1. Tell us about your job. What studies have you achieved and where do you practice your profession today?
I am a psychologist and psychotherapist. Yes, I am and not I do, it would be too partial and mechanical to reduce it to a simple act. My work was born from what I felt I was and grew through studies and experiences as a dress that continues to shape itself with the passage of time, enriching itself with shapes and meanings. And so, in addition to the clinical work at my studio, I have approached, for example, the lgbtqi issues in recent years, collaborating with Agedo and Arcigay, sensitized by the discrimination experienced by a patient of mine because of his orientation. I have carried out psychological support projects for children and families, homotransphobic bullying prevention projects in schools, training on LGBT issues for doctors, pediatricians, teachers, parents, training and prevention of gender-based violence and bullying. The most important awareness in these years has been that it could not be enough to cure a discomfort, but to prevent it, by creating a more welcoming society, had to be the main road to follow.
I graduated from the University of Bologna, Cesena branch. A place and years that I always remember with great affection. After graduating, I returned to Foggia, my hometown, where I currently mainly work. Here, while I was doing my postgraduate internship, I immediately started working by founding a social cooperative of psychologists, creating projects for the local health authority. Continuous training, however, has always been a cornerstone in my path. The desire to know and refine help techniques towards the other led me to achieve two specializations: one in psychotherapy and one in clinical supervision in Naples.
2. What are the essential qualities to do your job better?
One of the indispensable qualities is knowing how to listen, which can not only be the result of a technique put into practice, but which must be accompanied by a desire to listen, by being empathically extended towards the other. It is important to know how to create a relational atmosphere where you can feel welcomed, reducing the fear of introspection and making room for emergence and self-care.
Each personal quality, however, can become very useful to the therapeutic process, if placed at the service of the other’s good
3. What advice can you give to those who want to pursue a career like yours?
A great way to start is by asking yourself why. Ask yourself about your inclinations, goals and passions. Self-awareness is a powerful engine that manages to lead you with serenity and determination towards your personal goals. And always feel the need and curiosity to learn.
4. You are very sensitive to issues related to the world of women. Do you often have women who are victims of domestic violence as patients? How can these people be helped in practice? Many times I imagine they themselves are not aware of what is happening to them at home, what is right and what is not, of the limits beyond which “the other” should not go. How can you help them open their eyes?
I deal with gender issues as a trainer and as a therapist. A natural evolution, since the root of lgbt discrimination is the same as gender violence: stereotypical, rigid and asymmetric gender roles, linked to a patriarchal culture, generate discrimination and violence. Violence in fact, by definition, is determined by an imbalance of power between those who dominate (or believe they must be dominant) and those who suffer. Violence against women is not a problem of women, but of an entire society that educates about gender in order to create a disparity. Let’s think, for example, about how much boys and girls are educated differently to emotions. Children encouraged to use force and anger, but inhibited in sadness (“don’t be a girl”); girls, who are allowed the expression of sadness, encouraged addiction, but not determination or impetuosity ( “You look like a tomboy”).
One of the things I like to say to girls, when I meet them in school projects, is that love is not possession. Excess jealousy, checking the phone, managing leisure time and friendships is not love. It is a cage, it is dominion. Every relationship is healthy if both identities in relationship can exist and develop. If one identity is subject to the will of the other, it is already in a context of violence.
5. I read in an your post on Facebook this phrase: “Emotional suffering has the same dignity as physical suffering. Access to its treatment must be guaranteed to anyone who needs it.” Why do you think the state does not protect this very important aspect of health? Is something moving in that direction? Is there any hope of future support from the “basic psychologist”? What are the obstacles in the realization of this fantastic project?
