“I want people to know that it takes strength to seek out help, and that everyone can benefit from support.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have always been interested in deeply understanding my own psychology and what makes people tick, first through my own therapy and then through my training as a psychotherapist. I was drawn to psychotherapy because it is a collaborative process between the therapist and the patient, and you can continue to grow and learn throughout your career. Being a psychotherapist, I am able to utilize my strengths including creativity, empathy, compassion, and communication skills in order to help others. It is a challenging and satisfying career in which I am able to support my patients through their struggles, help them be curious about themselves, improve their self-esteem, and to support them in creating fulfilling relationships with others.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
The first few therapy sessions are for my patient and I to get to know each other, see if it is a good fit, and to begin to build a solid rapport. Initially I will ask questions about my patient’s childhood, family background, inquire about any significant events (losses, traumas), and what has brought them into therapy at this time. I think it is good to have a sense of what one is working on in therapy, although I believe that personal goals develop and shift over time. My belief is that one’s physical and mental health are intrinsically linked, and I often encourage my patients to meditate, exercise, eat well, and to practice good sleep hygiene. Medication can be very effective for people who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or mood instability that is hindering their everyday functioning (for example: negatively impacting their sleep, appetite, work, and relationships). I am always happy to make a referral to a psychiatrist, collaborate with the doctor, and to address any fears my patients have about taking medication.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
I often describe therapy as a collaborative process between myself and my patients and that they help me know how to best support them. I also believe that it is important to collaborate with other providers to best help a patient. I work with psychiatrists in order to find the best treatment for patients, and when I am working with children and adolescents I consult with parents and teachers so that we can all be on the same page. In addition, for my own growth I seek guidance from a supervisor and I am also part of a peer group where we support each other to be the best therapists we can be.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
I think one thing that gets in the way of people seeking out mental health services is that there continues to be a stigma connected to going to therapy. Although there has been a lot of progress in terms of normalizing psychotherapy, some people believe that you are weak or something is wrong with you if you go to a therapist. People often don’t prioritize their self-care, they can be isolated, and they believe that they can solve their own problems. When people are new to therapy, I often talk about the importance of taking care of one’s mental health as well as one’s physical health. For example, just as someone who has diabetes takes insulin, a person who suffers from depression needs to see a therapist and possibly take an antidepressant medication.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
Many people are hesitant to start therapy due to a variety of reasons. These may include negative experiences with mental health professionals, cultural taboos about psychotherapy being for “crazy people,” and fears about vulnerability and talking about their emotions. I want people to know that it takes strength to seek out help, and that everyone can benefit from support. Therapy is a safe space to process feelings and to strive for self-acceptance. Often patients are happily surprised that therapy is not as scary as they initially thought, and that the work progresses at their own pace.
“I often describe therapy as a collaborative process between myself and my patients, and that they help me know how to best support them.”