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Meet Pierre-Etienne Vannier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pierre-Etienne Vannier.

Pierre-Etienne, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Before moving the US in 2013, I lived in Cairo, Egypt for almost 10 years. I was working with the United Nations Development Program, developing and implementing programs and policies to support people living with HIV/AIDS in the Arab world; collaborating with policymakers and civil society leaders to promote access to treatment, working with religious leaders to fight stigma and discrimination and build a more just and inclusive society, etc.

I really liked my work and my mission but I felt the need and the responsibility to work more closely with populations vulnerable to / affected by HIV/AIDS.

I started to study approaches to provide psycho-social support and promote resilience, and became a clinical hypnotherapist in 2009. My office used to be right above the now famous Tahrir Square in Cairo, which would eventually become the heart of the Egyptian revolution.

And in 2011, the Egyptian revolution started! A powerful reminder that life can drastically change from one day to the other. After a few weeks of civil unrest and uncertainty, life started to slowly come back to somehow normal. But my purpose and the focus of my work had shifted. With the few tools I had, I started to focus increasingly on trauma recovery, supporting victims of violence and abuse.

In 2013, I decided to leave Egypt and my career at the UN to come to the US with my family to start my private practice and work full time as a practitioner. Today, I specialize in dealing with stress & trauma, integrating a variety of mind-body modalities to teach my clients self-managed and non-pharmacological approaches designed to build resources, foster resilience and sustain long-term progress. I am an independent contractor for several organizations, community clinics, hospitals and cancer centers, and also serve on Pasadena Mental Health Advisory Committee. My community work includes volunteering with organizations supporting victims of torture, homeless and low-income populations, cancer patients, etc. I have a private practice in Altadena, CA and serve an international clientele via Skype!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nope, I wouldn’t say it’d been a smooth ride! The most difficult part of this journey was (is?) the transition from Egypt to the US, leaving the comfort of being an employee in a big organization – with relative job security and little financial stress – to being an independent practitioner – with no job security and plenty of financial stress!  Starting a professional project literally from scratch in a new country with no contacts while caring for my family and my kids is not an easy task. Things take time, and my patience has been tested more than once. Thankfully, I love my work and I am humbled by the opportunity to get up every morning and have the chance to support people in need. Besides, I have to acknowledge my privilege. The sad reality is that being a white male in America makes my life much easier than if I was a person of color working three low-wage jobs! For that reason, I feel that I have the responsibility to give back to the community and support those in need.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My clients come to me because they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with work, relationships, health challenges, or life in general. They feel disconnected and isolated, engaging in unhealthy habits, often stuck in a downward spiral.

When I work with a client, we focus on 2 things: 1) detoxing emotionally, and 2) building resilience.

Through emotional detoxing, my clients learn how to respond appropriately to a person or situation that is anxiety-provoking. As they learn new skills, they are able to look back at the past without being triggered and think about their future without feeling worried.

After clearing the space, my clients learn self-managed and non-pharmacological coping skills that are available to them at any time, building a buffer zone between themselves and stressful situations/people, allowing them to stay calm and confident.

My work consists in helping them overcome these challenges and promote what’s called “post-traumatic growth” i.e. growing and learning from their challenges so they move forward and reclaim a sense of peace, safety and empowerment.

We know we’re on the right path when my clients start to see themselves differently (“I’m stronger”, “I’m calmer”, etc.), start to redefine certain relationships (letting go of unhealthy relationships and people, and being more present with loved ones), and when they are more grateful, more open to possibilities and opportunities, etc.

I feel most humbled when my clients realize how powerful they can be in their own recovery and healing process, when they come to terms with the fact that they are designed to heal.

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Image Credit:
PE Vannier

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