In a continuation of our series spotlighting our clinicians, we spoke with Emily Almanza, LCSW, one of our experienced clinicians, for a chance to get to know her more.
ADNE(A): Emily, how would you describe yourself?
EMILY(E): I’m a slightly introverted people person. I love being with people and hearing their stories but eventually need time to myself. Having had a lot of cross-cultural experience, I thrive on exploring other cultures and enjoy understanding different individuals’ perspectives on life. This has been a natural bridge to my work as a therapist as each individual brings their own strengths into the therapeutic process and their own way of viewing the world.
A: It sounds like your experiences have been an integral part of creating the therapist you are today. How would you describe your approach to therapy?
E: My approach to therapy strives to be very respectful of the client’s goals and what they desire to accomplish. The process should feel supportive and challenging, but not intimidating. I believe the client should have ample opportunity to explore their story and feelings but I also provide input in our discussions through an interactive dialogue. With my social work background, I’m particularly mindful of the impact of one’s environment and past in shaping one’s identity and beliefs.
While I enjoy working with various client needs, I specialize in grief counseling. Particularly with clients processing the loss of someone dear to them, I believe it is essential to have a safe space to share all of their feelings about their loss and I provide an atmosphere of hope to begin envisioning a life after the loss.
A: When did you know you wanted to become a therapist? What led you to pursue your LCSW?
E: My career path started when I chose to study counseling in undergrad. I was interested in studying psychology and had the impression that counseling would be more practical and relational. I already had a desire to help others and knew the field of counseling would be a prime way to do that. Eventually, that led to getting my masters in social work and becoming a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). It's a decision I've never regretted!
A: We are very lucky you followed your path, because you are such a naturally skilled and empathic therapist! Do you find yourself more aligned with any specific therapy modalities?
E: I particularly enjoy existential therapy, which grapples with themes of life and death, the search for meaning, and personal responsibility and freedom. I’ve found that often times, our felt needs and feelings arise from concerns related to these larger themes and addressing them can be invaluable. In the grief work that I do, I find my clients are often already thinking about existential themes and appreciate someone who doesn’t shy away from discussing them.
In addition, I’m always mindful of the impact of one’s past and childhood on adult development and therefore, bring a psychodynamic perspective to discussions as well as integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, when appropriate, to provide practical skills and solutions, frequently in addressing symptoms related to anxiety and depression.
A: Thank you for sharing with us today. Before we go, what advice would you give someone considering therapy?
E: Take the plunge! It can be intimidating at first and it doesn’t always feel good but the chance to devote that time to improving yourself, your life, and your relationships is well worth it. And don't be afraid to ask your therapist for what you need!
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Emily, contact us at the Adne Institute!