Not to sound corny here but Aimee Barr has eyes that dance when you talk to her. She has this way of taking that ball of stress or anxiety that gnaws at the pit of your stomach and helps you to unravel it. Aimee Barr also happens to be a NYC psychotherapist with her own practice and being one of Aimee's friends I sometimes don't know if I have a great friend or if that's just how good she is at her job. Therapy is always been something important in my life for greater understanding of who I am yet it's not always a cost many can justify. On Tuesday, June 21st Aimee will be part of a panel to answer those questions that we've wanted to ask but didn't know where to go. Check out her story below and grab your ticket here.
1. Aimee, congratulations on opening your first private practice! Can you tell us a bit about what it entails to be a psychotherapist?
I love my job as a psychotherapist and feel going into this field was one of the best choices I ever made for myself. I am action oriented in my approach and aim to support clients in gaining a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I strongly believe that self-awareness and self-acceptance are the byproducts of experiencing greater joy. From there I help clients learn skills on how and when to implement effective change and at the same time better manage discomfort without having the pain paralyze them.
I have had almost 15 years of clinical experience prior to starting my business full-time. My clinical experience includes practicing in a variety of hospital, corporate, school and other social-service settings. I have taught a number of workshops at universities, high schools and have also been hired as a psychotherapist at an educational consulting firm. In addition to my private practice, I am currently an expert consultant with an off-Broadway production company who are using drama to educate college students on how to prevent sexual exploitation and sexual assault.
I'm a learning junkie and have taken post masters training in family therapy, psychoanalysis, trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. For those interested in pursuing this career path I highly recommend real work experience! Particularly getting training in trauma work at a hospital or non-profit agency. It's important to also have a great love of people, self-awareness, resiliency skills and a sense of humor to keep a good balance.
2. As you know, NYC isn't the easiest city to live in. Do see many recurring issues that come up with your patients? Any advice on how to combat that?
Isn't that the truth! I find that quite often we aren't always upset about the things we think we are upset about. People will often seek therapy when they are going through their toughest transition such as a relationship break-up, divorce, dealing with an abusive boss and/or thinking about changing careers. However, when we work together, people will often discover the root of their current challenge is much deeper than the surface issue. In our work together, clients will see that at some point they stopped trusting their intuition, many have spent their life believing that having needs means that they are needy, others have felt so disappointed by others that they have gotten used to doing so much alone. Through better understanding how clients have arrived at where they are in their lives, they can mourn the past and also gain the clarity and courage to create new choices moving forward.
3. I know you also have a love of astrology, any chance our signs can make us more/less in need of therapy?
I do love astrology and have made reading and understanding charts a bit of a hobby over the past few years! I don't believe any sign is more prone to therapy. I currently treat clients in all 12 signs. I do recommend therapy for anyone who is looking to gain greater self-acceptance, awareness and/or feels stuck. Our barriers show up differently depending on many things: life experience, heredity, culture, trauma, birth order and of course astrology. While I am fascinated by astrology, I'm not an expert in it. But I do highly recommend the AstroTwins at Astrostyle.com for daily, weekly and monthly horoscopes in addition to a chart consult. I think they are the best in the business and I have learned a lot from them.
4. Who do you recommend to attend therapy and at what frequency?
I recommend therapy to anyone who feels stopped. We often wait for life to become unmanageable to get the help we need. I love the saying that "you can't see the color of your own eyes." Working with a counselor who is highly skilled and trained in understanding human behavior can help give you greater clarity on why you are feeling so stopped. When we have greater compassion for ourselves, we often give ourselves permission to make new choices.
When first starting therapy and/or experiencing a significant life change, I recommend meeting weekly. Some clients I work with long-term for years. Others I see to help with short-term goals.
5. What inspired you to become a therapist? What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
In first grade I came home crying after a fellow classmate was unfairly reprimanded by the teacher. My mom shares that at 7 years old I already had a lot of compassion for people. It's always felt like a calling to help people and I just always knew this was the right profession for me. I really can't imagine myself doing anything else and whole heartedly believe that talking it out is not only healing but can be life-saving.
My advice to my 21 year old self would be to stop looking to rescue everyone. While helping others is admirable, it's important to set boundaries. I needed to learn to be more selective on who I let in my life. Today I only surround myself with those who treat me (and others) with respect. Setting boundaries was probably the toughest but also most important lesson I have had to learn. I do believe that successfully working through my own personal battles makes me a much more compassionate and effective therapist.