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Fareezeh Avari, LMSW, Therapist
I was born in Canada, though I have grown up in Karachi, Pakistan. I am South Asian though my ancestors were from Iran. I attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and graduated in 2017. I then attended Columbia University and finished my Masters in Social work.
Since childhood the people around me, my family, friends, teachers, made me aware of the prejudices and inequalities in society and taught me not to take my privilege for granted. Through their contributions to society, they instilled in me a sense of purpose and responsibility towards others. I chose social work because I believed that it is the best way to fulfill my drive to contribute to the wellbeing of other people, particularly the marginalized and oppressed. The mandate of social work is social justice which is what I want to work towards achieving.
I have worked as a volunteer tutor for children with learning disabilities at Ometz in Montreal. I worked as a volunteer for Santropol Roulant (Meals on Wheels) in Montreal and as a volunteer at Compeer Montreal where I was paired with an adult with a mental illness, as their companion. I also worked as a teacher in a special needs facility. The students here had learning disabilities, were slow learners, had down syndrome or cerebral palsy.
I became a social worker to contribute to communities who face injustice. The master’s program I was in shed light on racism in the USA, particularly anti-Black racism and the ways in which the Black community has been underserved when it comes to mental and physical health. This has led me to want to work with Black clients and play my part in bringing justice and healing to the community.
Being light skinned, I have not experienced the kind of racism that people of color tend to face. Being a Pakistani I have encountered xenophobia from people, either when they hear my accent or when they learn where I am from. It has made me conscious of my accent and what people think of my values and beliefs. It has made me feel as though I have to prove that I am not the negative image that people have of Pakistan and Pakistanis. I try not to change my accent so that I blend in as I am proud of my identity even when I am made to feel small. I take strength in the fact that there are many people who react with curiosity and interest rather than fear and suspicion to my nationality, and that I can try and change how people view my country by just being myself.
Besides psychodynamic theory, I was taught other approaches as well, such as: systems theory, behaviorism and social learning theory and conflict theory.
Clients experience me as someone who is calm which helps them to relax and feel comfortable. My clients also have told me they feel that I really care about what they have to say, and that I create a space where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
I love music and I started playing the drums when I was around 12 years old.