Through the Eyes of a Therapist Podcast was founded January 2018 by a Chicana counselor named Cristal Martinez Acosta. One day, she noticed her perception of commonplace events, people, and things was different from that of her non-therapist friends.  This is when she decided to start recording her thoughts….and voila! The podcast was born!

By giving her candid, human, viewpoint on what goes on in her life, Cristal shows the non-counselor population how mental health professionals see things.  She also normalizes and humanizes interactions with mental health professionals (we all don’t look like Freud and certainly don’t have it all together). Cristal, along with her guests, introduce the audience to cool mental health related content and things to try.  The podcast also caters to current mental health professionals too! No subject is taboo on the show–and the 3 ultimate goals here are to de-stigmatize mental illness, humanize therapists, and de-mystify therapy.

New season launches on October 6th, 2021!

On Being a Healer

On Being a Healer

by Cristal Martinez Acosta, LPC-S, NCC

As a “full time” trauma therapist, I work with about 20 clients per week. The stories I hear can be horrifying and complicated.  I choose to keep my caseload (I.e. number of people I see) to a minimum because of this.

I write this piece for those who seek to understand what being a therapist is like. I also write this to give a voice to those therapists who choose not to go public about the realities of burnout and compassion fatigue.  I also want to bring awareness to vicarious resilience.

Therapists are human.  We come with our own family histories and our own baggage. This is unsurprising.  It should be known that most therapists, are under some level of supervision early in their careers and we are encouraged to unpack our baggage early on.

What happens, though, to the clinicians in private practice who don’t have supervisors? What happens to the therapist who grows older and gathers new life experiences– new baggage?

We continue to work and grow as professionals. Afterall, the ultimate goal is to continually improve; be a better clinician for our clients. We attain this through completing tens of thousands of hours of counseling and therapy over the years.  We get our continuing education credits, go to conferences, attend training.   Yes, we do all of this for our clients.  We do this to be better helpers, but at what cost?

I urge people to try and understand that being a therapist is a hard job.  It’s not just a job, either. It’s a lifestyle… an identity. We can’t simply “turn it off”.

As I watch movies, as I people watch, as I observe interactions between children and parents in grocery stores, I can’t help but conceptualize what is happening.  I can’t help but diagnose Iron Man with PTSD.

Therapists are skilled witnesses and empaths (the good ones are both).  We witness hardships and crappy circumstances.  We hear stories of abuse, neglect, and trauma.  We empathize and “go there” with people. But something we also hear about is the human spirit and resilience.  Just like there is vicarious trauma, there is vicarious resilience.  This is the concept of gaining strength and empowerment from our clients.

Evidence of resilience and positive change can be difficult to detect sometimes.  It might look like a client had time to shower and clean up that day, where before they couldn’t get out of bed.  It can look like simply showing up to session when they really didn’t feel up to it.  Clients who make small strides week by week give me hope that I too can progress…that I too can overcome my personal challenges and that I don’t need to run a marathon every weekend.  Sometimes, the evidence is very apparent, like when a client tells you they have been sober for 2 years or when they leave their abusive partner.

Treating individuals and families is like a riding waves.  You never know what size of wave will come at you.  You must be prepared to skillfully and safely ride each one and make it to shore.  This process with each client, hour by hour, day by day, can be exhausting and rewarding at the same time.  This position comes with a lot of privilege and responsibility.  It’s serious but lighthearted.  You get to witness joy, pride, accomplishment as well as pain.

So when someone asks me, “what is it like to be a therapist?” I can’t really give a short or direct answer.  I always pause to give a palatable and short-enough answer.

Sometimes at family dinners, parties, or even the hair salon people want to know what I do.  I used to tell them in a way that would kill the mood—“I help trauma survivors process what’s happened to them,” or “I mostly work with crime victims and abused children”. Everyone who heard this did one of two things: stayed quiet or asked for advice (wanting my free emotional and intellectual labor).  I’ve now learned it’s easier to answer things like, “I’m in social services” or “I work at a bank”.  Less questions, less mood killing…and more rest for me.

It’s incredibly important for me to laugh. Not at my clients, obviously, but laugh in general. It’s my way to cope. I’ll laugh at some funny video on the internet, try to make my coworkers laugh with my weird antics, or simply joke around with my husband. Laughter gives me hope and vitamins (between sessions or after a particularly hard day).
I also pray for my clients. This release is especially important because I know I have absolutely no control over what anybody does. I can have a great session with a client where they’re pumped as heck to make a change…but in the end, I need to respect their autonomy…self-determination. And for me to cognitively cope with that (a.k.a. Letting go) I have to hand off that intent and energy to someone or something else.

