It’s a joy to be hidden,
and a disaster not to be found.D. W. Winnicott
I am a passionate human and an inspired psychologist. I have some interests that have guided me since I was younger: music, movies, people and, later, psychology. My most characteristic trait is that I love to pursue many things: I need to be involved in diverse challenges, confront myself with people from other cultures and get stimulated by different environments and fields. I like to try, and see for myself what each thing can reveal.
Within psychology, I am an avid learner of many clinical approaches, from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Psychoanalysis, but also a researcher and a graduated neuropsychologist.
When it comes to therapy, my eclecticism is a powerful tool, because it allows me to draw from different ‘jars of knowledge’ and adapt to the complexity of my clients.
My academic path started in Rome, where I’ve attended a ‘Psychology and Health’ Bachelor with a strong psychodynamic inclination. This allowed me to discover early on an affinity with this approach, and to learn about an Italian intake method called ‘Analisi della domanda’ that helps in interpreting the client question and delineate clear clinical goals and motivations, a topic that I focused on for my thesis. The attention to detail as well as to the totality of being is a strength I learned in this context and took with me when I came to The Netherlands, where a more pragmatic and goal-oriented style helped me grow in a complete way. I followed a Master of Science in Clinical Neuropsychology and had the occasion to do research at many levels and in many areas: my thesis had a neuropsychological asset, while my job was in the department of Social and then Clinical Psychology.
I finished my one-year Master and then decided to add one more year of courses from other psychological disciplines to expand my knowledge of the subject. This provided me with more clinical tools, as well as diagnostic and research skills.
After my graduation I have decided to keep practicing before opening my company, and I did so in the amazing context of AntiLoneliness, a practice that works with expats and taught me important clinical skills, approaches and styles, while giving me a safe and stimulating environment to grow as a therapist. There I’ve mainly applied Schema Therapy while also attending workshops on many other interesting techniques, and while collaborating with inspiring colleagues I could carry my own project on Eco-Anxiety and our reactions to disasters. This latter project allowed me to understand even more about the connection between our social and clinical goals, and the necessary balance between the two. It’s something I keep focusing on in my personal preparation.
The internship at AntiLoneliness was a decisive moment for me to start defining my priorities as a therapist, and opening my company pushed me to ask myself with even more urgency and motivation: what is it that guides my interest for therapy? What have I learnt – and what stays with me – from the hundreds of books, manuals, podcasts, interviews, courses, articles I’ve passionately dived into? What are my strengths and what are my weaknesses? What is the most effective way for me to be a therapist and help others? How can I connect my deepest beliefs, my greatest values, my vulnerabilities, my history into the approach(es) that best suits me? How can I combine my will to do my best with knowing perfection does not exist – and is not appealing either?
I let myself be guided by the right questions and the humility of not having all the answers yet. Luckily!
Check me out on LinkedIn.
The need for therapy is often an impelling one.
We live our lives the way we know how, coping the best we can with a world full of stimuli, opportunities and challenges.
Then, without even realising how it happened, the tools we have used all along become obsolete; we cannot quite identify what changed, as we feel our same selves, but something is not right anymore.
Something feels out of place.
Luckily, psychotherapy today is for the most part accessible, affordable and respected as a tool to overcome personal struggles. Seeing a psychologist doesn’t yield the same feelings of shame it used to.
On the other hand, however, it seems like it has become the equivalent of a medicine: list your symptoms, get a diagnosis, a treatment plan and finally, someone will deliver the results you asked for.
The concept of wellbeing as an inclusive and broad term is often substituted by a short-term fix-me request, that denies the complexity of mind and behaviour, and seeks a solution that coincides with the disappearance of symptoms.
This doesn’t undermine those conditions where symptoms are so intrusive, so painful, that the first priority is to make them go away. Every psychotherapist understands that in order to work on something, the client needs to be proactive, present and motivated. And sometimes this can happen only after symptoms have decreased to a level that makes therapy possible.
However, even in these cases, the reduction of symptoms should not be the ultimate goal.
As mental health experts we know that once new tools are learnt, more awareness is fostered, and there is more knowledge about who we are and what we need, symptoms tend to follow this virtuous process.
So, if the goal is not removing the unwanted parts or getting rid of the issue, what is it then?
My approach is dedicated to understanding core ambivalences. Those things about ourselves that we look at with dismay, struggling to understand why we keep ending up in places that hurt, or why we repeat the same mistakes even though we are aware of the consequences; those things are often ways in which we tell ourselves that there is not just one thing we want (namely, feeling happy, satisfied, fulfilled) but perhaps a whole array of things that hide much better and that we are less proud or aware of. What our discomfort tells us is that we are a multitude of things, and that life and people cannot be reduced to simple rules, but deserve the time to be understood.
We may want to avoid forgetting our keys or missing an appointment, but we also want to avoid being constantly preoccupied.
We may desire a close and warm relationship, while also feeling the need to be independent and self-sufficient.
We may strive to keep our anger managed and functional, while on the other hand we want to be sure to speak up when we see injustice.
Ambivalence is everywhere.
And once it’s spoken of, and looked at with a curious, non-judgemental attitude, then we can discover ourselves, make mindful choices, know what we are leaving behind and what we are, instead, embracing.
And, along the process, we might be able to embrace more than we think we are capable of.