Therapist Spotlight: Talia Cohen, MA, LCSW, PMH-C

Talia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Criminal Justice from University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Before becoming a psychotherapist, she worked in the field of marketing and advertising. Talia is trained in a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating depression, anxiety, and trauma. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She enjoys working with individuals and couples. Read Talia’s full bio here.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?

My interest in clinical social work started during adolescence. I recall always being curious about people’s stories, about where they came from and what made them the person that was standing before me that day. Ever since I can remember, I have been viewed as a go-to confidant. Whether it was a sibling seeking advice, a stranger on a plane sharing a story or my best friend referring to me as her voice of reason, it has always felt natural for me to exude compassion and to care deeply about others, no matter how well I knew them. I have always been interested in learning about people, listening with genuine empathy, and above all, helping people on their healing journey. After spending some time exercising my creativity in the marketing and advertising world, I found myself feeling like something was missing, and this is when I returned to these values and began the journey of becoming a psychotherapist.

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

Life throws a lot at us, which tends to take us away from our values and distract us from the things that are important to us, the things that ultimately guide how we want to live and how we want to be. I find it so rewarding when clients begin to live their lives according to their deepest values and can find or rediscover meaning and purpose. I am humbled and honored to be able to witness my clients discover their inner strength to face their fears with such bravery and courage. I very much enjoy and feel quite privileged to join my clients on their journeys, to be alongside them in times of need, and to watch them grow and make positive, sustainable changes— the strength of my clients never ceases to amaze and inspire me. I appreciate the time my clients spend with me each and every day, and I value the genuine connections we make. For me, the therapeutic process is highly satisfying, rewarding, and fulfilling, and although it may be challenging at times, usually the things that we value most in life are just that— and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

I’m a warm, nonjudgmental, and collaborative psychotherapist. I believe in the inherent worth of each and every individual, and this will come across in my presence, genuine communication style, and empathic approach, which is laced with compassion and humor (laughter is the best medicine, right?).

Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?

It takes strength, courage, and vulnerability to ask for help, to willingly engage in self-reflection and an exploration of life’s challenges. Therapy is a journey that provides an excellent space to learn more about yourself with someone who can provide you with unconditional support and perspective. Everyone has moments of vulnerability, and it is not always life-shattering events that call for a network of support. In my experience, it does not always matter how big or small the problem, it is the lack of having someone to turn to that prevents healing.

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

Sometimes, it takes one of those life-changing professors to provide guidance at just the right, pivotal moment. For me, that was Irene Katele and her Criminal Justice in America course, which struck a deep chord for me. It awakened a passion that had always been in me. While studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I worked with accused offenders at the State Public Defender’s office, where I learned firsthand about the shortcomings that exist within the criminal justice system and society at large, especially as it relates to treating mental illness. I strongly believe that people do not choose their social context—sometimes, people are just dealt a bad hand—and it is my passion to help those trying to carve a new one to achieve a better quality of life, whether that be minor or major changes. To me, any positive, sustainable change that moves you closer to living a meaningful life is a win, no matter the size or magnitude. As I rediscovered my passion for helping others on their journeys towards healing, I continued my training in graduate school at the University of Chicago, where I blended this passion with my increasing interest in working with anxiety disorders, depression, challenges related to becoming/being a parent, grief and loss, trauma, eating disorders, addiction, relationship difficulties, and other stressful life transitions.

What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?

I wish everyone knew that engaging in psychotherapy is not a last resort; rather, I see it as a wonderful gift that you give to yourself. It is an opportunity to take the time to work on, connect to, and care for what I feel is the most important relationship in anyone’s life: your relationship with yourself. By doing so, you are then better able to reconnect with and address the areas, relationships, values, and goals in your life that you feel are suffering. Psychotherapy is a collaborative process where you get to drive and take some control back when you are feeling that life is getting the best of you. It is your space— and we will use it however you feel will best help you achieve your goals.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

Many of my mottos or personal mantras have come out of times of vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear. One of my favorites is: “Change is scary, and change is a tremendous opportunity for growth.” To this, I would add that change is also a tremendous opportunity for uncovering your values and for discovering what brings meaning and color back to your life.

Another motto that I find myself coming back to time and again is, “Sometimes good enough, is good enough.” And, although it admittedly took some time and work, I really do believe it and stand by it every day.

What are your favorite self-care activities?

I like to consider myself an amateur chef and baker— it’s the way I best express my creativity (even if the results are not always as delicious as my tastebuds would like!). I also enjoy spending time with loved ones, puzzles, movies and TV shows, exercise, and what I like to call “couching”—allowing myself the time to spend on the couch with my puppy!

What are some of your passion projects or interests?

I am currently very passionate about creating my own cookbook, given my self-proclaimed amateur chef/baker status!

Do you play sports?

No, I do not; however, I do play fantasy football, and yes, after hard fought battles and a tremendous amount of work and perseverance, I won my league’s championship this year!