At a very early age, I was fascinated by people’s behaviors and the motivations for how we act, think, and feel about ourselves. However, when I was 11, I also experienced the traumatic loss of my younger brother to cancer. I was completely devastated, and my family, too, struggled with overcoming grief and sorrow. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to help people—I and my family included— process their loss and alleviate their pain.
Although we had no psychologists in the family, we did have doctors. So when I decided to go back to school to study psychology, I saw it as continuing in the footsteps of the healers in my family. In 2001, I graduated with my master’s degree and began working as a researcher and lecturer in two different institutes in Moscow. Later, I would go on to pursue my candidate of science (Russia’s equivalent to a Ph.D. as I learned this year), continuing my personal and professional growth as an assistant professor and counselor. During this time, I provided group therapy and counseling for individuals while working as a faculty member and a therapist at a private practice. Subsequently, I also hosted two radio shows in Moscow, one of which focused on the stress of living in a large city.
Unfortunately, by 2014, Russia’s political landscape had deteriorated to the point that my family decided it would be better to move to America. There, I could have a child, raise a family, and continue my education. One of the most beautiful experiences I had in my new home was the care I was given during my pregnancy. I was so happy because of my caregivers’ compassion and respect for my needs and desires, both as a mother-to-be and as a human being. That experience only fueled my desire to help mothers, children, and families overcome challenges to their happiness.
In 2018, I was honored to receive my Ph.D. from the University of Florida in counseling and counselor education. Later, I discovered a powerful intervention method that truly spoke to my work on emotion regulation—Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
I was amazed to discover that the strategies I had been developing for years were already codified as a method of treatment for changing the way we regulate our emotions. You see, throughout my career, as well as my personal life, I had been developing strategies for regulating emotions. Thus, I was so excited to see that there is a method that embraces everything I needed in order to be an effective clinician.
As a mother, myself, I had my own difficulty with managing stress and the challenges that come with motherhood. At times, I was angry—or I would get stuck in a cycle of shame and guilt for feeling angry in the first place. Fortunately, my work with emotion regulation and an introduction into the practice of mindfulness allowed me to help myself in the same way that I strive to help others.
Continuing my work in family systems, I sought out some intensive, specialized training in DBT so I could respond better to a larger variety of issues. Now, I help diverse populations of people overcome a wide range of personal and relational challenges. In fact, the multicultural aspect of my own identity helps me connect with and understand my clients more readily. I not only see people who have been living in the US since birth and identify as White Americans, but I also work a lot with clients who come from Germany, Russia, Cuba, France, Argentina—you name it.
My Philosophy Of Helping Others
One of my core beliefs is that occasionally you have to put money aside and heal people for the sake of healing. Although we all need to make a living, volunteering my time and expertise to trauma and crisis centers is something I feel compelled to do. Over the years, I have been honored to help survivors reclaim their lives from the trauma of violence, illness, car accidents, and natural disasters. As someone who struggled with grief and loss as a child, I’m also happy to say that I have helped many parents and children overcome the devastating impact of family trauma.
Whether I am working pro bono on the suicide hotline or helping mothers who are dealing with anxiety and anger issues, I truly love what I do. And I think that shows through in my compassionate and lighthearted approach to healing.
In My Personal Time
When I’m not helping others, I enjoy spending time with my son and my husband, being at the ocean, working out, and planning for what’s next in life. I love Broadway and theater, museums and art. I’ve traveled my whole life—visited many countries in Europe and lived in Finland with family. I’m also constantly seeking funding for teaching emotion regulation in schools to increase the emotional intelligence of both teachers and children. And finally, I dedicate part of my leisure time to guilt-free self-care, so I can find balance between being a healthy woman and an effective therapist.
Dr. Prikhidko received her doctorate of philosophy from the University of Florida in 2018. Alena also earned her Master’s of Social Psychology (2001) as well as her candidate of psychological science in social psychology (2006) from Lomonosov Moscow State University. She has intensive training in Family Systems, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), as well as Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR). Currently, she is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Intern in the State of Florida (IMT 3050). Over the years she has dedicated her professional career to helping adults, mothers, and children navigate the challenges of mental health issues, family dynamics, as well as adjustment and developmental disorders.