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Meet Salpi K. Maghakian, M.A., LMFT of Therapy 4 Kiddos in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Salpi K. Maghakian, M.A., LMFT.

Salpi K., let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Faith, Hope, Patience and Trust is where my story begins. Faith, in trusting the Lord even when at times, I did not know and had no tangible evidence. Hope in knowing that He would fulfill His promise. Trust and Patience in His timing when He provided me with many pauses throughout this journey.

I had always known early on that my career would involve kids. I believe now that the Lord had planted that desire in my heart from a young age. For as long as I can remember, I have always been around kids, whether babysitting my own siblings or being asked to babysit others. It was during these times that I understood and saw how kids engaged in play, how they settled arguments, how they processed emotions, how they coped and how they voiced their strong opinions on stuff that mattered to them.

Fast forward a couple of years, I was navigating what career path to take. I remember watching the Patch Adams movie upon the suggestion of a family friend (who was like a brother) and was battling cancer at that time. He said, “Watch it and tell me what you think”. I remember vividly the strong impact the movie impressed upon me. Patch had impacted so many kids’ lives during his career and brought tremendous joy and laughter. The next time I visited my friend, he said we need to do something together to help others, as he knew my passion for medicine and becoming a pediatrician. His idea was for me to pave the way in opening up practice first, and later he would join as my partner in practice. I had hoped that this would come to fruition, but sadly a short two years later, my friend lost his battle with cancer.

As an undergraduate, I dabbled in pre-med and teaching but found myself unfulfilled. I had prayed and asked God to direct my path as I wasn’t sure what direction to embark on. Shortly after, I took my first intro to counseling class. I was introduced to Suzie Kuzmar, an LMFT and a Licensed Art Therapist who spoke to my heart! At the time, she was working for a local hospital and was seeking volunteers to assist her with counseling kids who were experiencing a significant loss related to divorce and or grief. I saw the opportunity and took the initiative to help. I became very interested in counseling and began to run several groups under her supervision helping kids process their grief. Counseling touched my heart as I saw how deeply each kid displayed his or her trust in me. This allowed them to share their stories with me. I found comfort in knowing that there was hope and healing through the therapeutic relationship I had built with them. Perhaps, I was healing along with them in grieving the loss of someone close too. That is when I turned to God and just smiled and thanked Him for showing me what my calling would be.

My graduate years were done at a Seminary. In no shape or form did I ever think I would pursue a seminary education. But knowing that my Christian faith was important to me, I needed to know more on merging my two passions. I learned that all the individuals that would walk into my office doors would come with painful stories, and I had to know how to process and listen with intent. I remember through my studies and through Christ’s example modeled throughout scripture, that I needed to connect with these individual’s hearts, just like Christ did during His earthly ministry. I needed to meet them where they were in their pain and open my eyes to see it and my ears to hear it. I remember on several occasions, asking the Lord, “Give me wisdom in knowing how to help these individuals and equip me through this process.”

Has it been a smooth road?
Not always. Upon graduation in 2004, I decided to take a bit of pause before jumping back into the field. In 2010 after having placed my intern number on hold and having to now reapply for a new number I would not be allowed the opportunity to experience private practice work. I remember calling the board’s staff attorney and pleading my case. Sadly, nothing could be done. Re-entering the field was also tough, as I had been away from the field and now had to compete with individuals who were applying fresh out of graduate school. I remember having doubts throughout this process. The second wave of disappointment arrived during my board examinations. I passed the first half of my boards with ease. The clinicals were tough and I struggled and did not pass. I remember questioning my abilities. I was allowing the test to define me at the time.

For my next attempt, I remember the night prior, going before the Lord, and saying you got me this far, if this is not meant to be, do not give it to me, if you are not going to use me in this field please close the door for me, as I am unable to do it. It was 6:00 am the morning of examinations where I woke up and reviewed one last section of my notes. I prayed and I asked the Lord to give me a verse that I could claim as my own. Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. I remember that morning walking into my clinicals refreshed. I finished the boards with 2 hours leftover and the answers were clear in the section I reviewed the evening prior, I know that was the Lord’s doing. I laughed internally throughout the test, and I felt the Lord directing my responses. I walked away excited with having passed and finally able to close the door on this chapter of my life. The last tiny setback arrived as I planned to open my private practice. I was overwhelmed with joy and guilt. Years ago, I had imagined walking this journey with the friend whom I had lost to cancer. It was a bittersweet moment for me, as I had finally achieved my dream but could not share it with my friend. But I was able to let go of the guilt, as this is what I believe my friend would have wanted me to pursue.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and have a practice that caters to kids ages 0-12 in Woodland Hills. I began Therapy 4 Kiddos in January 2020.  I have specialized training in Domestic Violence, Grief, Prepare Enrich, Child Custody Evaluations.  My mission is beautifully summed up by Ashleigh Warner “Beneath every behavior is a feeling. And beneath every feeling is a need. And when we meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause not the symptom”.  My practice follows this mantra by first providing a nurturing and safe environment – kids can be heard and understood and leave knowing how to problem solve and develop healthy coping skills by realizing all along that they have everything they need deep within them. They just need the guidance and encouragement to access their own abilities. I also collaborate with parents and help them gain insight and awareness so that they begin to see solutions in areas where they used to feel stuck. By guiding parents through this process, they begin to realize their own strengths and begin to feel more confident in their own parenting skills.  My focus specialties are grief, divorce, adjustment, anxiety, and faith-based counseling.

What sets me apart?
First, the age group I work with. A lot of therapists are working with tweens and up, and not targeting the younger children as much. I also don’t use a one-size-fits-all model. I develop and use the technique that works best for each child based on his or her needs.  In fact, I often use role play, art therapy techniques, play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and several other methods. 

Second, the faith component. I am a Christian, and there are many people who might avoid seeing a therapist that does not share similar beliefs.  Many Christian churches today still harbor a negative view of mental health treatment. My hope is that I can help both fellow Christians and churches overcome this stigma and allow more people to access the help and healing they need.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, definitely.  There are plenty of young children living in Los Angeles who need mental health services. Being able to work with them early in life will provide them the confidence and encouragement they need to have a successful future. 

Contact Info:

  • Address: 20300 Ventura Blvd, Suite #380
    Woodland HIlls, CA 91364
  • Website: www.therapyforkiddos.com
  • Phone: (818) 275-1218
  • Email: salpilmft@gmail.com

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