Spirituality is a Taboo in Counselling Sabnum Dharamsi & Abdullah Maynard


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Muslim Mental Health: A Treatment Handbook

Event Details

Following years of development, in 1996, Sabnum Dharamsi and Abdullah Maynard started providing Islamic Counselling services and related training programmes, based on spiritual teachings at the heart of Islam, internalised through an apprenticeship with their Sufi teacher.

More than 20 years later, there are now around a dozen organisations and many more practitioners offering Islamic Counselling in the UK to the Muslim community. Many Muslims actively seek out a spiritual approach to their well being.
This interview gave an overview of what Islamic Counselling meant. We also discussed Muslim mental health, exploring the interactions between faith and personal identities, spirituality, and well being, in the geo-political context of the 21st century.

About Sabnum Dharamsi

As the co-founder of the Islamic Counselling training programme, the first Islamic accredited training in the UK, I developed a theoretical underpinning for Islamic Counselling as well as a curriculum, and currently teach students in Islamic Counselling up to practitioner level.
Our model of Islamic Counselling (there’s more than one) reflects our contemporary, non-sectarian outlook, responding to the needs of our diverse communities. It’s inspired by our deep spiritual apprenticeship with Sufi Master, Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, with whom I learnt the importance of internalising the inner teachings of Islam, and further readings in Islamic Psychology.

I’ve lectured/trained in Islamic Counselling & Spirituality in Counselling in many mainstream and Muslim organisations, including the Universities of Tübingen, Durham, and Punjab, as well as the Muslim Youth Helpline, SOAS Islamic Society, Islamic Medical Association, and Markfield College for New Muslims. I’ve enabled Muslim grassroots organisations to offer Islamic counselling skills to their members like Wingz in Northampton, Pearls of Peace in Gloucester, and Whitechapel Islamic Centre. The facebook group I established on Islamic Counselling has almost 2000 members worldwide.

Abdullah and I contributed a chapter for the book ‘Counselling Muslims’. I’ve spoken on Islamic TV/Radio programmes to raise awareness on Muslim mental health, and was Chair of the Muslim Women and Families Helpline for over 10 years. Originally trained in youth work and then in person-centred counselling, I’ve worked extensively in the drugs and alcohol field, briefly been a student counsellor, and have provided local government and other bodies with research, training, policy development, and consultancy in the area of teenage pregnancy, looked after children, sex and relationships, adult education, and diversity. I also offer consultancy on adult education to councils throughout Britain.

About Abdullah Maynard

Having already developed one of the first transcultural counselling certificate course in the UK, shortly after my conversion to Islam with Sabnum Dharamsi, I developed the Islamic Counselling model. I then went on to develop a programme of accredited training courses to level 4 in Islamic Counselling. I have trained people in Islamic Counselling in London, Birmingham, and Bristol. I sat on the board of the Muslim Womens Helpline, one of the first Islamic counselling services in the UK, and assisted in the development of the Arabic Childrens and Families Counselling Service, part of Kensington and Chelsea CAMHs, the first Islamic counselling service to work in partnership with the NHS. In 2007, I wrote the Department of Health and Social Care Muslim Mental Health Scoping Report, a document that has since been translated into German following the Syrian refugee crisis. I am also the founder director of the Lateef Project, the second Islamic Counselling service to work in partnership with the NHS. This Birmingham service has worked with Muslims (and none Muslims) through its telephone service in Birmingham as well as Europe, Africa, and Asia. More recently, its face-to-face service embedded in a GP surgery has worked with Muslims from Afghan and Pakistani communities.

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