The "Expat Therapist"
WHO AM I?
My name is Sena (pronounced: Seena), and I like to help coach people through their internal struggles and difficult times that are standing between them and their life and greatness. Whether you have a diagnosis or not (I am not one of those counselors that throw around diagnoses, by the way), life gets overwhelming for all of us at some point. Often times, it is when some of the most “exciting” things are happening, like moving to your dream city, going off to school and/or graduating, starting a dream job, launching your own business, getting married, having a baby, or starting a new relationship, that anxiety can rear its ugly face into your plans, or motivation can take an absolute nose dive into the abyss. Mental health therapy can be priceless in these moments, so that you don’t fall victim to your sabotaging and distracting mind, and keep a good hold on your personal life trajectory, and most importantly so that you don’t lose yourself and what means the most to you. If you are reading this and you are still unsure if it is a good idea yet for you to go to therapy, read my blog post for more about this.
Anyway, besides the anxiety that comes up while going through life, I also work well with others that have more serious mental health issues that they struggle with on a day to day basis. I have a passion for helping those that struggle with severe anxieties such as social anxiety, social phobia, agoraphobia, eating disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Along with anxiety disorders, I work very well with those struggling with bipolar disorder. The thing that all of these diagnoses have in common is a very strong and persuasive mind behind them. If you struggle with any of these disorders, I am sure you can agree that your mind pushes you around quite a bit, and you are exhausted from trying to manage and control it, and the thought of just living your life and picking out goals for yourself must seem too good to ever be true. I am here to tell you that it is possible. I have helped many people to achieve their goals while coexisting with their anxieties -- all by helping them to shift their relationship with their symptoms, and pull their life back into focus.
THE REAL ABOUT ME- THE SHORT ANSWER
So- I promised to tell you about myself on this page so let me go a little further into my personal background so that I am not some strange psychoanalyst sitting on a couch with a blank face scribbling notes on a notepad. I am not the kind of therapist that keeps my personal life under wraps, I understand that with information today, anything can be ‘found out’ so I am going to be a somewhat open book for you.
I live in both Florida (where I am from) and in Chile (with my husband). Learning a new language and getting comfortable with a new culture has been thrilling, lovely, exhausting, and absolutely dreadful at the same time (sometimes I want to run away from it all and go home, and sometimes I never want to go back home, it is all very confusing). Due to my unique living abroad experience, and working via the internet, I have found a very special niche among other expatriates and 'digital noamds' like myself. Besides travel, I love yoga (I am an instructor), I love music and art, do it yourself projects, and food. And, you guessed it! I love people.
THE REAL ABOUT ME PART II- THE LONG(ER) ANSWER
Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt especially connected and drawn to others, especially those that didn’t have things as well off as others in some way. I wanted to see people on a level playing ground, I wanted to help those that needed it. I never felt good knowing that some people were left out of some of the joys in life. I became the friend that everyone goes to for advice or just to vent, people told me that I always knew the right thing to say even though I felt like I never had a clue. When it came time to go to University, nobody was surprised when I chose to study Psychology. The nerd in me led to a focus in neuropsychology research, but I felt that I was missing the interpersonal side of the field that had me join it in the first place- so for graduate studies I switched to Rehabilitation Psychology- a unique branch that focuses on physical medical disease and disorders, including severe mental illness, and got me certified as a Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). I graduated with my degree and got my licensure experience working in a community mental health center in West Palm Beach, Florida, where I learned the realities of severe and persistent mental illness and addiction in the community.
I was frustrated working in the field because even with my masters degree, I felt that I was missing a scientifically backed approach to treating mental health and mental illness that I felt passionate and certain about. Poking around for certifications, I discovered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) being the therapy borne out of Behavior Analysis- a cut and dry field that I never thought would have anything to do with understanding the complexities of human emotion and suffering inherent in the life experience. Surprisingly, the field has gone so far to break down the private behavior of human thought and emotion and determined that the effective ‘treatment’ for disorder and struggle is mindfulness meditation based approaches, such as ACT. So with that discovery, the overachiever in me not only immersed myself in ACT training- but I also took on another couple of years of post-graduate study to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) myself. I was thrilled to find ACT to basically be a therapeutic approach that teaches clients how to meditate, without ever using the word. So naturally… I traveled to India to officially become a yoga and meditation instructor as well! (All of you perfectionists and overachievers reading this will find a very empathetic and understanding counselor in me).
So there you have it, the story behind all of my titles and professional experience. Click here to see a list of my credentials and trainings. If you got this far, thank you so much for reading and I hope to hear from you!