Episode 181 The Importance Of Creating An Integrative Clinical Practice Theory & Aligning Unconventional Practices In A Complementary Way: Interview With Tina Vitolo

May 15, 2024

Why is integration important in clinical practice? What challenges exist in aligning unconventional practices with conventional therapy?

MEET Tina Vitolo

Tina Vitolo, LCSW, is a Doctor of Social Work with almost 20 years of experience. Her doctoral dissertation, focusing on Complementary and Alternative Interventions in clinical social work practice, was published in the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice.  In her private practice, Tina integrates Human Design, Crystal Healing, and Intuitive Practices with established clinical theories such as Psychodynamic, Transpersonal Psychology, Existential Humanistic, Jungian, and Person-Centered approaches.  Tina also runs The Black Sheep Therapist, where she coaches unconventional therapists on integrating unconventional interventions within an evidence-based framework. Her Innovative Practitioner Accelerator Program offers education and empowerment to therapists seeking to broaden their therapeutic approaches

Find out more at The Black Sheep Guide, connect with Tina on Instagram, and join her FB Group: Black Sheep Therapists: Embracing Unconventional Practices In Mental Health


  • What are the limitations of more traditional therapy? 4:12
  • Complimentary modalities vs. holistic modalities 9:47
  • What are the misconceptions of alternative healing modalities? 25:10

What Are The Limitations Of More Traditional Therapy?

  • What is evidence-based Practice?
  • What are the 3 components of evidence-based practice?
  • The importance of building rapport with your clients

Complementary Modalities Vs. Holistic Modalities

  • Aligning with health and healing
  • What are the benefits of complementary therapy modalities?
  • Providing a safe space for your clients and colleagues
  • How can therapists begin to embrace authenticity in their practice?

What Are The Misconceptions Of Alternative Healing Modalities?

  • Understanding the research that goes into alternative modalities
  • Finding research on these modalities
  • The importance of knowing your clinical theory
  • How to determine which modalities to use with your clients?

Connect With Me

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Sign up for my FREE email course: How to Build Confidence As A Holistic Counselor

Self-Care for the Counselor: A Companion Workbook: An Easy to Use Workbook to Support you on Your Holistic Healing and Counselor Self-Care Journey … A Holistic Guide for Helping Professionals)

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at The Black Sheep Guide, connect with Tina on Instagram, and join her FB Group: Black Sheep Therapists: Embracing Unconventional Practices In Mental Health


Chris McDonald: Next up on the Holistic Counseling Podcast, we're diving deep into the waters of complementary and alternative practices in mental health care with our special guest, Tina Vitolo. You will discover why these vital practices often receive little attention in the mental health field and why there's a pressing need for the industry to evolve.

Tina shares her insights on how empowering and educating therapists to embrace their authentic selves can revolutionize therapy sessions. Making them more effective and deeply resonant. This episode is a treasure trove for any therapist or individual interested in expanding their toolkit for mental wellbeing.

Tune in to uncover how you can be a part of this important shift towards a more inclusive and holistic approach to mental health. Don't miss this enlightening conversation where we light the way to the future of counseling. on the holistic counseling podcast. This is holistic counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence.

I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to this episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I am super stoked for today's episode. Today's guest fits perfectly in what the Holistic Counseling Podcast is all about, and that is helping mental health therapists like you deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence.

If that's you, stay tuned. You don't want to miss this one. Now, when we think about traditional therapy, we think about how limiting they can be. They don't meet the needs of everyone and how complex and unique everyone is. So today we're going to explore how embracing more complementary and alternative approaches can offer a more comprehensive approach for healing.

We'll discuss the significance of integrating different modalities and the impact that that can have with therapeutic outcomes, as well as research. Yes, I said it, research to back it up. And our wonderful guest today has done a ton of research to help with this cause. Joining us today is Ms. Tina Vitolo, LCSW, Doctor of Social Work with almost 20 years experience.

Her doctoral dissertation focuses on complementary and alternative interventions in clinical social work practice. was published in the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice. In her private practice, she integrates human design, crystal healing, and intuitive practices with established clinical theories such as psychodynamic, transpersonal, existential, humanistic, Jungian, and person centered.

Together we'll explore how aligning these unconventional practices can enrich and help offer clients a more personalized and effective path to healing. Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Tina. Thanks Hi. So glad you're here. Me too. So let's start with what first interested you in moving towards more alternative modalities?

Tina Vitola: I have to say that my own personal experience with engaging in spiritual practices and holistic treatment interventions is honestly what really made me drink the Kool Aid for this. I have always absolutely loved this more alternative space from the conventional world. My saying I always go to is spirituality offered, uh, an environment of safety and vulnerability where conventional practice never really had that space.

