Cindy Cisneros is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor licensed in the states of Maryland and Virginia. As a highly creative person herself, Cindy enjoys working with fellow artists and creative professionals across the lifespan on topics relating to perfectionism, anxiety, creative/writer's block, depression, and life transitions. In addition to therapy, Cindy offers Creative Coaching sessions to clients looking for an action-oriented approach to expand their creative capacity and improve their creative confidence.
We asked Cindy more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Cindy’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I grew up with many rules and expectations that smothered my authenticity and left me feeling profoundly unhappy. Blind to my own creative personality, I sought support from the mental health system, which ultimately failed me. I was never seen as the creative person I was!
Later, in Graduate School, I wrote a thesis on the relationship between mental health and creativity. I was awakened through research to the commonalities creative personalities share: their strength, their power, their need to make meaning, and their need live authentically. I also found that the more creative people were, the more they needed to create to be well. These principles became foundational to my work! I created a philosophy for myself that I now share with other creative people to help them change their lives. I live as an example of reclaiming your creative identity and power to make your dreams come true!
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I have a strong work ethic and have always had a job (since I was 14!), but I have also had some pretty amazing jobs in mental health! I worked for Sheppard Pratt and Johns Hopkins to name a few—everywhere I went I always included creativity and art in my approach to healing.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am an artist and love to spend my time behind a canvas with a paintbrush in my hand. I also love the sky over my head and enjoy running and, more recently, have taken up horseback riding as a part of my own childhood dream fulfillment!
Cindy’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
I have built my practice upon a basic, 3-part philosophy for helping people with creative, smart, and artistic brains. Everything I do with my clients is centered upon this philosophy that I have researched, developed, tested, practiced myself, and watched as those I work with implemented and flourished.
The fundamentals of this philosophy are 2 important things:
1.) Creative personalities are distinct and have commonalities and should be treated and supported as such
2.) Creative people need to create in order to stay well.
My philosophy for helping is:
1.) You must know your creative personality thoroughly
2.) You must learn the tools to support it fully
3.) You must put your natural creative energies to work towards what brings you meaning in your life.
When you do these things successfully, you will be able to actualize your dreams!
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
If you have a creative mind, I want to help you succeed and be well. Creative People are people who thrive on authenticity, meaning-making, and paving their own way in the world. Whether through music, art, science, or literature, you are motivated to live and speak your truth and contribute meaningfully. These powerful forces are part of you and need to be cared for and supported. If you have felt lost, confused, or overwhelmed in your life, I believe you weren't fully appreciated or supported as a Creative Person.
If you have looked at your creative future with uncertainty, lack of clarity, and frustration, I believe your creative vision was not fully nurtured. I know Creative People and am passionate about helping you because I, too, am an artist and have a story of being misunderstood and struggling to find my own way.
Can you tell us more about your work with clients struggling with perfectionism?
This is one of the biggest presenting problems for highly Creative People: high standards causing problems like analysis paralysis, indecision, a strong inner critic, creative blocks, depression, poor self esteem, and/or difficulty moving forward in general. Part of my philosophy in working with Creative People is addressing this obstacle.
Can you tell us about your specialty in anxiety?
Creative Personalities have powerful energies, yet, when they are not pointed at productive, meaningful activities in your life, it can result in common anxiety-related symptoms: social anxiety, worrying, panic attacks, OCD, problems sleeping, fear of the future, and more. While providing coping skills like mindfulness to support anxiety relief, my healing philosophy supports your entire Creative Personality so your strong energies become in alignment with your personal needs, ultimately relieving anxiety problems permanently.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Saving you from my struggle. Truly! I know the pain I went through to understand and harness my own creativity. I know how limited the resources are out there to be understood and supported as a Creative Person. I also know how powerful Creative People are! I believe Creative People are the future, and nothing is more fulfilling to me than to see the magic you can create when you have the tools and information you need at your fingertips!
Therapy sessions with Cindy
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
It depends if we are working together for Creativity Coaching or Creativity Counseling, but my first session with clients is very thorough and designed to get a full picture of you, your personality, your needs, and make a plan for our continued work together. I dedicate my practice to a small number of clients at a time to impact maximum change with you and am committed to giving you the time and energy you need to make a difference in your life.
How long do clients typically see you for?
There is no set time for care, but my goal is to impact meaningful change in your life expeditiously. That is why I dedicate myself to a small caseload of clients at a time. I know your time and your life is precious, and we are here to make it better, ASAP!
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
100%! Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel is Game. Changing.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
Always! My coaching clients have an active, personalized, Coaching Plan we use as a working document with real action steps for between-session work. My counseling clients will receive recommended exercises and steps to complete between sessions to accentuate the work we did together during session.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
Coaching clients keep active track of their work and progress in their Coaching Plan, and, together, we regularly update the goals and action steps. Counseling clients keep bullet journals of their symptoms, which we identify together during the first session and practice checking in with regularly to notice if symptoms are improving over time.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
If you are looking, then it is time!
How can I prepare for our first session?
For the first session? Nothing. Just yourself, a device with connectivity, a camera, and a microphone are all you need. All my sessions are completed virtually.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
We check in about this often. At the end of each appointment, I encourage my clients to speak freely about how they feel about their progress and current session frequency, and I will do the same. This is always an open conversation, and your chance to practice assertiveness in a safe space.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
You know what, you could do either one. There is no proof that one is better than the other. Your goal is to really just feel better. If your family and friends are who make you feel better, then that is absolutely what you should do. If you feel that added or different support is something you want to try, therapy is always here for you. And- don't forget—you can always change your mind :)
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Therapy is not a magic wand. Your commitment is. In a way, it almost doesn't matter what you commit to, what matters is that you feel committed to it. So my advice is: when choosing help, give it a vibe check. Check that it "feels" good to you and is a space you can be honest, be vulnerable, be understood, and feel good enough to show up again and again to do what you said you were going to do there.
Visit Cindy’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and contact her for an initial consultation!