“I help heal the relationships people have with themselves, with close others, and with the world.”
How and/or why did you become a therapist?
My earliest memories are about helping people who suffered, were misunderstood or mistreated. As a shy and sensitive child, I had an innate ability to understand people’s emotions leading me to develop a helping role early in elementary school. For example, I remember giving some of my clothes to a young girl that I barely knew who was bullied because of what she wore. I wanted to protect her from future bullying.
As far as I can remember, I have had an enduring fascination with human relationships and behavior. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives but I wanted to do it with the right qualifications. I studied attachment relationships as part of my graduate research. My clinical training and experience furthered my specialization in relational and emotional well-being.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
Being chosen to work with a client is both an honor and a reward. I experience awe when I see the incredible resilience and growth that can arise from people’s pain and suffering. I am deeply moved when I see my clients positively transform their relationship with themselves and/or with others. There are no greater emotional rewards than to see my clients heal, grow and thrive!
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
I have a strong background in attachment theory and research which guides my clinical practice. Given that attachment relationships influence people’s experience and regulation of emotions, it has helped me better understand differences in the way people connect and relate to each other, manage relational conflicts and breakups.
I also do not use a one-size-fits-all psychology approach.I am fundamentally person-centered and integrative in practice. Scientifically-supported therapies are approached holistically (mind-body-brain), and customized to the needs of each individual person.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
- Create more positive couple interactions. Research found couples with a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions have happier more satisfying relationships.
- Show appreciation. Hug, cuddle or touch your partner daily. Oxytocin (the love hormone) is triggered by touch and intimacy and found to reduce stress and promote couple bonding and trust.
- Share jokes and laugh together every day. Shared laughter (not mocking or sarcasm) has been found to boost interpersonal positivity, intimacy and relationship quality.
- If you disagree, do it respectfully and constructively. Take responsibility. Don’t attack, justify, withdraw or stonewall. Manage conflict with more compromise and negotiation.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
Therapy can be helpful in increasing self-understanding, providing solutions/skills to specific problems, resolving life and relationship issues, and improving mental health. There are many therapeutic approaches to consider. Not all approaches are scientifically proven. Therapy is likely to be ineffective when the therapist and/or their approach are not a good fit with the client and/or their problem. Take time to research which approach is best suited for your issue. Find a therapist you like and feel comfortable with. Each therapist has their unique style, personality and experience. Studies have found a strong therapeutic relationship predicted successful therapy outcomes.
You can learn more about Dr. Nicolina Ratto at www.montrealpsyservices.com
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