With little to no access to mental health facilities in her native India, Pia Nathani wants to provide the Zionsville community the mental health resources she desired as a young girl.
Born and raised in Bangalore, India, Nathani founded her practice, Psychology and Beyond, in 2021 and opened at 1505 W. Oak St. at the end of last year. She is one of few licensed psychologists who speaks Hindi serving Zionsville and greater Indianapolis according to psychologytoday.com.
Now, Nathani wants to expand her practice by offering group therapy and workshops at Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library.
“I’m currently looking at conducting some workshops on stress management at the public library,” Nathani said. “I have distributed flyers for group therapy and workshops to make seeking help accessible.”
A Ball State University graduate, Nathani moved to Zionsville two years ago from Carmel and opened her practice. She said growing up, she did not have access to mental health resources and was discouraged to pursue the field by friends and family.
“I was nudged by several people not to do psychology because it’s not regarded as a legit profession or a real job,” Nathani said. “There is a lack of mental health counselors who specialize in working with the Asian Indian cultural background. That brings to light the stigma that exists related to mental health.”
Nathani said some minority communities view therapy as a last resort. Her goal is to promote mental health awareness, address the stigma that exists in some communities and try to make mental health more accessible to everyone.
“I did a small pilot study with about 25 international students, and they all mentioned if they had problems related to sex, alcohol or suicide, they wouldn’t seek help from anybody, which is kind of alarming,” Nathani said. “So, I want to address the stigma because I have experienced similar feelings.”
By age 16, Nathani struggled with friendships and chose to open up to a counselor, who then shared information with Nathani’s parents without her permission.
“There was no confidentiality there, and that’s when I realized I needed to find someone, but I couldn’t,” Nathani said. “I decided to read a lot of self-help books to help myself, and then I turned towards spirituality, but I also turned towards psychology, and I found support.”
Once Nathani realized there were labels and terms for her feelings, her interest in pursuing psychology as a career blossomed.
“When I went to do my undergrad, my family didn’t encourage me,” Nathani said. “They said, ‘OK, let’s do business. We’ve all always done business.’ I specialized in marketing, and even my friends discouraged me from doing psychology.”
Nathani completed her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Christ University in India, and when she moved to the United States, her husband encouraged her to get her doctorate in counseling psychology at Ball State.
“If I had stayed in India, I don’t know if I would have gotten this degree, and I don’t know if I would have stayed in the mental health field,” Nathani said. “I think the United States offers me the chance to pursue exactly what I want to pursue.”
Matt King, a clinical psychologist in Chicago, worked with Nathani in a research lab and did a clinical internship with her. He said she’s been one of the best people to work with.
“I can say, as a professional, she is very good at her work,” King said. “She always shows a unique perspective and helps me in my work. She has a particular lens for multicultural and diversity issues, which, as a therapist, is extremely important.”
Nathani said her experience with multicultural and diversity issues is what sets her apart from other local psychologists. She said her cultural background and ability to speak Hindi stand out the most.
At her practice, Nathani offers eye movement desensitization reprocessing for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder; treatment for individuals struggling with ADHD; and psychological testing for adolescents and adults who want to get tested for ADHD and other psychological issues.
“What is surprising is, I’m the only licensed psychologist, and we have so many Indians here who are not seeking help,” Nathani said.
By owning her practice in Zionsville, Nathani has enjoyed spending more time with her husband and son.
“I want to prioritize being a mom first,” Nathani said. “I started this practice a little small, and then as my son grew, I expanded my practice to finding this space now for myself.”
Nathani said the winter months tend to be the most difficult for people dealing with mental health challenges.
“Wintertime is when it’s really cold outside, and people lean towards staying home and not going out in the sun much,” Nathani said. “So, I think now is the time for people to find a therapist or someone they trust to talk to.”
To learn more about the therapy options Nathani provides, visit psychologyandbeyond.org.
MORE ABOUT NATHANI
Name: Pia Nathani
Hometown: Bangalore, India
Children: One son
Languages: English and Hindi
Areas of expertise: Nathani’s expertise lies in working with adults presenting with depression, anxiety, grief, trauma and ADHD.
Hobbies: Painting, writing, gardening
Favorite part about Zionsville: “I love the parks. I love the community feel. I found a great set of friends. The schools and facilities are amazing.”