If it is considered natural to go to the doctor for migraine, dermatological or intestinal disorders it is still not as natural and guaranteed to go to the psychologist for emotional suffering. This gap also denies the link between the psyche and the body. The general well-being of a person is guaranteed by both mental and functional health. I believe that access to the basic psychologist must be recognized as a fundamental right of people. Let’s not forget that often a person comes to a course of therapy after having made unnecessary specialist visits for psychosomatic disorders, that is, of an emotional nature. Intercepting the cause of the discomfort immediately, thanks to the basic psychologist, would reduce health costs. Again, the obstacle is the difficulty in changing the paradigm of thought.
6. Your greatest job satisfaction?
Whenever a patient at the end of an interview is more in harmony with himself or has reached an awareness that helps him or that he feels stronger and centered on himself. Whenever he looks at me with gratitude, because he feels he has received something important. Each time is a great satisfaction. The biggest when you end a therapy after reaching your goals. I feel I am privileged to observe the psychic rebirth in those who greet me ready and eager to take flight
7. Do you often experience that patients lie to you? How do you understand it?
Of course yes. There is often a fear of being judged, as they are themselves judging. The patient attaches great importance and therefore power to the therapist. He needs to make a good impression. It is therefore a defense mechanism that is weakened when the relationship of trust is strengthened. I often notice it. The study and stimulating observation of non-verbal language has made me quite expert. Inside me I smile tenderly. I understand that he needs time, that he must “weigh me”, that he must understand if he can trust. Some knots need time to melt.
8. With your work you help manage emotions. Can you always do it?
Fortunately no. I learned to manage them much better than when I was a girl, but if I could always manage everything I would not feel human enough. I was a very shy teenager and I never imagined I could conduct meetings with 300 boys and girls in the future. I am still afraid every time, but I learned not to be guided by this, but by passion. I don’t feel perfect, woe to feel such. The sense of growth and self-improvement gives life a taste.
9. How can we teach our children altruism, respect for others and acceptance of what is different?
I would like to say that it is enough to be an example, which is not a little, but not enough. The boys and girls have fallen into many contexts that educate, with teachings that are not always inclusive towards the other. It is necessary that all educational and mass contexts are aware of and endeavor to convey these messages
10. We are experiencing a very difficult period. Fears, anxieties, loneliness and many certainties questioned. What advice can you give to better face these days of isolation?
None of us would have ever imagined that in a short time we could lose certainties and habits. This lockdown that forces home is different for everyone, because it entails diversified difficulties: there are those who start having economic problems, those who do not live peaceful and safe relationships at home, those who work in covid hospitals, those who live alone, those who like teenagers particularly suffers from the distance with the group of peers, who suffers from other pathologies etc … and it is difficult to give advice that adapts to everyone’s experience. What is fundamental is to take care of yourself, trying not to close yourself in unproductive thoughts that leave you to anxiously brood, without being able to land on constructive thoughts and actions. It is necessary to build a new life routine, which gives structure to the days and where it is possible to discover or find passions and interests that build emotional well-being. It is not necessary to obsessively watch the news, 1 or 2 moments of the day can be enough to get informed, being careful to consult the official sources, not to run into fake news. But, above all, it is important to continue to cultivate affections, even from a distance, and listen to yourself. It is also possible to seek and find help in the many professional psychologists and psychotherapists who offer online support.
11. Can there also be positive aspects to bring out in a difficult moment like this?
It is necessary to focus on opportunities especially in the most difficult moments, otherwise we will not be able to overcome them without suffering serious injuries. In our life experience we know that often the most painful experiences are those that have then produced personal growth. It is possible, indeed I would say that it is necessary that what we are experiencing becomes an opportunity for growth both individually and collectively. On an individual level it can make us reflect on what is really important in life, restoring priorities and identifying the superfluous, which has often cluttered our daily life, before the quarantine. We can learn to listen more, strengthening a relationship with oneself; give space to gratitude for all that there is or has been in our life, but also to feel the value of a kind thought, a small gesture, a smile. On a collective level, we can finally learn to feel together, as a single humanity that faces a common problem compactly. We can understand that protecting the other is equivalent to protecting yourself, that selfishness and individualism do not take you far, but empathy and solidarity are the real keys.
