Meet Our Clinical Staff

Leyla El-Baba, MSW, LCSW

Primary Therapist for Luna Group (girl identifying students ages 14-17)

In Leyla’s own adolescence, she was struck by the realization that Western culture lacks rites of passage ceremonies for the transition from childhood to adulthood. In today’s world, most of us exist in a way that leaves us feeling separate from nature and the world around us. Always on the go, always plugged into technology, increasingly disconnected from the natural rhythm of life.

Leyla grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, heading south to the mountains of North Carolina in 2012 when she transferred to Warren Wilson College to complete her undergraduate degree. In 2014, Leyla took a year off from school to embark on a thru-hike of The Pacific Crest Trail, backpacking 2,667 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington. Leyla then returned to Warren Wilson College where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Outdoor Leadership in 2016. Leyla received her Master’s in Social Work with a specialization in Integrated Healthcare from Western Carolina University in 2020.

Leyla has worked in the mental health field since 2015, in settings that include residential treatment, wilderness therapy, outpatient therapy, substance use treatment, and crisis stabilization, serving adolescents, children, adults, and families. Most recently, Leyla served as a therapist at Cherokee Indian Hospital, providing mental health and substance abuse treatment services to children and families on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Integrated Child Welfare Team.

Leyla believes that it is within the context of relationships that healing can occur. Leyla’s approach to therapy is transpersonal, humanistic, and deep. Leyla’s work is grounded in psychodynamic theory, ecopsychological theory, systems theory, existential theory, and attachment theory. Leyla’s hope in serving adolescents at SUWS is to instill a sense of belonging and connection through understanding without judgment, modeling effective communication, and empowering individuals to discover and learn to use their voice, supporting them as they connect with their embodied wisdom and most authentic self.

Outside of work, you might find Leyla out for a day hike, cooking a soothing meal at home with her partner, tending to her many house plants, fermenting vegetables, or cuddling with her cat Aziki.

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