And it was just always because of that. of like working with certain practitioners that were really like in it with me and encouraging vulnerability more and more, like almost championing it. Like, you know, so allowing me to uncover pieces of myself, like I just loved that because most of the practitioners that I've worked with, they practice this on a regular basis where sometimes in the conventional world.

You'll work with someone and it doesn't mean that they're following what they're teaching all the times and everything gets a little too rigid over in that conventional world. So for me, it's always been through my own personal growth journey, why I've always just loved holistic spiritual and alternative methods of healing.

Chris McDonald: So can we go into that rigidity you mentioned and what are some of the limitations of more traditional approaches?

Tina Vitola: You know, there's always this push for integrating empirically supported treatment modalities. Ugh, I had to say that. I know, like, ugh, the ick, right? Yes. And I've always found this to be so confusing to me because there's no way that the way it was researched in studies is the way it's actually being applied.

Like, you take a piece out of it. You know, most of these are running groups, um, even like CBT models and stuff like that. Like they're measured in a way that like, you wouldn't really see as much into the kind of conventional world, but because there's research behind it, you know, it's like, it's the goal, you know, it's the Holy grail, like of things.

And, you know, I've actually sat down recently and I was like, you know what, let me just take another gander at evidence based practice to really like understand this concept. Cause I do think it's important. But I think it's everything. And I think what I appreciate

Chris McDonald: that.

Tina Vitola: Yeah, it is not everything. You know, evidence based practice has three stools to create balance.

And I think what ends up happening in our field is we only focus on one and drop the other two, which is of course you want to search for research that is available. Duh. That would be helpful. Like have we researched this? Have we looked at it? Does it help? But then we forget about the other one, which is clinical expertise and knowledge.

And then the other leg, which is, you know, client preferences and values, you know, so I think for a lot of us who are integrated, holistic, complementary, alternative interventions and clinical practice, it comes from our clinical expertise and knowledge and application. And it aligns with all of our, you know, the clients that we're working with, what their, you know, philosophies and health and wellness are too.

But then it's all about, you know, but where's the evidence, but where's the evidence. And I like to remind people that most empirically supported treatment modalities, they were all just. Woo woo thoughts at some point. I mean, yeah, that's

Chris McDonald: true.

Tina Vitola: That's a good

Chris McDonald: way to look at it.

Tina Vitola: You think about EMDR. So she's just sitting in the apartment.

Chris McDonald: Whoa. What is that?

Tina Vitola: This is something, you know, it's everyone thinks you're crazy until all of a sudden they think you're a genius.

Chris McDonald: This is true. And what about, I know you mentioned the stool, but I guess, is there a part for the therapeutic rapport too, as far as healing goes? Cause that's just the basis of all therapy.

Tina Vitola: It's everything. That relationship is everything. If you, if you even think back on any healing space where that you've allowed to ascend or grow, it always had to do with someone holding safe space alongside you and giving permission for that to exist, right? Like there was that beautiful relational piece there, but just unfortunately with the third dimensional world we're in, it's just not given enough space that it needs.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, because I'm thinking if you just jump in and let's, let's just do CBT and be a robot, but we don't have therapeutic rapport, is that really going to help a client?

Tina Vitola: Well, I think, you know, being able to show up as a healthy model as a clinician, it does take a lot of inner work. It really does. I mean, I've, I've joked, but it's not really ha ha funny that like, I was a really dangerous therapist in my earlier years.

Like I didn't understand my wounds. I wasn't really. Practicing what I was teaching, there was all of this disalignment on alignment and I felt like an absolute imposter and really it was like, do I really understand myself, my story, everything I bring to the table and how to heal it, how to show up for it, how to nurture it, so that I can actually.

do this for other people as well. Like if my capacity increases for me, my capacity increases for other people. And sometimes I'm not saying all, but individuals or therapists that kind of really fall to these ESTs that are like, Oh, I got to do it this way. They really detach themselves. in treatment.

Chris McDonald: Yeah.

Cause I think it's less open for me. I just feel like, like you said, the rigidity it's cause I feel like I'm evolving so much more now. I feel like every day sometimes it's like today I did something, this breathing and visualization that just came to me and I don't know if it's spirit guides, it's leading me or, and I had never done it before, but it worked beautifully.

And I was like, I'm just going to flow with it.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. I always joke and say that ever, never actually finished. It's why I changed my business to like the name dimensional wellness. Cause I, I was like, okay, so you're in this process and then you've reached the top, but then the next level you're at the bottom, like your entry level, you know, nothing, and it's uncomfortable.

And then you, until you unlock that next layer, and if you're lucky. This goes on forever.

