Dr. Ellie Zarrabian
There is so much in this world that science still struggles to explain. What we do know is that the mind is an incredibly powerful and complex part of our humanity. It is a part of us that has the capability to heal and to shape our paths in life. Dr. Ellie Zarrabian is a bit of a spiritual guide. Her story and practice are a reminder to us all that even though we may not completely understand our process of healing, there is often times healing in the journey.
Dr. Ellie Zarrabian began her journey on this career path when she was a bit younger. Zarrabian had a terrible nail-biting problem which set her to seek counseling with a hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist session brought upon a spiritual awakening, fixed her nail-biting habit, and coincidentally set Zarrabian on her career path towards transpersonal psychology.
Now Dr. Zarrabian has a doctoral degree in transpersonal psychology and is also a third-generation shamanic healer. It may sound opaque, but Dr. Zarrabian uses spiritual beliefs and practices to help people heal trauma, and if her prestige is any indication, her methods have been highly successful. She calls her profession "a calling", and her passion for her work is why we figured she would be an excellent source for like-minded students. Enjoy!
Can you describe the field of psychology you are in?
I am in the field of Transpersonal Psychology. Transpersonal literally means “going beyond or through the personal or the ego self.” Transpersonal psychologists and practitioners hold a non-dual perspective of reality, meaning life is a web of interconnected and interwoven systems held together as one body in our consciousness and cosmos. Therefore, our individual health and balance is directly interdependent with the health and balance we find in our society and with our planet as a whole. Transpersonal counseling embraces Western scientific thought as well as spiritual, mystical, meditative and shamanic experiences. Transpersonal psychology also addresses the overlap of disturbed states such as psychosis with spiritual states such as a spiritual awakening or an emergency.
Why did you decide to become a Transpersonal psychologist?
It was a calling. Through a series of synchronistic events in my early twenties, I came to find it. I first heard of the word "Transpersonal" through Ken Wilber's writings in the book "Bridging Science and Spirit". Then one day, by chance I went to see a hypnotherapist for a long existing condition I had. I used to chew my cuticles to the point of bleeding. When I went to see the hypnotherapist, I had one of those momentous spiritual awakening experiences. I then found out he was a Transpersonal hypnotherapist and that really struck me. At that time in my life, I was also very lost and didn't know which direction to go career wise. I worked with this therapist for a few sessions and came to realize that my calling was Transpersonal Psychology. Two years later I had my Master's degree in this field and have never looked back.
What does your job as this type of psychologist entail?
I am also a third generation Shamanic Healer. I use my background in Transpersonal Psychology and Shamanism to help people heal trauma. People who end up working with me are often looking for someone with a background such as mine. These individuals are already very spiritual and want to work with someone who incorporates spiritual beliefs and practices into their work. I do straight talk therapy, but I also induce altered states in the sessions and lead people on inner journeys to find answers to existing problems or to heal trauma.
What kind of education did you need in order to pursue and or be successful in your career field.
A doctorate degree in Transpersonal psychology which basically covers the study of different world spiritual traditions alongside Western psychology, an ongoing spiritual practice, personal psychotherapy and spiritually oriented rituals and practices learned from my spiritual teachers.
Can you describe an average day in your line of work?
I only see clients during the day. I start work at 8 a.m. and end my work day at 1:30 p.m. I see a few clients a day and then go to my own yoga practice three times a week. Currently, I work part-time. Up until last year, I also used to teach a class or two at Santa Monica College. So it was a very nice balance between seeing private clients and teaching. This year I'm starting to teach private classes and workshops alongside my private practice.
What are your favorite things about being a Transpersonal psychologist?
I get to do what I love and am passionate about and get paid for it too. I get to heal and learn about my own recovery through the work I do with others. My clients are also my teachers.
If you could name anything that you don't like about your career what would they be?
It can sometimes become lonely working on my own. I don't know too many people in my field here in the LA area. I would have liked to have more colleagues I could share my work with.
If someone wanted to enter your field, what schooling would they need and what challenges could be expected?
Masters and Doctorate degree in Spirituality, and Psychology, a devout spiritual practice like meditation or yoga and apprenticeship with a Shamanic healer.
Finding the right schools and people to work with can be challenging, as well as becoming licensed.
What characteristics should they have or acquire?
Wanting to do this work is really a calling. Incorporating spiritual principles and practices is a way of life. It's not something you just go and study and then do. It has to be a part of who you are and not something you just do for a living.
What is the average starting salary for someone in this career field?
Teaching starts at about $100 for a Ph.D. level at a Junior College and you can charge any where from $100 to $250 (or more) for private sessions. Of course, this is in the greater Los Angeles area.
Do you see the field of Transpersonal psychology changing, and what should we expect in the future?
Yes, of course. Change is the only constant in life. There is going to be more body oriented practices integrated with consciousness studies. Also applying this field to creating more peace in the world.
What Kind of demand for Transpersonal psychologist do you see right now and in the future?
More and more people, especially the younger generation are seeking out spirituality in its many forms. Wanting to work with a spiritually oriented therapist is going to become very popular. These are same individuals who are seeking out alternative and complementary practices like acupuncture, herbs, yoga, Reiki, etc. and are interested in organic foods, being vegetarian or vegans and wanting to save the environment. It all goes hand in hand.
Do you have any advice for future students looking to become Transpersonal psychologist?
Try and secure an internship or a psych assitantship with a Transpersonally oriented clinic or Psychologist early on in your schooling. There is a shortage of that here in Southern Ca. and can be very challenging to become licensed with this specialty in mind.
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Zarrabian please visit her at centerpeaceproject.com. If you would like to know more about pursuing a career in this field, visit our transpersonal psychology career page.