Dr. Saunia Ahmad, Ph.D., Psych Director & Clinical Psychologist Toronto Psychology Clinic
Education and Training
Dr. Ahmad is registered as a Clinical, Counselling and Health Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She has over 10 years of experience providing individual, couple and group therapy using evidence-base approaches.
Dr. Saunia Ahmad completed her MA/ Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at York University, Toronto, Canada. During both her masters and doctoral program, she was awarded the Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). This scholarship is awarded to top-tier graduate students and was awarded for her research on couples therapy and cultural sensitivity in psychotherapy.
Prior to starting the Toronto Psychology Clinic, Dr. Ahmad trained and worked in a diverse range of settings that include the York University Psychology Training Clinic (YUPC), the Borderline Personality Disorder Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and the inpatient and outpatient mental health departments at North York General Hospital in Toronto as well as State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.
Most recently, Dr. Ahmad was a Clinical Psychologist at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where she provided counselling and support to patients, couples and families coping with cancer. She also worked with an interdisciplinary team to study factors that support couples coping with cancer. This research was funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF). She was an associate at Dr. Serine Warwar & Associates (now called Centre for Emotion-Focused Therapy). She also trained and supervised graduate students worked at the York University Psychology Clinic (YUPC) in psychotherapy, psychological assessment. She worked as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Toronto where she provides executive health assessments.
Theoretical Approach Dr. Ahmad's approach to psychotherapy integrates techniques and theory from several well-researched and highly recommended approaches in which she has extensive training in. She continues to stay up to date on new developments in each of these approaches. This includes the following:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) (trained in the BPD program at CAMH)
Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT)
Family systems theory
Social constructivist and Narrative approaches
Dr. Ahmad works with a broad range of issues from general adjustment issues (e.g. workplace stress, anxiety related to academics) to clinical diagnosis (e.g., depression, personality disorders, PTSD, bipolar, psychosis). For a broader list of issues she has worked with click here.
Languages: Dr. Ahmad provides services in English, Hindi, and Urdu.
Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity Dr. Ahmad established a name for herself in being the first to initiate and complete a study to evaluate the effectiveness of an existing couple intervention with couples who identified as South Asian and were living in Canada (view publications). The focus of this project was to better understand how underlying theories of psychotherapy for couples are biased towards one cultural worldview (Western culture) and to then expand the underlying theory to accommodate diverse cultural perspectives on marriage and family. This includes recognizing the multiple identities an individual will have because he/she has lived in different countries, belongs to diverse communities (e.g. religious, ethnic, etc.) or has grown up in a time and place different from their parents.
Dr. Ahmad is interested in issues related to discrimination and marginalization. Her practice is LGBT affirmative. She is particularly interested in working with members of the Muslim and South Asian community who struggle with the lack of acceptance from their friends, family and community of their sexual identity.
Consultations and Presentations Dr. Ahmadprovides consultations, workshops and presentations to professionals and the community on delivering culturally sensitive psychotherapy.
Research & Teaching Dr. Ahmad continues to be actively engaged in training and research alongside her role as a clinician in private practice. As a researcher, specifically in the area of psychotherapy effectiveness, she remains up to date on advances in the theory and practice of effective psychotherapy. Her current research interests include cultural sensitivity, couple therapy and coping with chronic disease. Dr. Ahmad has previously been an adjunct faculty at York University and Humber College.
Dr. Ahmad completed a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship in the Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She worked with a team of researchers to run a national randomized control trial evaluating the effectiveness of Couplelinks, an online couple workshop for young breast cancer patients and their partners.
Dr. Ahmad has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and provided presentations at national and international conferences. She was invited to be a editor board member of the highly regarding Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.
Personal Background: Dr. Ahmad identifies as second generation South Asian. Her parents are first-generation Muslim immigrants from India. She was born and raised in Canada but also lived in India, the Middle East, the UK and the US. Having lived in many different countries over the course of her life, she has an understanding of one's personal identity is a pluralistic combination of the various countries, communities, families, institutions, etc., they belong to. This informs her work in psychotherapy with clients.