual, you know, to a job and I enjoyed my my time there very much. I was part of the history there because it was the very first Women’s Health Social Worker on that campus before me that position did not exist. So I’m very honored to have been the very first one and I enjoyed my time there very much. I always told my supervisor every time she said there was another opening, you know, for a higher position. I never applied because I thought I want to do what I enjoy. And this is I have the best social work job on this campus. I always told her that. And I meant it. And I enjoyed it very much. So I was there for about nine years, until last year.
Michael Hingson 28:42
So you were at the LA campus. And so you helped a lot of women and men or did you mainly concentrate on women at the VA?
Homeyra Faghihi 28:50
Yes, my title was Women’s Health Social Worker. So I was in primary care women’s clinic. And the only time I get to I got to help men veterans was when I was covering for other social workers if they were on vacation or sick day or you know not not there, then I would cover for them. So those were the times that I that I helped men veterans or and we had also a lot of transgender or not, I shouldn’t say a lot but we did have some transgender clients and women’s clinic as well.
Michael Hingson 29:20
So kind of an interesting question out of curiosity more than anything. Obviously, there are differences between men and women least I’ve heard that in the past. But I say that sarcastically but but but in reality, are a lot of the challenges that the women veterans face, similar to the ones that you had to deal with or that others dealt with with men are the problems really so different that it’s hard to compare the two.
Homeyra Faghihi 29:49
There are definitely some similarities and there are some differences and that’s why we had a women’s clinic there and that’s why they they decide Read, and good for me. And I believe for the veterans from them to have a women’s health social worker, the differences I mean, we know about the similarities in terms of, you know, some difficulties during their service, anything from moving away from family or adjusting to the military culture adjusting back to the civilian life, you know, the or difficulty with mental health issues, physical health issues that come up during service, I mean, they would have those things in common, of course. But in terms of what’s different, one thing that is different is that the rate of military sexual trauma and women is higher than in men. So many of my my clients had experienced military sexual trauma. And of course, men experienced that too, but but less often. And the other thing that I would say is different for women is that because they came into the military service, life a little later on, although the population is growing, but they experienced a lot of discrimination by men. And that’s something just for being a woman in the military. So that came up quite a bit among my clients that they weren’t taken seriously, because they were female. And so in those ways, their struggles were different. And of course, you know, with military sexual trauma leads to a lot of other problems such as drug use issues, or homelessness, difficulty relating to other people to their own children, or to even having children to have a family. So it’s really complicated. And, yeah, it’s a huge problem. In my experience with women veterans, of course, you know, I’m sorry, just to be clear, the veterans who are probably not coming to the VA, I’m gonna guess many of them do not maybe face these issues. Or maybe it’s not as common for veterans who are not coming to the VA. So I’m speaking from perspective of a social worker at the VA, I’m not speaking for all the veterans, of course.
Michael Hingson 32:10
Sure. So what mainly, did you do in in your work? How did you proceed?
Homeyra Faghihi 32:18
Yes. So being that I was the very first one, I kind of was able to make it my own, you know, kind of a work because it was the very first one, of course, I had the main role, which was to link veterans to resources, that was supposed to be my main job, to link them to resources at the VA, or in the community. And I was told, and the reason I, you know, I really liked this job, because it was a combination of case management and mental health. And so I knew that I would be doing some mental health, I started to see some veterans individually in therapy, and, and also what I learned that I really enjoyed doing groups. So even though nobody was really telling me to do these groups, I just saw the need for the groups and I kept developing new groups and offer those and that became the most, I will for the most part, very, very rewarding part of my job. And I was really attached to these groups that I was running, because they were so rewarding, especially, you know, for intimate partner violence. Because a lot of women struggle in silence with domestic violence, intimate partner violence. And so to offer help in a group setting, it would really help decrease the stigma around it. And it was very empowering, and for them and rewarding for me.
Michael Hingson 33:38
And of course, the real issue is that what you did was to get people to talk. Yes, yeah, to really deal with their issues. And as we know, one of the most powerful ways to do that is to talk about it.
