Anya Surnitsky, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator
Hi, I'm Anya, and I'm imperfect and enough.
I’m a person, just like you. I’m a person first, then a therapist. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a trampoline lover, a kickboxer, a book hoarder, a makeup junkie, jewelry collector, and coffee connoisseur. While being a therapist is my profession and I consider conducting myself professionally very seriously, therapy is personal. So personal. It’s a vulnerable place and can feel so scary (in the beginning). It’s so personal that I might not even be the therapist for you, and that’s ok. You need to find the place where you can sit down, exhale, and feel relief. The therapeutic relationship is often one of the healing elements of therapy and is the best predictor of successful outcomes regardless of what type of therapy is practiced.
Most people that I see have tried everything that can to solve the problem on their own. Not being able to “fix yourself” IS. NOT. A. FAILURE. You just can’t outrun and outsmart everything when it comes to childhood hurts, unconscious beliefs, and overwhelming feelings. Can a heart surgeon perform open heart surgery on his own heart?
While I can't possibly have gone through EVERY life event or situation that you have, I have experienced a full range of emotions and know what it feels like to be taken down by them, as well as to rise upward and overcome. I’m human, and so are you. I don’t expect you to come in with a plan for what you need to do, a reason for why you acted in a certain way, etc. It’s not a courtroom. It’s a confidential, safe and comfortable place to NOT KNOW all the things.
I understand what it's like to exhaust yourself with perfectionism and constant doing while never truly feeling worthy and satisfied unless you get external reinforcement or validation (anxiety as a lifestyle, productivity = your self-worth). To feel defeated, even though you know you set the bar at an impossibly high level.
To want to stop following the unspoken rules set up by society, your family, your boss, your neighbors, and just be ok being you (you may wonder who that even is now). You're allowed to be un-fine. Read the blog post about this here.
It seems impossible reach out for help when you feel like you're not supposed to or not "allowed" to have needs. It may even be hard to acknowledge this to yourself. It seems kind of (shhhh...selfish). Right?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert has pointed out an interesting fact about the word selfish. She has explained that in Mandarin, there are two words that can be translated to "selfish" in English. One is "doing something that benefits yourself," and the other is "doing something greedy." In our culture, they are one and the same: when we do things for ourselves, it's greedy. However, that is not the case. If we are going to be the best versions of ourselves, we have to CARE for ourselves first, not last. It's not selfish; it's vital to our well-being. I know it's hard to believe this. Trust me. I've tried to outrun this truth, but you can only go so far before you burn out.
When we're constantly focused on winning the approval of others, checking off the boxes of achievement, and not making others mad or upset, we are rarely caring for ourselves; we are focused on pleasing others at our own expense.
I do this work because I walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Vulnerability is the path, as much as we want to avoid and deny it. I believe in it wholeheartedly: we can be brave and afraid as we undertake important challenges in our lives. Once we pave our way through vulnerability, there is no going back. We are human though, and it’s tempting to armor up; I run into my perfectionism and not-enough stuff and dig out the tools like everyone else. No one is immune if he or she is really honest with themselves. The other side of this journey is putting the tools into practice; it’s not trying to find a way to prove our enough-ness in a culture that's built on highlighting inadequacies. I hate to tell you: there is no shortcut, but doing this work will help you get there so much faster. That’s how I am: I will give it to you straight (but with sensitivity), even if it’s not always what you want to hear.
What is a Courage Compass?
I developed the name Courage Compass Therapy for my practice because I felt it was the exact phrase that speaks to what I do and how I approach our time together. We will help you find YOUR direction by tapping into your own bravery. You will find a way to use your courage as your compass. Your bravery combined with your fear helps you to do it anyway. This helps you grow and expand to a level you never thought possible. Everyone's compass is different, as everyone has his or her unique path. We'll work to discover yours, literally. I’ve developed an exercise for you to develop your own compass on paper so that you know HOW to live your values and feel the way you want to feel.
In order to start to detach from the ball and chain of achievement + performance + praise= perfection, courage is a necessity.
When people begin to detach, they can often feel overwhelmed and scared as to where to begin on this journey of change. When they have been acting as a chameleon, and changing according to the wishes and needs of everyone else, they end up spinning in circles and going nowhere. This is where I will help you access your courage and find your inner compass to direct you on the next steps of your journey.
It’s time to take back the wheel, and get in control of the direction of your life.
The Daring Way™
I was drawn to be trained and certified in The Daring Way™, a curriculum based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, because it provides a method and a path for a way through this muck so that it makes sense. In a nutshell, it provides exercises to help you learn what triggers your shame, how you react to shame, and how to go about it in a healthier way. Shame, as it is defined in the curriculum, is the idea that you feel flawed, and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
The work was life changing for me and I believe it can be for you as well. My path is not your path, but I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned to make your journey a little lighter. We’ll find the tools and strategies best suited to you to get you the relief and hope to finally exhale when you think about your life.
I’m not one of those therapists who sits back and says, “mm-hmm,” or “how does that make you feel,” the way some have been depicted in the media, or how some of your friends or family may have described their experience in therapy. In fact, recent portrayals of therapists in TV shows makes me cringe- that is not like what therapy is like at all, at least in my office.
I push my sleeves up and I’m interactive with you from the start. We will develop a rhythm and a routine that’s unique to you and what you need. I want to listen to what you tell me, I will hear you, and we will have a conversation. I will introduce topics, ideas, tools or strategies that I believe in with my whole heart in a way that meets you where you are in your life. I'm open to feedback so that we can ensure you are getting the most out of your time. Remember, this is PERSONAL. Everyone needs something different. I get that, and we’ll find what you need to feel comfortable and supported.
I will meet you where you need to begin. I honor the courage it takes to make the first appointment, and the fear that may arise when starting to examine the issues at hand.
I hold a Master’s degree in Social Service (MSS) from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from Drexel University School of Public Health, a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Psychology and Spanish from Haverford College. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Pennsylvania (LCSW #017160), and I’m also a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW). I am a Certified Daring Way Facilitator, a curriculum based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. I am also EMDR trained and utilize it for various therapeutic issues and belong to the International Association of Trauma Professionals. >>> If this jargon doesn’t do anything for you, it’s trade speak. I try to leave that out of sessions and just be real. The bottom line is, I have taken my education and training very seriously in order to practice ethically, effectively, and efficiently.
What do I do when I'm not following this dream?
In doing this work, I've learned to live my life with intention, and really engage in activities that align with my values of courage, respect, connection, and reciprocity. How does that play out? I enjoy discovering new recipes with a bit of resistance to following all the directions, and if they are good, serve them at family gatherings. I love checking out new "fun places" with my family (read: so my son can burn off lots of energy), playing with our dog, and generally activities that involve making memories and taking pictures to document our lives. I enjoy meeting up with friends to truly connect and listen to what's going on in their lives, and share what's going on in mine. Bottom line: I like to pursue activities and experiences that enhance my connection with others.
Courage Compass Therapy at Park Center Wellness
208 N. Easton Rd. • Willow Grove, PA 19090
267.209.0795 • firstname.lastname@example.org