Interview With Psychotherapist Tressa Porter

How and/or why did you become a therapist?

“Because I failed miserably as client!” I’m joking, though I felt like that for a long time! In therapy, fortunately you cannot fail. It’s a process of growth and understanding. I struggled deeply for many years to find relief from my own mind, to make sense of my feelings and navigate my life. Therapy helped me profoundly. This propelled me to learn and continue learning about what’s going on inside our minds and what really helps us feel better over the long term. I never wanted anyone to feel the way I did.

What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?

I love supporting people to understand their own mind and really understand and love themselves. I watch people learn to experience agency in their own mind and find joy in their relationships and their life. There’s nothing better! I think of therapy like the fishing analogy. You can catch a fish for someone and feed them for a day or teach them to fish and they are fed for life. Therapy offers this because when we truly understand our own mind we are equipped to navigate our inner and outer world for a lifetime.

What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?

I work from a psychoanalytically-informed perspective which is based in attachment. This simply means I come from the understanding that much of what causes problems for us is in our unconscious mind which we learned in our developmental years. Repetitive patterns we get caught in are often the result of unconscious information we learned about ourselves and others when we were little. I believe we all need a safe relationship to explore how the past is present, to become clear how our unconscious ideas about ourselves are still alive and see how what we don’t know about ourselves that may be running our lives. I am very skilled and highly trained in doing just that! I help people learn about these unconscious patterns and change them.

What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?

1. Learn empathy and understanding for yourself. It will become much easier to have it with others.
2. If someone else is to blame for how you feel you’ve lost your agency and your connection to your choice.
3. Conflict in our relationships is not always a bad sign. Conflict is always at the doorway to growth if we decide to take it. Our closest relationships are the most powerful place where our unconscious patterns will play out!
4. We highly overestimate how easy and satisfying our intimate relationships should be. We highly underestimate how much work, focus and support we need to have healthy successful relationships.
5. Somebody once told me not only does it take a community to raise a child, it takes a community to grow our relationships. We all need help.

What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?

Psychotherapy is not a quick fix. There are many quick fixes out there that can be very helpful in the short term. Psychotherapy is about a process, a tool if you will, you can use to grow your awareness of you so you can understand and navigate your mind, your relationships and your life consiously. Its not about being fixed. Its about deepening your understanding of yourself and your relationships so you can grow your life in a way that feels good.

What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?

Its tempting to get focused solely on short term feel better ideas and miss the long term vision of sustainable well-being. It’s like a lawn mover. It will rid your yard of dandelions very quickly, which seems attractive and logical, but very soon they will grow back unless you take the time and make the investment to dig them out at the root. I believe taking the time to dig up the roots is really where its at, although I happen to love dandelions!


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