talkhealth meets...Marina Lorenzato
Marina Lorenzato is a psychotherapist based in London. Originally from Brazil, she specialises in anxiety, depression and relationship issues, as well as things like addiction, eating disorders and self-harm.
What made you decide to become a psychotherapist?
I was always interested in the way human beings establish their relationship with themselves and with others. My mother is a psychologist so mental health issues were openly discussed at home. As a child, I had a babysitter who was a healer and her alternative ways of working always fascinated me. The contrast between her methods and my family’s more conventional ways of working were intriguing.
I started to read Irvin Yalom’s books (an American psychiatrist) when I was a teenager and became very interested in how psychology and psychotherapy can help us cope with life challenges. The chats I had with my mum and my reading made me realise that most human beings (including myself with my hyper-focus on psychological topics) bear the traits of psychological wounds to different degrees. I think this helped me to see mental health issues in a less pathologizing way.
A few years later, I studied psychology as part of an MA in Marketing. From that point, I just knew that one day I would change my career and pursue a degree in Psychotherapy. My desire to understand myself and my interest in supporting others on their life journey was too strong to be neglected.
What are the main issues that people tend to come for help with?
During the Coronavirus crisis, anxiety and loneliness are negatively impacting our everyday lives so they have been the most common issues lately. These two conditions are natural to human beings, but the pandemic has acutely aggravated them. The levels of uncertainty are intolerable to many people in this time of hardship.
Your approach is 'integrative with a transpersonal aspect'. What does that mean?
I work by thinking about the human being as a whole: body, emotions, feelings, thoughts, intuition, and all the ways human beings can express themselves in the world are welcome in the process.
That combined approach can offer insights for a life with more choices. In opposition to other models that mostly focus on the brain and on correcting behaviours, as an integrative therapist with a transpersonal lense, I believe that all uncomfortable feelings or mental health issues serve the function of a “wake up call”. There is something trying to emerge behind any mental health problem.
The transpersonal aspect brings a lot of compassion in order to understand where that client is in their life journey. I try to look at the person, and not the problem or the mental health label. The person and their journey are bigger than labels and problems.
How has your Brazilian background influenced your interest in the work you do?
Brazil is a vast multicultural and multiracial society and we deal with aspects of it on daily basis. I believe that being exposed to such diversity of culture, race, religion, sexuality and social class has made me open and appreciative of these aspects of society.
I am passionate about working with women, minority groups, people from cross-cultural and LGBT+ backgrounds.
What happens at a therapy session?
The first session is a bit different from the other sessions as I need to ask a lot of questions about family background and relationship history to understand the problem in context. Think of it as an informal conversation; I do my best to make the clients feel comfortable and to offer a safe space with no judgment.
The following sessions can go in different ways depending on the clients and on what they want to work on. Apart from talking therapy, I also like to work experientially through guided imagery, meditation practices, body scan meditation, breathing exercises, role play, archetypes, and anything that can bring more awareness to the client’s life experience.
Many talkhealth members live with chronic conditions. How does living with a long-term issue impact on mental health and how can therapy help?
Living with a long-term illness can be very challenging as it can change the way you experience life. Sometimes the frustration is overwhelming and it can leave you feeling depleted.
I believe self-compassion and body awareness are key principles for coping with long term illness and therapy can help people to develop those.
How has coronavirus impacted on the way you deliver help?
I used to be very resistant towards online therapy. Then, one day, I had one of the most transformative sessions I have ever had via Skype. The therapist was in London and I was visiting my family in Brazil. After that, I started to see things in a different light. I think the most important thing about therapy is the connection between client and therapist. If this can be achieved online, the process can be powerful and healing.
I have been working consistently online since the beginning of March and the sessions have been just as rich as the physically present work I have done. Of course, there are differences and they need to be acknowledged in the process but I have experienced the differences as a therapist and as a client in a positive way.
What advice would you give someone thinking about taking up therapy for the first time?
The most important thing is to feel comfortable and connected to the therapist. I would recommend that they choose carefully, read into the therapist’s profiles, background and therapy model. Most therapists offer a free phone chat before committing to a session and this can help both, the therapist and the client, assess if they are a good fit.
It is also important to be assured that everything is confidential in accordance with the Ethical Framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
You can contact Marina here. She offers online counselling in Portuguese and English and she also runs in-person sessions in central and east London.
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Last revised: 30 July 2020
Next review: 30 July 2023