Welcome to the “Speaker Spotlight” page. Here we highlight the backgrounds of some of our speakers.
Dr Aida Alayarian
Speaks at the SFF on 15th February 2014
Dr Aida Alayarian is a Co-Founder, CEO and the Clinical Director of the Refugee Therapy Centre, as well as Company Secretary. She has been a Clinical Psychologist and Child Psychotherapist since 1986, and adult psychotherapist since 1998, working with families and children in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural settings.
Prior to becoming Clinical Director of the Centre, she worked for seven years at London’s Intercultural Therapy Centre, NAFSIYAT, was Head of Therapy Services and Chair of the Panel of Foster Carers at the Childcare Co-operative. She also worked at the Brixton Community Mental Health, South London & Maudsley NHS Trust and at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trusts.
She is the winner of the 2009 Women in Public Life award for Voluntary Sector Achiever of the Year.
Aida has worked with families and children in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural settings in both statutory and voluntary sector specialises in working with trauma and in particular refugees who have been subjected to torture and other form of human right violation.
She developed and is the Programme Leader of the four-year professional training and MA course in Intercultural Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in collaboration with UEL. She has written papers and books i.e: ‘Resilience, Creativity and Psychoanalysis; The Work of the Refugee Therapy Centre’ (2007); ‘Psychological consequences of Denial; the Armenian genocide’ (2008) and her recent book: ‘Trauma, Torture and Dissociations; A Psychoanalytic view’ (2011).
Spoke at the SFF on 6th April 2013
Nasrin Parvaz was born in February 1958 in Tehran. She first came to the UK in 1978, at the age of 20, in order to study. When the revolution broke out the following year she returned to Iran for a brief visit to her family, not realising that it would be 15 years before she would come to Britain again – as an exile. In post-revolutionary Iran she became active in the field of women’s rights and civil rights, as a result of which she was arrested in 1982. She was tortured and sentenced to execution. Her life was saved by the intervention of her father, who managed to get her sentence reduced to imprisonment. She was released in 1990 after spending eight years in prison.
After her release, Nasrin continued to see people who were organising themselves to fight for their rights. She found herself constantly followed by Islamic guards, and some of her friends were re-arrested. Realising that she could no longer stay in Iran, she fled to the UK where she claimed asylum in 1993. She was granted refugee status a year later and has since lived in London, having initially studied for a degree in psychology and subsequently gained an MA in International Relations. She recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Systemic Theory at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, where she worked within a team of family therapists.
The deleterious effects of torture and imprisonment led Nasrin to seek help from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, where she received psychotherapy for a number of years and began to rebuild her life. After some initial attempts in Farsi, she began to write about her prison experience in English with the support and encouragement of the British writer Sonja Linden, as part of a testimonial writing project at the Medical Foundation. Out of this emerged her book Zire Boteh Laleh Abasi, the Farsi version of which was published in March 2002. A summary of the book was published in Feminist Review (number 73) in 2003, in English; Feminist Review features in the reading list for the MA in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Nasrin’s memoir was published in Italian in summer 2006 by Effedue Edizioni.
Nasrin is currently writing an English novel, and some short stories, based on the lives of people in Iran and their struggle to change their situation. A book she wrote some time ago in the form of a novel, based on the true stories of a few male prisoners who survived the massacre of Iranian prisoners in 1988, was published in Farsi in 2008.
Nasrin has given talks on the violation of human rights in Iran, both in Farsi and in English, in a number of countries including Canada, Sweden, the UK and Italy. She has talked at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Ledbury Poetry Festival and Eloquent Protest (2008), and for organizations such as Amnesty International and Medical Foundation.
One of Nasrin’s short stories, A war against womanhood, won the Women’s World Award in 2003; in 2010, another was longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize and a third shortlisted for the Asham Award. Together with poet Hubert Moore, Nasrin has translated some poems that may not be published in Iran from Farsi into English; these may be found in the Modern Poetry in Translation series, and one, ‘Dear Fahimeh’, was republished in Fire in the Soul: 100 poems for human rights (New Internationalist, 2009).