Homeyra Faghihi 33:53
Yes, definitely. There’s so much shame that, you know, we all experience shame all of us. And I always remind everyone that we all experience shame. And we all think that we’re pretty much the only one except so when you when you know that everybody experiences shame. Everybody experiences self judgment, especially with this particular subject, and you have conversations about it in a group setting, it can be so healing to know that you’re not alone. So not only you’re talking about it, but you’re also talking about it, but like five, six other women.
Michael Hingson 34:25
Of course, as it turns out, all have at least similar if not the same problems you do whoever you happen to be,
Homeyra Faghihi 34:33
yes, very similar experiences. I mean, the details may be different, but the feelings that they cause the self doubt that they cause the trauma response that they cause are very, very similar.
Michael Hingson 34:44
So it’s empowering when you discover you’re not really alone after all.
Homeyra Faghihi 34:49
Exactly. Exactly. And to learn tools, you know, how to how to address these beliefs that the you know, one has learned about them. cells and their lies, you know, they’re not the truth about yourself.
Michael Hingson 35:03
How do you teach the tools? Well,
Homeyra Faghihi 35:06
I have always been as a therapist, a big fan of cognitive behavior therapy. So a lot of what I taught my clients, whether in this particular group or other groups came from CBT, cognitive behavior therapy model, and the triangle, the thought and behavior triangle, and how these three elements interact with each other. And so based on this triangle is where I taught a lot of tools to my clients then. And now. Also, even though I don’t do therapy right now, I do coaching. But I, but I use the same foundation for everything that I teach.
Michael Hingson 35:41
So when did you start your own private practice? I gathered that that was going on somewhat while you were working at the VA.
Homeyra Faghihi 35:48
Yes, so the private practice that I had was No, actually I stopped it. When I, when I went to the VA, I had my private practice when I was working in Palmdale. I was seeing women and children, also, adolescents, adolescents, teenagers in my in my private practice, as a therapist, but then when I started my work at the VA, it was so overwhelming at first that I couldn’t do the private practice on the side. So I just closed my private practice. And then after I resigned from the VA, last year, I created this online coaching service called power to the self. And so here at power to the self, I coach women to help transform their self doubt into self worth, after leaving an unhealthy relationship. And most of my services, I like to do most of it in group format. Because of everything that I just explained. It’s, it’s much more powerful. And my clients right now, they don’t necessarily have to have come from a abusive background, as long as it was an unhealthy relationship and unhealthy enough to have affected their self esteem. They’re a good fit for the program that I’ve created.
Michael Hingson 37:01
So why did you resign from the VA to start this again? Or what?
Homeyra Faghihi 37:06
Couple of reasons. One? Well, I would say the main one is a lot of policies changed nationally. And also, locally, they restructured things, and they, the way they restructured the whole social work group. I mean, I should say program, they put me into another program, which I didn’t want to move to another program, not that I had anything against them, it’s just that that’s not where I wanted to be. I wanted to continue to stay with my fellow social workers that I’ve been working with for nine years almost. And so that was very difficult. And also at the same time, I noticed how much I love providing groups. And I wanted to do that full time, as opposed to just it being a small portion of my time. Because that’s what it was at the VA I did many things that was one of the many things that I did was running groups.
Michael Hingson 37:59
Right? So you you say that what you do now is coaching? How is that different from therapy? What what are the differences? Why are you consider yourself now more of a coach? Are you a life coach, or? But let’s do one question at a time. So what’s the difference between coaching and therapy?
Homeyra Faghihi 38:19
Yeah, so I call myself Empower an empowerment coach, just just to let you know, that’s what I consider myself right now. But the way I practice coaching different from therapy, is that as a therapist, which I’m not providing therapy right now, but as a therapist, I see clients with more, who are struggling with more severe mood issues or relationship issues. Whereas in as a coach, I see clients that are further along in their journey. So therefore, as a therapist, I would work longer with a client as a coach, my program is three months, even though I provide weekly support for a whole year, but the program itself is three months.
Michael Hingson 39:00
And difference between the two, coaching and therapy.
