With each passing moment, we’re hearing about women making moves in their select fields. They’re breaking barriers. They’re following their dreams, old and new ones. One of those women is the gorgeous and extremely intelligent Sonya Jamil. Not only does this girl have a flare for fashion, but her heart wanders into the poignant art of helping others. She graduated Bennington College with a degree in Literature and Theater. Though she maintains a passion for the arts , Sonya always felt that pursuing psychology was what would get her juices flowing, in terms of providing an outlet for people to discuss their emotions and struggles. This superstar is currently pursuing an advanced diploma in humanistic integrative counseling from CPPD, and currently has a private practice seeing clients at Naseem Mughal clinic , Karachi . She is a mom of two adorable sons, and is definitely one of our style crushes. We had the privilege of sitting down with Sonya as she revealed her passion for psychology and counselling , her hobbies and what she would want her children to learn from her. Read more below!
1. Tell us about how you became a therapist – what were some of your hopes and apprehensions?
Since as long as I can remember I have had a genuine interest in human relationships, behavior and people. What motivates and challenges us as individuals and what causes different people to behave the way they do. I was an English literature and theatre major as an undergraduate before I pursued my Advanced Diploma in therapeutic counselling, so I guess my love for the human condition and the arts was inborn, and this was a natural transition. My hopes continue to be to help people achieve self-awareness and actualization using talk therapy as a healing tool. It is always fulfilling to help a client achieve their personal goals and heal, and that to me is the most gratifying part of my profession.
2. What’s your take on the world’s perception of mental health? As someone in the field, what would you like to see change?
I think in this fast-paced generation of technology and isolation, there has been a movement and shift towards key factors that have been ignored, people are now focusing on wellness and looking inward for happiness, focusing on self-healing and growth. Whether we achieve this through focusing on physical or spiritual health, we cannot ignore the importance of being mentally at peace with oneself. Just like people gravitate towards exercise, yoga and mindfulness to feel better, talk therapy and focusing on mental health is another important way towards self-healing and is equally important, in my opinion. How one feels about themselves is paramount to living a successful and healthy life. So yes, I have seen that change and more people being open about the fact that they are seeking help and eliminating the taboo of shame surrounding mental health. If we have a physical symptom of pain, we go to a doctor to get relief, so I actually think going for counseling demonstrates self-responsibility when previous behavioral patterns are not working for us or serving us. It enables us to be more functional as parents, spouses and children in the workplace and in any fundamentally important relationships. I am happy to see the conversation change, and to be a part of that conversation. Let’s do away with taboos and shame surrounding mental health, honestly.
Outfit: Sania Maskatiya. Jewelery: Padma Jewelers Delhi. Make-Up: Bina Khan.
3. On top of training to become a licensed therapist and seeing clients, you’re also a mother of two – how do you juggle your time?
Juggling between work commitments , studying and balancing family and children is always a challenge and I think as much as working moms try and get it right the guilt never ends! I am very blessed to have a very solid, supportive family surrounding me to help with that and a very involved husband and parents who are always there to step in when I can’t be there. They share my belief system that all women must have an identity outside of the home and do something for themselves and because of this they have supported me and enabled me to pursue my career and study to become a licensed counselor. Someone once told me a happy and fulfilled mother is the best kind – and that it is the quality of time and attention you give your kids while you spend time with them that is far more important than the hours you can spend distracted or disconnected. To be emotionally present, receptive and connected with your child, to actually listen and hear them and keep that connection going even if it’s for a shorter period of time is key. It is the quality of time spent that really matters. I work part time and after a day’s work or studying I feel gratitude and fulfillment that I have achieved something and that makes me happy and able to be present with my children.
4. What are some of the things you hope your children will learn from you?
I hope my children will learn to be strong, independent , self-assured people, and know that what really matters is happiness and being content with what they have rather than competing and being hard on themselves. That is what I wish for them – inner peace and contentment. I come from a large extended family and am very close to my family, so I hope they learn the power of connectedness and family through me and keep those relationships alive and maintain them. It is my biggest source of strength and love and I wish that always for them. Also, I hope they learn the culture of gratitude and giving back to society, even in a small way to realize the privilege of being an educated person in Pakistan and to give back to those less fortunate. Last but most importantly I hope they always know and feel how loved and special they are. That is every mother’s wish for their children.
5. Are you the kind of person who likes to go out or have a night in?
I am a social person by nature and I love people especially the friends I choose to spend time with. So, I do enjoy a night out of dressing up and catching up with friends or family. Having said that, I also love taking a break from it all and spending a weekend in my pjs, ordering Chinese food and cozying up to a really good TV show or movie with my husband. So you could say I enjoy both, it’s about my mood really.
6. What are some of your favorite movies?
Too many to name but I’ll try some as there’s not one. The Godfather trilogy, Pulp Fiction, When a Man Loves a Woman, Legends Of the Fall, The Usual Suspects, Dead Man Walking, Mystic River (I’m a huge Sean Penn fan). Recently I watched and really loved A Star is Born, and Bohemian Rhapsody! The movie really captured the magic and music that Freddy Mercury and Queen gave to our lives, epic!