Chris McDonald: Right. Yeah. I think too, just being a mindful therapist is so important to be tuning in. And I don't know if there's, is that evidence? I don't know if that's evidence.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. Like, I mean, there's so much information on therapeutic rapport and research, like hard evidence.

And in my research recently, like I'm finding so, cause I've been doing the digging. That's true. so much more on, I found a beautiful article on the benefits of meeting with a psychic in comparison to a psychiatrist. Are you serious? Yes, I have it. It's in my group. Um, it's under the file section. I was like, nice.

I got to look that up. Yeah. Cause I was like, okay, well, if we want to save, there's research available on if, you know, Psychic mediumship can benefit someone who has distressing symptoms. Well, boom, I have an article right here.

Chris McDonald: Wow. Isn't that awesome?

Tina Vitola: I know. Thank goodness. People are actually like articles is a pain.

I'm not going to lie. I've hated the process every step of the way. However, once I realized the benefit to it, now I'm already like, well, let's look up some more stuff. Let's do some more research. Change

Chris McDonald: in the world. Right. Yeah, really perception. And let's talk about what we're naming here. Cause I know a lot of what you said.

I know we were talking before it hit record. You mentioned complimentary and alternative modalities. And this podcast, we talk about holistic modalities. Are we talking about the same thing?

Tina Vitola: Yes. I'm going to say that we're talking about the same thing. I think, you know, when I first started exposing myself more to this world and educating therapists, I kept using the word holistic and I wasn't really finding the therapist I was looking for because I think holistic has different definitions sometimes to different people.

Sure. And so holistic, you know, people are like, Oh, I'm just taking a bunch of different approaches and incorporating it into one. Or some, some people think of it as like mind, body, soul. spirit interventions? Are we focusing more mind body? Are we focusing more spirit body? Like, what are, what are we doing?

But it's basically, when I talk about complementary and alternative interventions, I'm more talking about interventions that you would be considering non traditional for the mental health space, but very aligned with health and healing. And the reason I had to use that terminology was because when I went to my doctoral program and I said I wanted to study holistic modalities, When I started looking for research, I was kind of hitting walls and I wasn't really finding what I was like, I'm talking about energy work.

I'm talking about spirit guides. I'm talking about crystal healing. Like, this is what I'm talking about. And I remember one of my professors saying, you know what, maybe you should look up the term complementary and alternative medicine. Gotcha. I originally was like medicine. social work, those are split.

But then I just switched the word medicine to interventions. And then I started looking at the different categories, which is, you know, like whole body systems or mind body interventions, energy work, you know, things like that. Cause there's like five categories that fall under that. And I was like, okay, this is what I'm talking about.

spiritual practices too.

Chris McDonald: So that can fall under it.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. So it's, it's, it's not a term I love. I didn't make it up. That's okay. But it's definitely a term that when it comes to research and building in that space, it's a, it's a term that is well understood and established. And I, I say to people all the time, like, I understand that a lot of these interventions, so to say, are also ways of life for many people and indigenous practices.

And I'm not trying to discount that or take away. I'm just trying to give language to something that is misunderstood a lot of the times, and especially in the therapy world and mental health. Oh, woo woo. You know, cause it already kind of like discounts it sometimes when we like languages or, you know, people say pseudoscience, but I'm like, no, like these are maybe they're just alternative and complimentary to what we know as conventional mental health practice.

Chris McDonald: But still work. That makes a lot of sense. I can see that, especially with academia, because holistic, they'll be like, Ooh, I don't know. I don't know about that. And

Tina Vitola: yeah, it can make

Chris McDonald: people really uncomfortable.

Tina Vitola: Or, you know, I'll say holistic and they might think mind body wellness or something, but I'm, I'm thinking like, no, I'm talking spirits, guides, archangels, like, yeah, these people are these things, you know, I'm not just saying, you know, that.

So then people are like, oh, well now, like, so then it's, yeah, it's just very difficult to talk about this and have. Sure. Have the same.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Have the same understanding, I guess. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So what have you found with statistics? I know that was something you mentioned that you've done a lot of research on with the benefits.

What benefits have you found?

Tina Vitola: Oh, well, I mean, the research I'm finding right now is that consumers. They are dying for therapists or healers to bring this into the space. A lot of individuals, when the conventional world fails them, they jump into spiritual realms. It's just, I mean, it's what exactly what happened to me.

I was severely anxious. I didn't know I was an empath at the time. I went on Zoloft, saw a therapist. My healing was very slow, like a snail, like enough. It was like just enough to like make me survive. And then like found myself in front of a psychic intuitive. And I was like, what is this? Like I need more of this.

Like now I'm curious, I'm motivated. Like what is this? Even for me, like I grew up in an immigrant Italian family. Like we don't, I mean, we don't, we don't talk about that. First of all, we don't talk about mental health. And if I start talking about like psychics or intuitive, like my mom, Oh,

Chris McDonald: I know.

