A Sneak Peek into Shirley Wantland’s Journey From an Immigrant Child to the Co-founder of Recovery Consultants


There is a persistent stigma around mental health, addiction and recovery in society. Even though we have made progress in this area, there is still a long way to go. All over the world, many mental health practitioners and counselors are working religiously to reduce prejudice against mental illness and substance abuse. One such person is Shirley Wantland, the co-founder and principal of Recovery Consultants, aiming  to provide empathetic and non-judgmental treatments to such individuals and creating  a safe healing space for them.

Belonging to a Vietnamese immigrant family in Oklahoma City, Shirley struggled to fit in during her childhood and adolescence. Her parents worked day and night to put food on the table for her and her brother. The Wantland’s financial burdens were to this  extent that they couldn’t afford to send the kids to school. However, Shirley’s father viewed hard work and education to thrive later in life.  So, he asked the Headmaster of the school where he worked as a janitor if his kids could attend his school; the Headmaster agreed and gave a massive discount on the tuition fee. “Although it was an extremely privileged academic experience, it was during that time that I felt so incredibly different,  and less than, all the other students, who came from affluent families,” shares Shirley.

There are always some superior experiences in life that shape our identities and personalities. For Shirley, this academic experience helped her embrace her differences and become the person she is today – a mental health counselor assisting individuals dealing with mental health issues and addiction. Rather than viewing her differences and impoverished opportunities as something to be ashamed of, Shirley decided to find strength in them, accepting herself. Now, she wants to help others in their journey of self-acceptance, making them see beyond the struggles, pains and labels. This is the approach that made her co-found Recovery Consultants.

Based in Sausalito, California, Recovery Consultants strive to redefine mental health and addiction recovery. Shirley and a team of professionals employ distinctive treatment  to help people with their addiction, mental health and  behavioral issues. Shirley believes that healing is a continuous process and there is no one-size-fits-all. “If something is not working, we figure out what could be put in place to make it workable – that way, there’s no judgement or shame,” adds Shirley. Hence, she wants to choose the best course for each treatment depending on their needs and requirements, empowering not only them but also their families.

Find out more about Shirley on Recovery Consultants.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.