“My role as a therapist is to establish a secure, nurturing environment — one that allows for vulnerability, risk-taking, ambiguity, and discomfort.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I’ve always been drawn to the complexity of the human condition: considering body and mind in relation to others and to oneself in the present moment and in the greater scheme of life. From a young age, I loved studying the body, but it was human behavior and emotions that intrigued me more than anything. With time, I realized how intertwined they are. Through my work as a personal trainer and wellness coach, I developed a growing respect for the body, as well as increased insight into the human tendency to become shut off from one’s body in this modern world. This recognition drove me to apply a mind-body framework to therapy, as somatic sensations and body perception play a critical role in emotional awareness and psychological health.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
My role as a therapist is to establish a secure, nurturing environment — one that allows for vulnerability, risk-taking, ambiguity, and discomfort, one that fuels self-exploration and promotes healing. A critical element in this is the therapeutic alliance, which I view as mutual and collaborative. I approach therapy as an empowering, dynamic process driven by the client’s therapeutic goals. The greater the collaboration between therapist and client, the more effective the process will be. I encourage clients to speak openly, even if it’s about things that feel off within a session, like if we're moving too fast, or if they need more or less structure, or if they feel their motivation to engage begin to wane. Client feedback is welcomed, valuable, and essential to the work.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
It is valuable and often essential to take a multi-faceted and holistic approach to mental health care. When dealing with eating disorders, in particular, access to and collaboration with other providers is key to effective treatment. Whether it’s dietitians, psychiatrists, doctors, acupuncturists, or other body workers, I'll help you to create and coordinate a team of providers to ensure quality care.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
It’s okay to be unsure about what you are seeking from therapy. If you have an urge to try it, just reach out. Inquire. Gather information. Consult and attend a session. If it doesn’t end up being right for you, that’s okay, but honor the urge because it’s likely a sign that there’s a need that’s not being met, or clarity that needs to be gained, or a change that’s needed in your life. Even if you decide to pursue a different path, at least you’ve discovered options and have taken a step toward understanding your needs.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky is a book that beautifully summarizes the complexity, responsiveness, and resilience of the human body. Sapolsky, a brilliant and comical neuroscientist, sheds light on the role of stress in our lives and how psychological stress, in particular, impacts our health. Pema Chodron has also been an inspiration to me, especially in her book The Wisdom of No Escape. Much of the therapeutic work I do involves embracing the present moment rather than escaping from it. Chodron discusses how pain, chaos, and even hopelessness are an inevitable part of life, and how our tendency to judge it and avoid it leads to suffering and hardening. By practicing mindfulness and by leaning in as opposed to leaning away, we come to know ourselves better and live more fully.
“By practicing mindfulness and by leaning in as opposed to leaning away, we come to know ourselves better and live more fully.”
Interested in speaking with Mary?