Meet Julia Baum, Therapist in Williamsburg
Ever wonder who the therapists in our network are, how they got their start, and what makes them passionate about the work they do? Explore our new series, interviewing therapists we work with, to learn more.
This morning, we’re happy to introduce Julia Baum, a therapist we work with at My Wellbeing. Through today’s Q&A, you’ll have a chance to get to know Julia, learn more about who she is and why she loves therapy, and, perhaps, a thing or two about why you might love therapy, too.
So Julia, let’s start with what is your background, and how you got into the field of therapy? In other words, what inspired you to become a therapist?
I have a background in the arts. Before my career in mental health, I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art photography. I first became interested in therapy through a psychology elective I took in art school. I had a light bulb moment when we got to the theories of Dr. Albert Ellis, who’s the grandfather of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and the father of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). His theories, which are rooted in philosophy and existential in nature, really clicked with me. I started to understand the cause of many human disturbances and the responsibility we have for our emotions. It was an empowering shift in the way I viewed myself, others, and the world. As time went on, I continued to study psychology in my free time while working in the art world and I got more interested in trying to understand and help the people around me. That interest became stronger over time. After careful consideration, I decided to follow my passion professionally. I earned my Master’s in mental health counseling and then worked as a therapist at a community mental health clinic and a day treatment program for seriously mentally ill adults before starting my practice.
Where is your practice based, and who do you work most with?
My practice is in South Williamsburg, in Brooklyn. My office is in a cool historical loft building with lots of neighborhood charm. I love the character of South Williamsburg and the office has that vibe. I specialize in helping creative entrepreneurs overcome problems such as extreme stress, low self-confidence, and productively blocks. This also includes overcoming debilitating fears, worries, and doubts that get in their way. When people struggle with these problems it usually impacts other areas of their life, too, so the work we do together tends to address the overall wellness of the whole individual. My aim as a therapist is to help my clients learn to help themselves through life’s ups and downs so that their reliance on therapy diminishes over time.
How does your background in art inform your therapy practice and, if applicable, how does your therapy work inform your art?
One of the best things I learned early on in art school was the ability to take criticism constructively rather than personally. That skill is crucial as an artist unless you want to drive yourself crazy, and it’s helped me a lot in life and my role as a therapist, too. It gives me the freedom to be authentic and genuine in my work. Even when my work changed from visual art to mental health, I’ve been able to be present, open minded, and creative in my approach.
You say that your style is “less traditional than most.” I’m wondering if you can tell us a bit more about what you mean by that.
My style in the room is proactive and goal-oriented. From the beginning, I help my clients clarify their goals for therapy in terms that are specific, measurable, realistic, and attainable. Then, we honor those wishes throughout the process. That doesn’t mean goals and objectives don’t sometimes change - and we address those changes if and when they arise - but the point is that we’re working together so that the client can make their goals a reality. People generally come to therapy because they’re seeking change, so it’s very important to me that I respect that and help my clients reach what it is they’re after as efficiently as I can.
What sort of continuing education continues to guide and inspire you? What would you like to learn more about in the coming months and years?
One of my favorite things about being a therapist is that there’s so much to learn. The great masters study their whole lives. I’m currently in the process of studying and training in hopes of receiving an associate fellowship membership at the Albert Ellis Institute, which is the highest level of external training in rational emotive behavior therapy. Beyond that, I’d also love to learn more about nutrition and physiology as it relates to emotional health. I’m also interested in feminist, existential, and yoga therapy.
What is your favorite thing about being a therapist?
I love hearing about my clients’ progress week after week. I love hearing about their accomplishments. I love hearing about how they made changes as a result of our work that helped them get through a hard time. You can actually see people getting better as a therapist. Clients come in looking more confident and relaxed over time. It’s amazing to watch someone transform. That being said, things aren’t always rosey in therapy. It’s normal for clients to struggle and to backslide sometimes. I appreciate those challenges as a therapist and it allows me to be creative in my approach. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of my clients’ lives.
Who do you look up to, and what inspires you?
I’ve trained with some really amazing clinicians, including John Viterito, who’s an expert in existential analysis, cognitive behavior therapy, and a brilliant teacher. I’m also inspired by music, nature, stories, and people I love.
What are you excited about right now?
I recently started presenting mental health workshops for the public and I’m working now on a new series with an esthetician about healthy self-care. We realized that although self-care is growing in the public consciousness, there’s a mindset some have around it that can actually be harmful mentally and emotionally, and usually without awareness. We’ll be sharing what to watch out for and how to go about self-care in ways that truly enhance your wellness. We’ll also be covering topics like shame and self-acceptance in the series. Stay tuned for more.
How can our readers connect with you?
Through my website, juliabaum.com.
Thank you, Julia, for your time, perspective, and the important work you do. As members of the entrepreneurial community, we know how many people you have the potential to help heal. We are grateful to be part of your journey.
Curious to learn more about therapy, or other therapists in the My Wellbeing community? Stay tuned for more interviews!