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Meet Trailblazer Mariela Shibley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariela Shibley.

Mariela, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I knew I wanted to be a psychologist since I was in high school. I completed my undergraduate studies at UCLA and eventually moved to San Diego to pursue my doctorate degree in 2003. I worked in a number of different settings as part of my training, such as a psychiatric hospital, a residential treatment center, and an outpatient clinic. Once I got licensed as a clinical psychologist, I opened my private practice in Banker’s Hill. Initially, I saw patients for individual and couples’ therapy, I also conducted psychological evaluations for individuals going through an immigration process. With the passing of time, I started to get more referrals than I could handle, so I welcomed a pre-licensed therapist to come and work under my supervision. Then, I welcomed two more therapists (AKA psychological assistants), and I had no choice but to hire an office administrator to help keep my practice flowing smoothly. I now have a team of both licensed and pre-licensed therapists, a full caseload of individual patients, and a very active forensic practice that includes conducting evaluations for immigration court and criminal defense. I am also very involved with the San Diego Psychological Association, serving on a number of committees, and I am in my second year of training at the San Diego Psychoanalytic center to become a psychoanalyst.

Throughout the years, I have taught courses at different universities throughout San Diego, and I am often invited to present lectures and training on various mental health topics, including at the annual conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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?
I had two kids early on in my career, which definitely put a twist on my professional path. But it taught me the importance of having a healthy work-life balance. I don’t live to work. I work to live and enjoy life. My advice to young women is to always prioritize self-care. Taking good care of ourselves is not a luxury; it is what we need to do in order to avoid burnout and preserve our mental health.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Shibley Psychology – what should we know?
My practice is very culturally diverse. I am originally from Argentina, and I speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese. Everyone on my team is either a first- or second-generation immigrant, and we are able to provide services in Tagalog, French, and Arabic.

I think I am well-regarded as a culturally competent therapist who specializes in issues around immigration, acculturation, and trauma. I believe in giving back to the community and helping underserved populations, so I participate in several programs that offer pro-bono services to those in need.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Try to always focus on attaining a good balance between work demands and life enjoyment. Make time for friends and nurture your friendships. Prioritize your physical and mental health by exercising, engaging in fun activities, and having some downtime. Remember to be fully present at the moment, savoring the pleasant times and reminding yourself that the rough ones will pass. Learn from your mistakes and pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2333 1st Ave., Suite 107
    San Diego, CA 92101
  • Website:
  • Phone: 619-307-9346
  • Email:

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