Tina Vitola: I mean, she's definitely a more progressive now, but like, you know, otherwise people will judge you.

There's so many, there's so many research articles talking about a lot of it more in the medical field. because with the mental health field, we tend to follow suit to medicine and nursing. So a lot of the research in our field is still at an infancy, I'll say, but in medicine and nursing, they're actually developing guidelines for how nurses can integrate complementary and alternative medicine, how doctors can do this, but there's nothing for the mental health space right now because they were starting to see that all of these interventions were improving overall quality of life.

allowing the human who is involved in the treatment to actually feel a part of it, to choose interventions that were aligning with core values and philosophies. And if anything, I'm like, man, if we're not talking about this in the mental health space, if we're not even asking, like, hey, are you interested?

We pose the risk of alienating our clients based on the research that we have available. Because there are a lot of people who are very much into this, but then again, they're not going to walk into a therapy session with someone they've just met, don't know and be like, uh, I'm kind of into Oracle cards too.

You know, like, and, and real talk, some therapists have been, are very judgy and attack, like I'm not open. And it's, um, it's very jarring to me as another professional. And I can't imagine. If like the feedback I get from bringing this to the table, what a vulnerable individual battling a mental health concern might feel if they bring it to the table?

Chris McDonald: Well, it's not always safe. No. And I don't, I feel that sometimes too. And I've talked a lot about that on this podcast because even somebody I don't know, if I make a new friend, I'd be like, I got to feel them out. Like, how are they going to feel if I talk about spirit guides or oracle cards? And you know, what's funny is some, I've had friends over to my house.

I had a new friend and I had my cards out and she's like, Oh, those are cool. I was like, yes. So I

Tina Vitola: don't have to hide all parts. It's like, whew.

Chris McDonald: Okay.

Tina Vitola: Why such a breath of fresh air to be like, I can be me. And it's safe and you can be you and no one's at odds with each other and it's totally celebrated.

Chris McDonald: And then we can take that into the therapy room and be ourselves with our clients, right?

Tina Vitola: I was saying you can't teach, but you can't model. Like, so I modeled this. And be this, it is just easy progression to bring it into the therapeutic space.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Cause I know that's something that you talk a lot about is that authenticity for therapists too. And cause I think it, it kind of feels like that rigidity, it just therapists get blocked from being who they are.

Can you talk about that too? How can therapists start to embrace that authenticity?

Tina Vitola: Yeah. So during my, in my own personal journey with this, you know, they teach us about clinical theory, right? One class in your master's program, and then you never really hear about it again. Of course. Except when you're in for an interview and they say, well, what type of theoretical model do you, you know, like, whatever.

I don't even know if people who are interviewing actually know what they're asking. When you haven't been in a space where you get to talk about this a lot, it gets really uncomfortable. I mean, a lot of people, I know I did, I was just like, Oh, I use a cognitive behavioral approach because that's safe, right?

That's a safe response. And then, you know, what I did is I took one of the, an assignment I had for my doctoral program. And I just expanded on a little bit. My professor had given us an assignment called Theory for Change. And she just asked some prompting questions about like our experiences growing up and like how we developed an understanding of human behavior.

Then what I did is I kind of asked myself a few more journal prompt questions in this area. I was like, okay, like what role did I play in my family? Like what belief systems did I establish? What were my aha big shift moments? Like what were the interventions I started using and why? And like, What was the, like, the narrative of my transformative journey?

Like, how did I go from A to B to C to D? Like, what happened here? And then when I looked at that, I was like, I wonder which clinical theories this match with. Versus like me picking a theory and then embodying that theory, one or two, I was like, let me take my own story and my experiences and then match it to a clinical concept.

That makes sense for me. And for me, like, there was a lot of, you know, transpersonal, you know, person centered, psychodynamic, humanistic, existential, young psychology, like, that was really big in my understanding of self and my transformation. So, I always say, like, when people feel like they're an imposter in the therapy world, You got to go back to your own story because there's probably something that maybe you overlooked or you missed or maybe you haven't healed yet and just give yourself space for that.

So what I do with some of my coaching clients is like, I, well, all my coaching clients, we do journal prompts for their story. And then me getting to be the objective party in this. their, of their subjective experience. I'll be like, I'm noticing a pattern of this, this, this, this, and this. Did you ever see that before?

And most of them are like, wow. Like I, how did you know? So it's kind of like when you sit with a client and you're talking to them and like, you're bringing like, da, da, da, da, da, like to the table and they're like, like, you know, like, Whoa. Yeah. And then I just, you know, I'll look at some clinical theories and I'll be like, you know, I'm seeing this here, here, here, here, and here has a feel.

