Therapist Feature: Nadine Burgos, LMSW

We are excited to welcome Nadine Burgos, LMSW to the team! Learn more about Nadine below, and look out for more therapist features in the next couple of months. 

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?

During my junior year in high school, I stumbled upon a psychology elective and no sooner was my existential angst resolved.  I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Upon entering college, I made a commitment to continue studying psychology. Fast forward several years later, I arrived at a fork in the road which led me to earning a master’s degree in Education.  During my years of teaching, I worked closely with general and special education populations.  Eventually, it occurred to me that no matter how much I tried to perfect my pedagogical and content area skills,  the ability of students to process information and take in new knowledge was exceptionally challenging, especially for those for whom mental health services were needed.  This realization was a catalyst which reaffirmed my longing to become a therapist. Upon applying to several graduate schools for social work, I was was awarded The Mayor’s Graduate Scholarship in participation with The Silver School of Social Work at NYU. I completed my graduate degree in social work while working as a teacher and followed the pursuit towards a career as a therapist.

As a therapist, what are you most passionate about? 

I read a recent study that showed that one in five Americans experience some type of mental illness each year, yet do not receive treatment. This statistic is staggering.  Restricted access to mental health, and negative stigmas about seeking professional help are a few reasons for this, but the cost of not treating mental health is too high to ignore. I’m passionate about dispelling the stigma of mental health services and continuing to help build a growing cultural acceptance of treatment.  The positive benefits of mental health are leading to an increased demand for services and a need for more professionals in the field. I love the work that I do and enjoy collaborating with clients from a wide array of demographics. I’m especially passionate in my work when clients begin to utilize the tools and coping skills they have learned in treatment, this is when I know that therapy is valuable for them.  

 What are your specialties and what drew you to them?

My background is in working with children and adolescents diagnosed with learning, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. I currently work with individual adult clients faced with depression and anxiety. I also see couples in treatment. I'm drawn to understanding how couples communicate and how they collaborate in therapy to develop more mutually satisfying relationships. 

What makes you unique as a therapist?

Having a background in education encourages me to incorporate psycho educational supports in therapy. I find that many clients who benefit from this approach enjoy completing worksheets, assigned readings, and self-help (hw) assignments related to treatment. I recently had a client who, after realizing there would be a gap between sessions, asked for homework that she could work on while she was away!  I’m also open to exploring some of the universal themes and content found in films and books (biblio-therapy) to which clients may be able to relate.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

By focusing on the past I may borrow from a psychodynamic approach, by focusing on the present I may draw from evidence-based approaches like CBT and DBT.  My approach can best be described as eclectic/integrative and draws from various orientations.  I typically develop a framework that allows me to work on a range of approaches that are most effective for addressing my clients specific therapeutic needs. I remind clients that therapy is a collaborative effort.  I encourage feedback, participation, and goal setting as ways of motivating change, but also respect that each client moves at a difference pace. I believe that as therapists, we must be willing to face our own history and continue through a discovery of ourselves. The client isn't the only one evolving in treatment, so are we.  

Everyone needs self-care. How do you practice self-care?

Here’s my top ten list:

  • Spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Staring at my Maltese, and contemplating her existence.
  • Purging all things toxic, including products, habits, and people.
  • Playing the piano - this is my daily meditation!   
  • Surrounding myself around nature, a walk through the forest/woods.
  • Committing to a proper sleep schedule,  a healthy diet (responsible amounts of dark chocolate) and regular exercise.
  • Practicing gratitude daily.
  • Traveling and embracing the beauty of new cultures and customs. 
  • Laughter and a healthy sense of humor.
  • Accepting that self-care is non-negotiable!

What is your favorite...

Quote: "Feel the present, hold the vision, let go of resistance, enjoy the journey and trust the process.” Frederik Talloen

Movie: West Side Story.  It never gets old.  It’s timeless!
Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde I tend to read read more non-fiction than fiction.

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know? 

When making the distinction between talking to a friend vs. talking to a therapist there are several things to keep in mind.  Firstly, making the commitment to seek treatment is more encompassing than paying to chat with someone.  A therapist is trained to look at things objectively, to identify behavioral patterns, challenge negative beliefs, and encourage self-reflection.  A therapist uses various theoretical frameworks to help clients reduce symptoms of mental illness while helping clients build cognitive and emotional skills.   Friends may empathize and agree with you, but a therapist may challenge your way of thinking so you can learn to identify and reframe your thoughts. A healthy friendship is a give and take.  If you try to use a friend as a sounding board or as a substitute for therapy, chances are the friendship’s boundaries will be jeopardized and the relationship may become something unhealthy and distorted.  Therapists set therapeutic goals and healthy boundaries.  In therapy, you are the focal point throughout the session and when the session ends, you have a safe, non judgmental, and supportive space to return back to the following week.

Nadine Burgos is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. To schedule an appointment with her or learn more about how therapy can support you in reaching your goals, contact Cobb Psychotherapy.