Craft Chat at Prospect Therapy
June 22, 2024 11:00 AM PST. Register Now!
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The New Fashioned Co.

Kristin Carver Smith

Angelina Burkholder

Sara Stanizai Team


Sara Stanizai, LMFT (she/her) is a licensed therapist who founded Prospect Therapy to create a queer- and trans-affirming practice that focuses specifically on serving first-generation American and immigrant communities. As a queer first-gen herself, Sara’s clinical and professional work focuses on serving the Afghan diaspora, specifically fellow Afghan-American women, through retreats and group experiences that help participants find community and reconciliation with self, culture and ancestry.

Sara found her therapy sweet spot when she finally returned to her own ancestry and got curious about her experience as a queer Afghan-American woman in America. The thing she had been compelled to repress and ignore her whole life was the key to unlocking not only her own personal healing but also her professional success. In addition to running her group practice and supporting Afghan American women, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Bisexual Task Force, a 501c3 organization that champions education, advocacy and visibility for the bi+ communities of greater Los Angeles. She is also a certified cognitive therapist through the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and holds an advanced certificate in transgender affirming therapy from Widener University.

Sara completed her MA in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College. When she’s not working with clients or plotting out her next dreamy, immersive retreat, she can be found road-tripping around California shopping for cheesy souvenirs.

Sara is known for saying...

  • I thought I had to separate myself from my culture in order to survive.
  • As children of Afghan immigrants, we haven’t had many examples of leaders who look like us. Why not become the ones we’ve been looking for?
  • It’s not an accident that we’re confused about where we came from.
  • Visibility is risky without the support of a community.
  • Your choices are okay as long as they’re deliberate.
  • I’ll believe it for you, until you believe it yourself.


Links to Press

Rapid Fire with
Sara Stanizai

1. Favorite way to wind down after a therapy session?
If I’m home, taking my dog, Miller, for a walk around my neighborhood. If I’m not home, then I’m the elder millennial still playing Candy Crush on my phone for 5 minutes.

2. What’s something you wish everyone knew about the Afghan-American experience?
It is characterized by joy, hospitality, style and kindness. If that is surprising to you, it’s not your fault.

3. Who are the Afghan diaspora women that others should be following?
Sara Wahedi (Ehtesab app), Ilaha Eli Omar (Uplift Afghanistan Fund), Alia Rasoully (WISE Afghanistan), Madina Wardak (consultant and educator, @burqasandbeer), the founders of Project Anar, Afghans Empowered, and Afghans for a Better Tomorrow.

4. What’s a must-have item for your retreat?
Your favorite dance party outfit, of course.

5. Tell us something about yourself that others might be surprised to learn.
I will stop whatever I’m doing and run away if a bee gets near me. I’ve also seen my favorite band in concert over 20 times, including following them to three states one summer. Lastly, I originally wanted to work in museums with antiquities and studied Latin in college.

6. Favorite way to connect to your culture?
Dancing to Afghan music — which is something I dreaded when I was younger so I actually don’t officially know how to do it.

7. If you could gift one thing to all Afghan-American women, what would it be?
A copy of our collective diary so you can see you’re not alone in your feelings.

Book Sara to Speak