Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Traitz.
Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Psychotherapy represents a threshold for me, a sort of meeting point between what comes most naturally and what challenges me the most. I’ve heard from multiple mentors some version of “this work chooses you” and that resonates with me. From a young age, I was cast in a mediator role for my family.
I had a tendency to attune to others’ feelings and to nurse the connections between us. My education and personal therapy helped me understand that this was an unconscious way of adapting to the environment I grew up in. Like many others, my family struggled with mental health issues, divorce, addiction, and incarceration. I had so many incredible privileges, including loving and safe relationships with my caregivers, that supported me in becoming who I am. I also learned firsthand that what we struggle with personally is both shaped by and shapes our relationships and our world. In college, I studied philosophy and political thought. I was fascinated with adopting different perspectives, turning my curiosity towards the questions behind questions: Why we thought the way we did or cared about the things we did.
In a way, psychology is a kind of applied philosophy, calling on that practice of looking for the underlying rhymes and reasons. By the end of undergrad, I felt too disembodied and in my head. I wanted to find a way to channel what I was learning into meaningful, hands-on work. I had also been involved with various reform and advocacy efforts as a student activist and knew that I wanted to put my skills into service. Meanwhile, I was developing a mindfulness practice and reading spiritual literature, which were expanding how I related to my being. I would ultimately move across the country multiple times (I grew up in Miami, FL and went to college outside of Boston before moving to LA). I found that immersing in the natural world, learning the names of plants and animals, and looking honestly at historical and ancestral legacies, made me feel more connected wherever I was.
I also faced multiple health struggles, experiences that inspired me to get more real with myself and to accept the generosity and fragility of a human lifetime. I began paying more attention to my body, how it carries me through the world and holds the wordless parts of my story. All of these pieces are alive in the kind of work I’m currently pursuing. Looking back, it’s not surprising that I’m passionate about psychodynamic and family systems approaches, which both consider how we are unconsciously shaped by our experiences and relationships, as well as somatic therapy, ecopsychology, and spiritual psychology. These represent the areas of my own healing, something I know is inextricably tied to the healing and growth of others. The psychological systems that make up our unique personalities are little worlds resting within ever-larger systems: familial, communal, cultural, planetary, and cosmic. As a therapist, I aim to accompany people as they feel into the countless layers of meaning and meeting within them.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road has not been very smooth – and I’m still on it, feeling bumps that remind me I’m a human being in process! But each time I consider pulling off, I turn a corner and find another view that makes the whole journey seem worth having. Working so intimately with people puts me in touch with profound pain and suffering, but this path also privileges me to witness the resilience and beauty of the human spirit. I am made better all the time by my patients’ will to grow and heal.
In addition to the demands of graduate school and training, we are required as therapists to do our own work, to get real about what we bring to the table. If we’re not willing to commit to our own healing journey, how could we earnestly accompany our patients on this venture? I am regularly challenged and rewarded by facing the complexities and intensities of my human experience. And despite our best planning, the life trip always involves struggles we could not anticipate. When I faced a debilitating medical issue in the middle of graduate school, I had to step away from the path entirely for treatment and recovery. This was a humbling experience that taught me there are times where rest and retreat are called for. I feel grateful that my work can be enriched by such difficult experiences. Moving through suffering increases my capacity to understand and be with the pain of others.
As you know, we’re big fans of Angeles Psychology Group. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Angeles Psychology Group is a holistic psychotherapy practice where we treat people as just that– people, deserving of dignity and care. In most traditional talk therapy, your mental health can feel cut off from other aspects of your being. Our practice welcomes the whole person without artificially dividing the mind from the body, spirit, or sociocultural reality. The team is composed of diverse and capable practitioners united by an integrative lens and depth-psychological orientation. We incorporate somatic (body-centered) therapies and collaborate with a community of healers from other traditions, such as acupuncturists and sound healers. I also love that we work with patients from a variety of backgrounds. Angeles Psychology Group’s commitment to social justice and honoring cultural complexity was a major draw for me joining the team. I’m thrilled to be part of a community that values inclusivity, creativity, collaboration, and self-discovery.
How do you think about happiness?
I experience the most happiness when I feel connected to something larger than myself. I find it writing poetry or playing music, tapping into creative flow. I find it cuddling my kitten, her purr putting me at ease. I find it immersed in nature when the concrete and car sounds are far away and I am just another being in the world. I find it in quiet moments with patients, friends, or family members when there is a sense of shared understanding we can’t even give words to. Happiness finds me when I am awake for a sunrise or eat a perfectly-ripe fruit and remember I’m on a planet that gives of itself so generously and beautifully.
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