I’m aware that my blog name is an oxymoron: therapists are not supposed to give advice. We are trained to talk to clients about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in such a way that our sessions lead them to finding the answers to what we call their “presenting problems” within themselves. This process takes time, of course.
So, if there are no “quick fixes”, especially not for long-standing issues, then why bother giving advice?
Well, after practicing psychotherapy for almost 20 years, I have learned that some client issues seem universal. For this reason, as well as for the sake of normalizing our experiences, and adding perspective and understanding to these common themes, I decided to create a blog and write about them.
Sara Cloostermans is the founder of and voice behind A Therapist’s Advice. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, wife, mother of two grown children, and dedicated yin yoga practitioner.
Meet Sara Cloostermans
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in California. I started my therapy career in 2000 as a student trainee conducting counseling at Arizona State University and at Empact-SPC, an outpatient suicide prevention center.
After graduating with a Master of Counseling degree from ASU and moving to San Diego, I worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, from 2005 until 2010, at an organization called Home Start, Inc., a non-profit child abuse prevention and treatment agency. I provided in-home services to at-risk children and their parents.
Since 2010, I have been in private practice, serving:
- Women: I work with anyone who wants support in dealing with the daily “struggle of the juggle” (an expression my friend, Melly, came up with). I have a special focus on women with reproductive health issues and mothers dealing with perinatal health issues, such as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- Parents: Though I no longer see children, I give support, referrals, and resources to parents with children of all ages. I am a trained Play Therapist, Parent-Child Interaction Therapist, and Child Trauma Therapist.
- Couples: I help partners deepen their level of connection and intimacy if that is indeed their goal. If not, I try to help them employ fair fighting rules and improve communication skills.
- Young Adults: I very much enjoy working with young adults through their “launching” period. It is an exciting time, but also a scary one with academic or career pressures showing up in unfamiliar ways. I guide them in figuring out needs, wants, and desires for education, jobs, lifestyle, relationships, and other aspects of adulthood.
I was born and raised bilingual Dutch-German in Soest, Germany. My family is Belgian, but we lived in Germany because my father was a military athletic trainer and fencing master to the young men doing their national service. When I was 10, my family of six moved back to Belgium to be closer to my mother’s family. My mom is one of fourteen children; the daughter of farmers. Several years after my mother’s parents passed away, my parents bought the farm and renovated the house. I loved it because I was surrounded by family—my mother’s siblings, their spouses and kids, half of them walking distance from our house.
Travel and foreign languages fascinated me from a young age. When I graduated high school at 17, I wanted to move abroad. Because my parents would not let me move until I was a few years older and obtained an education, I decided to get a two-year degree at a community college in Verviers. I was the only Flemish student in the school and took my classes in French. By the time I completed my studies, I was speaking three languages fluently. When I graduated, I moved to Boston, Massachusetts, as an au-pair to take care of two young girls. I spoke a little English when I arrived, but not much. After living there for a year, I was fluent in four languages.
Halfway through my year in the States, I met my now-husband, Ken. When my visa expired and I returned to Belgium, Ken came with me. We married in Belgium a year later, spent our honeymoon backpacking through Thailand for 5-weeks, and moved to upstate New York in 1993 to live near my husband’s family. Upstate New York was not a great fit for us, especially the cold weather, so we moved to Phoenix, Arizona for the next two years. During those years I attended Arizona State University and obtained my bachelor’s degree in French with a minor in German, thinking I was going to pursue my master’s immediately after graduation and become a language teacher. However, my husband was offered an unexpected exciting job opportunity abroad, which took us to Berlin for three years. There, I worked for Berlitz Language School.
In 1998, after two failed pregnancies, Ken and I welcomed our first child, a baby boy. Labor and delivery ended up being a life threatening situation for me. When I returned home after spending five days in the hospital and ICU, I started experiencing extreme anxiety for the first time in my life. I fell into a deep depression and promptly reached out for help. When my mental health started improving, thanks to therapy and medication, I decided to become a psychotherapist instead of a language teacher.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, it was my journey through the dark depths of postpartum depression and anxiety, one of the hardest things I have ever done, that ended up giving me the greatest passion and purpose in life: to offer psychological support to people in need.
When my son was one, we moved back from Germany to Arizona. I obtained my Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Arizona State University. When I graduated, the three of us moved to San Diego, California, where we still live today. Ken and I started an open adoption process and our second child was placed with our family in February 2004. We took our new baby girl home to meet her older brother on Valentine’s Day. We have stayed in touch with the birthmother for most of my daughter’s life.
Fast forward to 2022; Ken and I are going to be empty nesters this summer. This means I finally have time to write, something I have considered doing off and on for almost two decades. I’m excited to have my blogging site and hope you get as much out of it as I do!
In my free time, I like to spend time with loved ones, read and write, go for walks by the beach, bike (electric) with my husband, travel, scope out new restaurants, exercise on the Peloton, and without fail, practice daily yin yoga.