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Meet the Therapist - Jackie Altebrando

Join us as we sit down for a chat with licensed counselor Jackie Altebrando as she talks about client connections, work-life balance, and the "quick-fix" myth.



Click here to learn more about Jackie's experience and connect with her for a consultation.


B'well Counseling serves Baltimore and the surrounding areas. Clinicians offer in-person counseling in our Towson office, with telehealth and hybrid services available. Feel free to explore our website, or learn more about our therapists and philosophy on our YouTube channel.


Video Transcript:


Katie:

I am Katie Cashin. I am the co-owner of B'well Counseling Services.


Jake:

I'm Jake Jackson-Wolf, the other co-owner, at B'well Counseling Services.


Katie:

And we are here today talking with Jackie Altebrando, who is one of our therapists here on our team, and who has been at B'well since 2021, which is in some ways feels like a lifetime ago, and in some ways feels like 5 minutes ago. Jackie, we are so glad we get to talk with you this morning.


Jackie:

Yes, thanks.


Katie:

We are going to be asking Jackie a little bit about her work, how she works, who she works with, in the hopes that you can get a sense of who she is and get to know her and get to appreciate what we so appreciate about Jackie.


To start, Jackie, can you tell us a little bit about your client Venn diagram? That is, the folks you work with, what they're showing up with, what's different, maybe. What's similar at the core of some of your work.


Jackie:

Yeah, yeah, of course. So I typically work with the young adult to kind of like adult population. Something I am very interested in is working with attachment and relationships so kind of wondering how some of your early relationships, or, you know, kind of like relationships throughout your life has affected kind of how you are presenting now, or just some of the things that you're coming in with, how have those relationships impacted that so doing, some of that work. Really enjoying working with those coming in who are highly sensitive and those who deal with people pleasing. So I think kind of like in the middle of all of that is just instilling some self-esteem. And self confidence in people. To kind of be that authentic selves and recognize their word in a way. And then, I think, kind of outside of that is, is just generally working with anxiety, depression, life transitions. And then a little bit of new mom stuff, and how that affects your relationship with your partner.


Katie:

Because it does.


Jackie

It does.


Katie:

Awesome.


Jake:

Jackie, what feels so true about all of that, and that it's true because you said it. But it's also because, having known you and known you as you've pieced together, what is it that I do? And. what is it that I offer to my clients? It all just feels so intuitive when you say it like-- that's right. That is what Jackie does, that is and the not bury the lead. But I think sometimes that you've maybe been pigeon-holed as the one who talks about careers when you're phenomenal at that.


But yeah, that's kind of here, and then everything else that you said. Is it probably what's been there all along masking as career work?


Jackie:

Yeah.


Jake:

So I can get on to the next question. Our next question is, what's bringing people in to see you? And what's bringing people back? Because it's working.


Jackie:

So I would like to say what keeps people coming back is my fantastic sense of humor.


Katie

Agreed.


Jackie:

But on a more serious note, I think some of the the feedback I've been getting lately is just giving people space to kind of be and to feel like you can share what you're sharing. And you know, not being judged. And I think something that I do is focus. I focus a lot on the relationship like through, especially in the beginning, but throughout, because I know the power of connection with someone else can have and I think creating that sense of safety can can change so much.


It allows you to talk about the things that you wanna talk about but it also can instill some of that confidence in you. So I think those are the things-- I think I gently kind of challenge people, too, which which is helpful. But I think just creating a space that feels safe and warm and welcoming is what brings people in and then kind of continues the work, or keeps them coming.


Katie

Oh, yeah, it's isn't it so interesting? How, especially when we all start out, that's such a hard thing to trust that like that space making that we're doing. And we're looking for the right intervention. We're looking for the right modality. It's so cool to hear more and more in your work that it is trusting that space and that people are really responding to it.


Jackie:

Yeah.


Katie:

So I want to ask, it feels like an unfair question, because we're doing this like on a Thursday morning. And it's a big question. But it feels pretty important. What do you know? What have you learned about your why for doing this work. You know just that. Yeah.


Jackie:

Yeah, yeah, I think I've done a lot of soul searching to get here. Actually. So I think that this is a setting that allows me to be authentic, like. I truly feel like I could be myself when I am sitting in a room with a client or a screen with a client. And I think being a therapist is a part of my identity that I'm actually really proud of. And then I think, aside from that, just think, people are so interesting. And I think that I have learned so much from other people. And I, you know, talked about this before. It kind of helps me open my world, view a little bit, and I think one of my

favorite parts, too, and this is a big why is it's really important to me that people don't feel alone. And and I think sometimes you know, you go through through seasons where you might feel really isolated. And I think to be someone who could say no, like, I see you and I hear you, and what you're going through like I'm here with you. I love that part of the work, and I think seeing people grow, and I think seeing people accomplish their goals. It could be so rewarding. And I do. I do feel honored that, you know I'm part of people's journeys and can help them again. It goes back to the first question, kind of instill that self-esteem and confidence in them so just feel like they can be very authentic selves. And yeah.


