For starters, I did my training in social work. This is the field that brought you the five day workweek. Social workers have a strong and proud history of being rebel rousers and defenders. Over the years we have professionalized, been put under various stereotypes and big hearted folks who making little money and dedicating their lives to service. Calling myself a social worker means I do everything large and small: want me to review your resume: cool. Want to talk about switching jobs, leaving your spouse, calling 30 people to find you housing, helping out a 17 year old plan for college, all in my wheelhouse.
I was always the guy at the party who ended up talking to people about their lives, as opposed to getting hammered. I spent most of my life trying to understand how to help other people before I helped myself. Before the social work degree, I did a MFA in creative writing and all my stories were about social justice or people struggling to be heard. It’s a theme that I still write about in my poetry. After 30 years of walking the earth I knew I wanted to help people, it was the only thing that really made sense.
The training was done at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in Saint Louis. This was a big move from central NY for me, and I made a decision to go there largely because 1) they have me aid and 2) because the school was the top in the nation. I went there on a scholarship and found that the Midwest was a good temporary fit. I did all my training and site placements in places that worked with minority populations such as: diversity administration, international students and finally a bipolar clinic.
Most of my experience Immediately after graduate school was done doing emergency support of students and faculty in an international environment. One of the things I did was work at Cornell University as their international travel safety coordinator. A job that required me to work long weekends and odd hours whenever a small or large event happened abroad. What began to take up more of my psyche and passion though was domestic support of students. I was part of a team of 30 crisis managers At Cornell University, that would counsel and support students who were struggling. When I was told I would have to stop I knew it was time to stop working for Cornell.
in 2017, I began working at Family & Children’s Services of Ithaca. I was immediately in a space where I found my groove. I built a caseload of 25-30 clients a week and fell in love with the work. While I had studied casework and techniques of therapy out of books I found myself naturally developing my own techniques and using my skills as a storyteller to work with my clients. I work with everyone and my age range spans from 17-70.
In 2020 I started my private practice and consulting/coaching company. I still take contracts working for colleges but my real passion is helping individuals.
Some of the therapeutic skills I work with are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Internal Family Systems, Narrative Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, strength based support and Mindfulness. I talk more about these techniques and how I connect to them in another blog post. If I can say the main influence is mindfulness and I will talk also more about that in another post.
My philosophy is guided by existentialism, spirituality and compassion. I don’t believe people are a system of disorders and diagnoses. I believe we are supposed to go through things in life—to learn. If you refuse the lessons in life then you will get stuck. And getting stuck means you then probably want to talk to a therapist.
So that was the road. Thanks for reading about it.
When I work with men the question arises. How do I get over her?
It's been a while since I thought about this but let me put some things down in writing.
It has been mostly the case with my work that I have seen more men who have come to me struggling to get over relationships than I have found women who have struggled to do the same over a man. In fact, it has been overwhelmingly men who come to me and discuss their past relationships. They come in all forms of relationship distress. They are about to break up. They have just broken up. They are trying to stay together and he does not want them to break up. They are working through their separation or their divorce. Or they are no longer together and he misses her. Or he can't stop thinking about her but they have not been together in a long time.
You catch the drift. All sorts.
This is normal. Men, I have found, are wired in this special way to never give up once they settle down with a mate. You heard that right, once a man makes their decision, they want to go the distance. I believe this goes to the core of what it means to be male, that as men have conquered the world (with families in tow) and fought across lands that the intrinsic drive is always linked to family. This is a good thing, the difficulty is it gets wired incorrectly.
The trouble is, they're not exactly sure of what that exactly means for their relationship and to give their mate what they want. Worse, they're not always sure that they have the commitment mutually metted out between a pair. Simply put, the woman hasn't always decided to give that back to him and many women--countless women find themselves in the cross-hairs of men who they have no interest they want to commit to but end up on the receiving end of affection that they never asked for. This is wrong. I will address in greater detail the core concepts behind this in another post.
Men. We need help. Here's where we start:
1. We need to understand that the process of cultivating partnership is a two way street. If we don't have the skills that our partner needs and we have no interest of working on ourselves then we need to move on with our lives.
2. If someone has expressed they don't want us as a partner, we need to move on.
3. We need to adequately accept and work on ourselves as a being that is not near completion.
4. We need to understand that the way that we have been socialized in this world has been one where we have often been told that being a man is "enough" and that the work of change is not that we have the language or the energy for.
5. We must begin to accept the fact that self care is part of our vocabulary and that living stressed and with poor self-care standards ultimately makes us live a less fulfilling and lonelier life.
I had a friend that I asked how they took care of themselves on a regular basis. The question for a female client would have immediate responses of wine dates with friends, spa time, massages, early bed times, and so on and so forth. But with this male client there was dead silence for a while. I just sat there while he looked around and then said something to the effect, I take a shower sometimes.
This is what drives women mad, brothers, how can we know ourselves and calm our minds and bodies down and work on ourselves if the most time
This is not our own fault, of course not! We have been socialized this way to fight and strive and shut down our emotions and been told to not work on ourselves. Look at the cancer rates for men and women, look at the heart attacks, look at the CoVid cases, we are more stressed out, die earlier and this is our life. We don't know how to stop it.
I could go on. I'm interested in what your own thoughts are about your own wellness and how you relate to this topic.
Men, there is hope for us. Turning to therapy is a huge first step and taking that step allows you to focus on yourself and your own needs. With me you get a man who focuses on both the male and the female condition and I will help you get over whatever you need to work on.
Sometimes you have to begin doing the things you really love. Do you ever feel like you begin things and then you get to the next stage and you're not so sure where things are going? The first blog entry is not supposed to be too impressive, as everything after this should mean something much more.
But writing has always been part of my life and now I'm working with writing and therapy. Writing about therapy. I don't make mention of any of the stories that my client raise in these sessions. Even if I mention that someone told me once, I'm never talking about a client. The session I have with clients are sacred.
I was trained as a creative writing, I did my MFA at a time when I wasn't sure how the work of therapy would be intertwined with my life. As I have been in the field of therapy I have begun thinking more elastically about the field and what are some of the themes that I have encountered in this work. So the blog is what comes next. If you're visiting the website looking for a therapist then--here I am. My best way of sharing who I am is by providing you with my writing. After all, Neruda said: "If you ask me what my poetry is, I'd have to say: I don't know. But if you ask my poetry, she'll tell you who I am."
That works for me too.
Here comes Ithacan therapy. That's the spot. A little corner where I, the Ithacan, can discuss some aspects of what it means to work with people. That and post pictures of dogs and landscapes and that sort of thing. Maybe write a poem or two.
Lex Enrico Santí is a mental health therapist based in Ithaca, NY. He offers therapy sessions in a home practice and can work with clients using a secure telehealth (online) practice. Contact him today for more information.