Interview by Jiovann Carrasco, LPC-S
Monti Pal is a charter staff at Austin MIndfulness Center. She actually helped me conceptualize the vision for our group practice and how to best fulfill our mission to bring mindfulness to our community back in 2011. I am so grateful for all her hard work over the years and for her dedication to her therapy clients and the value she provides them and the whole staff here at AMC.
Monti sees individuals and couples for therapy and she leads the 10 week Self-Compassion Group and our 5 Week Introduction to Mindfulness Class. She is also very helpful behind the scenes and helps keep our practice running smoothly. She is just an amazing person and we're so lucky to have her. Here's the interview:
What made you decide to become a counselor?
When I was a kid, I used to watch people and wonder to myself why people behave the way they do. What are people's motivations? I was always curious. I think I still have that same sense of curiosity with my clients today.
If you could teach the world one skill or technique, what would it be?
Empathy- really being able to feel and sit with other people's suffering. If we had more empathy for others and ourselves and if people had more empathy for us, there would be less judgment, less criticism. The world would be a kinder and gentler place.
What's the most common problem your clients bring to you?
Self-criticsm and perfectionism. Often the two go hand in hand. Many successful people believe that they need to be hard on themselves to succeed, but that isn't true! We can hold ourselves accountable without beating ourselves up. We can be successful at our endeavors without striving to be prefect.
Have you been in counseling before and what did you learn?
Yes, I have in the past and am currently. I think counseling taught me better coping skills for life's stressors. It taught me how to take care of myself. Now I go to make sure I continue to take care of myself. As a mom to a 14 month old I need to carve out time for me. Counseling helps me to do that. If I take care of myself, I can better take care of others. I like to walk the walk if I am going to talk the talk so to speak.
If you could recommend one book to all of your clients, what would it be?
That's a tough one. It changes and it depends on the client and their needs. Right at this moment I am enjoying the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown but ask me in a week and I might pick something else.
What inspires you to want to help others?
Teaching people to have a better relationship with themselves so they can live a more meaningful and purposeful life. Teaching people to take care of themselves. When you have learned to care for yourself you have learned to cope, grow, strive, and face obstacles. That is what I want for all my clients.
Who is your ideal client?
People who want help. I know that is general but people who want help are motivated to make changes. My ideal client will also be someone who has a tendency to criticize themselves and who is focused on perfectionism and self judgment.
I work a lot with self compassion, vulnerability, opening up, and self care. I am looking to help people be kinder and gentler with themselves. The world is hard enough on us, we don't need to be hard on us too!
How do you take care of yourself?
Therapy is one way that I care for myself. I also meditate (though not daily right now). With a young child, I find that I have limited time so I only engage in about 5 minutes a couple of times a week, but 5 minutes is still helpful. Exercise was also something I used to do but have found it hard to get back into it as I became a mom.
I am working on finding time for myself and asking myself what I need. Even the act of asking yourself what you need is self care. It stokes your relationship with yourself and allows you to really be there for you.
I also try to give myself quick moments of joy-listening to a song I like, singing, playing the piano for a few lines, sitting quietly for a moment, noticing the weather and stepping outside. These quick moments allow me to be mindful and help to recharge me. Just goes to show you can always find time for some self care!
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.