In order to secure a career as a psychologist, San Francisco students typically have to obtain a minimum of a graduate degree. Coursework at the graduate level can focus on a wealth of specialties, including industrial and organizational psychology, psychology with a marriage and family therapy emphasis, and social work. One individual who went the latter route is Shirani M. Pathak, a licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert for women, speaker, writer, educator, and owner of the Relationship Center of Silicon Valley.

(Photo Courtesy of Shirani M. Pathak)

(Photo Courtesy of Shirani M. Pathak)

What is your background and education?     

“I hold a B.A. in psychology and a master’s in social work. I’m currently a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). My work experience has been varied, including working with severely and persistently mentally ill persons in day treatment, children and families as a child and family therapist, probation youth both from the juvenile justice side and the mental health side, and being in the health clinics as part of an integrated behavioral health program before landing in private practice helping women achieve success in relationships. It’s been quite the ride and well worth it.”

What type of services do you provide?

“As a licensed psychotherapist, I provide individual, family, and group psychotherapy services at my center, the Relationship Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose. Pulling from what I know through my training as a clinical social worker, the professional development I do, and from my own personal experiences, I also offer talks in the community, facilitate workshops, and teach classes on meditation and mindfulness. For me, being a therapist isn’t just about being in the chair, it’s about spreading the message of emotional well-being to as many women as possible.”

What career advice can you share to students interested in a career in psychology?

“For this question I will share the best piece of advice I had ever gotten when I was getting my B.A. in psychology. It comes from a woman who sat next to me on a plane. She said to me, that when pursuing further education, I should consider getting my master’s in social work as it offers more flexibility in what I can do. As you’ve read above, this has been so incredibly true for me and I would not have had it any other way.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

  1. I feel like psychology is a difficult track for students. It seems like so many earn an undergraduate degree in it, and then go on to do other things. There are so many tracks that means so many different things, it’s scary to chose one!