Healing in Motion: Redondo Beach therapist gets her patients out of the office and on the move
Redondo Beach therapist Sepideh Saremi gets her patients out of the office and on the move with her Run Walk Talk sessions along the California coast.
- WRITTEN BYAMBER KLINCK
- PHOTOGRAPHED BYJEFF BERTING
Sitting across from Sepideh Saremi in her cozy Redondo Beach office feels comfortable. The space is simple, quiet and void of any distractions. Dressed in head-to-toe athletic wear, Sepideh has a disposition that is both warm and professional—a pairing that makes the psychotherapist incredibly easy to talk to.
Ease of conversation, however, is only part of what Sepideh aims to achieve during her therapy sessions. She believes the real healing begins when there’s a connection made between the body and the mind—which is why it’s not until we step outside her office that her unique approach to therapy is revealed.
“All of your problems seem a lot smaller when you’re walking near the Pacific Ocean.”
Walking at a quick clip, Sepideh leads the way down the narrow path toward the beach. “All of your problems seem a lot smaller when you’re walking near the Pacific Ocean,” she says.
And she’s right. The warmth of the sun is uplifting, and there’s an unmistakable energy that’s felt as each rolling wave crashes onto the sand. Walking side-by-side, any stigmas surrounding the stereotypically awkward therapy session are gone.
And symbolically, “you’re literally moving forward with another person,” Sepideh points out. “People internalize that … and that kind of progress spills into other areas of their lives.”
The inspiration behind Sepideh’s on-the-go approach to therapy stemmed from her time working with patients in a community mental health center. “I worked with a lot of Iranian men— recent immigrants and refugees,” she notes. “Culturally, therapy is very foreign to Iranians, so I had to be sensitive to that.”
If Sepideh, who was born in Germany to Iranian parents, noticed that sitting across from one another in a room or maintaining a sustained gaze felt uncomfortable for a patient, she’d suggest they go for a walk. “Immediately it lifted their mood,” she says. By eliminating direct eye contact, her patients felt more comfortable to speak freely.
Today, after three years in Beverly Hills, Sepideh has closed her office on the Westside and moved her practice to Redondo Beach. Her patients tend to fall largely in the category of overachievers and entrepreneurs.
“I work really well with people that are very hard on themselves, with very type-A traits,” she explains. “In many ways have served them. But what often happens with high achievers is they don’t have the experience of failure early on, which means sometimes they don’t develop the tools to deal with it. So when it happens—and it happens to everybody—it hits them really hard. I’m actually very much that type of person as well.”
Life hit Sepideh really hard at the age of 24 when her 19-year-old sister was diagnosed with cancer. “It was horrible,” she says. “Thankfully she survived, but the experience as a whole made me realize I shouldn’t wait to do the things I want to do.”
So although she began her professional career as a writer, Sepideh went back to school to get her master’s degree and clinical train- ing at UCLA. It was also during this time that she began her own personal relationship with running.
“I was really depressed after everything I had gone through with my sister being sick,” she shares. “Running made me feel so much better, and it really shifted the relationship I had with my body. I wasn’t solely focused on my weight; it was more about checking in with how my body felt. I started asking questions like, ‘Am I eating enough to run how I want to?’ It became a way for me to really understand what I was going through and how to heal myself.”
Not all of Sepideh’s clients run or walk with her. The patient’s initial session is held in the office, where clear lines are drawn around what he or she is comfortable discussing, how to handle the possibility of running into someone they know while running with Sepideh, as well as a general assessment of treatment. But the option is there—the option to step outside and tune in to the beauty of the California coastline, the needs of the body and the wellness of the mind.
3 Ways to Start Your Day Successfully
There are so many apps that are making meditation more accessible to all of us. But you don’t have to sit and listen to a guided meditation; you can go for a run or walk without music and just notice the sound of your footfalls, the environment around you and your internal experience. Practicing mindfulness is highly effective for improving focus and performance.
Working out benefits both your mind and your body. People who exercise experience better mental health, sleep and digestion and have lower risks of various physical health conditions. Exercising in the morning means there are fewer barriers to getting in your workout.
It sounds so obvious, but many people confuse what are actually hunger and thirst for anger, sadness, anxiety and other feelings. I keep water and granola bars in my office for this reason. Feed your body to protect your mental and emotional wellness. You can have more clarity and productivity if you start your day with a good, nourishing meal.
A bold big-wave surfer with a knack for shaping, storytelling and swearing, Greg Noll is a surfing icon. During the late ‘50s and the 1960s, he was on the forefront of the growing big-wave movement. He’s credited with being the first to ride the massive walls of water at Waimea Bay in 1957 and a 35-foot wave at Makaha in 1969—which, at the time, was considered to be the largest ever ridden. Also a businessman, his Hermosa Beach-based Greg Noll Surfboards was one of the top surfboard shapers and manufacturers during the mid-20th century. Greg serves as a living reminder of the South Bay’s surfing pedigree—a region that was, at one point, the focal point of surfing culture for the entire world. And Greg was right in the thick of it.