“We’ve really started to collectively shift from this “toxic positivity” mindset to a more real, vulnerable place of showing up and saying “actually, I’m not okay right now. I’m really struggling.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I’ve always been inquisitive by nature, and in particular, fascinated by the study of human behavior. Why do we do the things we do? What influences our thoughts and behaviors on both individualistic and collective levels? For me, being a therapist is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, understanding how the pieces fit together and why. Through a strong therapeutic alliance and rapport, it is my belief that the process of therapy will lend itself to answering the aforementioned questions for each respective client. I strongly believe that we are each shaped by sociocultural norms and beliefs, and have integrated those beliefs into our thoughts and perceptions about both ourselves, and the world around us. Through our work together we can parse out maladaptive thought patterns and beliefs, and work on making meaning in order to lead more fulfilling, adaptive lives.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
As a clinician, I am of the belief that a strong therapeutic alliance, the human connection between therapist and client and the sanctity of the space it creates, is integral in facilitating healing and growth throughout the therapeutic process. As such, it is very important to me to cultivate a safe, supportive, and judgement free therapeutic environment. I also understand that for many people, especially those from marginalized populations, “safety” (whether it be physical, emotional, or financial) is often fleeting. I strongly believe therapy needs to be a space where it is acknowledged and validated that “safety” is not one size fits all and can look very different for different people. In-line with this, I would like prospective clients to know that in working with me, you will be seen as a “whole person” and that your experiences as such will be heard and validated. On a more logistical level, our first few sessions will consist of us getting to know each other; me learning more about you, and both of us seeing if the relationship is a good fit. During our early work together, I will ask you to consider your goals for therapy, and what bench markers for change might look like; that way we can make sure to revisit your initial intentions later during the process. While I don’t give “structured homework”, depending on the nature of the session, I will sometimes ask clients to thoughtfully consider how our work during session can be implemented in various ways into their everyday lives.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
The lack of adequate medical coverage for mental health care is unfortunately the biggest barrier for most of those who are seeking care today. This is a larger systematic issue that covertly perpetuates both the stigma surrounding mental health, and moreover, the damaging (and false) belief that mental health is “not as important” as physical health. While we work towards systemic change, I can appreciate the work companies like Alma have been doing to not only help make therapy more accessible for clients, but also to make navigating the world of insurance much more manageable for clinicians. This really does help to bridge access to care on a ground level, and I am hopeful to see more of the same work being done.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
It is completely normal to be hesitant about starting therapy; the initial process of opening yourself up to a complete stranger is not always comfortable or easy! I would also really like clients to know that therapy is not a place where therapists necessarily give you “advice”. Therapy can and absolutely should be a space validating that you are the expert on your own life. As such, it’s important to me as a clinician to create a safe, collaborative space where we can both work together to “unpack” and make meaning of your story. Working together in therapy from a collaborative place allows room for you to be the expert on your life and to have a say in the goals and direction of your treatment. Personally, I like to think of therapy as standing in a dark room holding a flashlight, and as therapist, I am simply there to help you determine which areas you would like to shine the light on.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I’m excited to see the cultural shift of normalizing mental health struggles. It’s been a very long pandemic for many people, and I think the more open we are about our own struggles, the more others can relate and engage in mutual validation of the experience. We’ve really started to collectively shift from this “toxic positivity” mindset to a more real, vulnerable place of showing up and saying “actually, I’m not okay right now. I’m really struggling”. This is especially poignant after Simone Biles and other public figures have courageously spoken out about their own struggle with mental health. This narrative of normalizing mental health struggles and the trending “mental health matters” has been so important in the de-stigmatization of therapy and mental health. Even more so, I am excited for what this means on a larger collective level in terms of advocating for access to care. While an increased number of everyday Americans are starting to recognize the importance of mental health treatment, the laws and policies we currently have in place often serve as barriers to accessing the very treatment we are now recognizing that we need. Collectively, we are in a unique position right now to take the trending “mental health matters” from more than a hashtag to one step further, asking our representatives the important questions-- “How can you ensure our access to mental health care?” I’m excited and hopeful to see where this cultural shift takes us. My hope is that it will land us in a place in which we feel very empowered in our needs and in ourselves.
“I strongly believe that we are each shaped by sociocultural norms and beliefs, and have integrated those beliefs into our thoughts and perceptions about both ourselves, and the world around us. Through our work together we can parse out maladaptive thought patterns and beliefs, and work on making meaning in order to lead more fulfilling, adaptive lives.”