“Mental health is an essential aspect of our overall health and seeking care is a sign of strength.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
From a young age, I enjoyed taking a more observational stance in group settings. As I grew and developed, I became increasingly curious about human nature, the complexity of individuals, and our interactions with one another. I also found comfort in my ability to listen and provide compassion and warmth to others, ultimately learning that these abilities were skills and strengths that I could apply to my future career path. I feel incredibly fortunate that I can spend my day listening and simply being curious about and empathic toward those who sit in front of me, guiding them on their own path of being curious about and kind to themselves.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
Clients should think of the first few sessions as consultations, where we get to know one another and begin to develop a safe environment that can foster trust. I will do my best to get to know you and what brought you into therapy, but ultimately you lead the way in how we focus our sessions. One way I work toward trust is by meeting each person where they are, setting goals that are rooted in values, and recognizing that these goals might evolve and change. I tailor treatment to each client’s unique needs and encourage feedback in order to check in on progress and to process our relationship. I also recognize our complexity as individuals and hope to learn about each client’s various identities with the understanding that aspects of our identities and their intersectionality make up who are and impact what we bring to therapy.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Stigma is one of the most significant barriers; both in the way we view mental health and in the way we view psychotherapy. Mental health is often viewed as different or separate from physical health and, as such, we tend to treat it differently and may not prioritize it as we do our physical health. Various cultural factors result in the belief that seeking care is a sign of weakness. Furthermore, information around different types of psychotherapy and ways to access care remains limited and confusing. In reality, mental health is an essential aspect of our overall health and seeking care is a sign of strength. Psychotherapy can be both self-care and preventative care. Though there continue to be barriers for people seeking treatment, I am comforted to see the changes and strides the field has already made, and Alma is one example of an improvement to access to care.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
Therapy or the thought of starting therapy can be scary. In particular, opening up and speaking about your most vulnerable feelings, thoughts, and experiences to a complete stranger can be among the scarier things that you do. It can also be considered among the bravest things that you do, and I want potential clients to know that I appreciate both the fear and the strength that brings people to their first session of therapy. With that vulnerability and leap of faith comes room for incredible growth and understanding. You can think of therapy as a sacred time each week that is solely about you and taking care of yourself. It’s not always easy and you won’t always leave sessions feeling “better,” but when growth and movement happen, it can be life-changing and among the most meaningful experiences you can give to yourself.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I think there are many exciting new avenues for the use of technology, and the field of mental health is no exception. I am a strong supporter of incorporating various forms of technology to supplement and reinforce what is gained and learned in therapy. I will often encourage the use of apps to aid in the therapeutic process. For example, if we are working on improving your sleep, I would recommend the use of an app that allows for seamless sleep tracking as well as guided meditations to facilitate relaxation before bedtime. Or if we review a mindfulness exercise that you find helpful, we may record the in-session exercise on your phone so that you can refer back to it on your own. This allows you to add new tools to your kit that can be used as you face new challenges.
“You can think of therapy as a sacred time each week that is solely about you and taking care of yourself.”
Interested in speaking with Elana?