Chicago Therapist: Costa Provis, LCPC, CPC
What attracted you to the field of counseling?
This field is an organic fit for me – I am a social person with a strong sense of service, so the notion of a career that would allow me to meet and connect with a lot of different people just worked well for me. That, and being able to make a living while helping people overcome obstacles and life struggles, has always been appealing to me. Helping people is very rewarding in many ways.
What do you consider your specialties?
I wouldn’t really say that I have a particular specialty, but rather I have a lot of experience working with folks struggling with a wide range of problems such as mood disorders (like depression or bipolar), anxiety issues, relationship concerns, conflict resolution, and all kinds of life transitions.
Also, as a certified Life Coach I love working with clients to help them reach personal and professional goals. When these goals are reached, they ultimately land at a higher level of success.
What did you do prior to being a therapist?
The last job I had that was outside of mental health was when I delivered pizzas during college; I have actually worked in mental health continuously since my senior year of undergrad when I interned at a group home for adolescent boys.
After graduation and during grad school I worked as a case manager at a community-based mental health agency on the city’s Northside.
From there I worked as a therapist at a couple of different non-profit organizations while earning my clinical hours and experience towards full licensure.
As part of this experience, I worked in various roles from administration, clinical supervisor, director, etc. but came to realize relatively early in my career that my passion is working directly with clients and I have been doing that in private practice ever since.
What do you see as one of the gifts of counseling?
This is really difficult to answer because of the unique, subjective experience that is the counseling journey. Generally speaking, it’s
the supportive, unbiased, non-judgmental relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.
Another significant gift of counseling is the success and achievement that is experienced when a person reaches a specific goal or new plateau in life.
Also of great value is learning how to create more effective options (such as new coping strategies, thought patterns, reactions), and gaining the essential tools necessary for overcoming obstacles and enhancing one’s life, relationships, and overall success.
Who might benefit from counseling?
Anyone who is either struggling to make positive changes in their life, or who is feeling stuck in their current situation. Counseling helps. It offers an opportunity to assert oneself into a proactive role in his/her own growth and success.
For couples, whether you’re dealing with relationship frustrations, or planning on taking a next step and want to open the lines of communication with your significant other, counseling will help.
Any individual who is battling with anxiety, depression, a life transition, illness, loss, or just wants to gain self-awareness, counseling will help.
What’s your favorite self-improvement activity to give to clients?
I’ll share 2 of my favorite self-improvement activities I give to clients. The first is often utilized when working with depression or general lack of motivation. I call it the “best self-list” and it’s just that; a list of activities and thought processes that one associates with being at their best.
For instance, if when I’m feeling well in my life I am connecting with friends, working out, and feeling organized with things like bills, then these items would be on my best self-list.
Then, in times when I am not feeling as motivated or generally well, I would create a plan where I am doing at least 1 item from my list daily. There are various benefits to this activity, but the main one is that clients help themselves to feel better and more motivated / successful even when their mood isn’t quite ideal.
The second activity is one that is intended to help alleviate worry, negative self-concept, anger issues, and negative thought patterns. It is a bit more complicated but in this exercise I give clients a sheet of paper divided into three columns which are labeled “the facts”, “my perception” and “the outcome”. When something happens that is troubling or a source of worry,
I have clients break down the specific “trigger” into these categories. By separating out the facts of what just happened (i.e. a car cut me off), their subjective perception of the event (i.e. that person is selfish), and the outcome of that perception (i.e. I am left feeling angry and taking their driving personally).
I depersonalize the event and in the process have a new outcome (perhaps I feel empathetic for that person, or even a little less angry).
I work with clients on identifying and breaking down as many options as possible, and in the process help folks to make positive changes in terms of their reactions and feelings of self-control.