Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonia Singh.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
It all started with a dream to heal my community with alternative mental health therapies that were actually more effective than the traditional therapies I was providing on a State and County level. I am a double board licensed psychotherapist who was initially trained over ten years by SAMHSA, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, to provide co-occurring mental health and substance abuse therapies and treatments. Early on in my career, I worked at State, County and grant funded agencies, where most of my clients were involuntary, court mandated individuals. Basically, most of them caught legal cases and were coping with a variety of different mental health stressor and issues, concurrently while having to work with me, their therapist, and attend my Intensive outpatient program. I found that the traditional talk therapy and psychoeducation groups were challenging to facilitate real lasting and meaningful change in my client’s conditions. Also, many of them were entering my program for cannabis related crimes, and they were self-medicating for the eligible mental health conditions for the NJ/NY medical marijuana programs, PTSD and anxiety. I saw the injustice in providing these individuals substance abuse treatment verses, medical cannabis counseling and intervention. At that time in 2016, I left my clinical directorship and started my private mental health agency, Center of Inner Transformations. I then began providing a variety of different medical cannabis related treatments and interventions to heal my community with alternative medicine.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
Establishing myself as a clinical entrepreneur was challenging in itself, but more challenging was working against the negative stigma the majority of our society had developed about cannabis due to decades of injustice and cannabis prohibition. Another challenge was being accepted by my own clinical healthcare community. Many of my colleagues shamed me early on for pursuing an interest in providing alternative mental treatments with a mind altering medicine like cannabis. I had to work hard at knowing and understanding the therapeutic science & healing potential of cannabis and being at the forefront as an activist in the cannabis and mental health community. I had to become a reputable leader, be very passionate about my mission and then educate other clinicians about the therapeutic potential of cannabis as an alternative mental health treatment. Because of federal restrictions on publicly advertising an ancillary cannabis, spreading the word about our mission has always been challenging. Also Branding. My clients began to call me The Happy Therapist. Eventually I trademarked the name, proudly carried it and then everything in my business became “Happy” which is the synergy we create when we combine our inner healing potential with plant based medicines such as cannabis.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
I provide alternative mental health treatments using cannabis, including cannabis assisted psychotherapy, Medical cannabis counseling and education and medical marijuana card intervention.
- 85% of individuals find alternative mental health treatments appealing due to personalized approaches. (Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- 92% of individuals believe that holistic treatments are important because they treat the root cause rather than just symptoms. (Source: American Psychological Association)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) underscores the importance of holistic approaches, as evidenced by the increasing integration of mindfulness, yoga, and other complementary practices into mental health treatment.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) reports that mind-body interventions like meditation and relaxation techniques have shown promise in managing anxiety and depression. The Pew Research Center highlights that the percentage of U.S. adults supporting the legalization of marijuana has steadily increased, reaching 68% in 2021, indicating a more accepting attitude towards alternative therapies.
We are the ONLY Mental Health treatment program, and I am the ONLY Mental health professional who has a clinical focus in providing cannabis assisted psychotherapy and cannabis interventions for mental health in the NJ/NYC area.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success?
To find success, visualize what makes you happy. Visualize what it will be like when you are a success. If you can see it, you can work towards it. Having vision is the most important part of having a successful trajectory. If you found happiness, that’s success in itself.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Success means feeling Happy about what I am doing, how I am living, what I am pursuing and my purpose in this life.
What’s next for you?
Next, I am currently training a team of aspiring cannabis clinicians and will be launching a class and different tools to support and teach other mental health therapists to provide alternative treatments using medical cannabis too. I am also launching workshops for the community to talk to people about the therapeutic potential of cannabis as an alternative mental health treatment.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
SONIA SINGH, LCSW, LCADC, PhD Candidate
Thehappytherapist on Instagram