min read
November 20, 2023

An Interview With Aliza Shapiro

Licensed therapist and founder of Therapy In The City.

Lanby Team
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Aliza Shapiro, LCSW, is a licensed therapist and founder of Therapy in the City, a private practice in NY, NJ, FL, TX, and CA. In her clinical work, Aliza helps adults, young adults, and adolescents overcome a wide array of mental health challenges including depression, anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. Her team specializes in cognitive and dialectical behavior therapies (CBT and DBT), and serves individuals, couples, and families across the lifespan struggling with an array of mental health challenges including trauma, ADHD, relationship challenges, eating disorders, and life transitions.  

Aliza is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness, and utilizes social media to normalize mental health topics, break stigmas, and create community. Aliza currently serves as a consultant and board member of Popsugar Wellness, Miami Concierge Pediatrics, and Teen Health 101. Aliza can be found on Instagram at: @therapist_in_nyc, and reached at aliza@therapyinthecity.org or on her website at www.therapyinthecity.org

What inspired you to pursue psychotherapy as a specialty?  

Growing up, my emotions always felt bigger than I knew how to comprehend. I tried out therapy but never felt a real connection with my providers, or understood in my experiences. The stigma around therapy was also wildly high when I was young, and I carried so much shame and confusion around the very normal emotions I was having as a sensitive, openhearted human being. But as I started learning about the field of psychology, the more I started to find answers to my seemingly lifelong questions. And the more answers I found, the more I felt a desire to share them with the world. In my undergraduate years, I began volunteering for just about every therapy related and social justice program I could find. I worked at a shelter for homeless women, volunteered with teen survivors of sexual abuse, taught high school and gap year elective courses about feminism and psychology, and spent time with families in the Middle East suffering from poverty. Each experience lit my heart on fire, both with empathy and the recognition that we can in fact create micro and macro changes in people’s lives with compassion, understanding, and support. It seemed like the only path forward from then on was a combination of the fields of psychotherapy and social work, which is where I am so grateful to be now.

How do you decide which treatment approach is best for an individual patient? For example, in what cases would you use CBT instead of ERP, and vice versa?

Our philosophy is to meet our patients where they are, and give them a personalized roadmap to healing. When determining a treatment approach, we consider three primary things: what are our patient’s symptoms, what are our patient’s goals, and what are our patient’s unique personality needs? Based on those answers, we formulate a treatment plan that feels tailored to the individual’s unique experience, while still following a guided treatment plan that is evidence–based and effective. Our methods follow the science, but the way we connect with each person’s humanity is more like the art.

Social isolation became a huge problem during the height of the COVID pandemic. How have our habits and behaviors changed since that time?

On the upside, the pandemic revolutionized therapy. Thanks to technology and the destigmatization of mental health, therapy has become normalized and much more accessible. Executives who are always running to and from meetings can Zoom in from the office, and moms who are juggling carpools can now meet providers from the comfort of their own homes. But the uptick in therapy services (albeit a huge win for mental health), was the result of a collective trauma that we all very much needed support through. And because of that trauma, it has taken a lot of effort for many adults, especially those with predispositions to anxiety, to readjust to aspects of post-pandemic life. Socialization, leaving the home every day, confronting health related triggers, and just generally stepping outside of our comfort zones are things that we’ve had to readjust to, seemingly from scratch. On the up side, we as providers have also noticed a much more open minded recognition of the importance of self-care, prioritization of mental health, and emphasis on work-life balance. As we work through the grief and anxiety that the pandemic has left on our habits and routines, we may also find COVID has left changes for the better within us too.

What advancements or research within the field of psychology are you currently most excited about?

Studying (and practicing) meditation has been my secret passion project for the last nine years. In graduate school, I began researching neurobiology, neuroplasticity, and the impacts of meditation on the treatment of mental health. On a personal level, mindfulness and meditation absolutely transformed me. I struggled with a “racing brain” for most of my teen and adult life, and the deeply powerful wisdom of Eastern medicine has by far been the most impactful way that I have learned to change my inner world. I am currently reading “Into the Magic Shop” by Dr. James Doty, a neurosurgeon who shares about how he learned to harness the powers of brain and the heart, and how those habits changed the trajectory of his life, against all odds.  

At The Lanby, we value hospitality as a key factor in optimizing health outcomes. In what way do you apply the tenets of hospitality to your approach to care?

We value that same ideology wholeheartedly, and we apply it firstly, with an individualized approach to care, and secondly, with a strong emphasis on collaboration:

We look at every one of our patients through a lens of having a unique story, and in turn we create a unique plan for treatment to meet those needs. During our introductory calls, each patient is matched with the clinician on our team who we think would be best suited based on the patient’s presenting challenges, provider’s clinical expertise, and the necessary level of care. We want our patients to succeed, so we ensure that patients are providers and matched with the best possible outcomes in mind.

Additionally, we believe strongly that mental health doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and in order for healing to occur and wellness to be maintained, it needs to be treated holistically. At our practice we make it our mission to collaborate with, and create space for, every element of a patient’s human experience including primary care providers, psychiatrists, school personnel, partners, and family members whose involvement would enhance the patient care experience. It is, and will always be, our greatest value to help our patient’s create change in their lives that lasts. However we can do that becomes our mission.

To schedule a session or a consultation call with Aliza, or learn more about our services, please contact: 

email: info@therapyinthecity.org, phone: 646-494-2653; website: www.therapyinthecity.org.

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The Lanby Editorial Team