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        Meet Shirley Smith, MA., LMFT

A quality that always put people at ease is Shirley’s warm smile, as people easily open up with her. One important strength of Shirley’s is that she sees intimate and vulnerable sides of people that most do not see. 


Two Sides of the Coin

A proud bay area native, Shirley grew up in a traditional Chinese household.  However, her parents’ divorce while she was young taught her to grow up quickly.  Being raised in the bay area, Shirley felt the two extremes of both the American and Chinese cultures.  She has learned to honor both cultures and at the same time find her sense of self. Shirley is fluent in Cantonese. One of Shirley’s goals is to decrease the stigma of mental health as many Asian and Asian American people tend to keep their feelings to themselves. As someone in a biracial relationship and raising a biracial child, Shirley is passionate about working with bi-cultural and biracial individuals, couples, parents, and families. She gets it and understands people with different intricacies in their upbringing. As Shirley reflects, she understands the complexities of “two sides of a coin.” 

Naturally, she is passionate about the intricacy and the essence of communication in a relationship.  According to Shirley, “When two people of two different opinions and backgrounds come together in a relationship, there are bound to be differences.  How we work out these differences and disagreements are important to a healthy relationship.”  She strives to help adults to communicate clearly and effectively in relationships.  She wants her clients to be set up for healthy and successful relationships.


Breaking Out of the Bubble

Shirley describes herself as breaking out of the San Francisco bubble as a Chinese American by moving to Berkeley and then Los Angeles, CA.  After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, the competitive environment made her stronger as a person.  These experiences have made her understand the challenges of life transitions.  She later earned her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles.  Moving to Los Angeles developed Shirley’s character as a person and a therapist.


Gifted in Working with Families of Special Needs

Being a mother, Shirley is keenly interested to have a balanced life and help mothers navigate motherhood while maintaining their autonomy.  Professionally, she has expertise working with families with children and adults with special needs.  She is aware of the challenges of parents of special needs, who have higher divorce rates, depression, and other emotional stress.  She strives to assist parents to navigate the system, offer coping skills, and have a balanced life.

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