“For me the most important part of the therapeutic relationship is creating a space where the client is able to process difficult emotions, and to begin healing.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I was drawn to therapy due to my curiosity about people and my love of storytelling. I became aware of therapy as a profession while studying Carl Jung in undergrad. I took an interest in unconscious processes. I specifically was interested in the theory that individualization and self-actualization is born out of destruction and chaos. That theoretical perspective has informed my work and my interests in working with people who are going through major life changes and trying to help them build something beautiful and fulfilling out of something painful. It informs my practice working with those in recovery for substance use, in allowing them to honor where they are coming from and the way their tools were once helpful to them, while being able to shed those old beliefs and coping mechanisms that no longer serve them.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
When beginning to work with a new client I like to find out what they are looking for from therapy and what, if any, experience they have had with it in the past. During the first few weeks I typically like to work with my clients on setting specific goals together. I think there is a strong connection between physical and mental wellbeing so I do like to get an idea of all of the ways clients are taking care of themselves. One of my favorite interventions to use is mindfulness; I incorporate mindfulness tools into the sessions. For me, the most important part of the therapeutic relationship is creating a space where the client is able to process difficult emotions, and to begin healing.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
In most cases I think it is very important to work with a collaborative team in order to best approach a client’s care. I also think medication-assisted care is highly effective when used thoughtfully. I will often refer out to psychiatrists when necessary. I will also refer out to eastern practitioners in order to minimize the need for medical intervention when possible. I firmly believe it is important to treat the whole person and not just the mind.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
I think one of the biggest barriers to seeking care can be not knowing where to start and not willing to try out different providers or ask for what you want. I think feedback from clients is really important in informing my work with them, so creating a space where they feel safe to share what is working for them or not working for them within the therapeutic relationship is vital to the relationship. I think that – especially within substance dependence issues – there continues to be a lot of unnecessary shame around asking for help. A group that I love working with but I know finds it very difficult to reach out for help is new fathers. I think it can be difficult to take time out for yourself or feel like you deserve it, but once you take that step and ask for help it becomes a lot easier.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant try it, what would that be?
I wish people knew how client-driven the experience can be. There is no one right way to engage in treatment or go about processing your experiences. I wish people knew that they could ask for what they want within the relationship, and feel empowered to use that time as their own.
“I firmly believe it is important to treat the whole person and not just the mind.”
Interested in speaking with Olivia?