And they're like, Wow. So then like we build this kind of integrative clinical practice framework, pulling from their own story and then seeing how it shows up in their work with clients. So like, you can really embody aligning your own personal story in your sessions with clients so that like, you don't feel like you're this imposter because the language is important for the therapist.

Like most, most clients, they don't care which clinical theory is like, no, they just want to, they want a competent, confident clinician. And to me, I haven't found a more, like an easier way to build competency and confidence than to embrace your own story and then build your, your framework for how you do work with clients.

That makes a lot of sense.

Chris McDonald: Cause that's, that's who you are.

Tina Vitola: That's who you are and who, like who you were meant to be. And those experiences, like, I like to believe that everything I went through matched me up with my ideal client because I can't tell you how many times I've sat across from my clients and they've told me my own story and I'm like, damn what we're here.

And thank goodness I have processed through it and those parts of myself. I can, I can, I could talk from the wounded place of experiencing it and the healed place of experiencing it. That's true. Bring both to the table, hard conversations, very easy because it's my lived experience.

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Tina Vitola: Oh yeah, I definitely, you know, sometimes definitely use a relational approach, but I also like, I will speak to my connection to the feeling, but I don't get into context. So I won't be like, Oh yeah, my ex boyfriend did, you know, but I'll be like that pain you feel when you know, you've poured everything into this space and then you have this acknowledgement that, you know, it is not it.

But then if you look over here, you're scared of all the embarrassments. Like, oh, I can feel that in my chest. Like, I know what that is. And then like to, to align, like I get chills talking about it. Like when you really hit, like I can, I can share with you that I have been in that space and I can give some words to it now.

And I could share that with you. No problem. Or how I'm still, you know, I still experience stress. I'm still, you know, life still hits me the way life hits everybody. But I, I love it because I always tell my clients, like, I'm never going to. Promote, teach, or guide anything I don't do. Exactly. I'm right with you.

Yeah, it keeps me very authentic in that way. But I think it's important to own the vulnerability that like, poor choices have been made on my part. Negative things happened. Yeah. I've actually co signed poor decisions. For me, the only way to change that had to be conscious awareness of what I was doing.

And then helping bring that to the table for them and their story, but in a way that's not shaming, because I always say shame doesn't create change.

Chris McDonald: Exactly. And I think that's so helpful because sometimes clients are so surprised when I'll tell them, uh, you know, a scenario or something recent that's happened, just like you said, just with the context of that, of, Oh, well, you know, I've gone through something like that similar, and this is how I went through that.

And I, you know, I just talk about the polyvagal ladder a lot and using that with yoga and, and they're just like, their eyes are like, what? Like you, you get stressed. Yes.

Tina Vitola: It gives you permission. I feel like sometimes I had gone to a, it was like this a bootcamp class through a holistic practitioner, um, the lifeline technique, which is something I'm certified in.

And I remember the activity that we were given. was to discuss like the parts of ourselves that we're trying to hide and the parts of ourselves that like we want to embrace and to also like speak with a microphone, the most embarrassing, most regretful story we've ever had. And I remember being like, I like I'm in a room with people I've never met before.


Chris McDonald: my gosh.

Tina Vitola: Right. And my heart is like. There's no way I'm going to be judged. But then people would share their stories, like really like sad moments of like stuff from, you know, when our frontal lobe isn't even developed yet and things that we did and like whatever. And then seeing people celebrate and cry and hold space.

And I was like, I'm like, I love this. Like I just, I'm like, I shouldn't be talking about this horrible thing that I did. And it just was like, so cathartic and beautiful and like, when are you in spaces like that where people celebrate you only in

Chris McDonald: the

Tina Vitola: darkest parts of you?

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Vulnerability invites more vulnerability, especially in a safe space.

You want to talk about

Tina Vitola: a strength? That's it.

Chris McDonald: That's it. Yeah. Being open and, and I have to get more clients too, that really like directness. And I just, I'm like, I'm going to tell you what's up. You know, they, they look, most people want that. If, you know, I'm not going to bullshit you when I tell clients, you know.

Tina Vitola: I am the same exact way. I always say like, listen, do what you want, but do it closely. So don't like, don't bullshit the bullshitter. Exactly. You're gonna go do the toxic thing. I want you to own before you leave. I'm getting dressed and putting my makeup on to feel undervalued. Like, and, and you know what, if you love it, I love it.

Like, let's just call it what it is. Let's own it.

Chris McDonald: Oh, we got off on a tangent, but that's okay. It's not

Tina Vitola: about authenticity, so it's not too far off. Not

Chris McDonald: too far off, I guess so. But I was wondering, is there any misconceptions that you can address too with some alternative complementary modalities that come up?