Jake:

Jackie, you and I had one of those drop in conversations. Yeah, just how cool people are and how

you know in one hour you're talking to an artist, and the next hour you're talking to a scientist, and the next hour you're talking to a mom who is learning what that means to be a a mom and a scientist at the same time, or we were talking about. Then you end up, rarely, at a party. I say that because I'm not likely to end up at a party, and someone starts talking about something. And you're like nodding along thinking, yeah, I know all about this really complex scientific discovery, because the person who did it is sitting on my couch last week, or the person who teaches about it, and it's just such a neat insight into people's worlds. And you know, we just we talk to such varied people and such a diverse group of people every day. We've been alluding to the the therapy room, and being in that space. Talk about what a session with you looks like. Give people a bird's eye view of what it's like to be across from you.


Jackie:

Yeah. So I like to think and think I come across this pretty laid back. You know my sessions aren't super super structured. I usually kind of start with a check-in and kind of a recap of the week before. If the weather is really nice, it will usually comment on the weather as a little like, Let's warm up to each other. other than that. I ask what what the client wants to start with, because I think that that could be the most helpful is, you know, almost like, how can I help you today? How can I, or or what are the types of things that are? You know, on your mind that you want to get out today? So I always tell clients to think about what they want to bring in with them. I always kind of say that you know in the beginning sessions, I think about what you want to talk about. But I also say that sometimes you're gonna come in and you're gonna be like I don't even know where to start, like, I have so much on my mind. I don't even know where to start. And I always say that that's okay, because I can start with some leading questions.


You know, I feel like we always get to a place that is helpful. So I really kind of just encourage the clients to be curious. I do, as I'm kind of alluded to, like to use humor in my session sometimes, just because I think you know keeping things. Light can be really helpful. So, so yeah, I know that's not a very detailed answer, because I think just each session varies, depending on what you need.


Katie:

I think that's it, though.


Jackie:

Yeah.


Katie:

Again, we can get so consumed in having to have an agenda, and I don't know like for me starting out. I know that's what felt safe and effective. But hearing what you're sharing it's it's like you're allowing what shows up on that day in that hour in the space to be there. And it's like it's sort of like saying we can have all the agenda we want. But let's see how we feel once we land here.


Jackie

Exactly. Yeah.


Katie:

So I think, like some of your other responses have highlighted this a bit. But what keeps you inspired to come into work knowing that like this work takes, we've talked about this. This work takes a lot of energy. Yes. What keeps you inspired? What continues to allow you to have space to show up for this work.


Jackie:

What immediately comes to mind is just the people so. And by that I mean the clients and

just the therapists we we all work with. So like, yeah, very similar to what I was saying before. I think it's just people could be really inspiring. And I, you know, I think we're lucky in that. I really like the people that I work with you know, I think genuinely, really interesting inspiring people. So I think that's something that keeps me going because I can go into a session just really, really tired from you know what's going on that day, or whatever is during my personal life. And then, when I'm in that session, I just feel so energized by did the conversations that I'm having. So I feel really lucky in that sense that that's something that energizes me.


And and the second part of that is, I just love B'well. I think that we have such a great environment of therapists. And I just learn so much from everyone, and I feel like I I can be myself, and I don't feel like I need to be a certain type of therapist or a certain type of person. So I'm super super grateful that I'm in an environment that I feel like I could grow

and then, along with that growth and learning is really important to me. And I think that this is a field where you are constantly learning. There's there's just so so much that you can learn now which could be overwhelming at times, because I know, you know, when I first started out, it's like... How are you supposed to know all these things? But now I kind of see it as more like,

wow! Like, there's a lot of things that you can learn. I think that there's a lot of creativity in the work that we do. So I like that every day can look different.


And you don't have to use the same kind of techniques over and over. So I think just a combination of being able to be myself, really enjoying the people and and learning and creativity is something that makes it something that I love to do.


Katie:

I know we're biased. But we feel the same way about the people we work with. And yeah, it's something that I don't think people consider this a creative field necessarily. But I'm so glad you're saying that because it absolutely, if you're open to it is right, yeah,


Jackie:

For sure.


