Ciao, I’m Ishana
Holistic Psychologist in Leiden, The Netherlands
Pronouns: She/her, they/them
Languages: English, Italian
Specialties: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-based CBT, Expressive Art Therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS), Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), Body (Somatic) Psychotherapy, Trauma-informed Therapy, Transpersonal Psychology, Body Oriented, discrimination, emotional-processing, anxiety, depression, addiction, codependency, eating disorders, self-esteem
Affiliation: Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen (NIP) Psychologist – Number #236055, EMDR Europe, American Psychological Association (APA) – #C2304403487
M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology from Leiden University (Cum Laude/ Distinction), Master’s Thesis – Suicide Risk in Depression: Longitudinally Investigating the Role of Cognitive Reactivity [in peer-review for publishing in a scientific journal]
B.Sc. in International Psychology from Leiden University, Bachelor’s Thesis – How do Parental Personality Traits Relate to Family Functioning?
A Levels from Dubai College, Extended Project – The Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Autoimmune Functioning in Adulthood
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Level I & II from Dottssa. Isabel Fernandez, EMDR Italia (President of EMDR Europe)
The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy (NIP Body Oriented Working Psychologist: 13.5 credits) from Deb Dana, via Uitgeverij Mens!
Treating Trauma – Master Series (10 CE/CME credits) from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM)
Working with Shame (6 CE/CME credits) from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM) – Currently Undergoing
Expressive Art Therapy (Creative Response Therapy™) from Cyntha Gonzales
Therapeutic Yoga Teacher (YAA 200/hr) from Kaya Yoga
Student Coaching for Resident Assistance from Leiden University
Who Am I?
I’m Italian, Indian and English. I grew up in Dubai and have been living in the Netherlands for the past 5 years. I’ve made peace with my cultural confusion by allowing it to evolve into appreciation of cultural nuances. It’s in this world of interpersonal nuance that I thrive. Nothing is black or white, because binary structures are restrictive. This is what draws me to therapy – honouring the complexity of being human.
A little more about my background…
- Against the Middle Eastern status quo, I was raised by a (brilliant) single mother & our household was interracial. Fun fact: all the major religions are covered when combining my ‘modern’ family
- As a kid: I was bright-eyed, quirky, passionate & very curious (some things never change)
- I grew up questioning my sexuality in the Middle East (*where being queer is still considered a crime)
I immensely value the freedom of being oneself. Can you tell why?
I’ve put in the hard work in unlearning my shame, and reclaiming my life, by addressing intergenerational cycles of trauma, addiction and eating disorders. It has been the most liberating thing I have done for myself. This is what I share with my clients – empowerment, by letting go of what reduces us.
Therapy is a healing journey that we embark on together. Can you imagine a world where we all listened, cared & held space for one another? I realised early on that the change I wanted to see in the world begins one person at a time. That’s why I am a psychologist – individual healing for collective wellbeing.
Psychology Speaker & Facilitator
November 2022: Speaker at Leiden University’s Wellbeing Week – Leiden, The Netherlands. ‘How to Calm Your Nervous System’, to 50 Leiden University students
August 2022, August & December 2021: Guest Lecturer at Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College – Tamilnadu, India. I offer lectures on psychological wellbeing to around 150 college students in rural India (setting boundaries, active listening & healthy coping mechanisms etc.)
October 2021-March 2022: Co-facilitated Proud Vulnerabilities – Leiden, The Netherlands. As a team we created monthly immersive workshops, with the focus on connection by working shame into a proud vulnerability. Topics included: ‘Embody Your Best Self’, ‘Nurture Self-Love’ & ‘Befriend Your Body’
July 2021: Retreat Facilitator at ChiaroScuro: Connect & Create – Sciolze, Italy. A 10-day holistic retreat for artists from around the world, who gathered in Sciolze to create a powerful piece of art together
December 2017: Guest Speaker at VSK Duraiswamy Nadar School – Tamilnadu, India. Speaking about & sharing personal experiences on the value of education and empowerment to around 300 girls in a rural area
Current: Teacher & Trainer at Leiden University for the International Psychology (BSc) courses of Interpersonal Professional Skills & Developmental Psychopathology
Digital Media Consultant at Wellness World – Dubai, U.A.E.
