Budy Whitfield is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Westchester County, NY specializing in working with professional women navigating anxiety, trauma, major life transitions, or race/cultural identity concerns. As a mother of a teen herself, Budy uniquely understands the challenges faced by teens today and welcomes adolescents and families into her practice as well. In sessions, Budy utilizes evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help clients better understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and she is greatly passionate about helping clients develop tangible strategies to better respond to life’s stressors.
We asked Budy more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Budy’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
Growing up, I was always interested in people and their stories. I wanted to help others find happiness and fulfillment in their lives. Becoming a therapist was the perfect way for me to do that. What is rewarding is that I love being able to support my clients through difficult times and seeing them make progress. It's incredibly rewarding to see someone come into my office feeling lost and broken, and then walk out feeling strong and resilient. Therapy is not always easy, but it's worth finding your way back to you.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I was fresh out of grad school when I started working as a social worker at a non-profit agency that served children and families in New York State. Our goal was to provide support so that the kids could stay out of the system, and the families could stay together. It was always challenging work, but it was also incredibly rewarding.
I quickly rose through the ranks, and before long I was running the whole show. I took great pride in my team and what we were able to accomplish. We helped hundreds of kids and families each year, and we made a real difference in their lives.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
One of the most important things that I do for myself is to take time for self-care. This includes things like journaling, meditation, prayer, and actively moving my body. I find that when I take time for these activities, I feel more grounded and connected to myself. Additionally, I feel more capable of coping with the stressors of parenting a teen. I also enjoy spending time with my family, especially my teenage son and husband. We often engage in family activities such as watching movies or going to the mall. I find that this time is essential for my well-being. It helps me to feel supported and loved, which are two of the most important things in my life.
Budy’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
My work is rooted in establishing trust and building a therapeutic relationship where clients feel safe. I create a space that is comfortable and nonjudgmental. My clients feel supported in addressing issues of race and social injustices. I am transparent and authentic. I find it important to always connect the bodies response to our thoughts and feelings. The body truly does keep the score.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I'm a trauma therapist who specializes in helping adolescents and adults. Most of my clients are female, and they come to me with a variety of needs such as anxiety, depression, sexual trauma, divorce, parenting problems, cognitive dissonance, mood disorders, and stressors related to their careers.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in anxiety?
Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety, and the causes can be hard to identify. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective way to help women understand and manage their anxiety. CBT focuses on identifying the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to anxiety, and then helps the client to change these patterns. This can be a challenge, as anxiety often leads to avoidance behaviors that can make it difficult to address the root causes. However, with the help of a trained therapist, women can learn to recognize and manage their anxiety in a healthy way. CBT can be an effective tool for helping women to identify and change the patterns that contribute to their anxiety.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with high-achieving women of color?
Women of color have made great strides in recent years, but there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving parity with their white counterparts. One way to help high achieving women of color is to encourage socratic thinking. This type of thinking involves questioning assumptions, digging beneath the surface, and looking at problems from multiple perspectives. It can help women of color to challenge the status quo and push for change. In addition, socratic thinking can help women of color to develop creative solutions to problems and to think outside the box. Encouraging socratic thinking among high-achieving women of color can help them to reach their full potential and make a lasting impact on the world.
Can you tell us about your work with clients recovering from trauma?
I help individuals who have experienced trauma heal by addressing the cognitive and behavioral patterns that have developed as a result of their trauma. I work with my clients to help them develop new, more positive ways of thinking and behaving. Through our work together, my clients are able to develop a stronger sense of self-worth and start to lead more fulfilling lives.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The best description would be this story.
The woman sitting across the screen was committed to changing her life. She had been through a lot, and was finally ready to face her trauma. She showed up to our sessions consistently, and was always willing to do the work.
Slowly but surely, she began to transform. Her attitude changed, she became more positive, and she started to enjoy life again. I could see the transformation taking place before my eyes, and it was truly amazing.
She continued to work hard in therapy, and eventually she was able to overcome all of her traumas. She became a new person, one who was happy and thriving. It was an incredible transformation, and I am so proud of her for accomplishing it.
