Today we’d like to introduce you to Shani Elhiani.
Shani, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up I was always that person who looked for the best in people and wanted a hopeful and bright future for those around me. I am a second-generation American and was born to warm and loving immigrant parents who passed to me the love of their respective cultures.
From the early days, my parents encouraged me to create a life of significance from which my goals and aspirations for social work arose. They inspired me to find new and innovative ways to be a positive force in the world. My quest and passion for social work led me to the awe-inspiring country of Israel. I participated in a gap year program with emphasis on Art Culture and community outreach in Israel. I was looking to achieve personal growth through the life-changing experiences which would allow me to tie together education and ability to work with others.
During that year, I quickly formed strong bonds with underprivileged Israelis, reaffirmed my love of art, and determined that my purpose was to combine my urge to help people through difficult times with my passion for art. I developed a unique skill set that put me in a position to help others. I recognized that through the powerful and creative outlet of art, people achieved cathartic and therapeutic benefits. Upon my return to the United States, I decided to pursue a college major that would help bridge the gap of art and therapy.
I built my unique major in Art Therapy at CSUN which comprised of three disciplines: Psychology, Art, and Communication. I feel that my self-created major has given me a wonderful foundation for my on-going quest to continue to help others through teaching and counseling. My passion for this psychological artistic field led me to obtain my master’s degree from Pepperdine University where I studied clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. My education, culture, and experiences served as a strong foundation to pursue my passion.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The path to becoming a therapist has been challenging yet very fulfilling. I worked in community based mental health settings to achieve my 3,000 hours of experience toward my licensure and I was able to work with a variety of populations ranging from different cultures and severe mental health. I was able to expand my knowledge, empathy, and ability to understand how to assist clients that can be very resistant to services at times but need the most help.
Although I was taught in school how to approach sessions through structure and evidence-based practices, I found that even in the most challenging situations using art, creativity, and empathy has allowed me to have some of the most significant breakthroughs with my clients. When I started working with the special needs population, I was uncertain how I would be able to make a difference in these individuals’ lives and how I could help non-verbal individuals or individuals with limited verbal capabilities express their emotions.
Through simple means of pencils, paper, and colors I was able to gain insight into these clients’ worlds. Art provided an opportunity to bond with my clients, help them process their thoughts, memories, self-regulate and express their ideas through drawing. Another challenge I overcame was learning the balance and importance of maintaining self-care and patience in order to be most present and focused on my client’s needs.
Tell us about your practice. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I provide individual, couples, group, and family therapy and my focus is helping clients become aware of their inner strengths and capabilities. I specialize in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I strive to provide a neutral safe space for my clients during our sessions. My approach is to create custom treatment plans because not one client is a carbon copy of another. Each individual or family working with me is reaching their goals in a unique and personal way.
During therapy, I strive to help them achieve life balance. My optimal goal is to help people heal and grow from their struggles in order to move forward to where they want to be in their lives. I am trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Crisis Oriented Recovery Services, Seeking Safety, and Motivational Interviewing. With children, I use play and therapeutic art techniques to help facilitate expression of difficult and uncomfortable emotions. I strive to help foster motivation and gain perspective. Each session is approached with sensitivity and openness to thoroughly understand each person’s unique personality and experiences.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
In the next 5-10 years, I believe receiving therapy services will be less stigmatized and be seen as normal as going to a doctor’s checkup if you’re not physically feeling well. Social media provides a platform for the people to share their knowledge and experiences and normalize going to therapy. Celebrities are using their platforms to share their personal struggles and this makes it easier for people to not feel alone in their struggle with recovery. There is an abundance of information online for self-help and as well as the use of teletherapy that makes services even more accessible.
Schools are progressing in implementing mental health education and resources for students. Fortunately, many mental health disorders can be treated effectively, especially with early intervention. I believe future generations will be lucky because they will understand that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, ostracized for, feared, or kept as a secret. With more education and knowledge available to the public about mental health, this will cultivate a culture of empathy for others and progress toward breaking the stigma. We will continue to pass on the knowledge that there is hope for recovery and the ability to live a purposeful and meaningful life in spite of mental health challenges.
- Address: 9233 W. Pico Blvd Suite 218 Los Angeles, CA 90035
- Website: www.therapywithshani.com
- Phone: (213) 437-9957
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org