Aliza Shapiro is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York, NY specializing in the treatment of anxiety, OCD, depression, ADHD, and relationship challenges. She is also licensed to provide remote therapy sessions to clients in New Jersey and Florida. We asked Aliza more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Aliza’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I first started learning about the field of psychology when, in my teenage years, I found my sister’s graduate school books lying around the house. I remember reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough one Saturday afternoon, and my world opened up to the mysteries of human character, and our capacity to respond to life’s adversities either with ‘stuckness,’ or with perseverance, curiosity, and growth. A natural empath, his research and prose spoke straight to my heart, and the more I learned, the more I realized that I wanted to spend my life helping others learn about and apply the secrets of healing and human development to their lives too.
Aliza’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Healing looks different for everyone, but as a therapist, my guiding principals stay the same. I believe that everyone who shows up to therapy, or to self-reflection of any kind, already possesses the inner qualities of courage, resilience, and grit. I tell my clients that picking up the phone to schedule their first therapy appointment is the living proof, because simply beginning is often the hardest part. More deeply, my work with anxiety has taught me as a therapist that we humans possess an incredible capacity for change.
I have witnessed so many clients conquer fears that they never believed possible. Being a part of that experience has deepened my belief that when we’re willing to grow, challenges are not life-sentences but roadmaps for who we can become.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I work with individuals across the mental health spectrum and specialize in working with anxiety and related disorders in adults and children. I trained in treating anxiety and OCD for over five years before starting my own practice, and I have found that when individuals learn to both understand and face their fears, the outcomes are incredible. I am ever-inspired by my clients that valiantly do the work of healing through their anxiety both in the therapy room and out. In my time as a therapist, I have also found that very often, those who face the highest amounts of fear also possess the highest levels of resilience, which is a beautiful thing to see.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in OCD?
I work with individuals with many different forms of OCD, most commonly, relationship OCD, illness anxiety (hypochondriasis), and religious and moral OCD. Perhaps the biggest challenge in the treatment of OCD is that so many people don’t find the right help, even though there is an empowering, effective, and personalized protocol designed for exactly what they're going through. Exposure therapy is a hugely powerful tool, and there is a lot of hope to be had in the treatment process overall.
Can you tell us more about your work with professionals and high-achieving individuals?
Alongside my work as a therapist, I also worked for years as the VP of People and Culture across psychology practices in New York and Massachusetts. During my work with corporate leadership groups, I also started providing individual sessions for people in high performance, entrepreneurial, and public facing roles. Helping high-achieving individuals understand the intersection between emotion and performance, along with how to break through personal barriers in their personal and professional lives, has become a truly meaningful part of my work.
Therapy sessions with Aliza
How long do clients typically see you for?
Clients who come in with specific challenges usually attend therapy for 12-16 weeks, and I'll often work with people 1-2 times weekly. We periodically check in on therapeutic goals, progress, and next steps that would be most in line with the client’s healing process. Clients also commonly attend therapy for ongoing support and to address longer term goals (which so many of us need in a time full of so much uncertainty). Above all, it is my goal to best guide each individual client in their own journey, with the recognition that no two of us are the same and our healing processes aren't either.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
Yes! I often recommend:
- The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yolum
- Attached by Amir Levine
- Freedom From OCD by Jonathan Grayson
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
My goal as a therapist is to empower each client to take the work in the session out to everyday life. If helpful to the therapy process (each human being is different, and so is their treatment) I often provide personalized homework goals to help clients practice emotion regulation, facing fears, or changing interpersonal dynamics in their own lives. We get creative for homework goals and sometimes clients do homework on dates, in meeting with their bosses, or with talking to strangers on the street. It can become a highly empowering tool for clients to not only track their progress, but also bear witness to the changes that they begin to see in their everyday lives.
How can I prepare for our first session?
The only thing you need to bring to our first session, and sessions thereafter, is the courage to turn the lights on to each part of you. Trusting therapy process takes time, but as you build that trust, continue to bring openness, honesty, and vulnerability to the work for that is where the deepest healing lies.
Visit Aliza’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more, and book an initial call!