7. What according to you is your favorite part of being a therapist?
My favorite part of studying and being a mental health practitioner in the field of counselling is the gift of self-awareness it has given me, and how much better I now understand myself. As far as work goes, the biggest gift is when you see your client taking positive steps towards their goals and achieving them. There is no better feeling than making a positive change in someone else’s life.
8. Let’s get down to your style – how would you describe it?
My style is eclectic and evolving. I don’t stick to one trend as such. I wouldn’t say I put that much thought into a look before getting dressed, I spin things out of whatever I have in my closet. For me, it’s all about re styling what you have. My wardrobe is built around great staples -trousers, jeans, dresses, a pair of great leather pants, shirts and sweaters then I add a “trendy” or eclectic piece to accessorize.
9. What does your style color palette consist of?
I am definitely more into monochrome than prints and I have more white shirts than I need! My closet has a lot of black and white, and I’m into dark color’s – emerald greens and burgundies being on the top of my list this winter. Where I lack in color or print, I definitely make up for through accessorizing! At heart – and at home, I am a white tee ripped jeans kind of gal.
10. What are some of your favorite brands to shop from?
Too many to list! Off the top of my head my favorite go to clothing brands include Cos , Maje, Joseph , Sandro, Pinko, Alice and Olivia, Theory, nothing like a good pair of j brand staple jeans, Alaia, Alexander Wang and Zimmerman.
11. Would you ever consider a career in fashion?
While I love the field of therapy and mental health , I do consider myself creative and if I had to choose a career in fashion it would definitely involve styling. So yeah … would be super fun to be a stylist I think!
Dress: Sandro. Bag: Fendi. Shoes: Gianvito Rossi. Bracelet: Hermes. Make-Up: Bina Khan.
12. Wedding season trend to sport?
I think a traditional sari or the “choli lehenga” never goes out of style. I love the new gypsy skirt and crop top versions that seem to be trending this season. Also I love a beautiful detailed back, that for me is timeless.
13. In your opinion, how does one achieve inner peace in the fast paced world we live in?
I think taking a break from it all and connecting to a higher being whether it is through religion, yoga, exercise or through spending time with the people you love and who are truly important. Anchoring and grounding oneself and focusing on mindfulness and being positive and real values are what keeps me grounded every day.
14. What’s your idea of down time?
Watching a good movie or tv show, spending time with my husband and kids and family, or with friends and enjoying yummy food, or cozying up to a good book!
15. What are some of the books you’re reading?
Currently reading “All the lives we never lived” by Anuradha Roy. I just finished ”Those who knew” by Idra Novey . Favorite books of all time include “The gift of therapy by Yalom ,“The god of small things” by Arundathi Roy and “The kite Runner” by Khaled Husseini.
16. What’s your signature scent?
I love Oud Isphahan by Dior , and Ellie Saab the perfume.
Jacket: Zara. Top: BCBG. Jeans: J Brand. Bag: Chanel. Shoes: Valentino. Make-Up: Bina Khan.
17. What’s the one thing in your closet that’s indispensable to you?
My mother’s Shatoosh shawl , it instantly transports me to her warmth, youth and beauty and is indispensable to me. Her traditional kanjivaram saris are of great sentimental value to me and I aspire to be able to carry them with the effortless grace and beauty that she does.
Jacket: All Saints. Dress: Moschino. Bag: Gucci. Shoes: Gianvito Rossi. Make-Up: Bina Khan.
18. What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my family. To me my children, husband, parents and siblings are my anchors in this ever-changing unpredictable world. Their love and support means everything to me.
19. What are some of your favorite cities to visit?
I recently made a trip to Italy and to me nothing compares to the magic of Florence a city steeped in beauty, art and history. It was magical! I love the energy and vibe of Beirut and I’m dying to make a trip to Mykonos again, as the last time I went I was pregnant and felt I didn’t have the energy to do it justice!
20. What would you change about the overall fashion world from a psychological perspective?
The thing that I feel strongly about and would most like to change about the fashion world is its focus on unattainable levels of beauty and size that it portrays. As someone in the field of mental health who has seen first-hand the affect this has on young girls and boys in this strive to achieve “perfection” that is not real and the eating disorder and self-esteem issues I have come across, it is a very dangerous message to send to our youth and to each other. I would also like to change the level of competitiveness and for people to enjoy their uniqueness and versatility. The fashion world would be so boring without it! Also breaking the bank to purchase lavish unaffordable branded items is not what I see as stylish, I think it’s the way Kate moss carries Topshop that to me personifies style. Confidence and inner happiness never goes out of style.
Dress: DVF. Clutch: Bottega Venetta. Shoes: Zannoti. Make-Up : Bina Khan.
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