Homeyra Faghihi 39:04
Right? Right, exactly that because the third therapy, you go deep into the past, so it takes longer. Whereas with coaching, if you don’t go deep in, of course, the past is brought up and we discuss it, but we don’t stay focused on the past, we put focus stay focused on the present and the future. And so as a therapist, you know, with that I can provide an I do need to provide a diagnosis for my client. As a coach, I do not provide a diagnosis. And so most of my coaching clients, they either have had their therapy already or they have no therapy on the side or they don’t need therapy. And they’re already they’re a bit more further along in their journey versus somebody who’s starting therapy. I hope that makes sense.
Michael Hingson 39:52
Well, sort of still trying to understand some of it as I kind of understand coaching. Coaching is more you You are asking questions and trying to guide a person to more self discovery, whereas therapy is a lot more. You have to deal with self discovery. But you’re you’re really trying to come up with a diagnosis why things are the way they are?
Homeyra Faghihi 40:18
Yes. That and also dig deep into how is it? Where did this diagnosis come from? What was you know, as a social worker, I am trained to be holistic. So what happened in your childhood? What happened in your school? What happened? What what’s happening with the government today that is causing you mental health issues? So it’s not just social work teaches us not to just be focused on a diagnosis, but look at the big picture and look at also the person’s strengths? And how is it that they have survived other issues, other problems before? And how do we draw from those? Those strengths? And so all of that, yes, everything that you said, and more
Michael Hingson 41:02
and more. So how did you come up with the name power to the slef?
Homeyra Faghihi 41:08
Oh, I am a big, I have, how should I say this I have, I have affection for the phrase Power to the people. I really liked that phrase, because I think it really speaks to standing up against people who have power over us, who are outside of us and have power over us. So Power to the People, I really like that phrase. And so power to the self is about standing up to the fear that’s running the show on the inside.
Michael Hingson 41:38
And so you came up with this this name? And how do you use that? Or where does that fit into what you do?
Homeyra Faghihi 41:46
Yes, so the program that I have created now for for power to the self, it’s called empowerment for you. That’s number four, and letter you. And basically, each segment each of the year, which I’m going to say briefly, if I may something about is based on the groups that I had already developed for my clients before. So it’s kind of like I’ve taken the highlights of those groups and put them together and made a three month program. So the first view is, unlearn the lies that you were told about you. In this case, you know, if you had an abusive ex, or an ex that kept telling you things about you that were not true, such as you’re not worthy, you are crazy, you’re not good enough, you are not attractive enough, you’re not smart enough. All those things are lies that we need to identify and challenge. And sometimes these lies might have come originally from a parent or a boss or a higher ranking person in the military. So it’s not necessarily just the partner but it maybe over the years, somebody you know, some of us have heard those through words or actions of our loved ones, in that way. So anyway, we focus on that, and focus on tools as to how to unlearn these lies. And then the second you is uncovered a difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship. This is where we talk about healthy boundaries versus unhealthy boundaries, what do they look like? What are our rights in a relationship? And what does healthy versus unhealthy relationship look like? So we discuss a lot of those during that segment. And then the third view is uncover. Untie, untie yourself from shame and guilt and move towards self compassion. And this is where we talk about what is shame? Where does it come from? How does it grow bigger? We make it bigger without even meaning to do that. And how do we move towards self compassion because we cannot be in shame and self compassion at the same time. And so we learn how to how to be more aware of which one do we go to in each moment. And Brene Brown calls shame the master emotions, she and others have called it master emotion. And it’s such a perfect way to describe shame, because it’s so such a strong experience. And it affects us in such such deep ways that we really need to address it. And then the fourth view is upgrade your vision for your future. And that’s where we talk about like everybody will come up with their own vision for their future. And we we use the triangle that I mentioned earlier, to do exercises to help the client match their thoughts, their behaviors and their feelings with the vision that they have in their mind so that they can move toward that vision as opposed to staying stuck in one place. So that that’s the for empowerment for you program.
Michael Hingson 44:44
As a as a therapist, when you are talking with people when they come in and start working with you. Do you pretty much fairly quickly form some basic expectations of what you think will happen, and how to proceed with people.
Homeyra Faghihi 45:06
As a therapist, we always, as a therapist with the client, we come up with goals together. So we discuss it together, I don’t necessarily tell the client. So here’s the goal, let’s go for it. I don’t do that. I don’t think any therapists would do that.
