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Meet Sheila Sayani, MA, LMFT of Encino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sheila Sayani, MA, LMFT.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sheila. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I always knew I enjoyed talking with people, hearing their stories, and trying to understand why people do what they do. I ended up taking an Abnormal Psychology class at the local community college when I was 15, and that’s when I knew I had to pursue something is psychology. I also joke that my love of Lifetime movies was a big part of it too (ha!). But long story short, I decided from a very young age to pursue the field of psychology, and I consider myself very lucky, because I ended up doing something I love. I know most people struggle in their 20s, trying to figure out what career path is for them- which is totally normal, considering that at that age, brain development is continuing and the final formation of the personality is occurring. Essentially, in your 20s, you’re figuring yourself out. I started Pepperdine’s graduate school at age 21 and finished my Master’s at 23. I was seeing clients at age 22! So I say I’m lucky because I loved it, and 12 years later, I still love it. Pepperdine was also a huge blessing for me. I started working there as a graduate assistant when I was a student, and now I work there part-time as staff, hosting their professional development events for MFTs, and I am adjunct faculty as well. Working at the university allowed me to interact with many people and professionals, which gave me the confidence to start my own practice when I became licensed in 2010. I quickly realized that I also had a knack for the business side of things. Since 2010, I have been in private practice, where I specialize in relationship issues and couples therapy. The process of building my practice and watching it change and grow has been so amazing for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. And the balance of private practice, and working for Pepperdine has been ideal.

Great, 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?
No road is ever perfectly smooth, right? I definitely had my ups and downs when I first opened my practice. In this field, maintaining a consistent client load is nearly impossible. People get sick, travel, want to take breaks, etc. A therapist’s livelihood in private practice is dependent upon many other people’s life circumstances and decision to continuously attend therapy. And we all know life doesn’t always move smoothly. It took me a while to get used to the ebbs and flows of private practice. I have learned to accept this inconsistency and recognize that it comes with the territory.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the immediate assumption is that we specialize in marriages and families. But the truth is that most therapists don’t work with either population! Being a marriage therapist or a family therapist is a specialty within the field. My path took me to the specialization of relationships and couples. I am an attachment therapist and have a specialization in working with couples. However, my practice entails a variety of clients and issues. I am also trained in EMDR which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is a very effective and popular treatment for trauma. I also use a lot of somatic treatment with my clients.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons and then go riding my bike with my older sister. The days before technology…. 🙂

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