Featured Therapist for August, Nicole Maldonado
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Nicole Maldonado, LMFT, who joined the staff in 2019. Learn more about her in the below interview!
What do you help your clients work towards?
I have always considered myself to be a client-centered therapist, and I believe that the overall goal of therapy is to help clients find a fulfilling path in life. Some of my clients come to therapy with a variety of specific goals, while others are uncertain and need assistance in establishing clear goals. The client’s needs determine the direction for therapy, which makes receiving therapy unique, organic, and ever-changing. I help clients work towards building strengths and teach them the tools and skills to help them find contentment. I help them build the lives that they want.
Who is your ideal client?
I always find that the clients who are motivated and open to change are the ones who find success in treatment. The ideal clients are open to trying different things, and ready to step outside of their norm in order to achieve their goals. Issues that I work best with include anxiety, depression, marital and relationship work, and grief and loss. The topic of grief and loss has been especially important work for me these past months considering the major losses and changes we have gone through during the pandemic.
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist. It was not until high school that I noticed I had a gift for connecting with people. I was always the first person to be contacted when my friends would seek advice and, looking back on it, I never gave much thought to how natural that role was for me. I remember sitting with my mother and grandmother one day for lunch and they suggested that I become a therapist since they saw I had a calm and comfortable demeanor. As I did my research on the field, I noticed that Spanish speaking therapists and Latin therapists, in general, were scarce. Mental health treatment in the Latin community is still, at times, considered taboo and I wanted to be a therapist where I could offer these services to members of my own community.
What does a first session with you usually consist of?
During the initial session, my main priority is to create a safe space for my clients. I have often seen that the first session is always the hardest for people because clients are coming to speak about concerns that may be unpleasant or make them feel vulnerable. In the first session, my main goal is solely to get to know the client. What are their strengths? What brings them to treatment? I strive to create safety and security to begin developing the therapeutic relationship.