Women In Wellness: Dr Lina Haji On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Women In Wellness: Dr Lina Haji On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Never stop learning. Whether it’s formal classes, social media information, books, or conversations, the key to consistently improving is to always be ready to receive new information and critically analyze it.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lina Haji.

Dr. Lina Haji is a licensed clinical psychologist and licensed mental health counselor specializing in psychodiagnostic assessment, forensic assessment, dual diagnosis, serious and persistent mental illness, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and substance abuse treatment.​

Dr. Haji completed a master’s degree in forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Albizu University, and a doctorate in clinical psychology with a forensic emphasis from Albizu University. Her training includes inpatient and outpatient settings, private forensic practice, and an APA accredited pre-doctoral internship. She was trained at the master’s and doctoral level in the assessment and treatment of individuals ranging from mild psychiatric symptoms to those with serious and persistent mental illness, dually diagnosed patients, as well as personality disordered patients and psychopathy.​

Her clinical experience over the last 20 years includes working with mentally ill and dually diagnosed adults in inpatient and outpatient settings including correctional facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, psychiatric hospitals and private practice in four states, NY, NJ, CA, and FL. In addition, she has supervised master’s level clinicians, post-doctoral residents, and served as clinical director for a 500-patient maximum-security correctional facility. Her ultimate goal as a psychologist, regardless of population, is to accurately diagnose and identify patient strengths and areas for growth in order to better individualize treatment needs and goals.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Iam a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist originally from New York, New York currently practicing in Miami, Florida. I knew I wanted to be a psychologist at the age of 9 after struggling with my own mental health battles as a child. My career has focused primarily on working with underserved, low-income populations. I have worked mostly in prisons as well as private practice, hospitals, clinics, and community mental health settings. My biggest goal in practicing psychology is correctly diagnosing people in order to provide them with the best treatment for them to reach their optimal mental health.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

My most interesting story started when I was a master’s level therapist working in a maximum-security prison in New York. I was working with a high-ranking gang member who was experiencing serious psychiatric symptoms. Because of his status in the gang, he was risking his life by coming to the mental health unit to receive treatment, as mental health (especially back then) was viewed as a weakness. He was required to maintain a strong image and persona to maintain power and status in the gang. That did not stop him from seeking treatment and putting in the work. Approximately 5 years later I unexpectedly received a letter from him. He had paroled from prison, was gainfully employed, stable in treatment, regained custody of his son, and quit gang life. That story taught me that no matter how difficult one’s circumstances are, there is always hope. It also taught me that as long as I put my best foot forward as a mental health provider, I can help just about anyone change themselves for the better.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting I had slightly poor boundaries. I was young and green and had visions of changing the world one patient at a time. I quickly began going above and beyond for a disabled inmate patient. Once he had gained my trust, he began to weaponize my assistance, and attempted to manipulate me. I learned my lesson. That lesson was that boundaries are healthy for me as well for the patient. They actually serve the ultimate goal of bettering human relationships.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I work mostly with underserved, chronically impoverished, criminal populations. My patients typically have horrific circumstances, poor resources, and are often the forgotten population. I find that if I devote myself to assisting them on their mental health journey, they gain hope. By setting an example and informing broken systems (legal and criminal justice) about the proper way to address and treat patients, individuals and organizations are able to make positive changes.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1 . Set healthy boundaries. Boundaries are often misconstrued as ways to keep people out of your life but in reality, they are teaching people how to respect and treat you. That ultimately keeps healthy connections in your life.

2 . Utilize accountability. When you are wrong, learn to acknowledge it, shift perspectives, and take action.

3 . Balance. Find ways to balance work, downtime, hobbies, exercise and family and friends. Once that is mastered your mental health becomes stronger.

4 . Sleep. We live in a ‘work hard play hard culture. We function much better when we are well rested, and we are better able to give back to others and ourselves. Good sleep is imperative.

5 . Never stop learning. Whether it’s formal classes, social media information, books, or conversations, the key to consistently improving is to always be ready to receive new information and critically analyze it.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would make mental health resources and treatment accessible to everyone.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Keep going no matter what. Baby steps are better than no steps.
  2. This journey will be difficult, but it will be worth it and then some.
  3. Learn to be open to all perspectives in your field even if you disagree with them. In life as well.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. People will move slower and faster than you, but you have no idea what their circumstances are. Follow your own path.
  5. Mental health can be difficult, taxing, and sad, but it can also be extremely rewarding. The pros outweigh the cons.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is very ‘vogue’ right now. As a psychologist, mental health is obviously my most passionate topic of the moment. If mental health treatment was more accessible, less people would suffer, and crises could be averted.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

Website: www.risepsychological.com

Instagram: Rise_Psychological_Services

YouTube: Rise Psychological Services

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .

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