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Acacia Spotlight: Dean Khambatta, AMFT

Acacia Spotlight looks to highlight the clinicians, staff, and programs that make Acacia what it is today. February’s clinician is Dean Khambatta, AMFT.

Dean Khambatta, AMFT. Photo by Giovanni Emblen.

Dean joined Acacia’s Santa Cruz team in October 2019. The Oakland native studied at UC Berkely & helped pioneer their LGBTQ community. Read more to learn how he’s grown & has inspired growth at Acacia!

What do you enjoy most about being a clinician?

Dean: What I most enjoy about being a clinician is building a relationship with clients where they don’t feel the need to justify or over-explain who they are or where they are at, they simply feel seen and understood.  

I have always found joy in advocacy and supporting others and becoming a therapist felt like a natural progression.

How did you know you wanted to be a therapist?

Dean: I knew I wanted to be a therapist after having negative experiences with therapists at the beginning of my transition. I knew I wanted to be an affirming and supportive therapist. I have always found joy in advocacy and supporting others and becoming a therapist felt like a natural progression. 

What is your definition of “wellness”?

Dean Khambatta, AMFT. Photo by Giovanni Emblen.

Dean: I take a harm-reduction approach to wellness and encourage my clients to discover their own unique definitions.  Generally speaking, I view wellness as an active process of self-discovery and finding community as a means to develop a better quality of life. 

What college clubs or activities were you (or would you like to be) a part of?

Dean: When I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley, I founded and facilitated a trans and non-binary peer support group. I was very involved in LGBTQ groups and the community on campus.  I co-facilitated a queer womyn peer support group, but once I came out as trans it wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. At the time, there wasn’t a trans group on campus so I decided to found my own. I wanted to create a space for trans and non-binary students, faculty, and staff on campus. Through the Gender Equity Resource Center and Queer Resource Center, I reached out to the larger campus community to begin to build the group. The group began quite small but grew to include about 20 members, including several UC staff members. Having a peer support group for the entire campus community helped to increase visibility, encouraged inclusivity, and created a more diverse group.

You know more about who you are and what you want than you realize.

If you could share one piece of wisdom with your college-aged self, what would it be?

Dean: The one piece of advice I would give my college-aged self is to trust yourself, you know more about who you are and what you want than you realize. 

Dean’s warmth & openness are two of the many qualities that make him a wonderful therapist. His open & honest approach allows clients to fully embrace their true selves & learn to live authentically. We’re so grateful to have Dean on Acacia’s team!

Stay tuned for more Acacia Clinician Spotlights! And check out Dean’s bio on the Santa Cruz page!

Authored (a lot) by Dean Khambatta and (a little) by Danielle Sharkey.

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