“I believe that a good therapist combines validation, warmth, and acceptance, while simultaneously providing feedback and new perspectives to challenge counterproductive beliefs.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My mother worked in human services and one of my first jobs was working with her in a domestic violence program when I was 18. Through assisting people in identifying their own resilience and what creates fulfillment in their lives, I developed a natural empathy and curiosity for the stories of others. I became a creative arts therapist because it blended the two areas that I am most passionate about—the arts and psychology. I completed my undergraduate degree at Lesley University with a minor in holistic psychology and went on to NYU for my master’s. Since then, I have worked in outpatient mental health and have particularly enjoyed working with adolescents or women who feel anxious in relationships.
What should someone know about working with you?
During our first few sessions, we’ll discuss what’s bringing you to therapy and how I can support you in the process. I balance flexibility and structure, depending on the needs of the client at the time. I believe that a good therapist combines validation, warmth, and acceptance, while simultaneously providing feedback and new perspectives to challenge counterproductive beliefs. In my work, I help clients develop skills for emotion regulation and effective communication. I’ve found that using the arts in therapy cuts through our filters and helps us find new ways of understanding ourselves. If my clients are dealing with trauma or PTSD, I also use cognitive processing therapy. Ultimately, I think that mental health is about finding ways to connect with ourselves and others.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Reaching out for support can be challenging for all of us, and misconceptions about what therapy looks like can create additional barriers. There can also be an element of stigma, but this is thankfully changing with more mental health awareness. Therapy can look different ways for different people—and it’s important to find a therapist who’s a good fit. I encourage clients to be open with me about their needs. You deserve a space to feel heard by someone who understands you in a nonjudgmental environment, where you can fully express yourself throughout any challenges or successes. Sessions are also a space to get to know yourself better, examine patterns you’ve developed, and understand if these patterns are beneficial or if they can evolve over time.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am most excited about increased representation in the field, so that queer and POC clients can work with therapists who understand the challenges they face from systems of power and oppression. As a Latina, I often work with hispanic clients—and I believe that it’s important to understand the cultural context around mental health. I also have experience supporting clients in the LGBTQ community and have worked with nontraditional relationship styles. I am interested in the in-between spaces of how people view identity. Often, society or family norms impact our views around belonging, vulnerability, and taking up space. Another exciting development is new awareness of how trauma affects the body, and more focus on how the mind-body connection regulates the nervous system during stress.
What are two books that inform your work as a therapist?
I am inspired by Buddhist psychotherapy and highly recommend the writing of Pema Chodron—particularly “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.” Chodron became a Buddhist nun after her husband had an affair and left her. Her writing examines the ability to tolerate discomfort and increase acceptance while experiencing impermanence and transition. I’m also inspired by the work of Esther Perel (“Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” and “The State of Affairs”), a leader in the study of intimacy and sexuality. Perel addresses how relationship structures have shifted over time and how to connect with vitality and aliveness, stating that “the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”
“You deserve a space to feel heard by someone who understands you in a nonjudgmental environment, where you can fully express yourself throughout any challenges or successes.”
Interested in speaking with Anna?