Mia Gardner, LCSW Psychotherapist & Aspiring Author

What are your areas of expertise?  

I utilize CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and some strengths-based/positive psychology approaches in my work. I specialize in children, families, and family-centered concerns. I have also done a lot of work within the school setting and am able to support children and their parents around any difficulties in that realm. I had received my Family Therapy Certificate from Boston University’s School of Social Work while completing my Masters. Part of the family work is working with individuals struggling with family stressors and complications. Many people need support in functioning within this realm, especially when major things come up, and I am here to provide that support.

I am also working with young adults, especially in life coaching, who are feeling stuck and are looking to find their way, build their self-esteem, and reach their fullest potential.

What led you to decide to become a therapist? 

A combination of personal and professional experiences. Honestly, it started back when I was younger. I am from a small town in the New Jersey suburbs and my parents had been divorced when I was young. Growing up, I was the only one of my friends who had divorced parents so I felt like I could not really talk about it with anyone. I hated the feeling of not knowing what I should or shouldn’t say or not knowing who I could talk to that would understand what I was going through. I told myself then that I wanted to be that person for other people; I wanted to be the one they could talk to when things were difficult.

Of course, I did not know exactly what that meant as an occupation at that time, but as I got older and furthered my education, my path was soon lit up. I took a psychology course in High School and was pretty much sold. I found the information so interesting and useful. It came easily to me and I decided that would be my major and the perfect way for me to support others. While in college, I was blessed enough to be mentored by one of my psychology professors at Sacred Heart University who further guided me down my path. She advised I pursue the counseling side of the profession and go for my masters in Social Work. I applied to Boston University’s program and the rest is history!

Do you believe you were born with the innate qualities to help others or was this developed over time through experiences? 

I am someone who believes we are all here for a reason. With that said, I truly see this as my calling. I think that everything from my personality, skill sets, strengths, and experiences have led me to where I am. I believe I was born with those necessary qualities but they have certainly been shaped over time by experiences and fantastic education programs.

I imagine not 'taking work home' with you is a challenge. How are you able to separate work vs home and what do you like to do outside of work that directly impacts your career? 

It was certainly difficult at first, but it is definitely a message you receive frequently when you are going through the academic and training piece of the work. If you’re doing your job to the best of your abilities, then you know at the end of the day you did all you could to help and support someone. Another important thing to remember is not all of the cases are going to be successful and that is absolutely out of our power past what we can provide them with. What we do is give tools and support, but the rest is in the client’s hands. I’ve always told myself since beginning the work that if I am able to make a positive impact on just one person a day, (and I would like to think I do more than that!) then I am doing my job.

 "I love being able to take even just a few minutes to regroup and set my intentions." -MG via  Instagram @sincerelyyourtherapist

"I love being able to take even just a few minutes to regroup and set my intentions." -MG via Instagram @sincerelyyourtherapist

As I have become more seasoned, I have learned to prioritize self-care. I have activities I do to transition myself from a work mindset to a home mindset. I have my routine to prepare me before work as far as setting my intentions and getting motivated, as well as after work on my way home to decompress. I also created a blog and account called Sincerely, Your Therapist to show others how I manage keeping a positive mindset, maintain self-care, and promote overall wellness. It’s a helpful tool for me as well since it acts as built-in and mandatory journaling! I also enjoy writing overall as well as physical exercise and being social. I have made it a point to join co-ed soccer leagues to continue playing the sport I love.

What is one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as a therapist? 

One of, and I would have to say the biggest, challenge I have encountered is that you can only do so much and the rest is up to them (the client). You cannot help someone who does not want it or is not willing to follow up on the work. We are told as therapists that we should not be working harder than the client; we should each be putting in the effort I order to have a positive outcome. This is hard to accept, especially at first when you are wanting to see everyone improve and have success in their treatment.

The biggest lesson I have learned from being a therapist is it’s okay, and even necessary, to be a little selfish. Hear me out! If we are not able to take care of ourselves and we are not in a good place, we cannot take care of others. At least not the way we should be. Self-care for myself and reinforcing this with clients has easily been the biggest lesson learned. You can certainly make changes without it but they will be short term. Being in a good place with yourself and how you think and feel about yourself is essential in reaching our max potential and any long-term positive changes. As soon as I started making self-care a priority for myself, I noticed a huge difference in my work, in my thinking, my demeanor, and my effectiveness. I have also noticed the same for clients who are able to take this message and be consistent with it. Some see it as selfish if they are putting themselves before others, but the people around you will thank you in the end!

Can you tell us about your aspiration of becoming an author? What is 20 Beautiful Women? 

