Ximena Zurita, PhD
A native Ecuadorian, Stanford University psychotherapist and “eternal student.”
Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in
1993. She herself had a happy marriage
with a Chilean man, who recently died.
Practical therapy: Zurita’s training
had a psychoanalytic bent, and she
underwent psychoanalysis and other
forms of therapy herself during graduate
school. Now she knows that even brief
therapy can be transformative for her
clients, especially for her newest patient
population — accident survivors with
chronic pain or loss of physical function.
A big believer in how the mind and
body can help each other heal, she has
patients get in touch with their bodies
through diaphragmatic breathing, yoga,
qigong or even dance. She learns from
her patients, too. A former marathoner,
she ruptured a disk in her spine and was
told her exercising days were over. Then
a patient told her about yoga and other
types of exercise that helped her recover
from back pain.
Member since: 1994
What she does: Since 1994, Zurita
has been a psychotherapist in Stanford
University’s Faculty and Staff Help
Center, which offers 10 sessions of
individual, couples or family therapy to
all faculty, staff and their families. “We
could see a professor one hour and a
person who takes care of the gardens
the next,” says Zurita, who also has a
private practice. She finds her work with
clients from diverse cultures particularly
A cross-cultural journey: Zurita
grew up in a tumultuous household
in Quito, Ecuador. When she was 11,
her parents divorced and sent her to
boarding school. Although she had once
thought of becoming a physician like her
father, the trauma of her family breaking
up helped steer her toward psychology.
At 18, she left her Catholic girls’ school
and landed in New York, speaking no
A Renaissance woman: Today,
Zurita bikes, hikes and travels the world
with her 19-year-old daughter. Her
latest trip was a first-time visit to Brazil
following a trip to Chile, where she held
a memorial for her husband. Zurita is
also a student of piano, which she started
later in life.
“I struggle, but I enjoy it,” she laughs.
She also takes continuing-education
classes at Stanford, dipping into classes on
drawing, anthropology, film and writing.
Says Zurita, “I am the eternal student!”
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