“My path to becoming a therapist paralleled my own personal journey toward knowing myself more.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
My path to becoming a therapist paralleled my own personal journey toward knowing myself more—especially through my own experiences in therapy and recognizing the impact that society and culture have on how we learn to live, think, and be. Nobody exists in isolation, and the therapy relationship allows us to experience and model the relationship dynamics that might be affecting the way we relate to ourselves, to others, and to those we care most about. As I began to realize how fundamental this work has been for my own evolution, I had the opportunity to continue learning and growing with my patients and my colleagues.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
During the first several sessions, it’s important for the two of us to decide how it feels to work together, and for you to determine your comfort level with me and my approach to therapy. After all, the therapeutic relationship is one of the most impactful factors in guiding the trajectory of therapy. As with any relationship, there may be moments of misunderstanding or confusion, but they can be opportunities to address the relationship directly and I may ask for your thoughts or feelings on what’s happening in those moments. Sometimes medication can be helpful or imperative to treatment, but it’s important that you’re seen as a whole person and not a checklist of symptoms.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
It’s helpful for me to be in touch with other providers who engage with you in other aspects of your life. This may include your OB-GYN, primary care physician, nutritionist, physical therapist, and anyone else who might be on your care team. Collaboration is particularly important if I am providing medication management services and you are in therapy with another provider. Before talking with any of your providers, I will, of course, discuss it with you first. Another kind of collaboration takes place among colleagues in supervisory or didactic settings and opens up the therapy work as an opportunity for learning and gaining new insights and perspectives. In all of this, your confidentiality is of the utmost importance, so identifiable information will never be disclosed.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
We don’t know what we don’t know—and that is a universal human experience. Therapy is the process of discovering how you experience yourself in the world and of nudging the unknown and automatic into your awareness. But because awareness without compassion can feel harsh, the therapy relationship serves as a space to practice curiosity rather than judgment. This is why the goodness of fit for the therapist and patient really matters.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
The practice of therapy and our understanding of the complexity of human beings have evolved to allow more space for humility and admitting what we don’t know for certain. While technology and science are moving us toward increased access to information—be it through advanced imaging or genetic testing—what makes mental health so challenging and beautiful is that it continues to be fundamentally about human relationships. That approach is what encourages openness and curiosity. The attitude toward mental health today is a departure from the paternalism and dogmatism that once prevailed in both medicine and psychotherapy—and, in my opinion, it’s a most welcome evolution.
“Therapy is the process of discovering how you experience yourself in the world and of nudging the unknown and automatic into your awareness.”
Interested in speaking with Lisa?