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Sheffa is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in both North Carolina (LMFT #1647) and California (BBS MFT #47600). She graduated with a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology in 2004, with specializations in Somatic Psychology and group process, from John F. Kennedy University in California. 

Sheffa completed five years of post-graduate supervised internship in the somatic psychotherapy practice of Kim McCourt, MFT. She has also worked as a counselor in a public school, as a therapist and group leader in a low-fee clinical setting, and as an HIV Counselor and Health Educator within the women's health clinic of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics in San Francisco.  

Before becoming a therapist, she worked in the start-up bioscience technology world in the Bay Area during the dot-com boom within marketing and human resources, while maintaining a small side business as a Certified Massage Therapist and attending births as a Certified Doula, primarily within the volunteer program of San Francisco General Hospital with low-income women and families.

She has more than 15 years of experience working as a psychotherapist in private practice with individuals, couples, and groups, specializing in relationships outside of traditional monogamy and common relational paradigms, including open relationships, polyamory, consensual power dynamics, platonic parenting, mixed-orientation marriages, and cross-cultural relationships. In recent years, she has also been actively cultivating a specialty working with the trans community, including transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, and gender non-conforming clients.

Sheffa has more than 10 years of experience in facilitating group process, particularly in therapy groups, women's spirituality circles, and expressive movement groups, including groups for infertility grief and growth, and circles centered on Judaism, paganism, and pantheic study.

She is currently a Somatic Experiencing® Intermediate Level Practitioner in Training, advancing her skills working with complex trauma, nervous system activation, and overwhelm.

Sheffa identifies as a queer/bi, cis-gendered, polyfluid, monogamish, kink-friendly woman, who is a relationship geek, a sex geek, and the mother of an amazing 11-year old human.  She brings a range of personal and professional life experiences to her work as a therapist. Sheffa prefers the pronoun "she/her" for herself and encourages you to self-identify in whatever ways work for you.

Full CV available at LinkedIn ~


  • non-monogamy and polyamory

  • gender exploration and transitioning

  • GLBTIQQA issues

  • sexual exploration and discovery

  • somatic psychotherapy

  • self-assertiveness

  • parenting

  • divorce and conscious uncoupling

  • grief

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Read Sheffa's interview about working with kinky clients on the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom site.  Interview by Inara de Luna.:
Therapist Sheffa Ariens Offers a "Sanctuary of Sanity" in the South