Absolutely! I have always loving writing. I always told myself (and my parents) that I would write a book one day. Writing was an area I excelled in both academically and personally. It was helpful for me growing up to have writing as a tool because it was a way for me to process and express things when there was a lot going on.

20 Beautiful Women is a book created and put together by an amazing woman named Saba Tekle who had a vision of compiling inspirational stories of women overcoming struggles and accomplishing their goals. I had seen her social media post stating that she was getting started on her newest volume of the series and I reached out to congratulate her and tell her how great it was that she was doing this. I noted that I had submitted an excerpt, as she was taking applications for the women that would make up this new book, and she got back to me the same day that I was approved to be one of the chapters in the book! It was so surreal that someone appreciated my story and that now I would be able to begin telling it to a bigger audience.

  20 Beautiful Women  "20 Stories That Will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion And Inspire Your Divine Purpose” is a collection of personal short stories from 20 authors, speakers, and life coaches bonding together for the common goal of sisterhood, and to transform women from the inside out."

20 Beautiful Women "20 Stories That Will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion And Inspire Your Divine Purpose” is a collection of personal short stories from 20 authors, speakers, and life coaches bonding together for the common goal of sisterhood, and to transform women from the inside out."

Having this happen gave me the push to pursue my own writing further and I began writing Children’s Book manuscripts promoting self-esteem, positive thinking, and positive interactions. The themes were inspired by the work I have been doing with children and families. I wanted to reach a larger audience with these positive messages that are so necessary to our youth. This is all in the works so hopefully more updates soon to come! I am very excited by this project.

If you could offer one piece of therapeutic advice to children & adults who struggle with anxiety/depression what would it be?  

Honestly, it would be that they are not alone and to seek out supports or services. I could list a number of different interventions but if you are truly struggling with any of these or similar things, you need a professional to support you and get you to a place where you are feeling confident and happy again. There are so many supports in the community as well as professional supports and services. The stigma of therapy is diminishing because of how much more widely it is being accessed and how helpful it is to those that find the right therapist. Most of my client’s now laugh and say, “I think everyone should have a therapist!” Why block yourself from being your best you? If you need the help, the best thing you could do for yourself is advocate for yourself and get the help and support you need. These things are absolutely treatable.

 "I'm really appreciating the idea of coming together and empowering each other over comparisons and unhealthy competition. Action is important but it's also important to check in with ourselves and maintain a positive perspective in order to move forward with our ideas and actions in a positive manner." -Mia Gardner via  Instagram

"I'm really appreciating the idea of coming together and empowering each other over comparisons and unhealthy competition. Action is important but it's also important to check in with ourselves and maintain a positive perspective in order to move forward with our ideas and actions in a positive manner." -Mia Gardner via Instagram

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

There have been many in both realms. I strongly believe in giving yourself credit where it’s due and feel that’s a big part of why I was able to make it to where I am. Personally, I was very sheltered growing up. As I mentioned, I came from a small town in the Jersey suburbs so branching out and moving to a new city and making my own life there has been huge for me. It was completely out of my comfort zone so it’s a proud feeling that I not only did it, but excelled and created a new and wonderful life for myself. I was also a Division 1 soccer player in college which was a big accomplishment for me as well since that was a dream of mine growing up, especially with the name Mia! And yes, Mia Hamm was one of my idols.

Professionally I would have to say getting a spot in my private practice. I always knew it was something I wanted and something I would do, but I saw it being something I would do WAY down the line. I finally stopped telling myself I wasn’t ready and that I had to wait and went for it. It was such a powerful moment to hear that I was chosen to be part of this prestigious private practice group, and at just 25 years old!

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

While there are many great ones, my all-time favorite is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” by Vivian Greene. It’s a quote I came across when I was younger and have come to live by. I love everything about it; the fun of it, the light heartedness, the hope. I feel like it pretty much sums up me and my life. It’s always been something I have kept in mind, and is the reason I have to smile a little whenever it rains. Ironically, it’s also a concept I have based my practice and approach on in helping people to shift their perspectives and focus on the things they can control rather than what they cannot.

 "The approach I use with my clients, both therapy and coaching, is a shift in perspective and thinking. It's about recognizing the things you can control and shifting your focus to these things rather than having your focus on the things you cannot." Read More @  SINCERELY YOUR THERAPIST

"The approach I use with my clients, both therapy and coaching, is a shift in perspective and thinking. It's about recognizing the things you can control and shifting your focus to these things rather than having your focus on the things you cannot." Read More @ SINCERELY YOUR THERAPIST

In one word, describe yourself: 

Ambitious

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To Connect with Mia

Instagram: @sincerelyyourtherapist

Facebook: @sincerelyyt

Website: www.sincerelyyourtherapist.com