Private Practice

Meet the Therapist: an Interview with Stephanie Palmer

May 16, 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place every May. As part of our campaign, we’re highlighting mental health professionals in our network. You can read all the stories here.

In this interview, Tava spoke with Stephanie Palmer, a licensed clinical psychologist, who operates her private practice through Tava. Stephanie shares her experience working with Tava and her approach to therapy.  

About Stephanie Palmer, Ph.D

Stephanie Palmer has over 20 years of experience using several modalities in an eclectic psychotherapy approach. As a lover of animals, Stephanie has also trained in equine-assisted psychotherapy. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys painting and ceramics. She’s been in the Tava network for 8 months.

Learn more about Stephanie and if she’s a good match for you here.

What do you enjoy about working with Tava?

I love being able to see clients from all over the country from many different backgrounds with Tava.

What inspired you to become a therapist, and how has your journey shaped your approach to therapy?

My uncle is a psychologist who trained in the 70s in the tradition of psychodynamic humanism.  I have always been deeply moved by his dedication to helping others and his deep-set belief that the relationship between client and therapist is the catalyst for healing. Through time spent with him, I adopted his perspective before I even realized it was the basis for many modern psychodynamic theories. This approach to therapy is my north star; it guides me as I continue to train and learn new skills.

Can you share a particularly rewarding or impactful experience you've had while working with a client?

In my early days as a therapist, I worked in a hospital with children with cancer and blood diseases. In working with these children and their families, I learned that when you experience pain, suffering, and loss in your life, you become intensely aware of other people's experiences of loss too. This knowledge leads to true empathy. It allows you to connect with others, and love more deeply, which is the greatest gift a human can ever receive.

This knowledge leads to true empathy. It allows you to connect with others, and love more deeply, which is the greatest gift a human can ever receive.

How do you stay informed about the latest developments and research in the field of mental health to better serve your clients?

During COVID, there was an explosion in therapists' access to online learning and training in the latest developments and research in the field of mental health.  I am a lifelong learner and I am so grateful to have endless opportunities to train with top specialists in new modalities and advances in therapeutic techniques. I am currently continuing my journey in training in trauma-informed equine therapy, with hybrid classes online and in-person here in Central Texas. I am also beginning a training program in the HeartMath method of relaxation that allows you to observe your real-time heart rate patterns, and learn new breath work and visualization techniques to train your heart over time to slow and calm your entire nervous system. I'm very excited to learn these new tools to bring to my clients!

In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about therapy, and how do you address them with your clients?

One misconception about therapy is that you absolutely must have something specific on your mind to talk about or be in crisis in order to get anything out of it. Some of the most profound and life-changing sessions I have been part of have happened when the person I'm sitting across from comes in with nothing specific to hash out or share. Sometimes that leads to an open mind and heart and the ability to dive into areas of thought and experience we often don't make time for during a crisis.

What strategies do you employ to create a comfortable and safe environment for your clients to open up and express themselves?

The most important things I can do as a therapist to create a comfortable and safe environment is to truly hear what my client is saying - and do everything in my power to make sure my clients know that I understand them, and care deeply about their thoughts and feelings. 

How do you approach the topic of self-care and prevent burnout as a therapist?

I often schedule time into my day to do the things that I love - art, time with my horses, short meditations, and time with the people I love. When I start to feel stressed or burnt out, I know it's time to scale back a bit, tend to my needs, and create time for myself so that I can give my clients the support they deserve.

What advice would you give to individuals who are considering seeking therapy but may feel hesitant or unsure about taking that step?

Be brave and give it a try! Tava allows you to browse profiles of different therapists so you can find someone you think might best fit your personality and needs. Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all thing and it is okay for you to explore different types of therapists to find the person who can be the support you deserve.

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