Tina Vitola: Oh, misconceptions, I mean all of them? All of them, there's a lot. that like, you know, that they're woo woo, that there's no evidence to support them because there is. It's just that people don't do their due diligence to look up. I mean, I have, I probably have 60 pages of at least like 10 references per page that I can pull from.

Like, so I know that the research exists and it doesn't have to always be like these RCTs, like these randomized control studies and like it, you know, research comes in like a hierarchy. So there's levels. of it, right? Yeah. So, you know, it doesn't have to be just this comparison group stuff. It's about, you know, reflection about the integration or case studies individually.

Like they do exist. And there's also a ton of dissertations that also haven't been published yet. And I get why you're tapped out at the end. You're like, so. I don't like by the time you, you got to take off me, I 160 pages. I had to make them into 30, change this, change this, change this, submit it. All those pieces.

Like it's a lot. It's, it's, it's overwhelming. I get it. But you know, look for dissertations. I have found amazing dissertations on like integrating alternative practices into the mental health fields on like ProQuest and they're all like free and available. Okay. Yeah. Do your due diligence. And this is what I teach.

I'm always like, you know, we got to find at least one article that backs up what we're talking about. And let's just say like, for me, for instance, I don't have any research on human design, but there's concepts around human design that like, really align with CBT, like kind of changing your restructuring of your belief system of self.

You know, so I can, I, I match stuff like that. So it's like, there is some things, as long as the foundation is there, but yeah, there's just so many misconceptions about this stuff. And I always say like, if you're, have you, have you done it? Like before you judge it, before you put a stamp on it, like it's, you know, whatever, be a part of it, experience it.

Because the thing that I find with complimentary and alternative methods is because we don't manualize them is what makes them beautiful. You know, like I've met with different yoga instructors, Reiki practitioners, psychics, oracle readers, and everyone does it different. Yeah. And everyone plays beautiful.

And I'm so sorry. And I have a growing, you know, piece of that. The other misconception, which I don't know really has to do with the complimentary and alternative piece, but my, the misconception about the boards and like scopes of practice is. Yeah. I have been attacked by the Keyboard Warriors on Facebook before about, um, The Keyboard Warriors.

Yes, that's actually, I have to, my friend Carly has used that term and that's exactly what I get. That's funny. Keyboard Warriors. They come at you and I remember someone saying, like, the board is explicit, evidence based practice only. No, they're not. Sure, because I've read about 20 different states like scopes of practices, and I just do a little, you know, command F, and I always look for evidence based, empirically supported, complementary alternative, whatever.

What I do find, you need to know your clinical theory. That's in

Chris McDonald: there.

Tina Vitola: But that's it. I know. I've looked too.

Chris McDonald: Yeah.

Tina Vitola: So, and, um, I'm actually, you'll love this. I'm actually starting research. Um, we're going to research all 50 States, all professions, and look for all of these terminologies in order to bring awareness to like the fact that we don't have to be so scared.

Chris McDonald: Awesome.

Tina Vitola: We do not have to be actually

Chris McDonald: teaching that today of my, uh, yoga course that I'm doing yoga basics on the scope of practice, scope of competence.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. It's like, where we get this fear from? Because it's not really there. But man, like even me, like I told, I totally believed it for so long, but then I hired there's nothing here.

What are you talking about? And then when I emailed them, we don't have anything on that.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. I met, I actually met with, cause I'm LCMHC with the ACA, you know, I met with their ethics committee. I met with somebody that's in head of ethics and talk to them about this too. And we went through all the ethical guidelines.

Um, and she's just like, well, let's look at this and. She was just like, okay, well, you're following everything you need to follow for yoga and you're getting your training and your scope of competence and practice and different modalities was one of the ethics. There was values. Make sure you're not putting your values on clients.

Yeah. Yeah.

Tina Vitola: You're meeting the guidelines. I think what happens is like, you know, When people, they don't give guidelines, they don't know where to go, you know, but at least like I teach it, it's like, okay, just because there's no guidelines, it doesn't give you a free pass to willy nilly. You want to like, you still have to build competencies around doing your due diligence and, and be able to track it and say like, this is how I've, you know, be able to have an answer.

Oh, yeah. You could just be like, Oh, yeah, I'm not worried about it, handsome. Well, no, like you need to know how it's helping. You need to be able to, you have words to say like how it's covering different pieces.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, for sure. So I'm glad you're saying this. This is a great conversation. I appreciate this.

