Therapist Spotlight: Marco Renzi, Advanced Clinical Intern

Marco is an advanced clinical intern at Wildflower for the academic year of 2019-2020. He is in the process of obtaining his Master’s degree in clinical social work at The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Marco works with individuals and couples and is receiving extensive training and clinical supervision from senior staff at our practice. Read Marco’s full bio here

What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?

There have been a variety of events that have drawn me towards this career, but foremost among them have been my own experiences with therapists. I have seen firsthand the immense amount of good and healing that can occur, and I wanted to be a part of that miraculous process. I did not always know what my role would be in this field. I studied psychology in college, and it reignited my passion for social services. I began by working as a special education teacher for high school students, and then transitioned into work as a recovery counselor in Chicago. Since then, I have returned to school with the goal of improving my therapeutic skills and getting back into the field as a therapist for individuals and intimate relationships.

As a psychotherapist, what part of your job is most satisfying?

One aspect of therapy that will never stop bringing me joy is watching people discover their power. Everyone has this incredible well of strength and ability, and when they are able to access it, they are practically unstoppable. Sometimes we just need some help bringing that part of us to the surface. Being able to see people that I have worked with grow into themselves and feel able to face the world is something that never fails to make me smile.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

My therapeutic approach is one focused on warmth, humor, and unconditional positive regard. Developing a strong relationship with my clients allows us to push ourselves while still developing a safe and welcoming space. I use an eclectic approach to treatment and try to use methods that my clients find work best for them.

Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?

I believe that psychotherapy works because everyone involved is determined to make it work. Everyone has set aside a specific time where the focus is healing and growth. It allows clients to discover themselves, and learn more about themselves and what strategies work for them. There is no problem too daunting, no struggle that cannot be worked through. There is no one catch-all answer or instant solution either. Therapy gives us the space and time to put in the work to find out what our next step is on this journey, and provides a space where clients are safe. There is nothing so powerful as having someone who is there to help, and has the resources and skills to make a difference.

What are some of your specialties and what drew you to them?

My biggest areas of focus are evidence-based practices that have been shown to work with a variety of populations. The two treatment methods that I have been most drawn to are modalities that place a strong emphasis on mindfulness, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and research-driven models such as the Gottman Method for relationship counseling. I was drawn to these treatments because they have a large base of research that guides their application, and they have been shown to work for a variety of struggles. However, I am also focusing on expanding my specialties, and am learning about other treatment modalities as well so as to be better able to suit my clients’ needs.

What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?

That it is never too late to start. Simply starting psychotherapy means you have already taken one of the hardest steps towards positive change. No matter how bad it is, things can always get better. Seek help and you will find someone who can meet your needs. Just because things seem hopeless does not mean there are no options. Every journey begins with a single step, and healing is no different.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

My personal motto is something that one of my friends told me off the cuff a few years ago after fashioning a backpack out of duct tape when his broke during a hike: “If it’s foolish and it works, then it isn’t foolish.” This statement signifies one of my core beliefs in therapy: that everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another, and going through life with an open mind will give so many more opportunities. If I think something will not work before even trying it, of course it won’t! Taking the time to try new things, and see if they’re successful for me, has given me so many experiences and has helped me through so much, and I would not trade them for the world.

What are your favorite self-care activities?

I consider self-care to be one of the most powerful forms of healing, and one that is not always easy to accomplish. I strive to make sure that I find enough time for my own self-care practices. There are few things that are as satisfying to me as hiking and camping in the wilderness, and I try and spend time in nature as much as possible. When that is not an option, a good book and some of my favorite tea (and a cookie or three) goes a long way towards helping me feel better and rejuvenated.

What are some of your hobbies?

I have recently begun teaching myself juggling. I was drawn to juggling because there is never a point when I will be “finished.” There is always more to learn, and I am determined to learn more and more fun patterns, or how to juggle different objects, such as knives and fire juggling.