“First and foremost, I aim to create a non-judgmental environment where clients can feel comfortable to tackle sensitive issues.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
You could say therapy is the family business. I come from a long line of psych nurses and my mom went back to school to become a therapist when I was in high school. Watching her passion grow, inspired me to explore the field myself.
One of my first jobs in college was working as a mental health counselor on an inpatient psych unit. I quickly noticed that this was a job like no other. Working with people when they are at their most vulnerable point was a deep and meaningful experience that I didn't take lightly. I felt honored that these patients shared their stories with me.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
First and foremost, I aim to create a non-judgmental environment where clients can feel comfortable to tackle sensitive issues. Therapy is one of the few places where you can express yourself freely and know that it will remain confidential. My role is to address YOUR goals in the context of your values and beliefs.
Therapy is one hour set aside to focus on YOU. It’s a chance to pause and reflect on everything that’s happened during the week and work through issues that otherwise get swept under the rug in the chaos of NYC living. Having a sounding board is so much more effective than just thinking things through by yourself. Just saying things out loud to another person gives you a different perspective than working through things alone. Clients tell me that they look forward to getting feedback from a trusted source aside from family or friends because their therapist doesn’t have the same bias. When you tell your therapist something they don't have a competing agenda. Your goals are their goals. Your therapist wants to help you achieve your highest potential on your terms. It’s helpful to have an external barometer that is completely on your team.
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 clients feel relieved just by scheduling their first appointment. Knowing that help is on the way’ is a comforting feeling. Over the years, some clients have been hesitant to try therapy and tell me “I can handle it on my own”. While that may be true, I ask them “why handle it alone when you can have support?”.
When people are nervous about starting therapy they tell me “talking about my problems will just make me upset. I don’t want to stir things up”. My response is- you are the client, this is your time, your session. You will be in the driver’s seat but I will be with you along the way. We can go at your pace and address the issues that you are comfortable addressing.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I’m so pleased that therapy is becoming more mainstream. Someone once told me that everyone is given a standard issue therapist when they become a New Yorker. It made me happy to hear that therapy has become a more normalized part of our culture and more importantly that people are reaping the benefits. I’m glad that mental health treatment is becoming more accessible and integrated into healthcare.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your work as a therapist?
Therapists are lucky to have a peek behind the curtain of the human condition and the biggest secret is - we all struggle. No one has it all together, no one. While most people show a brave face to the world or social media, behind closed doors people often struggle with the same issues around shame, acceptance, self-doubt, etc. If I could share a glimpse with my clients it would be to show you that you are not alone in your feelings, experiences, etc.
“Over the years, some clients have been hesitant to try therapy and tell me “I can handle it on my own”. While that may be true, I ask them “why handle it alone when you can have support?”.”
Kristen practices at Alma