Michael Azarani, PhD

Michael Azarani, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

pronouns: They/ Them 

Supervised by:

Kyler Shumway, Psy.D.

Mitakuye Oyasın: An Indigenous Therapeutic Philosophy

Over the course of my training, I have had the honor of learning from various Indigenous psychologists, elders, brothers, and sisters. Through there wisdom, I was able to learn how my Indigenous identity, stories, culture, and teachings can be effectively integrated into western psychotherapy for the good of every client (regardless of their ethnic or racial background). One such teaching is captured by a phrase taught to me by my Lakota relations: Mitakuye Oyasin. Roughly translated, Mitakuye Oyasin means that we are all relatives and interdependent on one another. This relationship goes beyond that which exists between people and extends to the land and all things upon the land. As such, my approach to therapy is informed by this teaching and centralizes on the formation of the relationship, and the knowledge and healing that extends from such relationships.

With this philosophy as my guide, I integrate various different evidenced based theories with traditional indigenous knowledge to develop unique interventions and treatment plans tailored to the needs of my clients. Given that different people have different needs, my approach is fluid and informed by the moment-to-moment experience with my clients which extends from developing the real relationship in session. In this way, I view the relationship that develops in session as way to understand relationships to all things within a client’s life and see the real relationship as one of most effective ways to facilitate healing and change.

Specialities

Racial, Intergenerational, and Historical Trauma
Over the course of my training, my lived experience as a queer, non-binary, mixed Indigenous-Mexican and Iranian person has informed my passion for work with Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC). As such, I have focused my training and experience on cultivating knowledge, skill, and expertise on the myriad of issues, struggles, and structural barriers, which impact the lives of BIPOC client’s. With this knowledge, I have worked with many BIPOC communities to begin healing journeys from the trauma, which has extended from systematically reinforced racism that been reproduced and perpetuated across generations. Through the therapeutic philosophy described above, I have sought to help BIPOC clients develop a personal practice of survivance, an Indigenous healing concepts that describes to process of both surviving and thriving in colonial spaces.

Queer identity
I have also developed a passion for working with queer-identified people across various gender and sexual identities in both individual and group modalities. Similar to my work with BIPOC communities, I have worked with many queer-identified clients to process and heal from the various traumas, which uniquely manifest amidst their intersecting identities. I believe it is important for queer-identified clients to have a safe space to express their embodied experience (whether directly related to queer identities or not) in a way that is both healing and affirming. Regales of one’s ethnic or racial identity, I believe that developing a personal practice of survivance can also serve the needs of queer-identified people and I hope to provide you a space to develop such a practice that is informed by your unique needs, contexts, and histories.

Other Areas of Interest and Competence

In addition to the above areas of specialty, my training as a generalist has allowed me to cultivated competence in working with a variety of presenting concerns. Such areas include the following:

  • Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
    • Note: with focused training in domestic violence and sexual assault; adjustment disorders
  • Identity development
  • Psychodiagnosit Assessment
  • ADHD Assessment

Background

After growing up in Austin, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Music and Psychology from Texas State University (Eat ‘Em Up, Cats). While at Texas State, I learned that I had a deep passion for psychology, and a special interest in pursuing clinical practice. So, I began my journey to becoming a practitioner and went on to complete my Master’s in Professional Counseling at the University of Oklahoma (OU). During my tenure as Mater’s student at OU, I developed specialized interest in multicultural counseling, and chose to further develop my interest as a Doctoral student at Oklahoma State University, where I earned my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. I have worked as a generalist in community and university counseling settings providing individual, group, and couples counseling to adults, as well as providing psychological and psychodiagnostic assessments to young adults.

When I am not in the office, I enjoy spending time cultivating relationships with friends, and family, and spending time exploring new eateries, cafes, and bars. I enjoy spending time with a good book and audible combo, and marathoning TV shows on various streaming services. I also enjoy videogames and am partial to RPGS (including the table top variety). If folks ever want to start up a conversation with me, Pokémon is always a solid place to start (a childhood passion, which will never extinguish)!