Debby Shen: Therapist Spotlight

Debby is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) who has a collaborative and client-oriented approach to therapy. With an eclectic approach, she uses various therapeutic modalities and interventions, including psychodynamic, grief, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to create individualized treatment plans. She has a multicultural and professionally diverse background and has experience working with various populations across race and age.  

InnerVoice:  What can potential clients expect when working with you?

Debby:  They can expect someone who is warm, compassionate, and easygoing.  I like to work collaboratively with them to define their goals and believe that clients are the experts of their own lives.  I can provide insight, suggestions, and help them evaluate options and situations, but ultimately, the client is the decision maker. 

InnerVoice:  What are some things we should know about your area of expertise?  What are your areas of expertise?

Debby:  My main specialties are grief/loss and executive well-being.  For grief/loss, it’s important to know that there is no right way to grieve, and that is not a linear process.  It can bring up a variety of feelings, not just sadness.  It’s really a very personal process that doesn’t have a timeline.  For executive well-being, I think it’s important to understand how its impact is not just personal.  By prioritizing and practicing wellness for themselves and being transparent about their efforts, it influences the work culture and models actions for their employees, resulting in improved employee performance and retention.   

InnerVoice:  What drew you to grief and loss work?

Debby:  I’ve lost people very close to me and understand what it can be like to go through the process.  It can bring about several complicated emotions that may not be easy to express for fear of judgment, so I wanted to be able to provide support for those who have experienced a significant loss.   

InnerVoice:  Do you have any advice for someone grieving during the holiday season?

Debby:  I think it’s important for people to remember that there are no “should”s in grieving.  If you think it will be too painful to celebrate or participate in a tradition, you don’t have to take part.  Be kind and compassionate with yourself, and allow yourself to feel your feelings.  For some, it can be helpful to memorialize their loss or create a new tradition.  If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for support.

InnerVoice:  Can you explain more about executive well-being?  

Debby:  There are some unique stressors and challenges that executives face, which can interfere with their personal and professional lives.  I work with professionals and executives to identify factors that are negatively impacting them from a holistic therapeutic perspective.  We then work together to address the roots of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to reach their goals, increase self-awareness, and improve overall wellness.     

InnerVoice:  What do you like most about being a therapist? 

Debby:  I had a corporate career prior to becoming a therapist, which allowed me to help others indirectly, but I found that I really love working directly to help others.  It’s meaningful to me to be able to build relationships with clients and be a part of their journey. 

InnerVoice:  Can you speak more on shifting careers?

Debby:  I’m a child of immigrants and began my career following what my parents thought I should be doing to be a “successful” person, so I grew up with a notion of what careers would be “acceptable”.  In college, I discovered my interest in psychology but was unsure about pursuing it as a career, so I chose a career in consulting.  I enjoyed several aspects of it, but as I looked up the corporate ladder, I didn’t feel a lot of desire to become a Partner or Managing Director.  I thought that if I could incorporate the psychology aspect in a business career then I would enjoy it more, so I switched to marketing because of the consumer behavior involved.  Eventually, I took a career break to care for an ill family member, and it was through that experience that I recognized how directly serving others gave me purpose and meaning and was a key motivator for myself.  As I prepared to head back to work, I took the time to evaluate my values, interests, and talents to figure out where to go next and was more honest with myself about what would be fulfilling for me this time, which ultimately led me to this, and I feel I’m in the right place finally.      

InnerVoice:  What would you tell someone considering therapy for the first time?

Debby:  I think just the idea that someone is considering therapy demonstrates a great deal of courage and self-awareness.  Going through therapy is a process and is usually not a quick fix.  In addition, it’s so important to find the right fit.  Every therapist is different, so if you don’t feel comfortable with a therapist after a few sessions, it just may be that they weren’t right for you.  Although it can be frustrating, I’d encourage them to keep searching. 

InnerVoice:  What do you wish people knew about seeking MH treatment?

Debby:  The process is not linear and may be really difficult at times.  They may have to sit in discomfort or revisit some painful feelings and memories.  However, when they are able to move through it, the results are worth it.

InnerVoice:  Do you have a motto or personal mantra?

Debby:  I don’t really have a personal motto or mantra, but when I get anxious and feel paralyzed to make a decision, I try to remind myself that there are very few decisions that can’t be reversed or changed.  It usually gives me enough courage to keep moving forward.

InnerVoice:  What are your top five wellness and self-care strategies?


  • Exercise
  • Spending time with my dog
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing gratitude by thinking of 3 things to be grateful
  • Listening to music and singing along by myself (I’m a terrible singer)