Anya Surnitsky, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator
Hi, I'm Anya, and I'm imperfect and enough.
Hey. Sometimes people say "it takes one to know one." They mean it in a snarky, "I've got your number" kind of way. But as a therapist, it takes me knowing what feelings feel like (in your body, in your mind, in your communication), regardless of what circumstance or situation created them. I can't possibly have gone through EVERY live event or situation that you have, but 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 the fears. That's what I mean when I say, it takes one to know one.
Quick story- when I was in middle school, my best friend and I were obsessed with horoscopes. Trendiness aside, I loved it because it helped to explain my circumstances and validate my feelings in a way that felt so comforting. Little did I know that I would want to pursue that type of mechanism for my career; because that's what therapy feels like, except it's based on more than planets and stars. The feeling is the same, and there are actionable steps you can take to make changes in the direction you want your life to go. There are few better feelings than being in a room with someone or being in any relationship where you feel seen, heard, and known.
So... please know that I strive to help you get to that place.
I understand what it's like to exhaust yourself with perfectionism and constant striving 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. I believe in it wholeheartedly. I run into my perfectionism and not-enough stuff and dig out the tools like everyone else. No one is immune if they are really honest with themselves. The other side of this journey putting the tools into practice, 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.
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 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.
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 direction of your life. You get to decide.
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. It 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.
The key turning point in therapy for many people happens when they see the power in themselves that I saw when they first walked through the door, believe in their power, and start to use it to make the changes they want. There isn't an easy button or a magic pill. It can get really hard and uncomfortable to face what you've been avoiding, but it's completely and totally worth it.
I will meet you where you need to begin. I honor the courage it takes to make the first appointment, 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 am 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.
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 and trying(!) to follow them, 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), 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 connections with others.
Courage Compass Therapy at Park Center Wellness
208 N. Easton Rd. • Willow Grove, PA 19090
267.209.0795 • firstname.lastname@example.org