Anya Surnitsky | Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator | EMDR Trained Therapist

So much of our communication can reflect our need to control. We say what we think others want to hear. We try to keep others from getting angry, feeling afraid, going away, or disliking us. But our need to control traps us into feeling like victims and martyrs.

Freedom is just a few words away. Those words are our truths. We can say what we need to say. We can gently, but assertively, speak our mind.

Let go of your need to control. We do not need to be judgmental, tactless, blaming, or cruel when we speak our truths. Neither do we need to hide our light. Let go, and freely be who you are.
— Melody Beattie

Anya Surnitsky

Hi, I'm Anya, and I'm imperfect and enough.    

It took me years to be able to say that, but 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, (costume) jewelry collector, high heel admirer, and coffee connoisseur.  I am enthusiastic, competitive, athletic and feminine, sarcastic, a Philly sports fan, and incredibly loyal. As Melody Beattie describes, I’ve done the trying-to- control-what-others- think mental gymnastics. That path doesn’t lead me to a place of authenticity or feeling anything positive. I’ve arrived (and keep striving) to the place of speaking my truth and being who I am from a place of integrity and respect.

Why am I I telling you all of this?

Because I know the contentment and fulfillment that comes with this freedom and peace, I want to share it with you. That’s often what the people I work with are looking for too. When we’re so focused on others, we lose touch with ourselves, our needs, and who we are. I’ve been able to show up and be seen as I am, imperfections and all. It’s counterintuitive that being more vulnerable leads to more freedom, but that is the key.

What contributes to who you are, your identity?

Let’s Connect

If we (you and me) don’t have a connection, you won’t be able to feel safe and trust, and change cannot happen. 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 most healing elements of therapy and is the best predictor of successful outcomes regardless of what type of therapy is practiced. My style is a mix of recognizing our common humanity, having a sense of humor but I combine that with sensitivity, compassion, and never judging. No one wants to be judged; if there are behaviors that cause you shame, there is a reason and a function for those that we will carefully explore.

The Gifts of Imperfection

You do not have to go it alone.

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. Please read that again. 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?

I understand what it's like to exhaust yourself with perfectionism and constant doing while never truly feeling worthy unless you get external reinforcement or validation (anxiety as a lifestyle, productivity = your self-worth).  

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're allowed to be un-fine. You’re actually even allowed to have needs, if you know what they are.

Performing this never-ending hustle day in and day out can get very lonely. How ironic is it that we feel alone in this struggle when so many experience it? I am driven to help increase connections, give permission for imperfection, and reduce loneliness and isolation.


My Why

I do this work because I walk the walk, not just talk the talk. My personal values are aligned with my professional values which lead me to practice in my integrity: connection, future generations (helping today’s adults so that our children can grow up in a better world), and courage. We all want and need connection; to be seen and feel heard because this means we are known. The comfort that provides is unmatched.

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 needs, values, and goals.  You will find a way to use your courage as your compass.  Your bravery combined with your fear helps you to do it anyway despite the self doubt.  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.

This is my Signature Service. I’ve developed an exercise for you to develop your own compass on paper so that you know HOW to live your values, get your needs met, identify the actions you need to take, and feel the way you want to feel. It sounds abstract because each person’s compass is unique. You will have something concrete in your hands that spells out the actions you want/need to take and why.

In order to start to detach from the ball and chain of achievement + performance + praise= perfection, courage is a necessity.   It’s time to take back the wheel, and gain control of the direction of your life.  You can be in the driver’s seat of your own life instead of allowing others to choose the course.

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The Daring Way™

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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. This work helps us to know what it takes to SHOW UP | BE SEEN | LIVE BRAVE.

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.

Anya Surnitsky Philadelphia PA

My Style

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.


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 •