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Meet Gina Balit, MA, LMFT, ATR of The Art of MFT in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Balit, MA, LMFT, ATR.

Gina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story is about hope and resilience. I’ve known since I was a little girl that I want to help other children in need, but I never imagined just how compelled I would be to inspire other young kiddos to dream, heal, and thrive.

I started my undergraduate studies with a major in Art because it was a big part of my childhood. While I’ve always known how much I love children and art, it took me a while to have an “AHA!” moment and realize that I can work with both together. I knew something was missing in my first year of studies.

The “little me” knew she wanted to help other children in need because she was a child of divorce. I grew up doodling in my room, but mostly drew and traced Disney characters, especially Mickey Mouse. I always say that he is the reason I became an Art Therapist. Yes, it might be cliche to say that Disneyland is truly the “happiest place on earth,” but for me, Mickey Mouse and Disneyland taught me so much – that it’s possible to feel happy and be free of sadness, that I’m strong enough and good enough, that I have a forever place to feel safe at, and to never stop believing and having hope. I had no idea that at that time, I was expressing myself through art. I was just doing something I loved. It wasn’t until adulthood I began to look back and understand just how powerful having art as a form of expression was in my life. I knew that I wanted to give that feeling and knowledge back to the world, especially to other children. They no longer have to hold feelings inside, there is a way to explain all that ache inside when words are not enough. Once I heard the words “art therapy” from a classmate during my second year, I knew I had to look it up and do some research. I quickly changed my major to Child and Adolescent Development and kept Art (graphic design) as my minor. The rest was history.

From that moment on, I’ve been personally and professionally grateful for so many things. I’ve had the privilege to help many children and families. I’ve worked in school-based settings, in-home settings, agencies, transitional homes, shelters, as well as private and group practices. I’ve supported and treated mood issues, behavioral challenges (not only with psychotherapy clients but also with Autistic clients using Applied Behavioral Analysis), relationship matters, and traumatic experiences. My story continues to be and will always be one about hope and resilience, about manifesting it and instilling it.

Has it been a smooth road?
In a way, it’s a smooth ride to pursue your passion when you know exactly what it is you want and have love for. I’d like to think I’m unstoppable when I have my heart and mindset on something, but the path itself has certainly not been smooth for me. I’ve overcome one major bump in the road.

I debated whether I wanted to write and talk about another story within my main story, but I realize I shouldn’t hold back because it’s certainly one reason why I am the therapist I am today and even more so exactly why I want to promote hope and resilience in children. Many who know me know that my licensure journey took longer than expected. I watched all my colleagues pass their exams, pass me and reach their goals and dreams, while I was held back wondering “why me”? Maybe the timing wasn’t right. Was I supposed to learn a lesson? Yes, patience is key and time may be a big factor, but above all, I had to understand what failure meant to me, I had to fully surrender to the test and not give in to the negative thoughts I began to believe such as “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not meant to be a therapist.” I had to accept that I was still strong and a great therapist, despite how weak I felt from going through this traumatic testing cycle.

As an associate, I had to take a break from my practice because of how impacted I was from this process. I had to learn how to bounce back from repetitive setbacks. A test within a test to see if I was going to give up – boy was I tempted. I set a strong goal to not let this exam define me and to not throw in the towel no matter how many years it took me to pass. Well, I survived the beast – I persevered and can finally work with my kiddos again as a licensed therapist!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Art of MFT – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Art Therapist in Woodland Hills, CA. I opened the doors to my private practice, called The Art of MFT, in January 2020. I’m a certified Domestic Violence and Grief Specialist as well as a SoulCollageⓒ Group Facilitator. I’m bilingual in Armenian (western and eastern dialects). While I utilize evidence-based methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my practice, in addition to Narrative Therapy, I believe there is an art to the therapeutic process and how we work with our clients. I specialize in working with young children under 10; I believe this is what sets me apart as many clinicians who work with children work with ages closer to 7, while I’ve worked with children as young as three.

Specifically, I work with children of divorce and abuse/domestic violence who may be experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, and fear of abandonment. My goal is to be warm, creative, compassionately listen and, at times, even utilize humor to aid in building rapport and trust with my clients as a solid foundation to begin work from. My dream is to inspire and instill hope in children so that they can lead healthier and more resilient lives. My mission is helping children look up and into their future with less worry and fear and more confidence and happiness. I’m excited and proud to have a space to be able to run support groups for children of divorce as well as young women of domestic violence in the near future. I also plan to host events and workshops that might benefit the community.

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