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Exploring Life & Business with Stephanie Michaelian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Michaelian.

Hi Stephanie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up as a highly sensitive person. As a kid, I remember feeling and experiencing things deeply, recognizing and sensing how others were feeling quickly, and even noticing the subtleties and minor details in my environment. Little did I know that my sensitivity would become my superpower – that which would allow me to connect with and understand my clients’ experiences on a deep level. But I didn’t know that at the time and it wasn’t until my early 20s that I decided I would pursue becoming a therapist. I was always fascinated with psychology. There was nothing more interesting to me than learning about the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of other humans. But when I started college at UC Santa Barbara, I had no idea who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I changed my major about three or four times before finally deciding that I could not imagine studying (and loving) a subject as much as I loved learning Psychology (also, I don’t know what I was even thinking when I thought organic chemistry would ever make sense to me). After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, I worked as a behavioral interventionist providing behavioral therapy for children with developmental disabilities, primarily children with Autism. I would go into their homes and schools and support them with their language development, academics, behavioral management, and social interactions. I also worked closely with their parents and families to guide them in learning the best ways of supporting their kids. This work changed my life. I felt so fortunate to be a part of their journey and knowing I made a difference in the lives of these families gave me a tremendous amount of purpose and meaning. I knew I wanted to be alongside people on their path towards meaningful change.

After a short while, I began attending Pepperdine University to receive my Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. While in my program and after graduating, I worked at a school where I provided one-on-one counseling for children and adolescents (ages 4-18) experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, life transitions, issues with self-esteem, social skill deficits, and peer and family issues. It was during this time that I learned how much I loved working with teenagers. I told myself I wanted to be who I needed when I was at that age. After working as a therapist at the schools for quite some time, I decided it was time to “practice what I preached” and jump out of my comfort zone. I started my own private practice which was something I had been wanting to do for so long that I always felt like I should do only when I was a “good enough” therapist. I learned that if I waited until I felt “ready” and “good enough” I was going to be waiting a really long time, and growth happens when we do things that are big and scary. I now see teens and young adults struggling with issues including anxiety, people-pleasing, toxic relationships, and depression. I have a special interest in working with individuals navigating narcissistic abuse. This work is so fulfilling and brings me tremendous joy. I feel so lucky knowing I am exactly where I need to be.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been easy. To start, having to balance being in graduate school and completing my internship hours all while trying to get enough sleep, maintain a social life, and have time for some self-care was an absolute struggle. Much of my challenges have also been having to do my own personal work alongside working with my clients. This work is incredibly fulfilling for me, but it is so important for me to have done the work on myself and be able to sit with and work through my own pain and struggles in order to have the capacity to be there for clients. I can’t imagine being an effective therapist, being able to sit with my clients’ discomfort and help them make sense of their big emotions if I haven’t learned how to manage my own. And that is not to say that we aren’t human and don’t also have difficult days. Being a therapist during a pandemic has also not been easy. I have had to be incredibly gentle and compassionate with myself knowing that I am also in the same global crisis that my clients are in and that we are all in need of some patience right now.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
In my private practice, my focus is working with individuals in their 20s/30s who are navigating anxiety, people-pleasing, and toxic relationships. I have a special interest in supporting individuals who are working through recovery from narcissistic abuse, including those who are in a relationship with a narcissist or who may have grown up with narcissistic parents. My goal is to help my clients in feeling empowered to access their power and reclaim their voice and develop a deeper understanding of themselves. I am also passionate about working with teens who are navigating anxiety, depression, life transitions, conflicts with family and peers, as well as identity development. I find it incredibly easy to connect with teens and enjoy being a part of such a critical time in their development and journey. I believe that we are all experts of our own lives, though sometimes we need someone else to hold a mirror up to all of our parts (yes, even the parts of ourselves that we don’t love) and hold our hand as we come to finally meet our true selves. My hope is that I will support my clients in cultivating a strong sense of self-worth and unearth their resilience. I am compassionate and deeply caring, though I find tremendous value in also being direct and honest in order to raise awareness for my clients and help them grow, heal, and make meaningful changes. I value authenticity, and I enjoy bringing my own personality and humor into the therapy room!

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I’m an LA native. One of the best things about living in LA is knowing within a relatively short distance, I can be at the beach, in the desert, or, my personal favorite, up in the mountains. The fact that I can go from crazy traffic to silence in nature (my favorite form of self-care) within a pretty short amount of time keeps me sane. I really appreciate and love the diversity that LA has to offer- it is home to so many cultures, languages, and cuisines that all really define who we are as a city. The food in LA is particularly delicious- some of my favorites are Mexican, Italian, and Japanese. There is always so much to do here, and at the same time there is a little bit of magic in being able to find a hidden gem just walking around your neighborhood. The traffic has to be my least favorite thing about our city. I am pretty introverted and a homebody, but if I ever tell a friend “I can’t make it, it’ll take me 45 minutes to get there right now,” it’s really not just an excuse. 🙂

Pricing:

  • Individual Therapy- $150
  • Couple/Family Therapy- $175

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Siroon P. from Rhinofly Productions

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