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Nicole M. Serini

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

She/Her | LGBTQ+ Affirming

"There's no better moment than now to choose you, and begin your journey towards a being a better you. We can help you begin that journey."

How I Accidentally Became a Therapist

I agree, that may not be the most reassuring thing to hear about your potential future therapist, but it’s true.  The plan was to be a teacher.  To fill an opening in my schedule during my freshman year of college, I took a Psychology class, not quite sure what to expect.  I was immediately hooked.  I continued to take more and more psych classes when I realized I had become fascinated with understanding human behavior. Why do people do what they do ?  In time, I learned it was much deeper than behavior, and “why” is not the best answer to ask.  All of the other question words like, Who? What? Where? When?and How?  is how we get to the WHY.  Factors like genetics, biology, environment, culture, societal expectations, trauma, multi-generational patterns; lead to thoughts, connect to feelings and then result in behavior.  I won’t continue to bore you with psych jargon.  The short version is I am not a teacher, although part of my job is to teach.  I am a girl who luckily found her passion, at the right time, and have been studying psychology and practicing ever since.  


Part of my fascination with psychology is that I could relate to some of the struggles I was reading about in my psych textbooks.  These new words helped describe ways I had been feeling inside.  Like most people, I have had times in my life where I have struggled with my mental health.  Did I know I was struggling at the time? Nope.  Not in my earlier years.  I knew something didn’t feel quite right, but I didn’t know how to explain it, or who to talk to about it.  What would people think?  Like many families, talking about our feelings was not something we really did.   Through personal experience, the course of my training, and practice in the field, it became clear that  when we don’t express what is occurring inside, it will eventually come out, many times in unhealthy ways.  Distraction, avoidance, escaping, numbing, denying, repressing, dissociating, are all techniques we have picked up along the way to help us survive.  While these techniques seem to be temporarily helpful, they will eventually fail, and that underlying issue will still be present.  


As I continued my training during my undergraduate program at Pace University,  I interned at an elementary, middle and high school under the instruction of School Psychologists.  I realized how important connecting to young people really meant to me and saw that so many of them don’t know how to talk about feelings.  Too often, children, teens and younger adults learn that their feelings are not important.  Their feelings are minimized or dismissed because “they’re young, what do they know? They don’t understand, etc…”  Kids internalize these messages, and learn to devalue their own thoughts and feelings.   My goal is to help individuals of all ages un-learn this.  Everyone’s feelings matter.  Children who are not taught, allowed to, or do not feel safe to voice their thoughts, feelings and needs, grow up to be adults who do not know how to voice their thoughts, feelings, and needs.  What happens next? We continue to  invalidate ourselves, end up in bad relationships, experience low satisfaction in life, experience depression, anxiety and much more. 


While studying at SUNY Albany for my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, I was lucky enough to be placed at a small, community counseling center where I was able to put some of my skills to use.  I knew right away, Private Practice was where I wanted to be.  The road was a windy one.  Unbeknownst to me,  I had a lot of other valuable experience and training coming my way before I ended up owning my own practice.  After I graduated, I worked at a very large, non-for-profit community agency.  The busy schedule and massive case load did not allow the one-on-one connection, I felt was so important in this type of work.  Following my work here, I worked in a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center for at-risk youth for a few years.  This job really helped me understand how to think on my feet, provide crisis counseling to severely traumatized individuals and psychiatric youth in our foster system.  Once I completed my licensing hours for the state of New York, I moved back into my desired professional environment which was a group private practice in New Windsor, New York.  Here, I met a wonderful group of clinicians, learned more clinical skills through offered training, and finally got to work in a private practice.  


February of 2020, the Covid-19 Pandemic began.  For me it was a crossroad in my life.  I was pregnant with my first child, stuck at home, getting used to this whole new virtual therapy thing, and trying to balance the expectations of working for someone else.   It was now or never.  I chose faith over fear and decided to open my own private practice.  It was the scariest but best decision I have ever made.  I am now practicing in-person, and virtually, in my hometown of Marlboro, New York.   My office is beautiful and overlooks a waterfall, as well as the Hudson River, right next to the famous Raccoon Saloon Restaurant where I waitressed through college and grad school.  Weird how life works out. My dream is to one day open my private practice on my family’s apple orchard.  For right now, I am working on creating workshops to help others learn about and practice mindfulness on the farm.  


When I am not at work, I am on the farm, soaking up all the smells, sights and sounds that are so therapeutic for my soul, or I am at  home whipping up something in the kitchen to feed my family and friends, which is another thing I love to do!  I love being a wife, a mom, I love animals, gardening, taking walks and good talks with friends. 

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