Healing takes energy. It also takes a strong, spacious, and flexible vessel. I’m just a human, but I’m trying my darndest to help make this world better…one person…one hour at a time.

The Intersection of Politics and Mental Health feat. Veronica Carbajal

The personal is political and the political is personal.  Mental health is both personal and political! It’s about viewing the person as a whole within a larger system.  My guest today really, really gets this.

Lawyer and mayoral candidate, Veronica Carbajal, is a guest on today’s episode to talk about her views on politics and mental health.  If you are an El Pasoan, this episode provides a window into our city politics.  We talk about #BLM, the City’s COVID-19 response, gentrification, and Vero’s plan on changing the City’s governmental landscape.  Get ready for some truth bombs #realtalk #therealdeal!

More about today’s guest:


“Verónica Carbajal is a progressive running a grassroots campaign to become the first Latina Mayor of El Paso, Texas.

Vero is a Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. lawyer and an advocate for the people, who has devoted her life to social justice, particularly, environmental justice, fair and affordable housing, disaster assistance, historic and cultural preservation, and animal rights.

Vero is a fourth generation fronteriza, raised in both Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua and El Paso; and she is also a children’s book author. She is a graduate of Burges High School, Brown University and The University of Texas School of Law.”


Disclaimer: *Recommendations, discussion, and disclosures are for informational/entertainment purposes only.  You should never substitute consultations/information from your own mental health/medical professionals with information from this podcast.*


Counseling Amidst Covid-19

Hello, everyone!  Today we discuss what it’s like to be a therapist in the times of the Coronavirus epidemic.  Myself and two other therapists located in El Paso, Texas talk about: what it’s like to run a small business/private practice during a pandemic, how to prepare yourself as a therapist to see clients via tele-health during these unprecedented times, why you should see a therapist during this outbreak, struggles we see in our communities, and helpful tips/advice (other than washing your hands) for coping with this worldwide stress.

Must have information about today’s guests:

Guillermo Castañeda (Memo) is a mental health counselor and hypnotherapist and the director of Counseling of El Paso. He completed his Masters in Education in Mental Health Counseling at The University of Texas at El Paso, and is certified in Hypnotherapy by the Hypnosis Motivational Institute. His clinical approach is eclectic as he believes that one size doesn’t fit all.  His training and modalities range from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, and Hypnotherapy. He is passionate about helping others connect with their inner self and have strong and healthy relationships. He specializes in pain management and helps clients who are suffering from depression, emotional distress, or anxiety, as well as relational or environmental stress. It is his belief that as long as we are compassionate and loving to ourselves, we can also work effectively within ourselves, so his focus is on self-awareness. 

Jazmine Silva, LPC-Intern Supervised by Gerardo Rosas, LPC-S, has both a counseling and a teaching heart.  Prior to entering the counseling profession, she was a teacher at Ascarate Elementary for five years. Her profession in education and post graduate work inspired her at a personal level to pursue the field of counseling.  Jazmine graduated with a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from UTEP’s Mental Health Program, CACREP Accredited, in May 2018. Currently, she works at Counseling of El Paso where she serves adults, children and their families.  Jazmine is a Theraplay Foundational Theraplay Practioner and provides interventions based on Theraplay ® principles when working with children and their families.  She is passionate about learning, growing and building better relationships.


Mentioned in the episode:

Research by: Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. Dan Siegel, Gary Landreth

Disclaimer: *Recommendations, discussion, and disclosures are for informational/entertainment purposes only.  You should never substitute consultations/information from your own mental health/medical professionals with information from this podcast.*

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


Clarity in 2020
Updates and information on my private practice, trainings, and internships! Email me with your questions or! Visit this link to register for my healthy living event:

Therapists Discuss Sex Education

Hello again, everyone!  Jen Reeves, LMFT-S, CST is back on the podcast giving us her expert opinion on the Netflix show “Sex Education”.  We discuss the characters from the show and talk about boundaries, teen development, and sex therapy in pop culture. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Takeaways from the episode:

  • Sex education should start at an early age
  • Portrayals of sex therapists in pop culture — can be inaccurate/damaging
  • Sex therapists can work with individuals and couples about their relationships and sex lives
  • There are certain things that sex therapists (or any therapist) should not EVER DO
  • We may not be talking to our teens about sex adequately enough
  • Jen has a “Dear Abby” type sex column called “Getting Jiggy With Jen”…ask her a question here: and follow here

Here is more info about Jen:

 Watch Sex Education on Netflix here:

