“My aim is to create a space where you can just be, and where together we can work to understand what it is that is causing you distress. All of you, the difficult feelings as well as the joyful ones, your vulnerable experiences as well as those of which you’re proud, have an important place in our work.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
From a young age, I was interested in understanding what was behind our thoughts, feelings, and choices. I wondered why we feel and think what we do. When I realized I could pursue a career talking to people about these internal experiences, while also helping them, I was sold. The more I learned about the theory of psychology, the more excited I became about this framework for understanding ourselves; the more therapy I conducted, the more I loved it. I'm grateful that I can spend my days with others as they share, and trust me with, their thoughts and feelings.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
As a therapist, my focus is on really getting to know my clients. I offer suggestions and tools, but I'm always most focused on understanding who you are and how your experiences have impacted you. In our first few sessions, we will talk about what brought you to therapy, but there's so much more to you than this! We’ll also discuss your family, your relationships, the activities and thoughts that make up your day-to-day life. My aim is to create a space where you can just be, and where together we can work to understand what it is that is causing you distress. All of you, the difficult feelings as well as the joyful ones, your vulnerable experiences as well as those of which you’re proud, have an important place in our work.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Oftentimes we carry negative ideas about what it means to ask for help. They're usually ideas that we learned a long time ago from our families or others around us. Or we feel that we should tackle our struggles on our own, even though a part of us knows these messages need not be true. Everybody needs a little help sometimes. Beyond this, when people are thinking about making changes in their lives, they sometimes tell themselves, “not today,” or “after I just fix this one other thing,” or “after this stressful event passes." But you can start therapy exactly as you are, exactly as your life is now.
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 can be a potent force in helping you to understand yourself and make meaningful changes in your life. Even in the things we do that cause us the most confusion or frustration, there is meaning for us to decipher. And understanding that meaning in the safe space that therapy affords can be transformative. I view therapy as a process that helps people meaningfully shift the ways they’re relating, whether that is to themselves, to others, to their thoughts and feelings, or to their past experiences. It helps people reflect on how they’ve come to be, and thus embrace what is working in their lives and let go of what is not.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
Both mental health and therapy are becoming increasingly commonplace topics with a growing presence in the media, in institutions and universities, and even in daily conversations. The more up-for-discussion these topics are the better! It is encouraging that more and more people are taking advantage of therapy, and it is exciting that social and cultural forces seem to increasingly acknowledge and accept this. More utilization of therapy also means that we as a whole are more aware of the way mental health impacts other areas of our lives, as well as how it relates to other facets of well-being.
“Even with the things we do that cause us the most confusion or frustration, there is meaning for us to decipher. And understanding that meaning in the safe space that therapy affords can be transformative.”
Mary Beth practices at Alma