Talking with Nick Venegoni about Alternatives to Talk Therapy
My friend Nick Venegoni has been studying and training in various therapies for several years now, and he's been working with clients for over four years. His Website is full of useful information about the types of therapy he offers, which includes everything from fairly traditional talk therapy to guided meditations, hypnotherapy, art therapy, and other transpersonal and integrative approaches. The site even offers a flavor of his work through a free guided mindfulness relaxation exercise.
Having worked as a counselor in the past, especially around issues of gender and sexuality, I talk to a lot of people who ask me to recommend a good therapist, so I thought I'd find out more about the work Nick does. I hope it's helpful!
Brent Calderwood: "Mindfulness" is a word that's used a lot by psychologists these days, notably in the treatment of depression. What exactly does it mean? Why do you think it's become so "trendy"? How does it show up in the work you do?
Nick Venegoni: Yes, the term mindfulness is a bit trendy these days, but it's nothing new. I believe that it came out of different kinds of meditation practices, and it engages a person’s awareness to the point of noticing their thoughts and learning that they are not their mind. … It's also extremely effective in the treatment of depression, stress, anxiety and anger…. I think it is trendy because it is so effective when a person commits to the discipline.... A majority of my clients start each session with a simple mindfulness exercise, and as they internalize the changes and see the benefits, they begin to look forward to it. I encourage them to practice on their own between sessions, and many do.
You have training in several types of therapy, including hypnotherapy. Why might someone seek hypnotherapy, and what happens during a typical session?
People seek hypnotherapy for a variety of reasons, mostly for help breaking addictions, phobias or habitual behaviors. But hypnotherapy can be a quick, powerful and very effective way to get to and heal core issues as well. I practice hypnotherapy in the style of Depth Hypnosis as created by Isa Gucciardi, PhD, and the kind of work I prefer to do focuses on the former - to sink into a place deep in the psyche which might not be as accessible in a normal, conscious state. Often healing these deeper wounds results in resolution of habits, addictions or phobias, which were simply symptoms of the wound, not the wound itself.
You have a Masters in Transpersonal/Integral Counseling Psychology. Those first two terms may be new for a lot of people. What exactly do they mean, and how do they show up in the work you do?
Transpersonal means across or through the personal - encompassing everything about a person and beyond. It's a way of conceiving all parts of an individual, not just the parts that are wounded but the parts that are strong and healthy as well…. Integral in this case means the essential core of a person as well as integrating that which is necessary to become more complete - integrating and synthesizing that which supports our health.
What advice would you give to someone who's interested in the kinds of therapy you do, but maybe they don't know how to get started or they don't know what kind of therapist would be best for them?
I would recommend that they think about what works best for them in therapeutic situations, and do research on a variety of therapists. Most have websites or listings which give a taste about their style and strengths. Then make contact - most therapists are willing to have a 10 to 15 minute phone conversation to see if you're a good fit. It's also helpful for the therapist because sometimes the therapist might be able to tell the prospective client they could be better served by a different clinician because of a specialty or skill set, and could give the client referrals. And it's OK if you go see a therapist and decide it's not a fit - it's important to feel safe and comfortable with a therapist.
Nick Venegoni is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (supervised by Karen Palamos, LMFT, MFC38971) who specializes in working with people struggling with anxiety and anger through mindfulness based practices. If you'd like to know more about him, check out his Website here.