How and/or why did you become a therapist?
I’ve known that I wanted to serve in a helping professions role as far back as I can remember. When I took an AP psychology class in high school that was it for me! I knew I would become a psychotherapist. In my studies and work with families, I was a voracious learner and enjoyed my work immensely. I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
I think the most obvious answer is that you get to have a front-row seat to meaningful, positive change in people’s lives. A more unexpected answer is that it is really fun! I do body-based therapy with adults and play therapy with kids, and you never know what clients are going to say or do. And you get to build relationships with people you otherwise would’ve never met. There is also a peaceful quality to sitting in a room with people and being entirely present to their experience. Lastly, the job pushes you to grow in your personal life (never a dull moment!) and there is always SO much to learn in your professional life.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
My training from the start has been in holistic approaches to psychotherapy. This means that I see people as a whole being which includes mind, body and spirit. My job is to help people become intimately acquainted with their moment-to-moment body experience and their internal wisdom. Techniques I use include body awareness, mindfulness meditation, grounding techniques, somatic release of trauma and many more.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
Number 1 is presence. But down the phone, close the laptop and attend to your partner fully. That means looking them directly in the eyes and deeply listening to what they’re saying. Number 2 is be aware of your own emotional responses. If you’re getting emotionally triggered in a conversation you won’t be listening anymore, rather planning your response. You’ll likely become defensive and say something hurtful that you don’t mean. Quietly note your emotions and body experience, take a deep breath and share what you’re feeling with your partner in a calm, connected way.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
I want people to be less afraid of the process of starting therapy. Yes, it’s natural to experience some fear of something unknown and unfamiliar and I get that. But most therapists are caring, nurturing, empathic and loving humans. They want what is best for you and are going to do their best to create an warm, comfortable and safe environment for your self-exploration. There really is nothing to be afraid of.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
There are many legal and ethical mistakes that therapists can make, which is beyond the scope of this interview, but long story short — a therapist should never do or say anything that makes you feel very uncomfortable (and I’m not talking about in a therapeutic way where they’re challenging you to confront an uncomfortable emotion, I’m talking about a situation where they step over a boundary that feels weird and wrong.) If this happens speak up and seek a second opinion.
The only mistake a client can really make is giving up on therapy too soon because they haven’t see progress yet. Therapy takes time and if you feel that your therapist knows what they’re doing and is attuned to you, give the process a chance to work. It could take months, it could take years. But you’ll never know if you don’t commit to the process.
Natalie Moore is an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Pasadena, CA. She utilizes a holistic approach to helping young adults relieve anxiety naturally through mindfulness and somatic practices. Natalie also works in an agency setting with children on the autism spectrum and their families using a socio-emotional modality to help kids with special needs live meaningful lives. When she’s not working you can find Natalie on a mountain top with some awesome homemade goodies. You can learn more about her at awakentheself.com.