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Community Building: Fighting Loneliness With Universality 

People often think of therapy as a method of self-help that focuses on just that: the self. Although therapy is a space that takes great care to focus on you and your individual needs, there is an added component to the wellness experience that also deserves attention: Community Building. 

Community Building is a key ingredient to achieving optimal mental health. Community or interacting with groups that share common interests, environments & circumstances - can all help alleviate feelings of isolation, low motivation, and hopelessness. This is because human beings must have access to Universality, which is a term developed by Group Psychologists to describe the benefits of not feeling alone in your struggles. Meaning, despite the fact that every person’s experience is unique, you can still share similar themes of resilience with your peers.

In the therapeutic space, you can expect your provider to ask you questions about your interests, your cultural background, your spirituality, your neighborhood and your interactions with people who are separate from your close family - to assess your community involvement. A therapist may then help you brainstorm means of connecting with others, such as finding classes, events, meet-ups, protests, places of worship, health resources, or group counseling offerings. 

Increasing workplace demands, and parasocial (one sided) relationships via social media, as well as pandemic recovery, and a loneliness epidemic - have made it increasingly difficult to initiate community building. 

Here are some ideas for becoming more involved in your community: 

It can be scary to meet new people, however, with guidance, intention and a desire for universality - community can activate feelings of joy, connectedness, and mutual understanding.

Siena Vaccara, LMHC Siena Vaccara received her master’s in Mental Health & Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. Siena believes in encouraging personal growth through education, cultural awareness, and building trusting relationships. She utilizes Feminist and Narrative treatment plans, as well as Cognitive Behavioral and Person-Centered techniques in session to incorporate an integrative psychotherapy approach that honors the unique needs of individuals. She understands the importance of the collaborative therapeutic space being non-judgemental, unbiased, open-minded, and strength-driven. Siena treats individuals with concerns ranging from personal transitions to family planning, identity, mood fluctuations, and stressful life events.

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