Healing Body With Spirit

Haydeh Fakhrabadi

Iran. May 2006. When Haydeh Fakhrabadi traveled to Iran, it was not for a customary family visit. The fourth-year Psy.D. student at the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology was working on her dissertation. The subject: “The Religious Coping Methods Used by Parents of Pediatric Cancer Patients.” Haydeh has long had an interest in the field of religion and health. Her advisor, Dr. Edward Shafranske, a well-known expert on spirituality in therapy, urged her to contact the National Center for Medical Sciences in Iran. The academy invited her to attend a weeklong annual conference on the growing field of religion and science where she gleaned data from leading Iranian academics. A psychology intern at home, Haydeh worked at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles with families of children diagnosed with cancer. Her experience taught her that spiritual support can be critical given the lengthy procedures and uncertain outcomes families face. During her time there, Haydeh organized a one-day workshop for the healthy siblings of cancer victims. And whenever a pediatric patient was ready to go back to school, Haydeh would visit the classroom before the child arrived and give a presentation to prepare the other children in the class ahead of time. The effort would help the child returning to school to make a smoother transition to normal life.