*Recommendations, discussion, and disclosures are for informational/entertainment purposes only.  You should never substitute consultations/information from your own mental health/medical professionals with information from this podcast.*

*We do not own the rights to Netflix or Sex Education materials including the images used here. All discussions about the show are for entertainment purposes only.  No copyright infringement intended.*

Celebrity Mental Health- The Britney Story

Hello again and welcome back to season three of Through the Eyes of a Therapist podcast!  If you are a millennial, or if you were paying attention to life in the early 2000s, you may remember the iconic pop princess, Britney Spears!  She has had an eventful life in the public eye…and what better way to dissect her resilience than with my returning guest on the show, Luis Cornejo, founder of Psychosocial Media, Marriage and Family therapist, and all-out Britney fan!

Takeaways from this episode:

  • Hear how Luis was inspired by Britney to pursue a career in mental health.
  • Precipitating events can trigger a cascade of issues.
  • Britney’s career may have impacted her mental health status.
  • Money and fame can’t prevent mental illness or emotional decline.
  • Privilege impacts recovery.
  • Child stars feel immense pressure to perform, and celebrities are trained to sell themselves as a product/brand.

 Remember to get in touch with us by writing to  and enjoy this episode!

One last thank you to Luis for coming back on the show, it’s always a great pleasure to have him.  Check out all the great content at (I happen to contribute written pieces to the blog). 

Vote for the next TTEOAT Podcast episode by following me on Instagram (and to see my cute newborn and mommy-life posts) @throughtheeyesofatherapistpod

Until next time,

Cristal M.Acosta

Therapists Discuss 13 Reasons Season One

In this episode, two licensed professional counselors discuss the popular and controversial show “13 Reasons Why”.  Andrea Rios, LPC and Cristal Acosta, LPC-S, NCC dissect and dialogue about the implications the show can have on their clients.  After a lunchroom discussion, the two therapists decided to record their opinions and perspectives for the podcast. LISTENER DISCRETION ADVISED.  SPOILERS AHEAD.

Mentioned in the episode:

UPENN Study on 13 Reasons Why

Find me on Instagram @throughtheeyesofatherapistpod or Facebook

*Recommendations, discussion, and disclosures are for informational/entertainment purposes only.  You should never substitute consultations/information from your own mental health/medical professionals with information from this podcast.*

*We do not own the rights to 13 Reasons Why. All discussions about the show are for entertainment purposes only.  No copyright infringement intended.*



Harry Potter and the Two Therapists

Welcome back to Through the Eyes of a Therapist Podcast!  This season is all about pop-culture and the unique view of shows, books, and movies through a therapist’s point of view!  

In this episode we have returning guest/co-host, Elisa D.  She is an LMSW who specializes in childhood trauma and works with victims of crime.  This lens allows her to talk with me about Harry Potter’s early childhood experiences.  We cover complex trauma, resilience, early childhood development, and adverse experiences.  

As mentioned in the episode: if you have had any bad experiences with Snape-like teachers, we want to hear about them!  Please write to

I will be going on maternity leave in a couple of weeks, but will still be publishing episodes at least once per month!  Thank you for your patience with me and this child who is due in mid-September 2019!

See you for the next episode about 13 Reasons Why!

Find me on Instagram @throughtheeyesofatherapistpod or Facebook

*Recommendations, discussion, and disclosures are for informational/entertainment purposes only.  You should never substitute consultations/information from your own mental health/medical professionals with information from this podcast.*

Photo by Caio Resende from Pexels

5 “Not So Good Reasons” to Become a Therapist

The piece below was written by me for publication on Psychosocial Media. To see the original post, click here:

As a board approved supervisor in Texas, I keep an eye out for talented, developing professional counselors.  I interview them, mentor them, supervise their work, and eventually help them get their clinical license to practice on their own.  It’s great to see the growth progression of a therapist– from an enthusiastic student, disenchanted intern, to confident grasshopper, and finally, a colleague. As many of you know, I have my podcast, Through the Eyes of a Therapist, where I ask every clinician that I interview, “why did you want to become a therapist?”  In my conversations with these growing pre-licensed professionals and even fully licensed ones, I’ve heard some interesting reasons why people choose this career.  Out of all of their personal anecdotes, a few stand out to me.  Here are five reasons why people should NOT pursue a career in therapy.

(5.) “I’m doing it for the money.” (In other words, to become filthy rich.)

