Samantha Piro is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Michigan specializing in anxiety, trauma, and relationship issues. We asked Samantha more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Samantha’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I spent much of my childhood feeling emotionally isolated. As a young adult, I found myself frequently meeting with people to discuss their personal life, emphasizing and helping them to work through difficulties. Through both of these experiences, I realized that I don't ever want people to feel alone in their struggles. I enjoy being present with others in the midst of pain and suffering.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
Before I went into private practice I worked as a photographer. My bachelor's degree is in photography (with a minor in philosophy). I worked in an art gallery and I taught alternative photography processes. I also worked for a nonprofit where I started a youth (middle schoolers) ministry program.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I really enjoy reading books, spending time with my husband, and traveling to places with hiking involved. My husband and I enjoy house projects where we get to work together as well as watching dogs via Rover.
Samantha’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Inviting people to the multiple complexities and perspectives of life, and that healing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. I help people to understand more of who they are and who they want to be in the world.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I most frequently work with females ages 18-35. I think this population is draw to me because I am a female in her 30's. I think there ends up being a natural draw towards someone who appears to be similar to you. I also market myself as someone who works with people with a history of trauma, people who want to learn how to create a meaningful life, or people who are seeking a creating mind-body connection. Young females seem to often fit into these categories.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with women?
Often time this focus area is associated with some sort of trauma, but not always. I find that I am often working with these clients to develop a greater relationship with the self through mind-body connection and learning how to stay connected to the self in a way that feels safe and grounding.
The biggest challenge with this area of focus tends to be some sort of people-pleasing for these clients. It can be difficult to grow a sense of self/use voice when it is being influenced by others. We discuss who the client wants to be in the world, what that can look like, and ways to be there while creating acceptance/nonjudgement for the ways things are today.
Can you tell us more about your work with clients who are navigating various relationship issues?
I help people to see multiple perspectives in relationships - rather this individual or couples therapy. Seeing multiple perspectives helps people to come to a meeting point in order to focus on shared goals.
I also help this group to focus on what they can be doing in the relationship rather than focusing on what they want the other person to be doing. This applies if I am working with a client who is working through distress with a family member, friend, co-worker, as well as when I work with couples. The biggest challenge in this area is when the client(s) do not take ownership for their role in the relationship.
Can you tell us about your specialty in working with clients navigating existential issues and/or life meaning & purpose questions?
This population seems to be humans in general - I have worked with teens discussing meaning of life, as well as people in their 60s, and everyone in between. This is a life long journey. We discuss questions like what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is the purpose? This group of people are typically more abstract thinkers or those who have an interest in philosophy, history, or spirituality.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I find it most rewarding to journey with people and to see how much they change, learn, grow, and adapt throughout their life. I enjoy hearing people's stories and how they discover how to navigate through life.
Therapy sessions with Samantha
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
In the first session clients typically share why they have decided to start therapy and what they are hoping to get out of therapy. I share my perspective on therapy: I like say that I am not magical guru with all the answers to life. I see the client on a journey and I am coming along for the ride. The client decides where we go, what roads we take, what turns we make, and I ask questions. I share insights and perspectives.
I invite a sense of wonder and pondering of where we are going, and what we are doing. This is what sets us up for the rest of the sessions. I find that therapy works best when the client is the one who takes the ownership and responsibility of the direction we are heading.
How long do clients typically see you for?
This varies quite a bit. Most of my clients I have a long-term relationship with. I have many clients who I have been seeing for 4 years. These are clients who enjoy having a non-biased person to talk to and explore ideas of life. I typically meet with these types of clients every 2 weeks-once a month. Then I have some clients who like to check in once a in awhile, and I welcome those sessions.
I also have clients who want to focus on one thing in particular and when they are done with that thing then they end therapy. I typically see clients between once a week and once a month.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
I recommend a LOT of books and of course, it depends on the clients needs. The books I recommend the most often are:
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
Not necessarily. I sometimes offer suggestions: books, podcasts, journaling/writing on specific topics/ideas. But I don't expect the client to do the homework. Some clients love when I give these suggestions, other clients don't Some clients come into session, saying how much they loved a journal assignment or a podcast. I don't collect/check the homework. If the client does something that I suggested I am always happy to hear how that went - rather it was helpful or not.
I also share exercises to practice that involve mindfulness, breathwork, and sometimes movement. Some times I do follow up on these exercises - asking if a client tried it and how it might have worked for them. But I do not expect them to do it.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I ask. Is this working for you? What do you think? Is there something else you would like us to be doing? What changes might we make? I believe the client determines if they are making progress, not me.
How can I prepare for our first session?
In our first session, simply be prepared to share your reason for coming into therapy. I typically like to learn about history of the client's life as well - growing up/family/friends/environment/etc.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
That is totally up to you. I am happy to meet multiple times a week or multiple times a year.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
A therapist offers multiple perspectives and is not connected to your personal world. They are removed from your inner circle which allows them to see things in a different light.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
The most important part of therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist. Finding a therapist you can connect with might be challenging, and that is okay. I encourage people to find a therapist they connect with.
Visit Samantha’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!