Therapy with Conner Romanowsky, LCSW

Conner Romanowsky is a Licensed Certified Social Worker in New Jersey specializing in complex trauma, anxiety, and addiction. We asked Conner more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Conner’s background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

I decided to become a therapist after a friend joked about going into the medical field. I scoffed and thought I was too old to go back to school. I already had an extensive career in competitive piano playing, I had my son already, so why would I switch? After I did the research, I realized that I have all the qualities of a fantastic therapist, so I took the dive into social work and haven't looked back since.

What was your previous work before going into private practice?

Before I became a therapist, I was a piano teacher and musician. After I became a therapist, I worked in outpatient substance use treatment for several years and then at the VA with veterans suffering with PTSD. Before I had the confidence to go into private practice, I tried an online therapy platform. Once I realized my talents and what I had to offer the amazing women I met there, I decided to go full-throttle into private practice so I could focus on my specialty and provide the best care that I can. I will always be grateful to the wonderful people that I've had the honor of working with, I wouldn't be here without them.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have so many hobbies! I love painting abstract art with watercolors and acrylic, and crafting in my bullet journals. I love listening to Japanese music and watching anime. Aside from my private practice I also do sound and energy healing, so I spend a lot of time with my crystal singing bowls and studying metaphysics and spirituality.

Conner’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

I believe in providing a safe space for women to tell their story and to be a witness to their experience so they can speak their truth. I believe in guiding women back to the safety of their bodies and to undo the trauma they have sustained throughout their lives. Together, we work to heal the mind, the body and the soul so that you can live your life how you want.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I work primarily with women who have experienced complex trauma that struggle with anxiety and want to work on restoring the parts of themselves that have been lost to the world.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in complex trauma?

Over the years, I've realized just how insidious complex trauma really is... you would be surprised at how much of our lives are run and ruined by shame, fear, and guilt. It's hard to see when someone's behaviors are not their personality, but actually a trauma response. My favorite part of the work I do is coming alongside my clients and walking with them on their healing journey. It can be scary and a lot of times you want to run away, but it is possible to heal when you have a safe, caring other.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in anxiety?

Anxiety can be a real problem when it gets out of hand. It's supposed to be there to save our lives, but when we aren't staring down wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, we're probably just thinking about a response to a text or thinking of what to say to the cashier. Anxiety is what happens when our brains think something is out to get us, but in reality it's a thought and not necessarily a reality. How you get out of your head is by getting back in your body in a healthy way, by doing somatic work like yoga and breathwork.

Can you tell us about your work with women?

It goes without saying that women are historically oppressed and exploited. While it seems we've made strides in equity and equality, we still have so much work to do when it comes to dismantling internalized oppression. One by one, I want to reach women and undo the generational trauma we have sustained. I want to help other women overcome their past and help all women become the cycle-breakers we need to leave a true legacy for our future generations.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I love being able to connect with people and to allow them to feel seen and heard. I love laughing with everyone and giving them a sense of freedom and the ability to just be themselves! Everyone deserves to feel loved and cared for, and I'm so grateful to be able to provide that to those I meet. Life can be difficult, so we need as much love and kindness as we can get!

Therapy sessions with Conner

What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?

Therapy with me is pretty laid back, so your first session is usually pretty relaxed. I always start with the necessary information like mandatory reporting, fees and cancellation policies, and making sure the "house-keeping" items are taken care of. After that, the floor is yours! You can share about what's going on now or go back in the past and explore. Any direction you choose is okay with me. As we go, we start to pull together some important themes or key aspects that keep coming up, and work on what you feel is necessary. I've found that the client brings what they need, so we're usually in pretty good hands.

How long do clients typically see you for?

Clients stay from 1 session to upwards of several years. I usually check in to see how the therapeutic relationship is going and if the frequency of sessions and duration of treatment is still appropriate and necessary.

Are there any books you often recommend to clients?

Absolutely! While there were many books I have read that were integral to my own healing journey, the two I recommend to all of my clients are:

  1. Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker, LMFT, who is a really nice person. I've reached out to him to inquire about any workbooks or additional reading materials and he replied so quickly saying that the book itself can be used as a workbook by highlighting the parts that are important. I keep a bookmark in the section for dealing with emotional flashbacks. What a game-changer for me
  2. Recovery of your Self-Esteem: A Guide for Women by Carolynn Hillman, CSW. She outlines every aspect of womanhood and how to recover from a traumatic past. Her exercises are simple, but cut straight to the core and dismantle internalized negativity that most women struggle with. Both books are available in paperback and audio versions, so if you can get them, check them out. You are worth it.

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

Of course! The most common "homework" I give is self-care. So many people feel guilty about doing things for themselves since self-care is frequently cast as "selfishness" or "being frivolous". When people have what they need, they can move on to the next part of their lives where they can live the way they want to live.

How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?

As always, I look to the client for guidance on what they need. Sometimes progress looks like a simple, "yea! exactly!" and sometimes progress looks like ugly crying and dry heaving up generations of pain and trauma. I'm always checking in and asking how you feel about the process and about the relationship and monitoring how comfortable you are in session. Usually an improvement in mood and behavior management means overall progress in therapy.

How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?

Usually people seek therapy when they start to realize that some aspect of their life is becoming unmanageable. Of course you can always go sooner, but it's up to you to decide when you feel like you need it. Sometimes people realize they need someone who is professional and non judgemental so they can offer a more objective view.

How can I prepare for our first session?

Bring yourself. I guide you through the rest.

How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?

This happens naturally. While no-showing and cancelling are annoying, it's usually an indication that you're growing and ready to decrease frequency or pause sessions altogether. Regardless, I am here for you in any capacity that you need.

Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?

A therapist is a professional who understands the nuances of mental health care and is licensed to be able to handle and direct the client in all matters. Sometimes we can't go to our friends and family for various reasons, and we need someone private and confidential who is trained to handle the big emotions and confusing problems we all have. There is also a high level of accountability and ethics that all therapists are held to in order to keep the client safe.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

Most importantly is that the healing is in the relationship. You should always feel safe with your therapist, you should always feel seen and heard and feel important. If something feels off, trust it and let them know. And if the therapist can't handle it, run... really fast in the other direction.

Visit Conner’s profile to read more about her and book an initial call!