Lia Cattassini: On the importance of going to therapy
Originally from Brazil, Lia is a strategy director in London. She's a driven professional, proud dog mama, and lover of good conversations and drinks in the sun with friends. Her journey of self-discovery has led her to become a mental health advocate and encourage people to ask questions to know themselves better.
Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit
Tell us a bit about yourself
You are a big mental health advocate and especially the importance of going to therapy. Could you tell us why this is an important topic for you?
Even though I was raised by a psychologist, I obviously have my own share of trauma. I was bullied at school, I have a perfectionist trait that makes me incredibly self-critical and there are a whole lot of other things that I uncovered in therapy. Going to therapy made me understand myself better and it's not only about "fixing" my issues but about improving myself, becoming a better person for myself and others, and learning not to engage with negative behaviour. And if this is not something everyone should be doing, what can I say? I'm a firm believer that to be happier with yourself you have first to understand yourself, your traumas and your personality.
Although going to therapy is not as taboo as it was a few years ago, there’s still a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Why do you think it’s important to normalise the conversation?
When I say we all have our share of traumas, that's absolutely true. It can be as simple as "my mom was working a lot and didn't give me enough attention when I was a child", or "my best friend from school moved abroad and I struggled to make other friends and felt lonely for a while". All those kinds of things, especially at a young age, will cause some "developmental trauma", which means you created some defence mechanisms to deal with those difficult situations and they're likely to influence your behaviour to this day.
Going to therapy doesn't mean you're broken and crazy, it just means you're focusing on yourself, getting to know yourself better and being happier with who you are.
Taking the first step can be daunting. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about starting therapy?
But more important than just wanting to go to therapy is finding a good therapist. Therapy is a relationship, you have to trust and like the person, it can take some time and you might need to see a couple of people before settling on a therapist that works for you, but once you do, just embrace the process. Don't think about "when will I fix this", keep an open mind and think it as a moment for yourself where you can be as selfish as you want, and that you're moving to a better and happier future.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned through the process?
You can always choose to engage or not with certain behaviours. I'll give an example, whenever I used to make a mistake in
English (as Portuguese is my first language) I would feel defeated, which made me talk a lot less in meetings with clients and avoid going to the pub with co-workers, which obviously impacted my social and work life in the UK. This is a natural behaviour for me because I'm quite a perfectionist, one of my worst fears is to be seen as "not smart" (which has a lot to do with how I was raised), so it's really hard for me to just dismiss the mistakes I make and accept that my English is great for a foreigner. I have to make a conscious choice not to engage with this behaviour, I have to remind myself that I'm not perfect, my English is not perfect and that is absolutely fine. It's a conscious effort, whenever I'm engaging in this negative behaviour I have to remind myself of that and choose to act differently.
Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit
How has your self-expression changed over the years? Has this impacted on your relationship with fashion?
I used to be one of those people whose wardrobe is 95% made of black clothes, but being in a cold and darker country made me want to wear more colours. I also became a lot more aware of the ethics behind the clothes I buy, I refuse to buy a shirt that costs £2 as I always think about how much money the person that made the shirt is making.
And, going back to therapy, the way I perceive my body changed, I feel more comfortable now wearing things I wouldn't wear in the past.
What do you hope your voice brings to others?
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
But one HUGE thing is having friends and talking with them, sharing the problems I have, listening to their opinions, and being open and honest with people I trust is a very important part of my self-care routine, especially when food and wine are involved.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
How can people connect with you?
Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit: