"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer."
                  – Albert Camus

"...and the time came
when the risk 
to remain in a tight bud
was more painful
than the risk it took to bloom."
                 – Anaïs Nin

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."     
                 – Miles Davis

Trained and licensed in the US (California), Leslie is a psychotherapist who has opened and run private practice offices in California and France.  During her 12 years in Aix en Provence, she offered counseling and community services to Anglophone clients in Aix and the PACA region. She has worked with individuals, families and groups to cope with and overcome a variety of challenges including:

• Culture shock/cultural adjustment
• Study abroad adjustment
• Anxiety and depression
• Eating disorders
• Stress management
• Relationship problems
• Communication
• Anger management
• Grief and loss
• Parenting support
• Giving full expression to Creativity

It is her mission as a psychotherapist to create a safe and confidential environment and to facilitate all individuals to develop greater trust, compassion, clarity and choice so that they may live with greater meaning, awareness and peace of mind.

Her primary therapeutic focus is on transition as she has found, in her 25+ years of working with people, that change is often the basis of many personal and interpersonal challenges and crises. What may seem like obstacles that arise from transition are valuable opportunities for personal exploration and growth.

She currently provides consulting services to universities and organizations receiving international students and scholars for employment or study abroad experiences with a specialty in Wellness Abroad.

Leslie has served as an innovative educator and consultant and has been active in the counseling and prevention of child and spousal physical and sexual abuse. She has led groups on parenting, mothers and daughters in healing dialogues, meditation and creativity. She has also developed stress management, wellness and yoga programs in corporate settings, including Merrill Lynch in San Francisco and the Department of Defense in Southern California. She has served as a co-director of a scientific study funded by NIH (National Institute of Health) and conducted through UCSD (University of California at San Diego) exploring the effectiveness of two meditation protocols in the treatment of OCD.  She has developed and served as the first director of the wellness program at IAU College in Aix en Provence (Institute for American Universities).

In 2004, after 15 years of private practice in California, Leslie made the leap to Aix en Provence. As a result, she understands the phenomenon and complications of “culture shock”, a transition that was a rich opportunity for her own personal growth.  She returned to California in 2015 after many years in France and currently call both places 'home'.

For more information contact:


Living and Learning Wellness Abroad

Build a bridge
to your best self
and navigate 
a successful cultural adjustment!

Be Ready,
Get Set,

Tips for your adventure abroad:

•  You will adjust to your new cultural situation.
(Be patient with yourself and others.)

•  Stay curious - about your own responses and the situations you experience.
•  Avoid negative thought patterns - but pay attention to them!
(They are giving you a signal that you are trying to manage difficult feelings that are arising.)

•  Maintain an attitude of contribution - to your study abroad community, your home-stay family and your host community.

•  Remember:  reach out for support to get things sorted ASAP!

Cultural Transitions

Highs & Lows

Making a cultural transition is a process.  In fact, that process started when you made the decision to study abroad - you began with a curiosity and a leap into the unknown.

Successful adjustment involves embracing the entire journey - from the first leap to the return home:
•  pre-departure preparation
•  in-country experience
•  and finally, re-entry and beyond

Navigating that journey requires that you maintain a sense of curiosity - about yourself as you grow and change and learn about others you meet and with whom you will find interesting similarities and differences.  Take that curiosity into your return as well:  how will you integrate your rich experience abroad into your friend and family relationships back in your home culture?

Embrace it all - and enjoy every step along the way - even the dips!

Are You in a Cultural Transition?

Transitions tend to create stress in human beings.  Our natural fight or flight response to stress triggers a series of physiological responses to prepare the body to run for the hills or start swinging.

The transition of adjusting to a new culture can evoke a similar stress-response.  Some common signs that you are in a cultural transition are:
  • Feeling homesick
  • Isolating/cutting yourself off from others
  • Depression or sadness
  • Irritability/short temper
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Feeling angry toward host culture
  • Loss of concentration/drop in grades
  • Missed classes
  • Physical symptoms of illness
  • Eating disordered behavior
  • Binge drinking

Wellness is a connection 
of paths:
knowledge and action.
            –  Joshua Welch

Navigating Your Cultural Transition
That tension and stress you may experience during your cultural transition and adjustment is absolutely normal.  How you respond to this very predictable stress depends on your experience and the personal tools you possess that can help you make a healthy shift to your host culture during your study abroad experience.
  • Start right where you are:  Pay attention to your own feelings and behavioral responses as you step into this experience.
  • Stay curious about what is happening to you that creates stress or tension.  What triggered a feeling of anger or worry or sadness?
  • Keep a journal of your experience to chart your cultural growth.
  • Learn to manage the stress that arises through healthy choices:
Diet and exercise
Remember to breathe!
Create quiet 'down time' in your day
Pay attention to your thought patterns
Be mindful of health and safety issues
Ask for help if difficulty persists!

Wellness Resources
•  A Few Breaths Here
MP3 Meditation/Relaxation
•  Life & Times Update
Informative newsletters
•  150 Secrets to a Stress-Free Life
Contact Leslie for more information or to schedule a rdv:
Leslie Ray, MS, LMFT
Leslie Ray, MS, LMFT
Wellness Abroad Consultant