My Approach to Therapy

My Philosophy And Approach To Counseling

One of my core beliefs is that helping people is a moral calling, and that’s why this career path is special to me. But I also feel like life is short, and I need to get the most out of it, which is part of the reason I chose to leave my home country (Russia) and move to the United States. There is just an endless amount of opportunities to be had. Yet, so many forces limit us from living the life we imagine. In fact, one of the most common issues that older clients express to me is that they regret not doing what would have made them happy sooner. 

Admittedly, it can often be scary to do what you really want. And some people are naturally averse to asking for help in overcoming the emotional obstacles that keep them stuck. But I’m convinced that, given the right guidance and support, it is possible to navigate life’s challenges and pursue your goals with confidence and success.

Whether you believe that you only have one ephemeral life or multiple lives, living without the limitations of fear and doubt enables you to achieve your greatest potential. Unfortunately, no matter how you look at it, life is naturally going to include a component of suffering, but that doesn’t mean you have to be dominated by it. It just means that you need to adjust your strategies for responding to those challenges in healthy ways that minimize suffering. 

To that end, two of my primary goals are to teach you how to regulate your emotions and tackle adversity, self-doubt, and life’s problems in a mindful, grounded manner. My approach to healing is a collaborative effort in which you (an expert regarding yourself) and I (an expert in therapy) are working toward the same goal of overcoming challenges to your sense of safety, security, and self.

My Ethics And Values

While I will offer gentle guidance, I will never impose my values or personal beliefs upon you. I respect your right to slow the pace of sessions, request alternative treatment methods, or to reject ideas that don’t speak to you. Above all, I value improving my clients’ mental well-being and helping them to achieve better living through therapy without medication, especially when it comes to children. 

It’s simply too easy to feed someone pills to mask their symptoms and send them on their way. But I know that the human mind has an incredible potential to heal and change and become stronger. I believe in the healing power of my approach, not just because I see my clients feeling better, but because I, too, use it to help myself when I am in need. 

How Sessions Work

The therapist/client relationship is the most crucial element of the therapeutic process, which is why I like to start with a simple 10 to 15-minute phone or online consultation. If you feel like we mesh well and you would like to work together, I’ll ask you to fill out some paperwork using a HIPAA compliant and completely confidential online portal. That way, the paperwork doesn’t eat into our time together when we meet in-person. 

In our first official session, we’ll explore the nature of your challenges as well as some of your hopes and goals for therapy. We’ll also take a look at your personal background, medical history, upbringing, or any mental health concerns that may inform a treatment strategy unique to you and your needs. And because I am trained in Family Systems, I can also offer counseling for relationship issues concerning spouses, couples, children, and other family members. Although there is no set timeline for healing, my clients typically invest in 10 to 12 sessions. But nearly all of them report at least some degree of relief immediately, regardless of what they are going through, because they finally have somewhere to rest their pain.

When we meet, you will be welcomed by a warm and inviting environment complete with books, a beautiful view, and the comforts of home. I like to think of my motto as “No Blame Is My Middle Name” because I meet all of my clients with unconditional positive regard. When we work together, you are free to say, feel, and hope for anything you want without fear of judgment. I understand that therapy is a place to bring up serious concerns, but sometimes, powerful healing can come from meeting our challenges with humor, lightheartedness, or moments of laughter. That means you don’t have to worry about our sessions being too heavy or serious. 

In the short-term, I want to help you concentrate on relieving symptoms and functioning better. To that end, we may initially spend some time talking about how you are handling the situation. We’ll also work on developing skills or coping mechanisms that will help you function more efficiently. In the long-term, I want to teach you how to generate greater self-awareness, improve your self-reliance, and help you achieve the life you want for yourself. 

Some of that may require a deeper exploration into what is holding you back, which is why I also offer extended, two-hour counseling sessions on a case-by-case basis. With my extensive training in evidence-based, research-driven treatment methods that truly work, I believe that you can overcome even the largest obstacles and live with greater confidence and peace.

Some Of The Tools I Use

For years, as a counselor and a student of life, I sought to understand how we, as humans, process our emotions. Then, as a professional, I discovered that many of the strategies I had developed through personal and academic research were mirrored in a system called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a powerful tool for adults and children alike, who seek to better tolerate distress through mindfulness and emotion regulation. This can be especially effective for individuals suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, borderline personality disorder, and addiction. 

Another method I use, Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR), can help trauma survivors identify triggers and diminish the emotional charge created by memories and negative thoughts. It also allows clients to unblock unresolved trauma and minimize its emotional impact so that the incident doesn’t feel as though it happened yesterday.

Our brains are constantly bombarding us with information. But not all thoughts and feelings are created equal; some are learned, distorted, or influenced by misinformation. That’s where Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) comes in. Through self-exploration, self-acceptance, and mindfulness, ACT can help you challenge and let go of flawed, entrenched beliefs about yourself that fuel negative emotions. 

Because children don’t have the ability to articulate their pain the same way we do, finding a way to communicate is essential to the healing process. Fortunately, even if your child is unable or reluctant to talk, I can connect with them through Play and Art Therapy to help relieve their suffering and give you a better understanding of what they are going through.

My Unique Qualifications

As someone who uprooted and transplanted herself thousands of miles away from everything familiar, I know what it feels like to be an outsider. I’ve had amazing experiences in Florida, but I also understand many of the unique challenges that people—particularly women, children, and individuals of foreign descent—struggle to navigate in life. As the only Russian-speaking therapist in Miami trained in DBT and TIR, I believe I can reach an underrepresented segment of the population. In addition to holding two PhD’s in my area of expertise, I work with so many people from diverse cultures, nations, and religions that I feel I can accommodate anyone’s needs. I’m also a mother, so I have an intimate understanding of the issues that parents and children routinely encounter.  

While I am constantly staying abreast of the latest professional developments in my field, I also use literature, the wisdom of colleagues, and my own clients’ insight into themselves to inform my work. All the treatment methods I offer to clients are strategies that I know are effective. However, if you feel that something is not aligning with what you need, we can always change things up. 

Through my work and my personal journey, I have come to realize that we all have the capacity for happiness and success. Although it may feel like you should be somewhere else in your life right now, remember: life is a marathon, not a sprint. As long as you keep going and don’t give up, you will be victorious. And when you need support and guidance, I’ll be the one cheering you all the way to the finish line.