Introducing December’s Featured Therapist, Alishia Kalos, PsyD
Every month, Council for Relationships highlights one of our staff therapists on the blog. December’s Featured Therapist Alishia Kalos is a licensed psychologist experienced in addressing couples’ sexual and relational concerns as well as helping clients manage major health-related changes like chronic illness. Check out the interview below to learn more about Alishia!
What is your background?
I’m a doctoral-level licensed psychologist with extensive experience in addressing health, sexual, and relationship issues. I have extensive training utilizing Cognitive Behavioral (e.g., CBT, Schema, Problem-Solving) and Mindfulness-based approaches and also utilize psychodynamic approaches.
Therapy iss an invaluable opportunity to learn about yourself and the relationships you want to cultivate. Whether you are thinking about working through a particular issue, hoping to gain clarity and focus in future decisions, or considering a short-term “check-up,” I will work with you in a safe, non-judgmental space that cultivates compassion, healing, and growth.
My approach is tailored based on each person/couple’s unique constellation of personal, relational, spiritual/religious experiences, expectations, and goals. I provide services in English and Spanish.
In my everyday life I thrive by meeting new people, spending time outdoors, taking in the delicious food and vast culture that the Philadelphia region offers, and enjoying time with animals (particularly my two spoiled rotten guinea pigs).
What is it like to work with you as a therapist?
The clients I have worked with told me that they thought that I was genuinely invested in understanding their personal experiences as well as helping them to understand those experiences more deeply.
Others have expressed that they felt valued and heard during our sessions and felt that they believed in the work we were accomplishing together. I offer warmth and support, while challenging individuals and couples to make positive changes and work toward their goals; this is how we grow.
Clients have expressed that they use the tools they learned to create meaningful changes for the rest of their lives.
What is one tool that you teach in therapy that we could use in everyday life?
One of my favorite tools is also one of the simplest to use and is supported by science. It’s called diaphragmatic breathing.
On a day to day basis, we tend to breathe through our chest using short, shallow breaths. At times of high stress and anxiety we automatically take even faster and shorter breaths through the chest, experience increased heart-rate, and possibly even sweat and have racing thoughts.
Diaphragmatic breathing happens when we purposely take slow, deep, breaths in through the abdomen.
To try this out, start by placing one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Typically, most people breathe in a way where the hand on their chest moves up and down but the hand on the belly remains mostly still. To switch to diagrammatic breathing, pay attention to your breath and take a long, deep inhale that pushes your belly out. Once you get into the rhythm of it you will notice that now the hand on your chest will remain mostly still while the hand on you belly will move up and down. That’s how you’ll know that you’re doing it!
Research has shown that if people practice diaphragmatic breathing continually for just four minutes, they will lower the levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in their blood. Lower levels of cortisol in the blood stream means you will feel more relaxed and at ease during times of stress and worry.
More importantly, if you use diaphragmatic breathing (for at least four minutes) during a time when you are not stressed or feeling anxious, then you will be more likely to keep calm and relaxed no matter what the rest of your day brings you. Also, like many kinds of tools, diaphragmatic breathing works better the more regularly you practice it. Try it when you are waiting in line, during your commute, or sitting at your desk. I like to take a few diaphragmatic breaths before I leave home in the morning.
What would you tell someone who is considering therapy but not sure if it is right for them?
Many individuals and couples have mixed feelings about starting therapy. On one hand, they may believe that they would benefit from professional support in working to resolve an issue. On the other hand, they may struggle with negative beliefs and ideas about what going to therapy means for them or for their relationship.
For example, some individuals and couples may believe that entering therapy should only be a “last resort” for people with “serious issues.” Others mistakenly think that therapy is for people who “aren’t strong enough” to fix things on their own.
To the contrary, I believe that individuals and couples who seek therapy demonstrate extraordinary courage and strength in their willingness to try a new approach and work to make lasting changes. Even the most health-conscious people benefit from keeping up with medical appointments, personal training at the gym, and guidance from nutrition experts. Similarly, individuals and couples can maximize positive change through meeting with a psychological expert.
I strongly believe that anyone could benefit from therapy at some point during their life. I view therapy as an opportunity for growth and reflection in ways that we do not usually get in our everyday lives or with the people who surround us. Therapy is like having a sacred space where you can momentarily step out of everything else that is going on and be wholly dedicated and devoted to your personal, spiritual, and emotional nurturance and growth.
How can clients find a therapist that is a good match for them?
I recommend that you first identify some of the most important goals that you would want to work on. Then, you can find a therapist with training and experience that fits with your goals.
Once you meet with your therapist, I encourage you to share your goals and any questions that you may have. After the first one to three sessions, most people have a better idea of whether or not they would like to continue working with their therapist.
It’s okay if you would like to try working with someone different after the initial sessions. Your therapist may be able to provide a referral to someone who is a better fit for you.
Many people ask me what to expect from therapy during the first sessions. This is an excellent question! During initial sessions I will ask you about your goals and what you hope to accomplish. As your therapist, I will teach you skills that you will continue to use after our work is done. In this way, our work together is temporary. My goal is that you learn and grow until you feel you don’t need to come anymore!
I believe in the power of building on each client’s strengths and discovering new ways to grow. We will explore key pieces of your personal story, and then identify goals for our time together.
(215) 382-6680 ext. 4203