Ariel Stern, LPC is a licensed therapist in Pennsylvania. Ariel sees clients in our Center City office offering weekday and weekend appointments. Ariel has been with A Better Life since 2013!
As a therapist she is warm, direct, approachable, and funny. She offers Gottman Couples Therapy, and individual therapy for those struggling with a variety of issues, particularly anxiety, addiction issues, and life transition issues.
What made you become a therapist?
I’ve wanted to be a therapist my entire life. I honestly can’t remember a time when I thought about doing anything else. My parents love to tell stories about how, even as a little girl, I would pull up a chair when they argued and explain to them what they needed to do to solve their conflicts. I love listening to people and learning about their concerns, challenges, achievements and relationships. It’s really a privilege to be let into people’s lives in such an intimate way.
What are your specialties?
My practice is very diverse and I enjoy working with a wide range of clients. That said, I am particularly interested in working with couples, people struggling with addiction, and transitional periods such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, career changes or death and grief.
Why do you believe therapy can help?
I believe that the relationship between a client and a therapist is a unique one. A good therapeutic relationship should allow a client to feel validated and safe, yet challenged, empowered and understood, while open to new ways of thinking. We live in a world where we are expected to do and be so much all at once. I find that with gentle guidance my clients are able to accomplish much of the work on their own. Therapy creates the space that makes this possible, a space in which you are not alone, but have the opportunity to reflect on your thoughts. How many of us have that privilege? In my opinion, not enough.
What are some books that inspire you?
I’m an avid reader and while I love novels, I am a daily consumer of news. I think that staying abreast of current events is critical to making informed decisions. I read a lot of psychology journals and research, especially about issues surrounding women’s mental health and raising kids. This year, one of my favorite books was “When Breath Becomes Air” by the late Paul Kalanithi – a first person narrative written by a doctor who is dying from cancer at a young age. I read this while a close friend of mine was dying of cancer at a young age. I also read anything by Andrew Solomon. I’ve slowly been working through his book, “Far From The Tree,” and I’m looking forward to the “Noonday Demon, An Atlas of Depression.”
When should people seek counseling?
People should seek counseling anytime they feel curious, compelled or open to the idea. I think that often, therapy is considered something that should be reserved for those who are struggling or unable to manage their lives, people who are “crazy” or people who don’t have enough natural supports or friends. While therapy certainly can and should be used when a person is in crisis or going through a difficult period, it does not need to be used exclusively for this purpose. I have seen clients learn so much about themselves when they come to session without an obvious concern or topic in mind. The bottom line is therapy is always available to people and should be used freely and without hesitation.
What are your favorite self care activities?
My favorite way to spend down time is with my family, traveling, eating, or running. I have two little kids who are the lights of my life and being with them makes me blissfully happy. I’ve always been an advocate of exercise and taking care of your body. Mental health and physical health are 100% connected. My newest fitness obsession is Orangetheory – it’s an intense, jam packed hour of sweating and I always feel like I’ve given myself a little gift every time I go. It also helps give me the strength to wrangle my high-energy toddler.