With the new addition of a Yoga Studio at Nourish Your Mind’s Middletown, NY location, we have expanded our staff to include more clinician’s that have in-depth training in the area of yoga and mental health. We’re excited for you to meet Sara Pitcher! Sara is a Mental Health Counselor and Certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor. In addition to seeing individual clients, Sara will be offering various Kundalini Yoga classes and workshops to support our community in finding a sense of balance and emotional well-being.
Sara in her own words:
What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
This question has been particularly difficult to answer as many of my life’s most valuable lessons have come in the past five years. There had been many experiences from learning valuable information during graduate school, to growing more deeply as a yoga practitioner, and learning many lessons that have guided me towards self-growth and self-compassion. Upon reflection of lessons big and small, I think the most important thing I have learned is to love myself unconditionally including my shadows. A dear friend introduced me to the book “A Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment” by Thaddeus Golas. In this book, my most valuable lesson, is discussed in which that it is important to love even the darkest parts of our self. This idea had connected me to so many of my experiences in life. I found myself reflecting on all of my moments of self-love which included the moments that I felt like I was radiant and accomplished. The moments of self-doubt and degradation were when I felt like I was out of character; irrational, unproductive, and even selfish. Something that my friend and Thaddeus had taught me is that even the shadow parts of ourselves deserve our love not because they define us but because they are part of our human experience. We would lack humanity if we only demanded ourselves to be perfect. So, to sum it up, my most valuable lesson is to love my best and worst qualities and moments of life. Without loving all of it then there is no way to love myself and without that I lack satisfaction that carries me forward with compassion and energy.
What is your favorite part about working for Nourish Your Mind?
My favorite part of working for Nourish Your Mind would be the sense of community amongst the team of clinicians. There seems to be endless support and acceptance of all clinician’s individual styles and ideas. It has already been an amazing experience to collaborate with other yoga therapeutic practitioners to collaborate on class and workshop ideas. The group proved to be motivated but also leaves room for us to have fun with one another. The Nourish Your Mind community allows creativity to thrive which translates into being able to provide the best form of support for clients. The holistic and integrative approach at Nourish Your Mind allows clinician’s to offer skills and therapeutic support that promotes self-nourishment for clinicians and clients alike.
Tell me how you first got involved in with Mental Health . . .
I think that many counselors become involved in the mental health field based on their own life experiences. My first interests in the mental health field came about while I was studying Cultural Anthropology at SUNY New Paltz as an undergraduate student. The study of modern humans involved collecting data from individuals, interviewing members of a certain cultural group, and observing cultural phenomena. My mind began to wonder and find the significance of how cultural agendas may shape and affect the individual psyche. It opened my eyes to wanting to know more about individual processes with an understanding that there is often a cultural backing in the human experience. From there, I knew it was too late in my studies to minor in Psychology but some of the Anthropology courses I complete transferred to an Interdisciplinary Minor in Disaster Studies. I added the minor to my curriculum which was one of the influencing factors towards my graduate studies focus of trauma and grief.
What do you like most about your job at Nourish?
I really enjoy that I am able to integrate a creative and holistic based approach to counseling sessions. I believe in the power of talk therapy and counseling but each individual has different ways that will help them to best cope with their emotions. Working at Nourish allows my personality to come through in counseling while being able to use yoga, meditation, art, and conversation to best tailor the individual needs of clients. It welcomes the strengths of each therapist. There is much to be said about a therapeutic space that encourages mindful behavior not only for the clients but for the clinicians as well.
What are your hopes for the future of the Mental Health Industry?
There are so many hopes for the Mental Health Industry! One is to break the stigma of lower functioning mental health. An individual should not fear a lack of acceptance for recognizing their needs for extra support to feel good. We place such a strong emphasis on medical health with less recognition on how mental and emotional health can effect our medical standing. I would like to see mental health receive a more equal standing on physical health. Also, I would like to see a stronger recognition of how physical and mental health can strongly affect one another.
How would you describe your style as a Therapist?
I would describe my therapeutic style as holistic and active. This does not include the theoretical orientations I tend to follow but I how shape the sessions using my preferred orientations. I like to understand a client’s lifestyle including sleep patterns, diet, stress reduction techniques, etc. I describe myself as active in that once the client and I have established a therapeutic relationship that we are able to work together to take action in establishing skills that can be used to cope with stressors and triggers. From there, the therapeutic process is able to remain active through increased self-understanding.
What do you feel makes you unique as a Mental Health Counselor?
My most defining quality as a Mental Health Counselor is the ability to integrate Kundalini Yoga into individual counseling sessions. It is not always included but offers an expansion of stress reduction techniques through movement, breathing exercises, meditation, and mantra. It allows me to offer a wide variety of traditional therapeutic techniques and to offer holistic techniques when suitable.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I cannot think of something on my own but something that shocks many friends (and family!) is that I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I have a healthy style of eating which includes being mostly gluten free and mostly dairy free. I admit, pizza is sometimes too tempting to pass! Being gluten free and dairy free is my approach to handling being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 11. I have found this dietary change has had the best effect on inflammation and pain in my affected joints. So, add these choices of diet with being a yogi often leads people to think I am a vegan. It often takes me to eat meat in front of these individuals for them to believe that I do enjoy a nice steak from time to time.
Motto or personal mantra?
In relation to my existential ideals: “Memento Vivere, Memento Mori” Remember to live, Remember you will die.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
Especially when beginning with new clients in private practice, I would take it to heart if it was not a “right” match upon intake. I have learned that my methods and style of counseling will not be best suited for everyone and that does not make me inadequate.
I have learned that the therapeutic process requires patience. Progress is not always taking a big leap during every session. Progress may look like 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Therapy might be repetitive in order to find a process that works best for a client.
Establishing a therapeutic relationship is one of the most critical first steps in therapy. I have found this to be true equally between the client and the therapist. This process does not happen in one session but requires an equal amount of effort between therapist and client.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about seeking counseling services for the first time?
I would want to convey the message that therapy is an opportunity of expression and healing that takes place in a safe and nonjudgemental space. That discomfort or worries in making the call for a first appointment is normal as trying anything new can have its discomforts. But, showing up for yourself is the more difficult step and the therapist is there to support you from the moment you walk in the door.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
This is a very seasonal question. While indoors I spend a lot of time reading and enjoy baking and cooking. While not working I do my best to get outside. My favorite outdoor hobbies include disc golf, mountain biking, camping, alpine skiing, and cross country skiing. I spend time with friends and family when I am not off on an adventure.
If you were an animal what would you be? And why?
I would be a dolphin. They are energetic and playful. But, can also be defensive when having to protect themselves and their pod. I appreciate their intelligence and envy being able to swim in the ocean all the time!
What children’s character can you relate with most? And why?
I would have to say Hermione Granger. Growing up I was (and maybe still am) a Harry Potter fan so I became well aquatinted with Hermione through the books and movies. I would always relate to Hermione as being a book worm and somewhat of a know-it-all. I found her character relatable in the loyalty to our friends, the willingness to fight for what is right, and standing up to bullies.
Interested in working with Sara? Reach out to us for an appointment at (845) 547-0479 or NourishYourMind.com/Appointment