Matleena Vanhanen

Counseling Psychologist

About Me/Bio
I am a Finnish psychologist and therapist, but not your typical Finn. I have been an expat most of my life. I grew up in East Africa, finished school in Finland, and trained as a Clinical Psychologist in Finland and in Norway. I then moved to the UK and qualified as a Counselling Psychologist. I worked in the UK before life took me to Southern Europe and the Middle East. Dubai has been my home for the past decade.

I am passionate about emotional health, meaningful life, and strengthening relationships. I offer individual and couples therapy. I also offer Discernment Counselling for couples in crisis and can provide mediation to couples who are separating to discuss child arrangements.

My academic or therapeutic training only says a little about what it is like to work with me, and rightly so. The older I get and the more experienced I get, the more I focus on creating a safe space for you, as my client, to learn about your past experiences, different parts of you, and your emotional world. We will find ways for you to heal from hurts, accept what has happened to you, and live a meaningful life connected to the people you love.

My academic qualifications include an MA in Psychology from Jyväskylä University, Finland, and an MA in Counselling Psychology and a post-MA in Existential Counselling Psychology from City University, UK. I am also a Certified Gottman Therapist and a Certified Discernment Counselor. I have been trained in cognitive therapy, existential-phenomenological therapy, EMDR and EFT. I am a member of the Finnish Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society. I am licensed with the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health in Finland. I hold a CDA license in Dubai.


Clinic Name
MapleTree Psychotherapy Center
Clinic Address
Office 401, Tameem House, Barsha Heights
United Arab Emirates
Pay-and-claim basis
Both In-Person & Online

ABOUT Matleena Vanhanen

Counseling Psychologist
Licensing Authority
Types of Services
Additional Services
Years of Experience
AgingAngerAnxietyBody ImageChronic IllnessChronic PainCodependencyDepressionDivorceDomestic ViolenceEmotion RegulationFamily ConflictGriefInfidelityLife crisisMood SwingsNarcissistic traitsPanicParentingPregnancy, Prenatal, PostpartumRelationship IssuesSelf EsteemSleep or InsomniaSpiritualityStressTrauma and PTSDWomen's Issues
EMDREmotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)ExistentialGottman MethodPhenomenological
Age Group
19 to 2122 to 6465+
Work Hours
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9 am - 5 pm, Wednesdays 9 am - 1 pm
Appointment Wait Time
More than 4 weeks/Waiting list only
Preferred Contact Method
Preferred Booking Method

How I can help you
Individual therapy: I can help you find healthy and sustainable ways to cope with difficult life experiences as well as increase self–awareness and personal well-being. My work is predominantly based on the existential-phenomenological approach. I also use EMDR, and my work has a strong attachment and relational emphasis.

Services for couples
Couples Therapy: When your relationship has hit a tough spot, I can help you understand the relational dynamic between you, heal from past hurts, and strengthen the relationship.

Discernment counselling: In a relationship crisis, I can help you understand what has happened to your relationship and decide on the best course of action.

Family mediation: When you separate or divorce, I help you agree on child arrangements and, in some cases, financial arrangements.
What I say to people who feel nervous or have concerns about therapy/assessment
The first appointment with a new therapist is often anxiety-provoking. You may be seeing a mental health professional for the first time, or you may have seen many therapists in the past. Your past experiences may influence your expectations. You may look forward to working on your emotional difficulties or have justified reservations.

Remember, the first appointment with a new therapist is also the first time they meet you. It is an opportunity for you to get a sense of your therapist and for them to get a sense of who you are and what brings you to therapy. During the session and afterwards, check with yourself. Did you feel heard and understood? Did you feel safe and supported? Your therapist should be able to put you at ease and give you a sense that they can guide you towards your goals. You don’t have to tell them everything during the first session! You can take your time; as trust builds, you can share more and bring more of you to therapy.
What measures I use in assessments
Individual clients: The assessment is the formulation we create together. We spend some time at the beginning of therapy summarising your difficulties, finding ways to explain why they may be happening and making sense of them. We may create a formulation from an existential-phenomenological perspective and explore your relationship with various existential givens, such as your relationship with others, time, mortality, mood, and body. Sometimes, we may use the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) to create a formulation. In this process, we explore the stories you tell about your experiences and difficulties. Often, I will also be interested in your attachment experiences in childhood and romantic relationships. The formulation we create together gives us an understanding of how you see yourself, others and the world. It will also help us clarify your therapeutic goals.

Couples: When assessing couples, I use a variety of ways to get an idea of your relationship dynamic and the challenges you are facing. I will speak to you both and ask about how you interact with each other. I will also talk to you individually about your attachment experiences in childhood and adulthood. I may also ask you to complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup questionnaire, which is an online assessment. It gives me information about the relationship’s strengths and challenges.

Whether I see you for individual therapy or as a couple, the assessment is a joint endeavour to clarify your goals and understand what has happened to you. It is an ongoing process, as the goals may need to be updated as therapy progresses and you get a deeper understanding of who you are and how you interact with others.

I would love to connect with you!


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