Aliona Manvae, NOC, LC

Aliona "I think of myself first and foremost as a community organizer - all the various pieces that that entails: visioner, facilitator, listener, outreach-er, coordinator, entertainer, co-creator, advisor, mediator, celebrator, reminder, voice of reason & voice of silliness, even bouncer at times! :D"

Aliona works with individuals and groups, facilitating healing, processing, discovery and growth, and is a founder of Smiling Spaces, an organization that fosters joyful, balanced well-being through mentoring in emotional awareness, self-love and practical connecting skills. Aliona is also an artist, a dancer, a writer, a creative problem-solver, an educator, an entrepreneur, an avid explorer, a global citizen, a community builder, an amateur volleyballer, a skeptical researcher, a reluctant programmer, a lifelong student and a silly goose.

Aliona's story

Hi :)
My name is Aliona.

My life and my work stem from my belief that each one of us has so much positive, so much light inside! If nourished and supported, it will blossom and lead us and those around us towards a joyful caring collaborative existence.

Yet many of us have been burnt, hurt, hardened - we hid away parts of our genuine selves because it was safe to do so at some point in our past - this mechanism served us well, it protected us at the time. Now, many of those parts are still there - lost, forgotten; we try to live our lives yet feel something is missing. What's missing are those parts of us that could make us feel whole again when rediscovered, and I believe, from this wholeness we can arrive at joyful, thriving, fulfilling, existence.

I have studied (and continue to expand my knowledge of) various techniques in psychology, philosophy, nutrition, alternative medicines, traditional ways - it's unlikely that I will ever become a psychologist - licensed by any Association of Psychologists in the world. One reason is, licensure like that restricts me from practicing methods that I perceive as most needed by many people I work with: as a licensed psychologist one is not allowed to give massage, or hug longer than 10 seconds, and giving a nutritional advice is basically illegal. Another reason is, to be a licensed therapist and charge your insurance, I would be required to label you with a disorder - I very strongly believe that to be detrimental to you and your progress. I also thus avoid student debt that an official degree would likely lead me to - and thus I am able to ask for lower payments from those I assist, while still taking the classes that I see as useful over a longer term. I also discovered that tools that I use many times fall into other fields outside psychology: philosophy, sociology/anthropology/indigenous studies, nutrition, biochemistry, alternative medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbalism, religion/spirituality - in addition to programming applications, websites and tools that we can use to facilitate our journey towards a wholesome way of being.

Does that make me incompetent, inreliable, a fake? Perhaps it may, in some circles - some of us need the reassurance of the letters after our name to feel content with the quality of service we get, and to those of us I wish to find what's needed. For the rest of us, who know better than to seek pure academic education - who seek nurturing support, practical guidance, novel effective approaches, for those of us who would like to be accepted for who we are and where we are, and to be encouraged to grow from there, for those of us who feel claustrophobic or depressed when labeled... I invite you to learn and practice together a way of living with joy. That is where I am headed, and I invite you to join me.

Where are you from? Your accent is ...

I have been born and raised in a country called Belarus in Eastern Europe. I have matured in America.

Is it true that you don't have a degree? How are you qualified to help others?

That is correct (well, not entirely - I do have a few certifications by now, but I got them for the sake of knowledge and experience rather than letters and diplomas). Rather than seeking specific certifications, at this time I rely on official and unofficial academic background, intuitive insights, advice from mentors, direct and indirect feedback and past experiences. Before going in-depth, I ensure the person has adequate support in their life. Those who I perceive may need extra emotional support, I refer to more experienced colleagues.