Donner Lake counseling practice promotes mind over matter
February 10, 2016
TRUCKEE, Calif. — When it comes to dealing with matters of the mind, mind over matter is often easier said than done.
In other words, it's often difficult for one to acknowledge his or her own wavering mental health, let alone seek help and treatment options whether hindered by fear, stigmatism, income or inaccessibility to counseling services.
But the fact of the matter is that most minds experience periods of sadness, stress and worry, and further, many people struggle with deeper psychological conditions.
And when these problems become too burdensome to handle, there's something empowering about seeking the help of a mental health professional.
"I strongly believe mental wellness and mental stability is a social justice issue, and that everyone has a right to it and everyone should be able to access it no matter what their language, their culture, their immigration status, or their class," said Kirsten Livak, owner and sole practitioner at Indigo Waters Counseling Services, located on the eastern shoreline of Donner Lake.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Livak opened her private practice in October with the goal of helping clients identify core problems and stressors, build upon their inner strengths, and develop personalized treatment goals to help people achieve a more fulfilling life.
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"People often come through my door so broken and damaged because they've been suffering for so long by themselves," Livak said. "The minute they walk in and sit down – whether it's a young teenager or a new mom or someone going through a rough time – you can immediately sense the relief they feel having taken that first step."
In spite of ongoing, deeply-ingrained stigmas surrounding therapy, counseling and mental health services, Livak's optimism is heartfelt, and her can-do attitude toward improving the mental health system is profoundly uplifting.
"I try to provide educational therapy to help my clients feel empowered because they all have tremendous inner strength, and we want to hone in on those strengths to help build the resiliency they need to solve whatever problems come their way whether it's relationship issues, family issues or an actual mental health diagnosis," Livak said. "It's about personal evolution and healing, and not about judgement."
Though she's dedicated the last eight years to her dual roles of stay-at-home-mom and board member of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Livak's contemporary approach toward mental health services springs from her years as a social worker, where she quickly learned that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't the best way to deal with matters of the mind.
"I try to blend Western and Eastern philosophies and practices to help create a more conventional model because all the different ways that people experience stress isn't necessarily going to fit into one diagnostic model," the 25-year Truckee resident said.
At Indigo Waters Counseling Services, Livak treats a wide range of problems from behavioral issues, academic underachievement, and building self-esteem to developmental disorders, transgender identity issues and family conflicts.
"Even in a small town like Truckee, we know we have a lot of gaps in social services, but those gaps are only more pronounced in larger cities, so if we could create a model here in this really small place, perhaps we can duplicate that in other places – that's my vision behind Indigo Waters Counseling," she said.
As far as her personal regime of mental self-care, Livak has honed in on the two key factors that help her maintain her own mental stability — a regular dose of quality family time combined with an overdose of sleep.
"I love sleeping and I don't feel guilty about it anymore," she said in her signature even-keeled tone. "A lot of people don't get enough sleep and it makes their whole reality so different, but I believe we humans were made to sleep for a long, long time."
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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