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Lia Cattassini: On the importance of going to therapy

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.

Mustard jumpsuit

Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit

Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Lia, I was born in Brazil and have been living in the UK for over 4 years. I think being a Brazilian in the UK might say a lot about me. I'm about an 11-hour-flight away from comfort, living in a country culturally very different from mine, having to cope with the cold and darkness of winter and trying to have fun in the process.
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?
My mom is a psychologist so I grew up very acceptant of therapy as a self-knowledge tool and something that everyone should do. The thing is, we all have problems and traumas, they can be from our childhood, from our experience at school... When our personality is forming, there are a lot of external factors influencing us. Those factors, even if we don't realise it, have an impact on our behaviour and way of thinking. They can influence our self-esteem and confidence, the way we interact with others, etc, and if we don't understand and work on those issues, we're likely to keep repeating the same patterns of behaviour.

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?
I think a lot of people feel that therapy is only for people with massive traumas and issues. It's not.

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.

There's a very interesting book called "How to do the work" by Nicole LePera that explains this process of developing traumas and how it affects us. And as TV therapists would say "recognising the issue is the first step".

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.

Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit
Taking the first step can be daunting. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about starting therapy?
I think you can start by trying to know yourself better, understanding what kind of behaviours you have that you wish you didn't - Like my extreme self-criticalness for instance. Recognising that you have those patterns of behaviour that impact your life, that you don't know why they exist and how to change them, might be a good motivator to go to 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?
Gosh, I learned so much that is hard to say just one thing. But I think the main thing anyone will learn from going to therapy is that you and you only are responsible for your happiness.

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?
It has changed a lot. I love a quote from Alice in Wonderland (tacky, I know) that says "I knew who I was this morning but I've changed a few times since", I think that represents me so much in the last couple of years. Moving countries changed me, being in my thirties changed me, and that influenced my style so much! I think as we learn, mature and evolve, our sense of style and priorities change.

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?
I understand not everyone can afford therapy, but I hope I sparked a bit of curiosity about the process and the will to get you to know yourself better.
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
I need time for myself, beyond my once a week appointment with my therapist, I also do yoga which helps me to connect with myself.

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?
I love your brand and what it promotes. I'm so glad you asked me to do this and I hope I can inspire someone the way you inspire people!
How can people connect with you?
Happy to answer any questions anyone might have about therapy or what it is like to be a Brazilian living in the UK!
Lia is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit

 

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