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  • Writer's pictureLex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA

The road to become a therapist

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

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.

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