Michael Hingson 45:22
And I wasn’t thinking of that I was thinking more of in your own mind. Do you? Do you draw some conclusions? Not Not that you tell people, but you kind of draw some conclusions. And what I was really getting to was it just popped into my head to ask this? Have you begun working with people thought you had a pretty good handle on a situation. And then suddenly, you were totally surprised by something that caused you to need to shift and maybe look at it in a different light, which is not a bad thing. But I’m just curious, you
Homeyra Faghihi 45:53
know, it does happen. It does happen. I can’t think of any particular case right now. But it does happen. As therapists sometimes we come across situations, that’s a first timer for us. And so that’s when we it’s so important to get consultation from other therapists. So that’s very common, where we go to our, you know, fellow therapists and colleagues and say, this is a situation and I’m stuck here. I thought that I was going the right way. But I don’t think that I am, what is your feedback? Because it’s always helpful to get the perspective of somebody else outside of us. They we might we all have blind spots sometimes. And so in those situations, it’s very common practice to get consultation from other therapists.
Michael Hingson 46:36
Yeah. And, of course, that gets back to talking, right? Yes, yes. Yeah, I wasn’t in any way thinking that you would tell somebody something that you, you just drew a conclusion. And so this is the way we’re going to proceed. I know that therapy is all about exploration. But it just seems like from time to time, we all are looking at something that is going on or that we’re involved with. And suddenly something happens that causes us to oh, we have to really change that.
Homeyra Faghihi 47:04
Yes, yes. I mean, you’re talking about like, Aha moments like I got on this. I need to go a different way. Yeah. I’m sorry that I didn’t get it before. But yes, that happens to where suddenly something clicks. And you might change direction as a therapist. Yes, that happens to
Michael Hingson 47:22
Yeah, people are very complex, and are very surprising, aren’t they? Yes. That’s the way we are? Yes, we all are. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, it is something that we all face. Tell me more about the empowerment for you program. And specifically, what I’m wondering is, do you do a lot of things virtually, you’re just in person? Or how does all that work?
Homeyra Faghihi 47:45
Yes, it’s all online. Because I started this program during the pandemic, of course, you know, I thought that. And here’s the other thing, working as a coach, the way it’s different from a therapist, as a therapist, I can only provide services to women or people in California. Whereas as a coach, because I don’t dig deep into the past, and I don’t do therapy with them, I can work women from anywhere in the world. And that’s what I love about it. So to answer your question, everything is online. And for example, right now, I have a client from Germany, and another one in Canada. And, and the beauty of online community is that, you know, we can we can help so many people.
Michael Hingson 48:25
Okay, so the question that comes up is, have you had any from Iran?
Homeyra Faghihi 48:32
I had requests, yes, I had requests, but for different reasons, it didn’t work out. Because what I do is, I provide a half hour free consultation for everybody. So everybody can always just sign up for a half hour consultation, because I want to make sure that we’re a good match. I don’t want to bring everybody into the group because it doesn’t serve them or the other group members, if you’re not a good match, they need to have enough in common to be able to benefit from this group. So I’ve had a couple of clients, but not clients, but people who were interested. And they were from Iran, from Iran. And that didn’t work out for different reasons. But yes, they were interested.
Michael Hingson 49:14
Have you at all been back to Iran since you left?
Homeyra Faghihi 49:17
Yes, I have been back three times. And the last time was 2012 December. In fact, the last time I left was 1212 2012. I picked that date. I thought it’d be a fun day. But that was the last time I went there. Yes, it’s been 10 years now most.
Michael Hingson 49:35
Did you have any concerns about going back? Or was it was it an issue?
Homeyra Faghihi 49:39
No, no, not at all. I mean, people with certain backgrounds might have, you know, concerns, but I didn’t. I didn’t you know, if they have had connections with the previous government, or if they’re in the US military, I mean, those individuals would be scared to go back and understandably so. So Should I didn’t have anything to be concerned about.
Michael Hingson 50:04
But since you would left there, I was just kind of curious if that created a stigma of any sort regarding you didn’t bother anyone back back home. Going back home? Yeah.
