Therapy with Raymond Batista, LCSW

Raymond Batista is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Greenwich Village area of New York City specializing in identity-related topics, including those surrounding culture, race, gender, and/or sexual identity. He strives to help such clients explore how their identities impact their wellbeing and find ways to live closer to their values. Raymond also enjoys working with couples, utilizing his experience in attachment-based therapy to help couples build healthier and more resilient relationships.

We asked Raymond more about his work with clients and his guiding philosophies on therapy.

Raymond’s background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

I first knew I wanted to become a therapist in high school, when I had a small group retreat experience that deepened my relationship with a lot of my peers. It helped me see what a difference it makes when people open up the deepest parts of themselves that they feel that they have to conceal from others. It felt like a true Breakfast Club experience when cliques came down and real relationships ensued.

What was your previous work before going into private practice?

Before private practice, I worked in hospital-based and clinic settings. My first setting included work with the substance use and recovery population. I also enjoy teaching, so before private practice I started tutoring social workers for their licensure exam and currently teach as an adjunct.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I started practicing aikido and guitar, which help me balance out the therapist's tendency to overthink and remind me to stay in the moment.

Raymond’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

As a therapist who is a clinical social worker, my guiding principles include looking at the person through the context of their environment and their history. Therapy cannot be ahistorical and must always look at the impact of someone's current and intergenerational trauma because of the powerful narratives those events create. I also think that it's important to create a non-judgmental space where people can spontaneously be their true selves and not the self they may have created to earn acceptance.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

Many of my clients who find me are people navigating identity issues and seeking integration between many different parts of themselves, especially parts of themselves that have been devalued or ignored. This is the case with many populations, but especially for the BIPOC and LGBTQ people I work with.

I often work with BIPOC clients who are trying to work through intergenerational trauma, cultural expectations, and finding their own autonomy in relationship to family role expectations. I have helped clients identify and implement their own boundaries that allow them to integrate and keep parts of their cultural identity that are important to them while showing up with their own agency and personal identity.

Many of the LGBTQ clients I work with struggle with showing up as their authentic selves and feeling safe either in their families of origin or workplace contexts. I have also helped LGBTQ clients integrate parts of themselves that they felt were incompatible, such as their sexuality and spirituality---mostly due to past religious or spiritual trauma.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in attachment-based therapy?

As an attachment-based therapist who draws from the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, I don't think that it's enough to just teach couples communication skills. Couples get better (and stay better) when they learn the emotional work of attuning to each other and becoming acquainted with each other's attachment styles.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is what one of my mentors always reminds me of: we can't take clients further than we ourselves have traveled. It doesn't mean that we as therapists have to be perfect, but that we also have to do the psychological work of confronting ourselves and growing as people.

Therapy sessions with Raymond

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

While a therapist's experience and specialties are important, one of the most important predictors of success in therapy is having a good therapist-client fit. I see the first three sessions as an opportunity for the client to feel out their comfort level with our personalities, my approach, and clarification for what they're looking for out of therapy. The first session is spent on creating a non-judgmental space where clients can start telling me the story of their life. Once there, the work of finding patterns, pervasive narratives, and their desires for therapy begins.

How long do clients typically see you for?

Every client is different. Couples work tends to be more short term and completed in a matter of months. Individual clients may choose to do more insight-oriented exploratory work for a longer period of time that can span from 6 months to beyond a year. I don't have a minimum required number of sessions and treat the work as a collaborative and unique relationship.

Are there any books you often recommend to clients?

I love the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller because I believe the quality of our life is determined by the quality and safety of our relationships from birth to grave. It also reminds us that connection is not just a nice thing to have, but a need that we're all wired for.

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

Most of the work of therapy happens outside of therapy, so I often try to leave clients with an insight or thought to think about and metabolize during the week. Those insights can turn into external changes or internal expansion.

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

To paraphrase British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, progress in therapy happens when clients are able to move closer to being their true selves in all areas of their lives: we can tell this when people feel more spontaneous, more creative, more energized, and like all of the parts of themselves feel more integrated.

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

There's no wrong time to start therapy, but I often find that people begin therapy when their problems feel overwhelming, cyclic, or when they are feeling like they could be enjoying their life more than they currently are.

How can I prepare for our first session?

I often encourage clients to start with whatever place or topic feels like the most emotionally salient. It's tempting to avoid what's bothering us, but I try to create a space where clients can safely tell me the story of their life at their own pace.

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

As soon as you feel like it! I treat therapy as a collaborative space and you as the autonomous expert of your experience. We will explore whether you want to reduce session frequency because we may be approaching a challenging topic which we can work through, or whether you are feeling closer to meeting your goals for our work together.

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

Partners, friends, and other loved ones are important sources of support that a good therapist will encourage you to rely on and develop. However, a therapist can provide a third-party perspective when loved ones might be either too immersed or removed from your experience to understand its impact on you. Therapy is also a space where you can be "healthily selfish" and focus primarily on lowering the background noise to listen to your own voice.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

Trust your intuition when looking for a therapist. Your comfort level, safety, and feeling understood by a potential therapist will be the most important quality to look for in addition to the person's specialties.

Visit Raymond’s profile to watch his introductory video, read more about him, and book an initial call!