As we wrap up this month dedicated to bringing more awareness to topics surrounding mental health, I’d like you to meet another one of our CatholicPsych clinicians and IDDM mentors who has been available to help those who suffer with mental illness.
This week I’d like you to meet Sandra Czybora, LMHC. Sandra lives in New York, has been working at CatholicPsych as a psychotherapist for a little over three years now, and also provides Mentorship through our new model of care (IDDM).
Integrating philosophy, psychology and theology in her work as a therapist, Sandra uses her knowledge of story to explore the lives of her clients, and seeks to foster healing through the unique encounter of the therapeutic relationship. I asked Sandra a few questions about her journey to the mental health field and her experience as a psychotherapist - read on to learn more about her!
Sandra, what drew you to the mental health field?
I think the Lord had been bread-crumbing me from the beginning. I grew up in a place where a psychiatric hospital was the most prominent feature of the landscape. I had lots of encounters with mental illness throughout my life, and felt a particular compassion for people suffering with schizophrenia.
In college, I studied continental philosophy in which there was some overlap with psychology. I was attracted to philosophy in the first place because of its treatment of “the problem of human suffering,” and found that clinical psychology offered a way to use those insights to help people.
It wasn’t until much later that I discerned a call to practice in the context of Catholicism, and decided to complete my formal studies in pastoral counseling, which integrated faith with the practice of psychotherapy.
What do you love most about your work?
My favorite aspect of the work is getting to witness the movement of God in the healing process, experiencing the dynamic action of His love in the therapeutic relationship. He brings someone to me through His knowledge of us both, knowing that something can happen between us that cannot happen between any two other people. It’s clear when He means to heal us both through the relationship, bringing the client some freedom and peace, while honing my capacities for insight and love in the process.
What has working at CatholicPsych allowed you to do that you may not have had the chance to do in other organizations?
Working at CatholicPsych has allowed me to speak openly of the faith in therapy, framing and addressing matters of human experience according to Scripture and the teachings of the Church. It’s allowed me explicitly to identify and distinguish spiritual and psychological matters, helping people to see the interplay between them, but also to understand the differences.
If you could "shout something from the rooftops" related to mental health, what would it be? (Something you just really wish everyone would understand or "get"...)
I would say that suffering is a normal part of human experience. That everyone has been wounded and inevitably wounds others through their own wounded-ness. That Jesus has provided a model of how to respond to that reality, which ultimately ends in forgiveness.
This week's podcast is on Anxiety and Depression. I'm sure you have experience working with clients who have struggled with these issues. Are there any insights or suggestions you can give to those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression?
Trust that it will pass. In the meanwhile, accept the reality of your suffering with peace, so as not to increase it with further worry or compounding sadness. Ask for help to learn ways to tolerate distress and above all, be merciful to yourself.
I see so many people who have internalized misunderstandings about the meanings of Christian sacrifice and perfection, who don’t honor the reality of their humanity and are unknowingly destroying themselves. Please be gentle with yourself.
What would you tell someone who may be reluctant to enter therapy?
No matter where you are in your journey as a human being, there is so much value in cultivating self-knowledge. Even if you’re not suffering as much as you think you should be to warrant therapy, there is benefit in having a relationship with someone who really knows and loves you.
Know someone struggling with mental health issues or feeling a need for help and healing in your own life? Want to speak to one of our therapists or get information about daily support?
Or learn more about Integrated Daily Dialogic Mentorship (IDDM) here.