Personal Life & Work Life of Sonakshi Ruhela

The Arabia Times: Explain your background in detail.

Sonakshi Ruhela: I am an accomplished Educationalist with over 13 years of extensive experience in Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral teaching, training, mentorship, and research of students from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. I am a Harvard Certified in Higher Education with a Ph.D. in Psychology, recognized by the Ministry of Education, UAE.

I am also a Community Development Authority (CDA Dubai) Licensed Psychologist with a comprehensive experience in the field of Counselling, Psychotherapy, Behavioral-Lifestyle interventions, Neuro- Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Psychometric assessment. I have worked extensively in adolescent and adult counselling, Relationship management (Couples and Family), Depression, Anxiety and Emotional-psychological distress, in both India and UAE.

I am currently designated as a Program Head for Psychology and Health Sciences at Curtin University Dubai. I also work as a Consultant Psychologist at OPEN MINDS Psychiatry, Counselling & Neuroscience Centre and Symbiosis Medical Center in Dubai.

The Arabia Times: What motivated you to pursue psychology as a career?

Sonakshi Ruhela: It was very mentally rewarding. Being a Psychologist in India, one has to deal a lot with people and their perceptions of the field. In some instances, it’s still taboo to meet a Psychologist.

So, my journey has been an eclectic mix of spreading awareness about the need for mental health practices, teaching the foundations of Psychology and practising as a Psychologist. My motivation has been my love for the field, the opportunities for interaction with diverse individuals and the practice it brings along with itself. I have continued being in Psychology because of the positive feedback of my students from university and my clients from my clinical practice.

Strength of Sonakshi Ruhela

The Arabia Times: As you are specialized in Psychology with a comprehensive experience in the field of Counseling. Can you please tell me what are your suggestions for our readers are?

Sonakshi Ruhela: Prioritize your Mental Health. Any distress if unattended can lead to depression and worse, so prevention is always much better. Also, have a good social support system- a reliable family and friends circle that can attend to you, whenever you are in need for a vent out or to express your feelings and thoughts.

Suppression of feelings and thoughts isn’t the ideal way to deal with conflict- it always needs a healthy and assertive address. So, at any point, if you feel that things are overwhelming for you, or you feel a mental suffocation- reach out to your Psychologist.

The Arabia Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of a psychologist in revolutionizing healthcare right now?

Sonakshi Ruhela: It is evident that COVID changed us all. Psychologists played an exceptional role in normalizing anxiety (from quarantine to quintessential) and offering solutions to individuals in dealing with depression, distress, loneliness, alienation etc. These days everyone’s locus of control is internal, and Psychologists and their services come very handy in empowering people in dealing with any mental health crisis.

Mental Health practitioners are great contributors to helping people deal with adversities during the pandemic and beyond.

Skills & Path Followed by Sonakshi Ruhela

The Arabia Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?

Sonakshi Ruhela: A linear one, right from educating myself in the field to giving myself multi-level exposure to the applied fields of psychology. I supplemented my education with a lot of internships and community engagement experience. I developed a flair for understanding people by communicating with people from different nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and cultural backgrounds and that was a wonderful personal and professional learning for me. I followed the regular educational background of doing my bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in psychology.

The Arabia Times: What do you think are the most important skills for someone who works in psychology?

Sonakshi Ruhela: They should be natural and excellent at attending to people (Listening intently and responding appropriately), should be good conversationalists, warm, empathetic, compassionate and with a great sense of humour. Humour helps in unloading stress and building rapport. There are also some trainable skills such as confrontation, negotiation etc.

Challenges Faced by Sonakshi Ruhela

The Arabia Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?

Sonakshi Ruhela: I have had the opportunity to work in diverse roles and take up academic and administrative responsibilities very early in my career, so I had to prove myself worthy of the roles and responsibilities that were given to me. I became an Associate Registrar at a leading private University in Dubai at the age of 34 years, so it was challenging to lead people and processes that were older than my age. Though I consider myself very lucky to receive support and guidance from all my academic and professional mentors, throughout my career span.

The Arabia Times: What are the key values that helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership.

Sonakshi Ruhela: I have always been honest, fair, respectful, and courageous in my approach to life and work. I have always intended to create a scholarly work environment and embrace an appreciation for cultural and interpersonal differences among individuals.

There are many memorable incidents when you take up the challenge for the education and overall development of the youth. I understood very early that I had the responsibility of shaping the Psychologists of tomorrow and so, I invested a lot of my time and effort in engaging with the students, addressing their concerns and ensuring they receive the due opportunity for growth. Every student who has done well or every client who has been empowered – is a good memory for me.

Clients & Future:

The Arabia Times: How do you see the psychology industry is changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Sonakshi Ruhela: Post-COVID, there has been a massive shift in people and their worldviews. Psychology has gotten a natural push as now people don’t consider it a taboo and are fairly relaxed in reaching out to a Psychologist for help. The next two years will definitely be a boom for psychology as people will understand that prevention is better than cure and will keep Psychologist numbers on speed dial.

As a Psychologist, I have always advocated for prioritizing one’s mental health and investing in holistic well-being through effective social support groups and time management. I also campaign for investing in recreation, community building activities and spiritual awareness, besides home and work. I believe that we should condition the young to take care of their mental and physical health and invest in self-care practices so, that they grow to be more confident, clear, and compassionate adults.

The Arabia Times: What benefits are your clients getting from the “Eclectic model of Counseling”?

Sonakshi Ruhela: It offers flexibility and scope of therapy. This mode engages different models of counselling from psychodynamic to existential and thus offers a broad range of dealing with human subjectivity.

Advice from Sonakshi Ruhela

The Arabia Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?

Sonakshi Ruhela: Look after the five aspects of your lives i.e., personal, professional, social, environmental, and temperamental to feel fulfilled. Life needs to be balanced well. Most importantly, seek help when you need it as no one can run the world alone.  You can also reach out to me at