Founder of Expat Therapy Barcelona, Isabel Soler, is a trained and licensed psychotherapist from the United States with over 22 years experience. She specializes in issues related to trauma, grief, loss, depression, anxiety and transitions related to expat life experiences and works with adults and couples.
One of the things I enjoy the most when I first meet a client is hearing the story of how they came to be expats in BCN. As an expat myself, I can relate and recognize the processes and challenges inherent in this experience. I remember arriving here, having left a thriving practice back in the States and despite the initial concerns about being able to practice here, I felt hopeful as I knew that I wanted to work with other expats like myself.
I was fortunate to find networks of colleagues who pointed me in the right direction in the process of professional development and integration. As I look back now, I realize each step, no matter how small and how challenging, was instrumental in leading me to the next and the next. Of course, this process continues, even today. Regardless of how much we think we know, there are layers and layers of information that reveal themselves with experience and exposure to the contexts we live in.
In a way, I feel I have always been an expat. Having been born in one country, raised in another and countless moves across the globe, I feel I can relate to the feelings of disconnectedness that come with changing cultures and beginning again. Don’t get me wrong, despite being a very difficult process, I find it to be essential in offering opportunities to know and rely on ourselves a little bit more deeply and to implement resources that up to that point, had never been used. This, in my opinion, is always a good thing, no matter how challenging.
As a psychotherapist, I feel the same way about the life challenges we have inherited, carried and/or experienced throughout life. In my professional and personal experience it is through these difficult moments and aspects of our life that we gain knowledge and a deeper understanding of ourselves, our life and the values which guide us. I have always worked with Trauma, initially with severely abused children and shortly after and since then, with adults, who by the way, have often been abused as children. My practice is not exclusive to this level of experience and history, but in my experience, there is big T trauma and little t trauma. And I would venture to say that 99.9% of us have experienced and been shaped by a minimum of little traumas.
This focus and interest in our resilience, our ability to grow, thrive despite the challenges in our life has led my professional and personal education, learning and practice. I have been fortunate and privileged (despite having been an immigrant and woman of colour myself), to have been able to learn so many modalities and approaches that speak and address not only the ways in which difficult experiences shape us but most importantly the way we can rewrite, reweave our stories and our bodies and minds response to these past events and the patterns they’ve created.
Throughout the past 23 years of my psychotherapeutic practice I feel that my understanding and excitement to learn about how our neurology and nervous system interact and impact us continues to grow and be informed by many different sources and disciplines. In a way, I feel that everything we learn becomes part of our repertoire, our spectrum of implementation and practice. With time and rigorous studies that have led to evidence-based practices in psychotherapy, we now find the value of connection to be the most important in creating sustained and long-lasting change. Practices and modalities that include the body, the breath, the imagination and intention of thought have been found to be fundamental in transforming the ways in which trauma, either with a little t or a big T have shaped our concept of ourselves, our potential and relationship to others and the world around us.
I am constantly learning. I find that to be the place where I feel most at home, the curiosity, the insight and then the curiosity again. This inclination has led me to have 3 Master’s degrees (Counseling, Sociology, Psicoterapia con EMDR), 1 postgraduate degree (Dance and Movement Therapy), 4 plus certifications (EMDR, Yoga for Mental Health, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Kundalini Yoga, Guided Imagery) and 2 which are currently on their way (Internal Family Therapy and Somatic Experiencing). The more I learn from these and other fields, the more I feel I can offer and the more I myself experience, integrate and practice that which I learn, the deeper my offering seems to inspire others to connect to themselves. The way I see it, this is always a Win-Win-Win situation. I am happy to be here and to offer the psychotherapeutic services that may be part of your own growth, the strength that comes from your heartfelt grief and the hope and gratitude that comes from your sweetest self-compassion.
Find out more about Isa and her services: www.expattherapybarcelona.com
Read more personal and powerful stories: nine women share the emotional and practical realities of the challenges of expat life away from ‘home’