Jake:

Going back to something. Before we started this conversation today we were talking about a a bit out of a magazine article, saying, You know, our clients are not looking for us to be Google because they're not coming to us just for information. And and we should. We all do continue to sort of amass that knowledge and you know, say, apprise of what works and what doesn't work. but they come to us, and and they benefit from the relationships. And that creativity that ability to to keep iterating on you know. Well, something like this worked for someone before. But you're a different person sitting in front of me, and we don't have to. We don't. We don't just have to lather rinse. Repeat. That's probably missing something.


Here's the the tough question, maybe. What are the challenges that you feel like you face or have faced as a therapist?


Jackie:

I think what immediately comes to mind. And this is more on a personal level is just being a parent, and more specifically, being a mom and trying to balance work. And in this case, being a therapist. You know, I think a lot of people can. Really. I don't even know that you necessarily have to be a parent. But just the idea of work, life, balance, and voicing the things that just all the other identities that you have versus your work identity. So that's been something, you know, since becoming a new mom that has been really challenging for me, trying to figure out

how to make both work. And I don't know that there is an answer, and I don't know that it'll ever feel great. But I think that it's you know, kind of figuring out the things that worked for you, and I think it's a journey. I think it is a journey to try to figure out what that could look like. And then I think, along with that some of the challenges is kind of maintaining your own self care.


I think that this is a field where that's super important. Is making sure that you feel good and that you could be present sessions, because it's it's super important to, you know, share that space with the person in front of you, and feel like you're really there. Aside from that, I think something that I struggle with is just the idea of solutions. You know, we'll have clients that come in that understandably so are like, I want a quick fix. What is the answer to this? You know? What can I do to feel better? And I so wish that I can give you that black and white answer of Oh, this is what you have to do. But I I think, kind of describing that therapy is a journey. It's not linear. Sometimes you might leave with more questions than you have answers. And that's all part of the process. So I think it's challenging in that.


You know I'm in this field because I want to help, and I wish I could just give you that thing to help you. But it's it's it's more than that. So I think kind of describing how therapy works is something that... there's not a real answer for that either. I's just something that I have tried to kind of hone in on is the right word. But just think of the words that can help kind of describe that process. But I just remember that that has been something that's been a little challenging, because it's like, I want to help and I want to give you the answers. But unfortunately that's not how it's possible, or how it works.


Jake

And if I can hopefully unburden you a little bit with that is that it's cultural issue, too, right of there's so much that is fed to us about. Fix something as quickly as possible.


Jackie

Yes.


Jake:

And a lot of things that are even moving in on the mental health space that purport to be that right and say your problem with whatever and if I know anything about you and about sort of our ethos here, it's about well, what's sustainable getting that knowledge jammed into your head, or or you know, something that purports to be a fix often isn't a long term solution. It might provide some like

immediate sense of safety or stability and it kind of fizzles, so that doesn't feel like a Jackie problem. To me, it feels like for me, at least.


Jackie:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think I think to your point, too. It's kind of like.. I think it's a culture of like immediate gratification. And almost like trying to dismantle that a little bit.


Katie:

I think you're on to something, I think. And I really, I love in what you're sharing. How real you are about it. Sometimes wanting that as a therapist as a human being. Sometimes wanting

that. How human that is to want that gratification and your, yeah, your realness in that

feels like it builds empathy about that common humanity. And gives you you a lot of great insight into what actually is healing. What, actually, what's the difference between that instant gratification and this deeper work that you're doing with people.


Jackie:

Yeah.


Katie:

And and it especially when it comes to being a mom and a therapist. I just always appreciate your

your transparency about that for yourself, about that balance. And in trying not to make you find that perfect work-life balance you. You then don't burden your clients with that myth. Thanks on behalf of everybody. Thanks on behalf of like the the parents or anybody holding a caregiver and professional role anyone, all of us wearing multiple hats these days.


And thanks for talking with us today. I would love if we could just go on. For the rest, I feel like we could just talk for the next few hours. We love connecting with you and are so glad that that more folks are going to be able to get to know you and learn about you through this. So Jackie thanks so much.


Jackie:

Thank you. I'm grateful to have this opportunity to kind of share a little bit about myself.


Katie

Why didn't we do it sooner? Hi! We have multiple roles, cause nothing is instant here. If folks want to get to know more about Jackie, reach out to Jackie, you can do that through our website. She has her own full, beautiful page.


Also, you can email her at jackie@bwellcounselingservices.com. You can also call us. That's available on our website, too and we hope that you will


Alright. Thanks. Everybody.


B'well Counseling Services offers therapy in Towson and surrounding areas. Clinicians offer both in-person, telehealth, or hybrid sessions. Click here to learn more about our philosophy and clinicians.


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