Elnur “El” Gajiev, PsyD
Dr. Elnur “El” Gajiev has a passion for integrating multiple modalities of creative therapy in his work with teens and adolescents. He has found fertile soil at Pacific Quest to expand the impact of his work with students and families. Dr. El received his B.S. in Psychology from Fordham University in New York, and earned his M.A. and PsyD. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver in Colorado.
Dr. El completed his Predoctoral Internship with the Department of Education on the Big Island of Hawai’i providing assessment, counseling, behavioral planning and psychological consultation for teens struggling with emotional, behavioral and learning challenges. Through this work Dr. El also became familiar with the therapeutic elements inherent to the island that help to bring forth meaningful and sustainable change for young people. A key factor that drew Dr. El to Pacific Quest was the Sustainable Growth Model it espouses, and how it fluidly aligns with the model of care that he has developed in his own practice over the years.
Dr. El’s experience within the field of behavioral health has ranged to include individual and group therapy within community mental health centers, public and private hospitals, trauma-specific clinics, substance abuse counseling, integrative health settings, public school systems, medical student training, mindfulness workshops, and neuropsychological assessments.
Dr. El notes that some of his most meaningful work occurred in co-facilitating a therapeutic group for children and adolescents in an oncology setting. Through the guided use of the stages of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, these children and adolescents were provided with a Rites of Passage experience of their own, which in turn engendered post-traumatic growth and resilience, as was demonstrated in a research study that Dr. El and his colleagues conducted.
With regards to his therapeutic approach, Dr. El incorporates a number of evidence-based practices, including Functional Analytic Psychotherapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Skillstreaming, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – the latter of which he presents on at professional conferences domestically and internationally.
Dr. El views students and families from a humanistic and integrative lens, and aims to engage adolescents through creative practices – art, music, poetry, horticulture, sandplay therapy, and movement. It is through this creative engagement that students begin to see previously unarticulated aspects of themselves, and also view themselves as active agents in creating their own worlds and their own lives. In fact, Dr. El’s dissertation focused on the Psychological Factors Involved in Writing and Performing Spoken Word Poetry, a field of expertise he is excited to bring into his work here at Pacific Quest.
In his free time, Dr. El loves to cook, practice yoga, martial arts, listen to and play music, write poetry, and dabble in art. He also enjoys exploring the islands, and does whatever he can to get into the water.