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Meet Summer Forlenza

Today we’d like to introduce you to Summer Forlenza.

Hi Summer, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Before I became a therapist, I was a teacher. I taught 5th grade in East Harlem, New York City. It was during this period of my life that I first became familiar with mental health professionals and realized their power to create change and influence lives. I have vivid memories of kids in my class who were dealing with grief, trauma, and lack of resources. At the time, I had no background in mental health and I found myself in a constant power struggle. After spending time with some of our social workers and seeing firsthand the impact they had on my students, I started to get curious.

I began researching and learning more about mental health professionals and found myself more and more pulled to this field. I began to put together the fact that my strengths in the classroom would extend to the therapy room and that working one-on-one with people who were working to recover from trauma was something that I could offer.

I left teaching and came back home to California for graduate school, where I dove headfirst into any material I could get my hands on that helped me to understand trauma, resilience, and recovery. I began to deepen my understanding of my own life and experiences and found myself better able to set aside judgment for empathy and curiosity in all aspects of my life.

During my studies and in my earliest clinical experiences, I learned more about the connection between trauma, addiction, and eating disorders. I did about a third of my prelicensed clinical hours working at an eating disorder treatment center and it became clear that there was a need in this population. I have now committed a portion of my trauma-focused practice to eating disorder clients and regularly pursue consultation and training to enhance my ability to help in this area.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
This has not always been a smooth or easy road!

One of the challenges I have consistently navigated throughout this journey is the balance of my own physical health alongside my ambition and desire to grow in this field. I have experienced chronic pain, inflammation, and fatigue since my early twenties. I have had to offer myself the same compassion, grace, and nonjudgemental stance as I offer each of my clients as I walk the tightrope of owning a business, providing excellent clinical care, continuing my education, and maintaining my own physical well-being.

My experiences with pain and illness have been fundamental in the development of my clinical skills. Through my own lived experiences of disability and the need to grapple with existential questions from an early age, I have learned how to sit with suffering and grief while turning an eye towards meaning-making and human connection. I know that true recovery cannot be rushed and that creating a stable and safe container to explore a client’s experiences with curiosity is a powerful intervention in and of itself.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a psychotherapist who provides individual therapy to adults in California via my virtual private practice. The foundation of my work is trauma recovery with specialties in eating disorders and EMDR therapy.

I began to offer teletherapy during the pandemic and plan to continue. I have found that high-quality therapy for eating disorders and trauma recovery can be hard for clients to find and telehealth makes me accessible to the entire state of California.

I am most proud of the authentic connection that I build with the people I work with. I understand that the relationship is ultimately what heals and I find meaning in building that with every person I see.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love the diversity of our city – Los Angeles and the surrounding areas are culturally vibrant and offer windows into the worlds of people from around the world. Whether it’s food, art, theater, or celebrations, you can always find something new to experience in LA!

I dislike the commuting, traffic, and car culture of LA. I am grateful for the train system that we have that allows easy access into the city and hope to see more investment in public transportation.

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