Psychologist Turns Pain Into Passion | Leadership Spotlight

Be sure to tune in to Nahal’s recent webinar: The Not-So-Social Media & The Working Woman


Dr. Nahal Delpassand turned her painful experiences with chronic illness into a passion-filled career. As a psychologist with a unique perspective, she helps others embrace themselves, focus on what’s important, and be future-oriented—all lessons she’s learned throughout her journey.


How would you describe your biggest accomplishments in your current role?  

 My biggest accomplishments are a culmination of small accomplishments each day through the work that I do with my clients, in my private practice as a psychologist. Whether its increased insight, an emotional breakthrough, or a realization about a behavior pattern that is impeding progress, I am most proud of the relationships that I have been able to build with clients that create space for trust, authenticity, and ultimately emotional growth. I feel honored to be given the opportunity to bear witness to my client’s life stories. This is profoundly meaningful to me. 


 What has made you so passionate about psychology?  

 I believe the source of both enduring pain and passion for me throughout my life has been living with a neurological condition. I was diagnosed with slight cerebral palsy affecting my right side. Living with this condition has inspired my ingenuity and grit. Growing up, I didn’t do things like everybody us. I had to find ways to compensate. This created wisdom, creativity, persistence, and mental flexibility. My experience with chronic illness, I now believe, was the catalyst for leading me towards a career as a psychologist. It allowed me to be acutely aware of both my strengths and limitations from a very young age, thus allowing me to make decisions through my life with greater clarity. Through my work, I have been granted the privilege of turning my pain into my passion. I have a spiritual connection to the work that I do because it has allowed me to reframe my experience. Growing up, I connected achievement to physical strength but as an adult I have reframed achievement to encompass mental strength as well.  

What key strength serves you best in this field? 

My genuine curiosity and cultural humility. I believe both have been intrinsic to my personal and professional growth. I deeply value my cultural identity as a Persian woman. Being the daughter of immigrants has fostered my tolerance for adversity, strengthened my emotional repo tore, and encouraged sustained gratitude. What I have learned from my cultural identity has translated into my work. Specifically, I avoid making any assumptions when I work with my clients. I believe asking many questions and learning about each individual and their experiences allows for a holistic understanding that displays respect for the nuances in life experiences.   


Where do you see this going as you move forward? 

I would like to emphasize that I am very fulfilled where I am now. Moving forward, I aspire toward building my practice and continuing to diversify my skills—through more writing and speaking. Thus, I am very grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Herdacity because their values are in my alignment with both my personal and professional values. 


Is there one moment or experience that was transformative about helping you find your path?

 There was not on moment or one experience that helped me find my path. It was a series of events that transpired, but If I was to choose, living with chronic illness has allowed me to live more intentionally and purposefully. 


Has it been a challenge to balance your career aspirations with your personal and family needs?  How have you managed to do this and what tips do you have for others?

It has absolutely been a challenge. Honestly, I am still trying to find this balance day to day. What I have found to be most helpful though is taking a closer look at my use of “Yes” and “No”. I try to ask myself everyday, “are you saying yes to the things that you most value”? Are you saying no when you feel overwhelmed and over-extended? Being mindful of my values has helped me be more intentional about my commitments. I am a firm believer in setting boundaries and chasing pursuits things are in alignment with my values.  


Who is your role model and why? 

 My parents. They have been married for 40 years. They have modeled humility, resilience, work ethic, conflict resolution and compassion. I am the eldest of three girls. My sisters and I were taught to value education, independence, and display utmost compassion and respect for others. 


If you could change one thing in your past, what might that be?

I would be more tolerant. Life is a process and I believe it is easy to get lost in trying to accomplish “the next thing”. I believe it is important to balance our gaze towards life. Equally looking back and forward. Knowing where we came from is just as important as knowing where we are headed. I know this is simple and intuitive but its Important. 


What would you tell your 20-year-old self?  

Be patient. Allow your experiences to unfold and it will all start to connect. In my teens and 20s I was fearful that I wouldn’t find my path and achieve my goals. Living in fear made me live in self-doubt. Being patient and trusting the wisdom that was past on to me by my family would have helped me avoid tremendous angst 

What are 3 things you want other women to know? 

1. Embrace all aspects of your identity.  

2. Don’t be afraid to say no. 

3. Employ more flexibility with yourself. Balance your gaze towards your life.   


Dr. Nahal Delpassand
PsyD and PLLC

Dr. Delpassand, PsyD and PLLC, has been working in the field of Counseling Psychology for eight years and in private practice for two years. Dr. Delpassand completed her doctorate in counseling psychology at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She completed her doctoral residency at Emory University in Atlanta and has obtained her local training from St. Edward’s University Student Health and Counseling Center, Austin Child Guidance Center, McCallum Place Austin Eating Disorder Treatment Center, and Hospice Austin.

Dr. Delpassand enjoys working with adolescents and adults. She would describe herself as a solution-focused, future-oriented psychologist. While traditional models of long term therapy can be helpful, Dr. Delpassand believes in the benefits of brief therapy and empowering clients to cultivate a life that is in alignment with what they value. Dr. Delpassand believes that all her clients possess inherent strengths to address the problems of living but recognizes that in times of distress these strengths can be dormant. She values helping clients realign with the power of their intrinsic potential. Dr. Delpassand emphasizes cultivating a safe, trusting environment that allows for collaboration, empathy, and awareness so that sustainable progress will ensue.

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