Today we’d like to introduce you to Whitney Shariati.
Hi Whitney, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Life rarely goes the way we expect (or plan) for it to. While I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of the human experience and found so much contentment in my relationships, I didn’t necessarily expect for that to translate into what it’s become. Looking back, I can now see how so many circumstances I walked through, along with big and small moments, shaped the journey that led me to pursue my Bachelor’s of Science in Family Studies and then on to complete my Master’s of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, becoming a systematically-trained mental health therapist. I’m now a counselor and own a private practice in Brentwood where I help adolescents and adults unbecome who they no longer are so that they can embrace and embody their true Selves. The work of unbecoming often involves things like healing from the past, recognizing any unhealthy patterns in relationships, developing a positive view of themselves, overcoming anxiety, learning how to release themselves from outside pressures/expectations of others, and identifying what’s truly important to them so that they can embrace their true Selves fully. I also work with couples who are navigating current communication and intimacy challenges and/or discerning the future of their relationship.
I’m a Nashville-native, so growing up in a conservative, Southern context, it really wasn’t until my early twenties, in the midst of my Master’s program, that I realized that my own access to resources for mental health, support through trauma, and navigation of developing who I was as a person had looked completely different from the experiences that so many of my friends who were members of various marginalized and/or minority groups had over the course of their lives. As a result, I developed a heart for providing inclusive, affirming, and high-quality mental health services to all people. I believe that regardless of differences like ethnicity, faith, physical abilities, cultural considerations, gender expression, and sexual orientation, everyone deserves access to resources, like therapy, that give them tools to fully embrace and accept who they are and create the life they want for themselves!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In a helping profession, like healthcare, I think one of the biggest challenges is learning to care first for yourself so that you can continue to show up for other people. I learned the hard lessons like: on top of the challenges of keeping up with ethical considerations in my field, professional development, and learning how to own/run a business, my self-care and personal growth had to be a priority in order for my practice to be the most successful. As a helper, I want so badly to support as many people as possible through therapy and when I stopped taking into account my own needs, those were the times when I experienced stress and burnout. I’ve had to learn what my capacity is, create systems that work for me and my business through a LOT of trial and error, and cultivate a rich, meaningful life for myself so that I can continue to offer my best to clients. That self-development also played such an important role on the business side too, as the personal work I did allowed me to feel more confident in the trial-and-error process that all businesses experience to find what works (and so many things that don’t) for your specific business.
I’m always happy to share my experience with others and what I’ve learned, both as a therapist and business owner because I was fortunate enough to have a network of others who took the time to do same for me and supported me during each phase of building my practice. Those relationships and the knowledge they were willing to share with me have been integral and invaluable!
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I call my practice a “refuge for reconstruction” because that, to me, really represents the process people are going through during our work together of “unbecoming” who they not and/or releasing themselves from any pressure to have their life and relationships look certain way so that they can fully accept and live out who they are. In addition to offering talk therapy, I also blend in mind-body practices such as Emotional Freedom Techniques and Tapping (acupressure) into my work that have been proven to further facilitate lasting changes and find relief from things like the anxiety, panic attacks, depression, trauma, and fear that is often intertwined with the growth process.
While my degree, training, and clinical experience are valuable-it’s my own humanness that truly allows me to best show up and support clients. Our stories aren’t the same and our lives are full of countless differences, but we’ve all lived through seasons of pain, heartbreak, loss, challenges, doubt, questions, and so much more. We’re all constantly changing and evaluating for ourselves how we want to live and who we want to be, but that unfortunately, so many of us carry a sense of shame or confusion when there’s tension between what feels most aligned with who we are now and a previous version of ourselves (unhealthy ways of coping with our emotions, putting yourself in a box to make other people comfortable, and so on). It’s extremely courageous to ask for support in how to use new, healthier ways of handling your emotions and thoughts. I see those questions and doubts as a healthy (and necessary) part of our growth and development and I’m extremely proud of the safe place I’ve created for all people to explore and process anything that’s holding them back from living and loving their life to the fullest.
What do you like and dislike about the city?
I grew up in Green Hills and still live there to this day, so I’ve gotten to live through the evolution and growth that’s happened here in Nashville. Nowhere is perfect and I complain about the increasing traffic just as much as anyone, but I don’t think Nashville has ever lost its heart even in the midst of the changing landscape. I think so many people have continued to move here and vacation here because the energy and people in our city are welcoming and genuine. No matter what your interests are or the field you’re in, Nashville truly has something for everyone!
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.whitneyshariati.com
- Instagram: @whitneyshariatitlmft