Homeyra Faghihi 50:16
Oh, no, no, not at all. No, no, because many people like everybody is trying to leave Iran right now. So if you mean like a stigma, meaning judgment by Iranians inside Iran, if that’s what you mean,
Michael Hingson 50:29
or the government,
Homeyra Faghihi 50:32
oh, the government now they don’t care. They really don’t care. As long as, as long as you’re not you haven’t? Let’s say, if you’re not involved with American government in a military type of way, let’s say or they’re very sensitive to people who have traveled to Israel for you know, because of political reasons, we would be concerned about that. Yes. So you know, so there’s some things that they’re very sensitive about. And also, if you’ve had connections with the previous government, if you worked for the previous government in a very, like, let’s say, military position, those, those people probably would be concerned to go back.
Michael Hingson 51:08
It’s great that you’re able to go back and visit family and so on, are your parents still alive? Are they still,
Homeyra Faghihi 51:13
my father died many, many years ago, my mom moved here to the US. So she’s here and lives close by. But I have lots of cousins, not lots, but some cousins in Iran. I have some family in Iran. And I would love to go back again one day soon. And aside from the fact that there’s so much I love nature, and Iran has beautiful nature, different type of nature, I would love to go back and see the nature and history and the sites, there are so many historical sites that I haven’t seen only seen pictures of that I would love to go see in person.
Michael Hingson 51:47
Needless to say, I guess I’ve never been and it would be interesting to visit that part of the world. Yes, my, my wife is in a wheelchair, and I’m not sure how much wheelchair access there would be. So that might be something that keeps us from going because it wouldn’t be fun to go there and not be able to share it. But as a speaker, I’ve had an opportunity to travel a bunch of places she hasn’t gone. So that happens.
Homeyra Faghihi 52:12
Yes. Yes. I, I mean, I would, if I were to guess, in terms of access to certain buildings or resources, it’s probably not at they’re not as advanced as the US. So that can be a problem. Yes,
Michael Hingson 52:29
that would be well, and there are a lot of places in the world that still have a long way to go. And laws regarding persons with disabilities are still way behind the times, even here. We’re not nearly as forward looking as we ought to be. Hence, we tend not to be included in so many things. It’s unfortunate but true.
Homeyra Faghihi 52:50
Very, very unfortunate. Yes. Yes.
Michael Hingson 52:53
But you know, we we do live with it. Well, what do you do when you’re not working? Oh, when I’m not working? Does that ever happen that you’re not working? Oh,
Homeyra Faghihi 53:02
god, yes. I make sure that that happens. Although last year, I went a little overboard with working too much. But this year, I’m doing much better. I love to take pictures with my cell phone and to edit them and just to put them on my personal page. That’s like one hobby. I love to travel. We just came back from Mammoth. It was gorgeous out there. And yeah, spending time with family with friends. Cool. Those are some things that I know
Michael Hingson 53:31
mom lives close by. So she keeps an eye on daughter. Yes, mom went through that.
Homeyra Faghihi 53:37
Yes. One of my like, favorite part of the week is we go there every Wednesday for dinner. My husband and I. So that’s a really good tradition that we have set up since a few years back. So every Wednesday we go over there. I love that. Yeah. Well, that’s kind of cool. Yes, yes. And of course, she gives us back so much food to bring home and it’s like, Mom, we have we we have food but she doesn’t.
Michael Hingson 54:06
Yeah, well, you know, again, that’s what moms do. Yes. Yeah. They’re supposed to it’s a rule. You didn’t know that.
Homeyra Faghihi 54:16
He does that. I mean, I can see I always appreciate and take the food that she makes. But she also gives us fruits and vegetables. And I’m like Mom, we have we go to the grocery store.
Michael Hingson 54:28
Are you a mom yet? No,
Homeyra Faghihi 54:30
I’m not a mom. See? You don’t know the rule. I only know it from a doctor’s perspective. Very cool. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 54:39
It’s better to be well, I don’t know whether it’s better to be on the receiving end of the giving. Because both are good, but it’s a rule moms moms are supposed to do that. And daughters are supposed to accept it. Although they can complain too. It’s okay. Yeah,
Homeyra Faghihi 54:51
I don’t It’s okay. I’ll take it
Michael Hingson 54:54
will tell me if people want to reach out to you and explore Being a client or working with you in some way? Or if they just want to learn more about you, how do they do that?
