ELENA WELSH, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist located in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Welsh received her doctorate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and completed advanced clinical training through a postdoctoral fellowship at Gateways Psychiatric Hospital in Los Angeles. Dr. Welsh has worked with a wide range of clients, including individuals who have experienced trauma, and folks dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis. She specializes in science-informed self-help books and has also published articles in various medical and research journals. Dr. Welsh also works with teams and corporations in order to help cultivate a mentally healthy workforce and organizational culture. She has served as a consultant for statewide projects, including initiatives aimed at increasing trauma-informed care, and as an adjunct faculty member for various universities in Southern California.
For more information about Dr. Welsh’s work, go to: www.drelenawelsh.com or follow along on Instagram at @drelenaw.
What would your clients and colleagues say is your therapist superpower?
One of my therapist superpowers is my commitment to keeping up with the latest scientific research related to what works for mental health and wellness and then translating that into tangible tools in the therapy office. I like to understand the tools that work for most of us for reducing stress, healing from trauma or managing depression and anxiety, and also want to understand what the research tells us about what doesn’t work for certain people or what works best given a particular situation or constellation of symptoms.
What does a typical session with you look like?
A typical session with me depends upon where we are in the therapeutic process. In early sessions, I will be doing a lot of information gathering to get to know you and what you are dealing with. In the second phase of therapy, we will be working actively on giving you the tools you need to manage whatever it is that is bothering you most, whether that is a symptom of a mental illness or a relationship issue. If we work together for a while, during later phases of therapy we often delve a little deeper together and start to look at longstanding patterns you might have or factors influencing your behavior that you may be less conscious of.
Is there an example from your daily life where you practice what you preach?
I pay attention to my thoughts and try to catch myself when I am being too self-critical or if I am exaggerating how bad something is or will be. When I am having a bad day, I try to do the things that I know make me feel better, like moving my body, getting some fresh air, or calling a friend, even when I don’t feel like it. I know that those are the times my wellness tools become most important. Lastly, I try to incorporate gratitude and mindfulness in my daily life because I know that these tools are easy ways for me to reduce stress and stay in more positive moods.
How do you approach the stigma surrounding mental health and therapy?
Unfortunately, I know that there are many people who would benefit from therapy don’t seek it out because of the stigma surrounding mental health and therapy. In addition to being a therapist, I am also an author and my books are aimed at making therapy tools accessible for folks who don’t have access or aren’t ready to see a therapist in real life. I also try to make myself approachable and offer free consultation calls for anyone exploring therapy for the first time. Additionally, I find it help to emphasize that therapy does not have to be a weekly commitment. You can try a few sessions and find a rhythm that works for you.
Short Term (Solution-focused, etc.)
Ideal for those who are coming in with a specific problem they’d like to address and gain clarity on. Typically, short term therapies are present focused and do not dive deep into your past.
Structured therapies are goal and progress oriented. Therapists may incorporate psychoeducation and a specific “curriculum.” In order to stay on track, therapists may provide worksheets and homework.
Insight-oriented (Psychodynamic, Existential, etc.)
Exploring the past and making connections to present issues can help clients gain insight. Getting to the root of the issue and finding deeper self-awareness can help with long-term change.
Non-directive (Humanistic, Person-centered, etc.)
Going with the flow and seeing where it leads.
Behavioral (CBT, DBT, etc.)
Focuses on changing potentially unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors by addressing problematic thought patterns and specific providing coping skills.
Trauma Focused (EMDR, TF-CBT, etc.)
Recognizing the connection between trauma experiences and your emotional and behavioral responses, trauma focused therapy seeks to help you heal from traumas.