“Establishing a rapport that helps my clients feel heard, safe, and accepted without judgments is one of the most important things for me as a therapist.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
During the second year of university, when I was studying foreign languages to become a professional interpreter, I realized my passion was to help people who have great potential to be successful in life but struggle to achieve their goals due to past emotional trauma and other mental health, substance abuse, or interpersonal issues. After graduating and obtaining an MA in psychology, my career as a therapist started by joining a substance abuse school in New York as an intern. I then worked as a substance abuse counselor for many years. Treating people with addiction taught me that there are deeper underlying issues to their disease and mental health, family, marriage, relationships, and work problems are core factors. My passion for becoming a therapist who has expertise in all these areas grew. I also had the privilege of being the clinical director of residential and outpatient programs, helping women with children and adolescents.
What should someone know about working with you?
Establishing a rapport that helps my clients feel heard, safe, and accepted without judgments is one of the most important things for me as a therapist. I primarily use person-centered modalities along with cognitive behavioral therapies, but I nonetheless strongly believe in a holistic approach. I believe that every person is unique and what works for one might not work for another. I often use genograms in order to get a bigger picture about who my client is and what their background is. Psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, treatment planning, and frequent assessment tools are also unitized when required.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I am very interested in broadening my skills and knowledge of providing couples and family therapy. I recently signed up for a course called, "Talking about Sex with Couples.” I am also planning on completing a program at Rutgers University and getting a certificate in Bowen family systems theory. I believe being a therapist is like always being a student; there is always something new to learn, read, and discover.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I came to the USA 20 years ago. I left my family and friends in search of new opportunities and growth and I chose to do it independently. My English was very good, but I often struggled to express my feelings and thoughts in the way I could in my native language. I experienced a lot of anxiety in social situations or when being interviewed and I even experienced depression when I was homesick. Building my own life far from home and across the ocean was not easy but today, I am proud of my achievements and of the person and the professional I've become. This inner-strength and the confidence that, with willingness, commitment, and perseverance, anyone can find their equilibrium and optimal happiness in life help me tremendously in my work. I don't use self-disclosure often but sometimes it is therapeutically necessary.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
All I can say is that working from home is my dream come true. It allows the client and me to meet at a time that works for both of us. Missed a session? Not a problem. I like to be flexible (if therapeutically appropriate) and understanding of my clients’ needs and life situations. For me, working from home allows me to accomplish many things, including meditating outdoors and doing yoga if I have a window, which is so important for mental health professionals. My stress level decreased significantly once I stopped worrying about being stuck in traffic or being late for work.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I have read a lot of material on how trauma affects the brain and its impact on a person's feelings, perception, judgment, memory, and impulse control. This definitely shapes the way I treat my clients. I always ask my clients during our initial interview about past trauma. I’ve found that a client might understand that some of their past experiences were traumatic only after a few therapy sessions. This is an eye-opener and allows them to finally heal to the best of their ability.
“I primarily use person-centered modalities along with cognitive behavioral therapies, but I nonetheless strongly believe in a holistic approach.”