Cause yeah, I get lots of information and questions from people that are just like, they haven't done anything. And it's kind of sad, like you said, cause everybody's got so many gifts they can offer their clients and so much healing. Yeah.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. And I think honestly, we need. Individuals who are holistic practitioners at this point that integrate these kind of non traditional models, like if anything, we really need you all to understand the language to support what it is that you're doing, like build those competencies because we are going to get tested more.

than the average textbook therapist, right? So we need to be able to say, this is exactly how, you know, the lifeline technique aligns with psychodynamic theory. Let me, let me provide you with some information on that. Should you like, you know, this is the research that we've been doing on this and this, you know, whatever, if you don't have that, you have nothing.

And then you basically just reinforces that, like, and it's not to defend so that we know that we feel empowered in what we're doing and we can speak on it and we should. Absolutely. I mean, I know that most, like what I do, I know most textbook theorists probably won't even know if I said, well, really talk to me about how you integrate whatever EST that you do and how it aligns with a clinical theory.

I feel like they're going to stumble on their words because, you know, the system isn't built for us to like, learn this stuff.

Chris McDonald: No, I know. In your bio, you have. Lots of different modalities, lots of things that you've studied. So how do you integrate that? How do you determine what to use with clients and figure out what the individual needs are?

And cause I think that's a question a lot of listeners have.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. Well, for me, it's, I call them like spiritual downloads. Like I'll just have moments where like, you know, I, I do move in a very clinically based. modality when it comes, but then every now and then it'll be like, grab the cards. And I'll be like, I'll ignore it for a second.

And then it's like, it's like louder. I'm like, okay. Okay. And I'll like, honestly, all of my clients are into this stuff. So, but I've, I've done a good screening process with my onboarding. But before when I was first kind of dabbling, I would just be like, you know, there's some practices that I use outside of, you know, this realm and in my personal life that really helped me feel grounded, get answers and get reflections.

I'd love to incorporate it in this space with you. Would it feel safe to, and then I will talk about whatever it is. Human design, like I've really loved because it just kind of helps you have a new spin of understanding of yourself. Like, so I'm a generator, so I'm someone who. Loves to have their hands in multiple things and master multiple things.

But I used to think that this was a negative aspect of me because I couldn't just pick one thing.

Chris McDonald: Okay. People used

Tina Vitola: to tell me like, you know, why don't you just get a job, work there for 20 years and get a pension? And I, that would give me the ick. Like I was like, I can't, like, you want me to say one face for 20?

I absolutely not. Or I would stay at a job for. You know, two, three years and I'd ready to be out. And it's because for me, once I've mastered something, I'm done. Like, there's no more reason for me to stay there. Like, this new understanding of me was like, Oh, okay, this is exactly the way I'm supposed to be going.

So it just gave me a brand new reframe on my life. And then even like learning about my profile where I'm like half hermit, half like educator. So like, I'm just taking all my knowledge and like kind of hoarding it. And that feels comfortable for me. But then there's a part of me that people expect for me to teach.

And I'm just like, I don't know if I could do that. You know, and now understanding that like people view me differently than maybe I view my internal knowledge and stuff like that. So it just really helped. And when I got into human design, I was like, Hey. So I learned something and I would tell my clients what it is.

I'm like, do you wanna look up yours? And they're like, hell yeah, I'm gonna look up mine, . And then we look it up and then I'd have all the books and they'd be like, nice. Like this is me . So like I just, I love that stuff.

Chris McDonald: So it sounds like too, that the clients that you see, you said that you do a vetting process too, so, so tell me about that.

How do you

Tina Vitola: Well, I'm very clear, like on my personal journey. and my love of integration of the two worlds. So usually when people meet me, it's usually through referrals. So they kind of already know, but I always say this, I love the clinical world and I love the spiritual world. And there is a bridge here and this bridge never break.

I was like, you'll never catch me on, it. all the way over here and you'll never catch me all the way over here, but I will run back and forth. I love that. That's not for you. I'm not for you. Perfect. You know, and usually they're like, no, no, no, no. And I also like do a scaling on the intake. Like how open are you?

to integrate. I like

Chris McDonald: that.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. And if you aren't, tell me what your fear is about that or your apprehension is about that. But I definitely integrate and ask. And I've done some research with my own clients about like, tell me about the fact that I bring this stuff in. How does that help? Because as I'm training new therapists to really own this stuff, I want to give them some like definitive evidence that like this helps clients.

Yeah. Like, I know you're scared, but like the right client will find you. And this is the kind of outcomes you're going to be able to have.

Chris McDonald: And

Tina Vitola: I,

Chris McDonald: and I hate to say it, but I don't hate to say it, but the research shows from what I'm doing, when I, when these clients are doing so well, from the clients that I see, it is absolutely phenomenal, the integrative approach, it works, it's accelerated healing.

It's accelerated. Yeah. That's the word I'm trying to think of the word. My brain's not working today, but yeah, just cause I use such multi layer there. It's just like you, I have so many different things that I'm using with brain sputting and yoga, trauma informed yoga and a little bit of parts work we throw in there, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, stir it all up.

