Featured Therapist for October, Tessa Peoples
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Tessa Peoples, MFT. Learn more about her in the below interview!
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
I used to think that therapy was for people with problems that were bigger than mine. Then, during a particularly challenging time, a friend encouraged me to seek help. I quickly learned that most people could benefit from therapy at some point in their lives — even me! Therapy is so many things, but for me it was a beautiful, messy, vulnerable, and expansive process. It became clear to me that I was well-suited to be a therapist and that doing so would allow me to support and witness others through their own self-discovery and growth. And now I feel so lucky that I get to do this work every day!
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy? How do you help your clients achieve their goals?
I consider insight to be the goal of therapy because insight gives us choice.
You may have heard of the psychological concept “nature versus nurture;” It refers to why we are the way we are — some characteristics are innate, and others are the result of our upbringing and experiences. The way that we deal with stress, or the way that we feel and behave in close relationships is learned through the templates we got from our families. They become “second nature,” and we grow up without much questioning of the way things are.
For some of us, this is functional. For others, we run into problems in our adult relationships, with our partners, at work, or when we become parents ourselves. It has been my experience that finding understanding and compassion for the way we are is a precursor to making meaningful and sustainable changes in our lives.
Describe a specific tool or exercise that you share with your clients.
I’m interested in Internal Family Systems’ (IFS) non-pathologizing approach to healing from traumatic experiences. One component of IFS is body-based mindfulness, which we can connect to through guided meditation. In this culture, we spend a lot of time in our heads with our thoughts, and less time connecting with the feelings in our bodies. For some folks who have experienced trauma (which some experts say is most people), it has not always been safe to “be” in our bodies. I find that holding the container for my clients to safely experience those sensations is very powerful and often opens avenues towards healing.
What advice would you give someone who may be struggling with the decision to start therapy, but may not feel ready?
When facing a crossroads, I like to remember that inaction, or not making a change, is also a choice. When we weigh the decisions in front of us, like whether to start therapy, we must also weigh the cost of *not* starting therapy. Often, someone is considering therapy because they are struggling and something about their life needs to change. While starting therapy will present challenges, so will staying the same and resisting the change that needs to happen.
Change can be scary and difficult, and since therapy is about change, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But you can also remember that therapists are trained to be warm, supportive, and nonjudgmental. Many clients find that their relationship with their therapist empowers them to make the changes that they both fear and desire. Ultimately, therapy is about YOU and what YOU want to get out of the experience.
Tessa Peoples, MFT is a Staff Therapist at our Blue Bell, PA and University City Offices; she currently sees clients via online therapy. To set-up an appointment, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 4230.