An Interview with Jaime Grunfeld, LMHC, Author or Aliya, The Girl From Ukraine.

Short Bio: Jaime Grunfeld, LMHC, was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where his parents, who lived in Hungary, fled after its invasion by the Nazis. As a teenager, he came to study at Yeshiva in Westchester County, NY, where he graduated in Talmudic Law. Returning to Brazil, he married and joined the family’s textile industry, where over the years he became its CEO.

In 2004, Jaime and his wife decided to move to the USA, where their children lived. With years of psychoanalysis under his belt, and passion about the subject, Jaime decided to make it his career. He holds a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Touro College, NY, and is a candidate in adult psychoanalysis by the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. For more information, check out his website at

Jaime Grunfeld, LMHC, LPC,

1. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Sensitive, empathetic, resolved.

2. Can you share more about your journey from being the CEO of a textile industry in Brazil to pursuing a career in mental health counseling in the USA? What motivated this significant career shift?

My change was motivated by professional and personal reasons. Professionally, the company was struggling financially because of the Brazilian volatility, and we were loosing market share with the opening of the Brazilian market to imports from China. So I needed a change. To better cope emotionally with this challenge, I decided to reach out for help, and psychoanalysis provided me with what I was looking for. Personally, I had at that time grown up children who were Yeshiva students in New York, and decided to stay in the US. So we decided (my wife and myself) to come live in New York to be close to our children, and begin a new career here. Having enjoyed and grown in my own therapy journey, made me passionate in psychoanalysis, and I decided to enter in the field.

3. What inspired you to write “Aliya, The Girl from Ukraine”?

It’s a fascinating journey that happened to a brilliant young woman. Her being so mature for her age brought a richness to our sessions that sometimes we don’t experience with older and seasoned clients.

4. Writing about real-life experiences, especially those involving trauma, can be challenging. How did you approach the ethical considerations and sensitivities associated with portraying Aliya’s journey?

Besides of asking for her consent, I was careful to change aspects of the story like names and places she shouldn’t be easily identified.

5. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), how did your background in psychology influence the portrayal of Aliya’s emotional journey and the nuanced bond between her and Dr. Von Ryan?

If not for my experience as an analyst, I would never be able to understand, much less write about what happens in the therapy room.

6. “Aliya, The Girl from Ukraine” is described as a beacon of inspiration and a testament to human courage. What specific elements in Aliya’s story do you believe contribute most to this message of hope in the face of adversity?

The creativity and courage she had to pursue her dreams and aspirations. Many times the barriers we have to overcome adversity are built by ourselves.

7. Do you have other writers in the family and friends?


8. What challenges did you face while writing Aliya’s story, especially considering the sensitive and complex themes it explores?

Dr. Von Ryan is actually myself, and the challenges were not when writing, but when I was having the sessions with Aliya. My parents were Hungarian holocaust survivors, who fled to Brazil after world war II. I knew for a fact that they have gone through severe trauma. Many times in the morning my father would say when he woke up “I barely slept; The Nazis ran after me the whole night”, but whenever we asked them for details, they refused to elaborate. Whether about concrete, or about emotional details. I guess it was too hard for them to talk about it, or they wanted to spare their children of knowing what they’ve gone through. I kept inside my chest questions like “How does it feel after 20 years leaving behind your Country, family, and traditions? I know of the effect on your unconscious of being chased, even after 20 years, manifested through your dreams. Are you aware of any other effect? Asking similar questions to Aliya, reminded me of what my parent’s have gone through.

9. Coming from an orthodox Jewish background, did you bring any teachings or practices from your culture into your work as a psychoanalyst to help people find inner peace? How has your cultural background influenced your approach to mental health?

There are many overlapping topics on Judaism and psychoanalysis like symbolism, mind conflict, unconsciousness, dream meanings, etc. While I’m more likely to invoke Jewish ideas with a Jewish client, I may use quotes and phrases from Jewish sages with a non Jewish client if I feel it may be helpful.

10. Beyond your individual practice, do you engage with communities or organizations to promote mental health awareness and well-being?

Not really.

12. Having experienced psychoanalysis intensively, how has this practice contributed to your own sense of inner peace, and in what ways do you believe it can benefit others seeking a similar state of well-being?

Psychoanalysis helped me in an indescribable way. We all have blind spots, unconscious emotions and feelings. Since we are not aware of them, we don’t confront and challenge them with our rationality. Therefore, we end up doing irrational things, we come to irrational conclusions. When our unconscious desires are in conflict with what we consciously want (inner conflict) we feel miserable which is ultimately manifested as anxiety and depression. In psychoanalysis we explore what’s going on in our unconscious mind, and we become aware of our inner conflicts. Just knowing and understanding them helps us to come to a resolution and achieve inner peace.

13. Are there any upcoming projects or themes you are excited to explore in your future writing?

There are always interesting people in treatment. Actually, there’s no human being without and interesting aspect. I think my future writings will follow my first book, and bring to the public another true fascinating story of one of my clients.

Dive into Jaime Grunfeld’s gripping tale, ‘Aliya, The Girl From Ukraine,’ as Aliya’s journey unfolds against the backdrop of resilience and self-discovery. This poignant narrative, exploring the bond between analyst and patient, delivers timeless wisdom. Purchase now on Amazon and embark on a transformative exploration of identity and emotional resilience.

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