Shift Leader at Skanna Horeca – Leiden, The Netherlands
Teaching Assistant at Dubai School for Special Needs – Dubai, U.A.E.
Educating, empowering & enriching our communities is important to me. We need to support one another.
Weekly Guided Group Meditations, at Rap100 Student Wellbeing Center Leiden
Yearly Lectures Advocating for Mental Wellbeing, at Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College (India), Leiden University (The Netherlands)
I do as much as possible to meet you in your fullness of being human.
= our therapy journey is based on you
I walk alongside you, not in front of you. Ultimately you choose where you want to go & how big the steps are. Our therapeutic journey focuses on your needs. You decide when you feel ready enough to work through unprocessed hurts (trauma), whether we do a therapeutic exercise or not & how fast we go. I meet you where you are – I offer reflective perspectives, therapeutic tools & interventions (like EMDR, IFS, Art Therapy, Schema Therapy, etc.). You choose what you want to adopt into our work together.
= our therapy journey connects with the wholeness that you are, which is totally unique & entirely multidimensional
To meet you in your entirety, I offer you a myriad of perspectives, therapeutic exercises, tools, visualisations, meditations/breathers, resources… (the list goes on because I’m incredibly passionate about psychology – I’m continuously reading up, undergoing further trainings & workshops). To be seen just as you are (an intricate being with unique needs, interests & experiences) is powerful. To be attuned to just as you are, without having to do anything, is incredibly healing.
= our therapy journey is trauma-informed
Trauma changes our neurobiology (the neurochemical sequences that cause negative valence reactions, prune & therefore shape our neural networks). Trauma can be ’T’ or ’t’, driven from abuse, neglect, being a witness to violence, catastrophes, bullying, difficult deaths, polarising attachment figures etc. When we experience a very stressful experience, our bodies go into survival mode – our prefrontal cortex goes offline, our limbic system & brain stem region become hyperactive. It’s wonderfully adaptive, because it helps us survive our environment.
This becomes an issue when that stressful experience demands more than what our resources can sustain. We feel overwhelmed, stuck, helpless. If the difficult experience isn’t processed, it can become lodged in our neural memory (think: a tangled net). This manifests in compensatory behaviours we do in order to not repeat that pain (eg. taking on perfectionism, because the instability in your parent’s relationship was so out of your control & doing the best you could gave you a sense of power). Adaptive in the past. Dysfunctional in the present.
I’m trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing), level I & II – according to the World Health Organisation, this is the optimal treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I also use approaches from Internal Family Systems therapy & Schema Therapy to further the processing of painful experiences.
Anti-Racist, Anti-Ableist, LGBTQIA+ & Neurodivergent Affirmative Therapy
= our therapy journey celebrates your identity
We honour you. That means entirely supporting who you are. Celebrating who you’re attracted to & love. Honouring the uniqueness of your brain. Being queer person of colour, I understand what it means to exist in a system that marginalises my communities. However, I also acknowledge my privilege in being a cisgender, able-bodied neurotypical in this system. I question my position in society, because I want to disrupt patterns of oppression – especially in therapy. We’re on the same team. We always follow your needs.
Western & Eastern Psychotherapy
= our therapy journey weaves in schools of thought, based on what you connect the most with
Our therapy is built on the foundation of evidence-based psychological protocols, underscored neurobiology (mind-body interaction), models of attachment & the polyvagal theory. However, if you want to peep into your subconscious by interpreting dreams, weave the Taoist perspective or consider Indigenous wisdom & intuition, I’m game. Given that I’m a cultural melting pot of Western & Eastern influences, I can offer these approaches to you. I adapt to you.