Laura San Nicolas is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in anxiety, trauma, PTSD, and depression. She is certified in EMDR and Expressive Arts Training. Laura takes a holistic, soul-focused approach to address the needs of the whole person—integrating mind, body, and spirit.
What would your clients and colleagues say is your therapist superpower?
After a somewhat random survey of friends and colleagues, I learned that some find me intuitive, relatable, grounding, and empathetic; I make others feel understood and provide tangible, calm, and supportive advice. I’ve been told that I provide gentle, freeing, and empowering guidance, and can take stressful or dire situations and make them less terrifying and more realistic to overcome.
How have personal experiences helped your work with clients?
I have always been a pretty keen observer of myself and others, and I have always looked for meaning in the things we go through. I’m glad I have gotten old enough to realize that there is no experience that doesn’t come in handy eventually—the good, the bad, and even the indifferent. I love to open my client’s worldview to this idea that nothing in our lives has been wasted or is insurmountable.
What does a typical session look like with you?
A typical session with me is designed to be relaxing, authentic, respectful, direct, and filled with as much humor as possible.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Beyond the Brain by Stanislav Grof: This was the first “optional” book I was given in grad school and it just blew my mind. It challenges the existing neurophysiological models of the brain and human psyche and looks to create a new paradigm. I have always kept a copy in my office where I can see it throughout the day to remind myself why I chose this work I love so much.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frank: This is an amazing autobiography of a brilliant psychiatrist who was held captive and survived the Nazi concentration camps in WWII, and used his experience to see into the core of how people find meaning in their lives even in the worst of circumstances.
If you hadn’t become a therapist what profession would you have chosen and why?
Definitely a rock star! 😊 I was born loving music and had a punk rock band in the ’80s. Thank goodness there were no cell phones or internet back then!
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.