Psychotherapy with a Social Justice Orientation


Neil Panchmatia, MS, LPC-I, NCC

Hello, Jambo, and Namaste! I was born and raised in Kenya, Africa in a fourth-generation East Indian immigrant family. I grew up in a sleepy little town called Kisumu, which is on the shores of the Lake Victoria (the second largest fresh water lake in the world). Our town is known for its breathtaking equatorial sunsets, and I grew up close to nature: forming a love and respect for the outdoors. I arrived in the US in 2002, and Portland has been home since 2013. I am multilingual (fluent in English, Gujarati, Hindi, Swahili, and Punjabi), and have lived in several different states in the US, as well as in Canada and England. As a therapist, I draw heavily from my own experience as a transnational citizen: believing fully in the interconnected nature of our human experience. I am a product of multiple cultures and view the world from a global lens.

I graduated from Portland State University with a Masters in Counseling. I also hold a Masters in Sociology with a focus on the arrival and adjustment experiences of immigrants and refugees to the US. I am dual specialized in providing mental health therapy, and working with individuals with (dis)abilities or living chronic pain/illness (or an intersection of both body and mind concerns).  I am registered with the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists as an LPC-I (Licensed Professional Counselor Intern), and am supervised by Joel Lane, PhD, LPC. I am also a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Over the last few years, I have accrued intensive experience working in different clinical settings as a therapist. I have experience working with individuals, couples, as well as groups in therapy. For a list of services I currently offer, please visit the Counseling page.

Therapeutic Approach

My work is based on a social justice and empowerment orientation: It prioritizes healing and well-being through a brave/safe acknowledgement of social and personal barriers and an augmentation of individual strengths and abilities. I aim to center the values of equity, inclusion and accessibility in therapy by reducing barriers to care while increasing holistic supports. I incorporate current research and evidence based approaches – which are culturally and individually tailored and take into consideration the unique identity intersections of my clients. My work also addresses the influence of systems of inequity and oppression as well as historical, cultural and communal trauma. Also present in my work is an acknowledgement and  understanding of the history, cultural context, systems, and socio-political context of our city and state.

I use existential-humanistic, Gestalt, and feminist influences in my work. I also employ the tenets of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Eastern contemplative approaches in tailoring my work to my clients' needs. In working with couples and unions, I integrate models such as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) to practice a therapeutic method of collaborative problem/goal identification and change.

My clients are in the driving seat of their therapeutic experience: upon being provided all the information, resources and support they need, they determine the goals we work on, the pace we take, the therapeutic approaches we adopt, and the outcomes we aspire towards. 

Mind-Body-Spirit Integration

My approach to therapy includes a holistic exploration and inclusion of an individual's mental, physical and spiritual/existential experiences. I believe that healing, growth and thriving result from a holistic integration of the mind, body and spirit. Traditional psychotherapy leans towards focusing exclusively on the mental experience through talk therapy: exploring an individual's aspirations, histories, feelings or memories. My work integrates the other vital components of our existence: our bodies and our spiritual/existential experiences. I use knowledge and techniques from a diverse array of areas and disciplines (such as somatic psychology, positive psychology, ecotherapy, and transpersonal psychology) to foster and center an integrative mind-body-spirit experience in therapy. 

My method of doing therapy is varied and tailored to my client's needs and preferences: I offer traditional talk therapy (sitting across each other and conversing), as well as ecotherapy (walks/hikes/sitting/meditating in nature), bibliotherapy (using books to guide our work), mind-body therapy (guided meditation, breathing exercises), as well therapy in your home or other space of your choice.

Mindfulness & Loving-Kindness

As an individual and clinician, I closely follow the Eastern teachings of mindfulness, compassion, self-awareness, and loving kindness. I believe that we can all benefit from living in the present moment: the past is behind us, and future ahead of us - all we have any influence over is the here and now. So much of our distress is rooted in regretting the past, or fearing the future: both out of our control. 

Mindfulness-based therapy helps change more rapidly occur as it becomes easier to spot unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and readjust them. Research shows when we slow down and more purposefully notice what is going on at present, we are able to lessen emotional distress, angry or anxious reactivity, and instead act more adaptively with mental flexibility, improving relationship satisfaction. This is what helps begin to change the ingrained habits that continue to lead to life dissatisfaction.

As human beings, we are connected by the thread of love and kindness. It is important to remind ourselves daily of our innate ability to be kind, loving, and caring. By learning to love ourselves fully and unconditionally, we can extend this inclusive, ideal love to include all living things. As a therapist, I strive to bring the tenets of mindfulness (living in the present moment), as well as loving kindness into my work. My counseling room is a space of unconditional acceptance and belief in the innate goodness, as well as the potential for authentic living, in all of us.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

May all beings be peaceful. 

May all beings be happy. 

May all beings be well. 

May all beings be safe. 

May all beings be free from suffering.

May all beings come together as one. 


These are some words I find uplifting:

  • "You're going to be happy," said life, "but first I'll make you strong."
  • "When your heart speaks, take good notes." - Joseph Campbell
  • "What you are to be, you are now becoming." - Carl Rogers
  • "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi
  • "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." - Joseph Campbell
  • "Wherever you are, be there totally." - Eckhart Tolle
  • "I promise myself that I will enjoy every moment of every day that is given to me... to live." - Thich Nhat Hanh
  • "In order to love yourself, you must behave in ways that you admire." - Irvin Yalom
  • "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." - Eleanor Roosevelt
  • "We all share one planet and are one humanity, there is no escaping this reality." - Wangari Maathai
  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” - Dr. Seuss