Meet Asian Australian Psychologist, Anushka Phal

interview mental health Oct 20, 2023
A photo of Asian Australian Psychologist, Anushka Phal

We know that it's not always easy trying to work out which therapist we might like to work with: Because the decision isn't just about where they're located and when they're available, but there's a bit more of a human, relational element to the decision too.

So here at Shapes and Sounds, we want to help make that process just a little easier.

Every month, we'll be introducing a therapist from the Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List to help you gain a bit more insight into who you feel might be a good fit for you or someone that you know.

This month we're excited to connect you with Anushka Phal who is a psychologist working at Umeed Psychology (offering services in VIC and Telehealth sessions Australia-wide). We hope you enjoy connecting with Anushka below!


1. What led you to choosing psychology as a career?

I'm a New Zealand born Fiji Indian who was raised in Australia. Growing up bicultural was a rich and confusing experience. When I first moved to Australia I distinctly remember my friends being excited about tea time. I was like how cool everyone really loves tea here, I love tea! Of course then I learnt tea actually meant dinner. Seriously? I’m Fijian Indian. When you say tea time at 5pm I picture masala chai and parle g not a full blown dinner. It’s been over 19 years, this tiny cultural nuance still confuses me.

As I got older funny little things like this would continue to pop up, until gradually the cultural differences went from funny to frustrating. I was 18 when I first saw a therapist and multiple thereafter in my early twenties. Each experience was the same as the last - friendly and educated practitioners who lacked cultural awareness and provided thoroughly impractical solutions. ​​

This was a common experience amongst my community. In fact it still is. I bumped into my cousin last weekend and she said to me “Anushka, I cannot express the frustration of spending 6 out of 10 therapy sessions explaining culture specific problems. I feel like an educator in a space where I’m supposed to be a client. They just don’t get it!”

“They just don’t get it” is the reason I became a psychologist and founded Umeed Psychology. In a country where 48% of Australians are culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, culturally unresponsive care shouldn't be a hurdle for mental health support.

You know what 90% of my clients say at the end of our first therapy session? “Finally. Anushka, finally someone who gets it”. That sentence alone empowers and motivates me to continue doing the work Umeed Psychology does.

​Umeed means hope and my hope as a practitioner it that all my clients feel safe, represented and understood when engaging in mental health services.

2. What is your unique cultural heritage?

New Zealand Born Fijian Indian (raised in Australia)

3. What are your areas of specialty and what kind of frameworks do you work from?

Hey there! So, here's the scoop: when it comes to therapy, one size definitely does NOT fit all! Just like how we all have different shoe sizes, our minds and emotions are unique too. That's why I've got a whole toolbox of therapeutic approaches to choose from, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness therapies, Interpersonal therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, and more! Think of it like a buffet of therapeutic techniques - I'll mix and match based on your specific needs and what resonates with you. We'll work together to create a customized plan that's just right for you.

I'm really passionate about helping people deal with a variety of challenges such intergenerational trauma, family conflicts, life satisfaction, neurodiversity (ADHD management) cultural issues, gender and identity struggles, identity issues, and relationships, just to name a few! Oh, and let's not forget about anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, anger management... whew, the list goes on! I also conduct psychoeducational assessments (i.e. ADHD, ASD, SLDs etc.)

But here's the thing - I'm all about teamwork. It's like a buddy cop movie, but with therapy! I'll work side-by-side with you, in a totally collaborative way, to make sure we're cruising towards your treatment goals. Because let's face it, what works for one person may not work for another. So, we'll find the approach that's just right for you, and together, we'll rock this therapy journey like a boss! You've got this, and I've got you.

4. What kind of clients are you best able to support?

As part of my professional role, I collaborate with individuals from various cultural backgrounds, spanning different life stages and age groups. Currently I work closely with clients ranging from 14 to 40 years old, who hail pre-dominantly from Asian & Middle Eastern backgrounds. Additionally, I work closely with individuals who are grappling with challenges associated with ADHD management.

I warmly invite clients who are eager to explore more impactful strategies for navigating life's obstacles and creating a more fulfilling and vibrant life.

5. If you could be your own therapist right now, what do you think you would say to yourself?

You have to feel it, to heal it. I would emphasise the importance of acknowledging and embracing our emotions in the healing process. Feeling our emotions can be an intense and sometimes uncomfortable process, and sometimes you may feel like you don't have a good enough reason to feel the way you do - but this is the first step understanding, processing and validating our experiences.


Connect with Anushka via our Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List HERE.

Alternatively, if you feel like Anushka may be a good fit for someone that you know, be sure to forward this page on to them too. Let us continue to not only support ourselves but all those around us too!

If you require urgent assistance, please do not contact Anushka or any of the practitioners on this list. Instead, please call emergency services on 000 or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Shapes and Sounds does not recommend or endorse Anushka or any of the practitioners listed on the Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List.

Please always consult your GP before making changes to your mental health care plan.

Connect with our community.

You're not alone in navigating the intersections of race, culture and mental health. Find out more about our Shapes and Sounds Community, designed for and by Asian Australians.

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