12. When you feel that life crushes you, when bad things happen to you, when you feel that you are about to lose control, what do you do?
I take time with myself, I take deep breaths to find a contact with the most intimate parts of me. I put thoughts and emotions in order, I wonder what scares or saddens me and I take care of them. It helps me the awareness of knowing that life is never all downhill and that it is precisely in the most difficult moments that we must not let go, but that it is possible to transform them into learning, growing, to become a better person.
13. Your 3 favorite songs?
Imagine by John Lennon;
14. If you could get into a painting, which one would you choose and why?
Monet’s water lily pond. I was lucky enough to see him live and it is impossible not to remain in contemplation. It is an oasis of peace and color, which catapults you into a dimension of deep contact with nature. It is regenerating
15. I have heard that we are the result of the last 7 generations that preceded us. In practice, the lives of grandparents, or grandparents of our grandparents, also influence who we are today. Do you think it’s true?
Of course, it is possible that psychic modules, modes of relationship and representative models of the world are transmitted from generation to generation. The children internalize them, interacting with the affective caring figures, and develop an idea of themselves, of the parents, of being in relationship and the world. The representations that derive from it are therefore determined by the personality structure of the parents and by their representations and life experiences; that of the parents in turn was influenced by that of the grandparents and so on. However, this must not shut us in a rigid determinism, where it is not possible to be different from what our parents and their ancestors were. Awareness, personal motivation, free choice allows us to free ourselves and to choose how to guide ourselves and our lives
16. When is the right time to make an appointment? How do I understand this when psychological help is needed?
Often people decide to undertake psychotherapy when they are at the limit of their resources, when they realize that they can no longer help themselves, living the arrival to therapy as a personal failure. It saddens me a lot because psychotherapy is a wonderful gift that can be done to oneself, it is a path of growth, of awareness, it is the opportunity to face life knowing how to valorise one’s resources, learning to love and welcome one’s limits for try to overcome them. It is an act of love for yourself. So, contrary to common feeling, every moment can be the right one. Often at the end of a first interview I close with good wishes, thus returning the joy for this choice. Choosing to take care of yourself is the beginning of a relationship of deep love for yourself.
17. I read that the entrepreneur Drew Houston, the founder of DropBox, when he talks about the purpose of life, the desires moved by the heart, the drives that push you to fight to get what you really want, compare all these emotions to a yellow ball. For many dogs the yellow ball is inexplicably the object of desire, the purpose for which they would do anything, even crazy and senseless gestures at times. It is important for everyone to understand what their own yellow ball is. What is yours?
It can only be love, tenderness and authenticity. Closeness, emotional intimacy, being there for oneself and the other are the salt of my life. Alone we are nothing, but a sincere, tender closeness, moved by real empathic feelings, can move the world.
There is no need for ambitious purposes to be happy, but allowing the authenticity of one’s feelings and one’s being makes one free. As a child my sensitivity seemed a problem, something to hide because it symbolizes fragility. When I discovered that it could be my strength I stopped letting myself be influenced by these judgments and I felt free, everything acquired more meaning and my “fragility” was transformed into authentic life force. The yellow ball, to say it as Houston, I think is inside us.
18. If you close your eyes and breathe deeply what scents can you catch right now?
I feel the scents of spring, of basil growing in a pot on my terrace
19. A happy memory of your childhood?
All my memories are related to simple moments, but emotionally dense, I recently remembered, thanks also to a photo, a trip to the sea with the extended family. I was 3, there was nobody on the beach, the weather was really bad, but nobody wanted to leave. Covered with a decidedly abundant shirt, thoughtfully loaned by an aunt, I felt free. I was running on the beach in the company of 2 large loose dogs. When I think about it I still feel the wind in my hair.
20. A phrase or quote that you think may reflect the moment we are experiencing today?
“Nothing will stop the sun from rising again, not even the darkest night. Because beyond the black curtain of the night there is a sunrise waiting for us. ” KHALIL GIBRAN