Homeyra Faghihi 55:07
Yes, please. Yes, my website is powertotheself.com. Power to the self.com. And I am on Instagram almost every day, you can search power to the self on Instagram, and you will find me. And I offer a half hour free consultation for any woman who has experienced an unhealthy relationship that has affected her self esteem. So feel free to set up a time and see if we’re a good fit to work together.
Michael Hingson 55:36
Do you do anything on Facebook or LinkedIn? At all?
Homeyra Faghihi 55:39
I am on LinkedIn. I’m not that active. But I am on LinkedIn recently, I updated my profile there because I had been there for many years. And but I’m not on Facebook only I have a Facebook account only to do my Facebook group for my clients. I provide support on the site. So I do have a Facebook group for my clients. But that’s it. I don’t post anything there publicly.
Michael Hingson 56:04
I only ask because Instagram tends to be a lot less accessible. Since it’s a lot more photo oriented then is Facebook work or more important? LinkedIn. So I’m glad you’re on LinkedIn that makes it possible for people. How do they find you on LinkedIn? What do they search? Oh,
Homeyra Faghihi 56:22
it’s a I should know this. I think it’s my name, Homeyra Faghihi? Yes, it’s my name. Can you spell please? Sure. A first name H O M E Y R A Why last name F like Frank, A G H I H I.
Michael Hingson 56:40
So best thing is for people to go find you at power to the self.com though,
Homeyra Faghihi 56:45
I would say yes. They don’t have to remember the spelling of my difficult. That’s easier. Yeah. Power to the self.com would be the best way to find me. Yes.
Michael Hingson 56:55
Well, I hope people will reach out. It sounds like what you’re doing is extremely important. And I believe it is. And I’m glad that you’re able to really help provide some perspective for so many women especially. But I think all of us, I think there are lessons that we can all learn from your experiences and the way you’ve been able to approach life and you’ve been pretty brave at doing some things. And taking risks. Like I said before, there’s nothing wrong with taking risks and finding things that worked and finding things that didn’t work and then going elsewhere.
Homeyra Faghihi 57:32
Yes, yes. Thank you so much, Michael. Yes, thank you for this opportunity. I am so happy to be here. And you, you I’m sure all your audience would agree that you you embody empowerment. So it is such an honor to be in your presence and to to have had this hour with you. Thank you for having me on.
Michael Hingson 57:54
Well, it’s my pleasure to do it. I forgot to ask have you written any books?
Homeyra Faghihi 57:59
Not yet. But hopefully.
Michael Hingson 58:01
There you go. There’s a new project and having a podcast.
Homeyra Faghihi 58:06
Yes, that’s coming. Hopefully, I haven’t actually sat down to, to think about it. But the thought is in my head, it’s in that stage right now.
Michael Hingson 58:17
In some ways, it’s a lot easier to do a podcast than to apply for and get a job doing radio. And it’s a lot of fun. And you get to set up the rules for what you do with the podcast. And it’s it is very rewarding. You get to meet some interesting people, depending on how you set it up. So I hope you’ll do it. And then let us know about
Homeyra Faghihi 58:34
it. Yes, for sure. And thank you again for it. I enjoy being a guest that especially here it was so fun. Thank you for asking so many interesting questions.
Well, well thank you for for being here and for visiting with all of us. And for all of you out there. Please go visit WWW dot power to the self.com. And of course, we hope that you will wherever you’re listening to us, give us a five star rating here on unstoppable mindset and tell your friends about us. We would appreciate it if you’d let them know we exist in encourage them to listen and give us five star ratings as well because your readings really matter. And I appreciate seeing what all of you say if you want to reach out to me directly. My email address is Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A c c E S S I B E.com. You can also visit WWW dot Michael hingson.com/podcast and Michael Hingson is M I C H A E L H I N G S O N .com/podcast. And again, would appreciate those ratings want definitely to hear from you and Homeyra . Once again, thank you very much for being here with us. Thank you, our pleasure.
Michael Hingson 59:57
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.