- Creative-Relational Inquiry
- Writing as Inquiry
- Poetic Inquiry and other Arts Based Research
- Sufi Psychology
- Quantum Psychics
- Sufism in Post-Humanism
As a trained therapist and academic, I’m pioneering an approach to psychology that bridges the gap between Western methodologies and Eastern practices.
Since earning my master’s degree in person-centered and psychodynamic therapy, and my doctorate in counselling from the University of Edinburgh, my perspective has evolved from traditional psychotherapy into a holistic outlook based on Sufi psychology, rooted within the newest advancements in science and technology.
Through my writing and research, I aim to bridge rivers of wisdom in well-being and provide pathways to greater health and inner peace. Come walk with me.
Thinking Beyond Boundaries
Perspectives on mental health can differ greatly between cultures, and my approach to psychology bridges the gap between Western methodologies and Eastern practices. My perspective is influenced by the spiritual practices of Sufism and traditional Eastern methods of healing. It’s a blended approach that recognizes mind, body and spirit are interdependent factors in the human experience of health and well-being.
Acknowledging the Body
Throughout my career, it became clear to me there was one important feature largely absent from the discussion of mental health in many Western theories: the body. Even while we now know that factors like nutritional balance, gut bacteria and exercise affect our physical well-being, Western psychology is only beginning to address how these considerations affect our psychological health. My integrated perspective addresses the effects of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle on our overall well-being, and how they can be used to promote positive mental health.
Addressing the Mind & Spirit
Similarly, consideration of the spirit in Western mental health theories is largely defined and limited by a Western perspective. Yet being born as a Turk introduced to the Sufi world provided me with a perspective on how spiritual connection provides a source of joy and hope, and how love is a powerful force in healing.
The unifying concept of the holographic principle, provide further perspective for self-conception that suggest we’re expressions of one interconnected whole. These perspectives allow us to conceive of our own individual struggles and experiences as brain-based constructs that are experienced as real, but in truth are an illusion, thus revealing a pathway for renewal. Practices that engage the senses and promote connection with ourselves and others, such as art, movement, music, poetry, ecotherapy, prayer and meditation, provide a means to both heal and tap into the neural network that transcends conscious experience. Fostering ConnectionWestern psychiatry places focus on diagnoses and labels, and these have a place and purpose. However, the over-prescription of pharmaceuticals can mask underlying issues and alternative solutions, while the common practice of emphasizing and replaying trauma can impede the healing process. Throughout our lives, we develop a set of collective conditions that create the basis of our suffering. These conditions include the labels we adopt, such as “mother,” “father,” “woman,” “man,” “businessperson,” “student,” “French” or “Turkish.” They also include the conditions of worth we ascribe to these labels and our associated emotional responses.
Rather than reinforcing this emotional coding and emphasizing past events and trauma, we can ease our suffering by changing our perspective through renewing our knowledge about how the brain works, and understanding what the “self” truly is.
New Perspectives in Mental Health & Wellness
In my academic research and writing, my primary focus is on creative-relational qualitative inquiry within the realms of “self” concept. My goal is to research and write a new perspective on the brain, which integrates core concepts of quantum physics and neuropsychology and focuses on changing one's perspective of Conditions, Value Judgements and Associated Emotions as a path of healing; I utilize and have founded this perspective from the enlightening work of Sufi scholar Ahmed Hulusi. I am open to and would love to collaborate with professionals across various fields on this topic.
Zapsu, Elif. 2017. “Letters to the Universe: The Eternal Lover (Sufisim in Person-Centred Therapy).” Master Diss., University of Edinburgh.
Zapsu, Elif. 2023. “The Lover: Exploring Sufi Concepts of Love and Death in Psychotherapy.” Phd Diss., University of Edinburgh.
Zapsu, Elif. 2023. "What is the Colour of Hope?" A book for children, coloured with their hope. In partnership with the Young Lives Foundation. Can be downloaded for free in English and Turkish at genchayat.org.
Additional works are in progress. Please check back for updates!
From Turkey to Vietnam and the United Kingdom, I’ve worked with people who have faced various hardships, including poverty, violence and abuse. As a research criminologist with Scotland Yard, I specialized in cases that involved honor crimes and forced marriages. In my personal life with family and friends, alongside my work with NGOs, I’ve seen that empathic listening can lead to true healing, and potentially minimize the need for medication. I’ve also seen how good food has a positive effect on both the body and the mind. I’ve learned how the poetry of Rumi can be a balm to the spirit, even amid chaos and war. When these techniques can provide healing to the most desperate of individuals in the most dire of circumstances, they can also be used to address depression, anxiety and chronic illness in other populations, alongside the immense healing power of love.
I’ve always been extremely curious about the nature of human existence. It’s what drives my academic research and writing. Yet it was my own struggles with chronic depression and poor health that led to my chosen career path, alongside a strong inner need to help vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
Through personal determination, I found a cure for my own depression, without any need for medication, which provided me with a path to joy through a feeling of unity and oneness with the interconnected whole. This remains the focus of my work and my purpose in bringing this approach to others.
Brunel University London, BSc, Psychology, Upper Class Honors
City University London, MA, Criminology (Scotland Yard researcher in honor crimes and forced marriages, London)
The University of Edinburgh, Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling
The University of Edinburgh, Doctor of Philosophy in Psychotherapy and Counselling
Professional Licensure, Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA); Approved by the Turkish Council for Higher Education (YÖK).
Member, Turkish Psychological Association (Türk Psikologlar Derneği)
Member of The Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry (CCRI) at the University of Edinburgh.
As co-founder of BeynLab, I serve as the company’s psychological consultant in creating educational games and products that promote well-being for children and families. BeynLab’s products target mind and body health in an effort to raise customers’ overall happiness quotient.
Young Lives FoundationI serve on the board of trustees for the nonprofit Young Lives Foundation, where I provide psychological consulting, mentorship, training and seminars on various topics regarding the well-being of children. The threefold mission of the Young Lives Foundation includes education, engagement and empowerment. The organization addresses non-violent communication, the prevention of child labor, gender equality and social cohesion with refugee and host communities, among other topics.
In conjunction with the Fair Labor Association, the Balsu hazelnut company’s project on child labor has the aim of keeping children in school and out of workplaces, including hazelnut groves, where children often work alongside their migrant parents. The project addresses children’s rights and company responsibilities, provides mentoring, bursaries, empowerment and much more.