Upping Your Game

The Importance of Choosing a Mentor 

During your career arc, you are always in the process of becoming more of who you can be as a healer, always looking for ways to soften toward yourself and sharpen your clarity of others. You are inundated with training opportunities and certification courses in everything from trauma and attachment to the latest findings on neurobiology and evidence-based treatments. So, how do you decide what to learn—and with whom?

Who Can Help You Grow Fully into Your Healing Self?
I look for someone who can take me to the next level. It’s like playing pocket billiards. You always up your game when you’re competing with someone who’s better at it than you are. And while it’s not competitive per se, it is motivating. It adds interest and excitement, and it makes me more attentive to what I’m doing and how I’m doing it! As a therapist, I’m looking for someone that’s going to help me develop my repertoire; to see something a little differently, maybe think about it a little differently, and do it a little differently, because, as a perpetual student, what works for me is for someone to take me out of my comfort zone doing what I normally do without thinking about it. You know the drill, right? The “I do it well, it works” groove. But inside there’s a paucity, an entropy of sorts that starts to develop as it would for anyone who does the same thing over and over again because that’s what they know to do, not necessarily because there isn’t a better way. The mentors I look for are people who carry themselves in a way that inspires me to step out of that comfort zone, who get me interested and excited…someone who embodies qualities I admire and respect and want more of in my work and in my life.

My Mentor—Francine Shapiro
Francine Shapiro, the founder and developer of EMDR therapy, has been that mentor for me. Of all the mentors I have encountered along my path, she has profoundly touched and changed my life, both personally and professionally. She invited me to know what I didn’t know, to know what I knew better, and in so doing, helped me discover the gifts I didn’t know I had. Through her I learned to be brave. I learned to put myself out there. I learned to stay open and curious in response to people’s skepticism and criticism, because EMDR was very controversial for a long time and in some circles, still is. I saw her say to skeptics, “That’s okay, I understand. Come take the training! Have your own experience with it.”

She inspired many of us to step out of our comfort zones. Through her, I learned that I not only could be a better therapist, but that I was also a good teacher. This struck a deep chord in me. I grew up in an immigrant Greek family where my parents didn’t speak much English. My mother didn’t speak any, and as her first-born, I translated the world to her. Francine pushed me to recognize that teaching was embedded in my soul and was actually my life’s work. She helped me cultivate that part in me that I can now pay forward to others, both to inspire them to be better therapists as well as to become teachers in their own right.

Tell Us about a “Shared Moment” and How It Changed You and a Client

Please take a minute to let me and your colleagues know about a recent example in your own clinical work. Ask your questions. Tell your story. We all benefit when we share our examples of showing up. Tell your story. We all benefit when we share our thoughts and comments.


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"The best training I’ve attended in my 14 years with EMDR! I had huge insights into my clinical work as well as my own self."