And it's just, it's phenomenal. It's just, it blows me out of the water.

Tina Vitola: Yeah. It's like, because when you bought, I hate getting boxed in the minute you tell me this is the only way to do it is, Oh God, I know. I'm just like, Okay, get me out of here. I say treat everything like a buffet, like just take what you need.

Chris McDonald: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And there's not a research study that shows that for these clients, but, but their lives are changed, right? I'm releasing people from therapy and their lives are changed for the better. And I think that that shows something.

Tina Vitola: Well, we are getting there though. Cause I did, I did find a Nossel article.

It's also in my group under the files. Their clients were actually indicating like the benefit of integrating this stuff with like way better than like just going to see a psychiatrist or just whatever. And I was like, see, like, there it is. And the problem with research is the average, I think it's like a 14 year average.

I don't know if it's changed. Maybe it's 10 years, but like we'll do research and then they'll take like 10 to 14 years before they actually publish it. And I get it. I do. And I, that was my whole thing. I was like, I can't do this. I took a year off, like completely mentally. I'm sure. Oh my God. My old committee chair was like, you're ready.

And I was like, like, let's do it. But I'm so happy I did because again, they're, they're popping up more like good, good articles. They're starting to pop up.

Chris McDonald: And what's your group? Can you just share that? I know we'll put it in the show notes because people may be

Tina Vitola: wondering. My Facebook group is the Black Sheep Therapist Embracing Unconventional Practices in Mental Health.

Chris McDonald: Awesome. And I so appreciate you with all that you're doing and this is like promoting so much. I feel like you and I together are just paving this new path for mental health therapy and it's so exciting.

Tina Vitola: It is. I've been saying this like over and over, like this is if there was ever a year for innovative therapists to rise up, this is the year.

Like I never felt it more than I felt it this year. I was like, that's it. Like let's all unveil, let's do it. You know, like this is what world consciousness needs is like people, you know, like no more textbook therapist. No, please. We don't need that. We're good. No more. Well,

Chris McDonald: let's end with what's a takeaway you could share with listeners who may be afraid of coming out of the holistic closet.

Tina Vitola: Surround yourself with evidence that it's possible to do this and be successful. So lean into practitioners who have already made the jump. Lean on practitioners and like other groups, you know, your, you know, there's all these fears like, oh, well, I heard of this one person who lost their license here, you know, and I'm me.

So I'm like, can I have that person's information? I'd love to speak to them. Oh no. Like I, you know, can't get, all right. So then to me, it's like one of those folk tales that like didn't really happen because I've worked with so many urban legend. Yes. And I'm just like, you know what? Like, they're like, they're not going after this.

Like, as long as you got your ducks in a row, no one's going after this, but they are going after, you know, the lack of HIPAA compliance and, you know, really hard dual relationships or poor boundaries where like therapists are sleeping with clients, you know, that's what they're going after. Like, not, you know, if you say like, oh, I've integrated these in different interventions and they align with clinical theory and this is how I know they promote change and you write it in your informed consent and like you do your due diligence, no one's coming up to snatch your license.

Chris McDonald: Your due diligence, that's it, right? No one's going to have

Tina Vitola: a choice. And if you've ever been waiting for a sign, my friend told me this. She goes, stop waiting for the sign. You are the sign.

Chris McDonald: Yes. Here's your sign. You're listening to this

Tina Vitola: episode.

Chris McDonald: Listeners this episode. This is your sign. We are telling you.

So where can listeners find you and learn more about you?

Tina Vitola: Um, yeah, you can absolutely join the group. My Instagram handle is the underscore black sheep underscore therapist. My TikTok is at the black sheep therapist and my website, which might be getting an upgrade soon, uh, is the black sheep guide. com.

Chris McDonald: Okay, cool. And send me that whenever you, if you upgrade it, if it changes or anything, but podcast. This was awesome.

Tina Vitola: Yeah, it's my absolute pleasure. And thank you for even having this space. I first heard about you, uh, Drea, when I first. Opened my group. I came across Drea. Drea was like, you need to talk to my friend, Chris.

That's right. I will do that. Let me send an email right now. Yes. Drea Bloom

Chris McDonald: was on our podcast twice. She's awesome. She's amazing. Check her out if you haven't heard her yet. Yeah. Therapist and Tarot. Yes, that's right. Her group is on Facebook. But thank you listeners for tuning in today. And that wraps up another episode.

And if you have not rated and reviewed this podcast, please do so. So that helps attract other listeners like yourself who may be looking for community and also wanting to come out of the holistic closet and to connect. And this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Till next time, take care.

Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal, financial counseling, or any other kind of professional advice. If you need a professional, please find the right one for you.

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