May 16, 2023
View Article at Bold Journey
We recently connected with Leor Ram and have shared our conversation below.
Leor, we are so happy that our community is going to have a chance to learn more about you, your story and hopefully even take in some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Let’s start with self-care – what do you do for self-care and has it had any impact on your effectiveness?
Self-care is absolutely essential to the work I do. A large part of my work involves being emotionally available to my clients, which becomes very challenging, if not practically impossible, without taking the time to care for my own wellbeing. Since self-care is vital, I employ various strategies to recharge. One of my favorite ways to engage in self-care is reading, especially non-fiction books or revisiting books I’ve loved in the past. Books like Irving Yalom’s “The Gift of Therapy” serve as excellent reminders of the humanistic, existential, and “here-and-now” relational methods that I find so meaningful in my work. I also enjoy reading almost anything by Nancy McWilliams. Her enriching and insightful writing on psychoanalytic theory and practice not only sharpens my clinical skills but also provides me with a deeper understanding of my own emotional experiences. This combination of professional development and self-reflection enables me to better support my clients on their own journeys and feel empowered when returning to work.
It’s not just through books that I address my need for self-care. I participate in several consultation groups with colleagues each week, where we discuss our cases and help each other see our work from different perspectives. I always leave these groups feeling grateful for the expertise of my colleagues and their deep understanding of the importance and privilege of our work. It’s also a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and support one another with difficult cases.
I also see my own therapist, which I believe every therapist should do. Our work demands a lot from us, and navigating our own emotions can be challenging. Having another professional help me process my inner experiences provides a solid foundation from which I can organize my thoughts and engage more effectively in my work.
Of course, I also practice self-care by stepping away from work and engaging in social events with friends, spending time with loved ones, traveling as often as possible, and enjoying delicious food. I watch movies or TV shows in my spare time, though I tend to avoid anything that reminds me too much of work; otherwise, I end up diagnosing the characters rather than enjoying the story.
Lastly, when I truly want to decompress, I find that alone time is sometimes the most valuable. Whether I’m out in nature on a hike, exercising, sitting in a park, or enjoying a meal by myself, my alone time is incredibly important to me as a way to connect with myself and my inner world. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and the never-ending “to-do” list, so alone time offers me the opportunity to settle into myself and explore what arises.
Thanks, so before we move on maybe you can share a bit more about yourself?
My journey with psychotherapy began during a challenging time in my life when I sought greater purpose in my daily routine. My therapist at the time recommended that I try volunteering, so I joined a crisis and suicide prevention hotline for an LGBTQ youth organization, The Trevor Project. My training and experience there were incredibly rewarding, and I loved working with the people, the nature of the work, and especially assisting young individuals reaching out for help. In fact, I often discussed various aspects of the callers’ lives, trying to find additional resources and ways to help them, to the point where my supervisor would remind me that I was “not the caller’s therapist” and needed to move on to the next caller in crisis after resolving the current one. After hearing this several times and reflecting on the benefits I experienced from my own therapy, I decided to go back to graduate school and start my career shift to becoming a therapist.
Since then, I have become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Certified Group Psychotherapist, working with individuals, couples, families, groups, and businesses. I am also a clinical member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), and the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), where I have had the honor of presenting my research on contemporary difficulties and trends within the LGBTQ+ community. In 2020, I established my own group practice, Integrative Psychotherapy Group.
At Integrative Psychotherapy Group, I am proud to offer insightful therapy to address our clients’ concerns and guide meaningful change. I believe therapy can provide relief and self-awareness for those feeling overwhelmed or struggling to identify the root of their problems. As a psychotherapist, I specialize in LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy and find working with this community exceptionally rewarding, as I collaborate with clients to explore the most intimate aspects of their evolving identities. Having trained and worked for years with a certified sex diplomate of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), I am also honored to assist individuals in addressing concerns related to their sexuality and sexual difficulties. In conjunction with the consulting branch of my practice, I find these additional specialties engaging, exceptional, and immensely enjoyable.
I also offer services as a media consultant and work with business executives and teams to provide coaching and workshops for specific challenges through our consulting arm, Integrative Consulting Group. Integrative Consulting Group’s executive coaching helps an organization’s top decision-makers transition from thinking to acting in ways that yield better results. My ultimate goal is to help organizations avoid stagnation. Companies face challenges related to transitions, including management changes, mergers, the adoption of new technologies, regulatory changes, employee attrition, and fluctuations in demand for their products or services. I strive to help these companies maximize success for the organization as a whole and for the individuals who keep it thriving.
Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these?
The quality that has helped me the most as a psychotherapist is my curiosity about people. As a child, when I traveled with my family to different places and saw apartment buildings lining the streets, I would gaze up at the windows, some illuminated and some dark, and wonder about what was happening behind the glass. Who lived there? What were they doing? What were their lives like? Were they having fun, fighting, sleeping, or playing games? Our shared humanity fascinated me, and my imagination would explore these questions. This inquisitiveness has been with me for as long as I can remember, and it undoubtedly played a part in guiding me along my winding journey to this field. The places where I had the opportunity to train helped me embrace the wonder of this work. There is no doubt that I would not be where I am today without the encouragement, guidance, education, and support I received at these sites.
My first introduction to the mental health world through volunteering at The Trevor Project taught me what crisis and suicide intervention entailed and how to help someone access the resources needed to save their lives. It was an incredibly powerful, life-changing experience, and I owe it to their amazing training, staff, and outreach.
When I began my official training as a therapist, I was fortunate enough to train at The Maple Counseling Center. This provided me with an outstanding opportunity to learn from, and be supervised by, some of the most experienced and knowledgeable therapists in Southern California. These individuals were absolute standouts. I cannot imagine progressing in my career without the foundation they instilled in me through skills, insight, experience, advice, and support. I highly recommend The Maple Counseling Center for anyone considering a career in psychotherapy.
Continuing my training, my work with the Early Childhood Development Center and Teen Line offered excellent opportunities to understand childhood and teenage development. This benefitted my work with families and allowed me to better treat the impact that childhood and adolescent experiences have on my adult clients. Moreover, these children and teens stole my heart! They were impressive, brave, and simply phenomenal individuals.
My training and work at Paula E. Bruce, PhD & Associates gave me the experience needed to learn how a valuable, professional, resourceful, and excellent private practice can (and should) be run. Dr. Paula Bruce is a powerhouse, and having her as a supervisor for many years positively impacted my career path.
I also firmly believe that my previous degrees and involvement in other professions – including the entertainment and film production industries, real estate and development industries, business operations management, family-run companies, and multicultural organizations – have all provided me with a robust background and a wide range of business-related competencies and strategies that I can use in my consulting and media work. Without these experiences, I would be approaching my consulting efforts from a purely theoretical perspective, which I doubt would be as effective in addressing the complex concerns I am there to tackle.
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of any career journey is to explore what excites and motivates a person. Developing personal interests leads to a good fit for organizations and leaders who can offer guidance and support. When I fully immersed myself in a specific aspect of this work that I found stimulating, I was more inclined to connect with others who shared my passion for the subject matter, and that has led to wonderful, long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
We’ve all got limited resources, time, energy, focus etc – so if you had to choose between going all in on your strengths or working on areas where you aren’t as strong, what would you choose?
I have seen countless individuals struggle with the question of whether to focus on their strengths or invest time and energy into improving their weaknesses. From my years of practice, I have found that fully concentrating on one’s strengths is often more effective than trying to become well-rounded by working on weaker areas. There are several reasons for my perspective on this. First and foremost, focusing on our strengths allows us to build upon our natural abilities and passions. When we engage in activities at which we excel and enjoy, we are more likely to experience positive emotions such as joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. This contributes to our overall wellbeing and fuels our motivation to continue pursuing our goals. Current research has even confirmed that focusing on our innate strengths has an exponential benefit to our development, as opposed to the marginal benefit we see when we attempt to improve our natural weaknesses.
Another reason is that by concentrating on our strengths, we can achieve a higher level of expertise in those areas. As we become more skilled, we are better equipped to make a significant impact in our chosen fields – whether it be in our careers, personal lives, or communities. We can then leverage our expertise to inspire and support others, creating a ripple effect of positive change.
That being said, I do not advocate for completely ignoring our weaker areas. It is essential to be aware of our limitations and address them when necessary, particularly if they hinder our ability to achieve our goals or maintain a healthy balance in life. However, the key is to strike a balance between self-improvement and leveraging our existing strengths.
In the context of therapy, I encourage clients to recognize and celebrate their strengths while also addressing areas that may require attention. This approach fosters a sense of self-compassion and encourages individuals to embrace their unique qualities rather than striving for an unattainable ideal of “complete” well-roundedness.
- Website: www.integrativetherapygroup.com
- Instagram: @integrativetherapygroup
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/integrativetherapygroup/
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/company/integrative-psychotherapy-group/
- Twitter: @inttherapygroup