Clarity Counseling Center's “Meet the Therapists” series offers a deeper look into each counselor’s background, experiences, motivations, values, and philosophies. In this series, I put counselors on the couch to learn why and how they do what they do. In this post, I'll be interviewing Clarity therapist Kristin Nakajima.
Q. Why are you a therapist?
A. I first got interested in becoming a therapist while I was in college, while deciding on a career path. I was always interested in psychology and the complexities of the human mind. But only after receiving counseling myself did I realize the huge benefit of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. Experiencing that on a personal-level lead to my interest in wanting to help others in that same way.
Q. What types of issues do you address and how?
A. I work with people experiencing a variety of different issues but am passionate about working with individuals experiencing grief, loss, or trauma. People often don't realize that grief and loss can occur from life events that we don't usually associate with trauma, like a change in job or career, loss of a relationship, as well as, the more commonly associated, death of a loved one. I also enjoy working with current and former athletes, struggling to balance the pressure of performance with day to day life or coping with the transition from student-athlete to "normal" adult life in the working world. Having spent much time working in an Emergency Department, I also enjoy working with first responders.
I believe every person responds and benefits differently from therapy. I use varied approaches to address each client's issues uniquely. I look at all aspects of a person's life and incorporate evidence-based practices, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Proc3ssing Therapy (CPT), as well as mindfulness-based techniques. When indicated I also incorporate expressive therapies, such as art, music, and writing.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of your work?
A. The most rewarding part of my work is the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and watch them heal and grow. It's an honor to be present with people during some of their most difficult times and to be in that space with them as they work through those challenges.
Q. What is your 5-year plan?
A. I plan to be working with my clients, continuing to improve on my therapeutic skills and gain additional specialized training along the way. I'd love to incorporate animal assisted therapy into my practice, as I'm a huge animal lover and also appreciate the enormous benefits that they can bring to the therapeutic process.
Q. If every potential therapy client were listening, what would you want them to know?
A. Therapy can be beneficial for anybody! Some people may feel that their issues aren't serious enough or important enough to warrant therapy. Or they may be worried about a stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues. You don't have to be mentally ill to benefit from therapy. Our emotional health needs just as much care and attention as our physical health. Having an experienced professional to talk to and provide judgment-free guidance can be extremely helpful and healing.
Q. What is the most important thing to look for in a therapist?
A. The therapist's ability to connect with you and feeling comfortable with your therapist is just as important as their experience and expertise are definitely. As a client, it's important to feel heard and understood in your therapy sessions. The goal in therapy is to create a safe space for clients to express their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly.
Q. What's the most impactful work you've done?
A. My work in hospice care, though challenging, felt particularly important and made an impact on me both personally and professionally. Being a part of someone's experience during their final days was a true privilege. I enjoyed helping both the patients and their grieving families to cope and find meaning in their losses.