Therapy sessions with Budy
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
When you come in for your first appointment, we will review the intake documents and assessment together. We will identify any goals you want to achieve in therapy. Then we will schedule our weekly sessions and begin to establish a therapeutic alliance. The therapeutic alliance is a key part of successful therapy. It is the trust and rapport that you build with your therapist. It is important to feel safe and supported in order to openly discuss sensitive topics in therapy. I will provide a nonjudgmental space for you to explore whatever issues you are struggling with. Together we will work towards helping you achieve your goals.
How long do clients typically see you for?
It is important to understand that every client is different and, as a result, the length of time spent in therapy will vary from person to person. Generally speaking, clients are usually in therapy for 6-18 months, although the exact timeline will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the presenting problems and symptoms. In some cases, clients may see significant improvement within a shorter timeframe and may only need to come in for periodic check-ins after they have completed the bulk of their therapy. However, other clients may need longer-term support in order to address more complex issues. Ultimately, the goal is to help the client attain a state of emotional wellness and stability, and the amount of time needed to reach this goal will vary.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab.
- Your Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Navigating Grief: A Guided Journal: Prompts and Exercises for Reflection and Healing by Mia Roldan
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
The homework that is assigned to clients post session is an important continuation of the healing process. It allows the client to take what they have learned about themselves during the session and put it into practice in their real life. Through homework, clients can continue to work on issues that were brought up in session and make progress in their healing journey. It is important to remember that homework is not meant to be a punishment, but rather a tool that can help clients to heal and grow. When used correctly, homework can be an invaluable part of the therapeutic process.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
Progress in therapy looks different for everyone. However, there are some general indicators that can help you and your therapist gauge whether or not you are making headway. For instance, we will regularly evaluate your goals and symptoms to get a sense of how you are doing. You should also notice a reduction in triggers and an overall improvement in your feelings. If you are not seeing any progress after a few sessions, don't hesitate to speak up. It could be that we need to adjust our approach or focus on different areas. The most important thing is that you feel like you are moving in the right direction.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
When you are ready to start therapy, you may find yourself thinking about it frequently. This is normal, and it is a sign that you are ready to begin the process of finding a therapist. Researching therapists can be a helpful way to learn more about the type of care that is available and to find a provider who you can connect with. There are many resources available to help you in this process, including online directories, such as Zencare word-of-mouth recommendations, and local mental health agencies. If you take your time and do your research, you will be able to find a therapist who is right for you and who can provide the support that you need.
How can I prepare for our first session?
Seeking out therapy can be a difficult and overwhelming decision. You may feel vulnerable and unsure of where to start. It is important to remember that therapy is an investment in your mental health, and it is important to take the time to find a therapist who is the right fit for you. Try to consult with a few different therapists before making a decision. During your consultations, pay attention to how you feel in their presence. Do you feel safe? Supported? Understood? If you don't feel comfortable with a therapist, trust your gut and keep looking. Starting therapy takes courage, and you deserve to work with someone who makes you feel seen, heard, and valued.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
Therapy is an incredibly personal experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how long it will take to achieve your goals. However, as we work together, we will regularly check in on your progress and gauge whether you are ready to reduce our sessions or end therapy altogether. This decision will always be made collaboratively, and I will always be honest with you about whether I believe you are ready to move on. Ultimately, the goal is for you to feel empowered and independent, and I am committed to helping you get there. So when the time is right, we will know it—together.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
When you are experiencing difficulties in your life, it is important to have someone to talk to who can offer impartial support. While friends and family can be a great source of comfort, they may also be biased in their advice. A trained therapist can provide you with the objective perspective you need to help you navigate your problems. Therapists are trained to listen without judgement and to offer constructive feedback. They can help you to see your situation from a different perspective and to develop a plan for dealing with your challenges. If you are struggling to cope with a difficult situation, consider seeking out the support of a therapist.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Seeking therapy can be a difficult decision for some, but it is often a very positive step in taking control of your emotional well-being. My advice to those seeking therapy is to allow yourself the opportunity to make yourself a priority, just as you would take care of a medical condition. It is important to care for your emotional well-being in order to live a happy and healthy life. Therapy can provide you with the tools and support you need to cope with life's challenges in a healthy way. I encourage you to reach out for help if you are struggling emotionally. You deserve to live a life that brings you healing and peace.
Visit Budy’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!