How and/or why did you become a therapist?
Always being psychologically-minded from a young age, I tended to gravitate towards studies in psychology to better understand human thinking and behavior. Years later in my career I realized that I’d been inadvertently counselling my friends in high school hallways all along! So a great deal of my ability to connect with others on a deeper level came naturally. I was also drawn to the idea of dedicating my life to a meaningful cause that benefits the world in some small way.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
Seeing lives transformed for the better! Giving clients new insights that help them make sense of their experiences. Saving people’s lives; giving them hope. Witnessing clients picking up new skills, making them their own, and living more empowered and fulfilled lives. The work is always very meaningful. I feel humbled and honoured to be able to build intimate working relationships with clients, sometimes during their darkest moments, and help them maximize their personal potentials.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
Having a background in cognitive sciences and neurophysiology, I tend to incorporate a lot of teaching into my therapy to help clients understand the origins of their thinking patterns, behaviours, attachment styles in relationships, and responses to stress and trauma. I think if we understand the underlying nature of the concerns, then we have a roadmap for creating change, and understanding the logic behind human tendencies helps clients overcome shame. Clients seem to find this information empowering and normalizing.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
Knowing your attachment style and your partner’s attachment style makes all the difference. Similarly, considering your respective “love languages” can be helpful. And Esther Perel’s teachings that extramarital affairs don’t necessarily have to signal the end of a marriage, but rather, can inspire a fresh start can leave room for growth as a couple.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
Therapy doesn’t have to be scary. Some clients have the misconception that they are expected to share all of their traumatic experiences the first time(s) we meet, which can sometimes actually do more harm than good. It’s possible to do good therapy at a slow, steady pace, without overwhelming clients’ nervous systems. The idea is to maintain safety in the session and give clients a sense of choice and empowerment about what and when they’re ready to share.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
Being judgmental rather than curious. All human thinking and behavior makes sense within the right context. Being judgmental causes others to become defensive, which is counterproductive to the therapeutic process.
Anna Marson, MA, RP, CCC, is the Chief Psychotherapist at Heartfulness Psychotherapy, a private practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Heartfulness Psychotherapy specializes in mental health, addictions, trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, acquired brain injury, other difficulties with attention and/or emotions, daily life challenges, and life transitions.
Specific therapies offered include evidence-based practices such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Gottman Couple’s Therapy, and Interpersonal/Relational Psychotherapy. Additional services offered include consulting, coaching, and Kundalini Yoga instruction.
Heartfulness Psychotherapy offers services to youth, adults, couples, and groups. Services are covered by most extended health benefits programs.