Born in Sri-Lanka, raised in Mumbai and based in Melbourne, psychotherapist Dr. Sabar Rustomjee was felicitated with the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia or AM, celebrating a glorious fifty-year career dedicated to redefining possibilities and improving lives, on Australia Day, 26th January, 2020. The award is the highest recognition bestowed on citizens for their outstanding achievements and service.
Born to a Parsi family of doctors, Dr. Sabar knew her calling as a medical practitioner, even as a child. The family moved from Sri Lanka to Mumbai for her father’s cancer treatment, to which he unfortunately succumbed, when she was only six years old. She and her sister were raised by her (originally Indian) mother.
Via scholarships, Dr. Sabar graduated from the prestigious Grant Medical College in 1959 and became a medical practitioner. She returned to Sri Lanka to marry Dr. Piloo Rustomjee. A decade of practicing in Sri Lanka, was followed by a stint in studying Pediatrics in Liverpool UK, and they moved to Shepparton in Victoria, in 1969, where she worked with the Mental Health Authority, where she was introduced to Individual and Group Psychotherapy, and she never looked back.
In 1986 she joined the Monash Medical Centre as Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. In 1996, she was elected President of the Australian Association of Group Psychotherapy. In 2000, Sabar was elected President of the International Association of Group Psychotherapy, having already served as Treasurer. She held this post till 2003 and continues to be present on the Board of Directors.
Dr. Sabar has travelled the world extensively giving lectures on Group and Individual Psychotherapy, particularly in Japan, UK, USA, Italy, Greece, India and Spain. Her published works on subjects like Containment and Failures of Containment, Creativity of Social Dreaming, Solitude and Agony of Unbearable Shame, and working between Eastern and Western cultures have been well-received in professional circles. Though retired, she continues to contribute to her field and is currently in the process of publishing her book on Analytic Psychotherapy, titled ‘From Contempt To Dignity’.
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