There are economic reasons, as well as ethical ones, for why this is a wrong reason to become a therapist. For one, if you decide to become a Clinical Social Worker (CSW), Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), or a Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC), you will likely go through a rigorous process. This process can include the following: 4 years of undergraduate education, graduate school (2-3 years),  state exams to become provisionally licensed, 18-60 months collecting hours to qualify for the licensing exam, passing licensing exam to get fully licensed, and then finally land a job where you can bill insurance companies for services and be seen as an expert.  The issue with this trajectory is that the first few years while pursuing full licensure, you will likely not be making very much money.  In grad school, most of the time, you do not get paid as a student intern.  After graduation, the reality is that companies, both non-profit or private practice, will likely not pay you the way they would as fully licensed clinician. You will also more than likely have to pay an out of pocket weekly fee to your clinical supervisor while you are pursuing full licensure.  So yes, the first few years of this career include huge time and monetary investments.

Working as a therapist to become filthy rich is also not realistic (to a certain extent).  I’ve known many private practice clinicians who do make “good money,” but only if they are very strategic about their careers.  They diversify where their money comes from meaning they don’t solely see clients.  These entrepreneurs use blogs, books, e-courses, trainings, and consultation to make money.  If a clinician chooses to work at a non-profit agency, they may make anywhere from $40,000 to $65,000 per year depending on experience and licensure. This flat rate salary is barely negotiable depending on the funding sources for the non-profit company.  The more funding they have, the more you might make.  However, the advantage sometimes is that you get lots of experience and training at these types of agencies…just not good ol’ money dollars in your pocket.

Ethically, becoming filthy rich as a therapist could be questionable.  My opinion is that clinicians deserve to make money.  After all, our work is intricate and requires lots of brain power, emotional investment, and time.  When does having a lucrative career in therapy become pilfering?  The answer lies within the individual therapist.  I mean, if people are charging insurance companies fraudulently, this would be a violation of ethics.  However, if an experienced therapist within a niche market costs $200 cash per session, who am I to judge?  Their clientele would be limited to a specific pool of people, and maybe people who are under government insurance or below the poverty line would not be able to afford their sessions.  It’s quite the quandary and a fine line.

(4.) “I want to help people.”—Yes, read that again.

This statement is a very common response to the question, “why do/did you want to become a therapist?” Look, the reality is that no human can emotionally or mentally rescue/save/change another human being. We, as therapists are privileged in that people may choose to tell us their deepest darkest secrets; however, we are only human ourselves.  We don’t have special powers. What we may possess as a therapist are tools that help another human hear themselves and an ability to build a relationship which can foster healing.  You cannot magically heal.  You cannot fix people.  So, if you have any false notions about your supernatural or superhuman abilities to heal or fix a person, you will be a sad, frustrated, and disillusioned therapist. People are too unpredictable and have freedom of choice.  In other words, even the most skilled and gifted therapists encounter clients who will do whatever the hell they want anyway.

(3.) “People constantly tell me their life stories, like when I’m in line at Wal-Mart.”

This reason alone does not mean you should become a therapist. Sure, you may be a good listener and open minded, but becoming a therapist takes much much much more than that (see reason 5 above, training and hours of experience). Clinicians dedicate hours upon hours of listening to people tell their stories and believe me; these stories contain more detail than the Wal-Mart edition of therapy sessions.  In real therapy sessions, there are likely in-depth details about sexual assault, abuse, domestic violence, community violence, blood, guts, and other gory details about people’s most horrific experiences.  There are also disclosures and secrets that you can not—I REPEAT—can not react to. In the Wal-Mart version of an encounter, the time is short lived, there’s no privacy, and it’s likely a casual conversation, so you’re free to react however you please.  In a therapy encounter, a therapist’s reactions are calculated and non-judgmental.  This skill takes experience, restraint, and self-awareness.  So, sure if people tell you stuff, and this is motivation enough to get you the training you need to become a therapist, then go for it…but remember, in the therapy room, the time, space, and emotions spent are very different than listening to a stranger, acquaintance, or friend.

(2.) “What could be better than getting paid to sit and listen to people’s problems all day?”

Well, this one is always a shocker. I don’t care who says it.  When anyone misconstrues my profession and whittles it down to “simply listening to problems all day,” it boils my blood.  The skill, endurance, self-reflection, self-work, self-awareness, intuition, brain power it takes to “listen” to someone’s problems is highly underestimated.  The statement above is probably one of the main reasons why mental health care is so undervalued in our country.  Believe me, if I “sat around and listened to problems all day” and could make it into a career, I would have done this by the time I was 9 years old. If you decide to become a therapist, be prepared for the intensity and rigor of this work.  It’s not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart.

(1.) “I’ll be better qualified to help my family.”

Okay, I’m sure you have some baggage. Everyone does in one way or another. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a hard history or having a rough upbringing.  Family can significantly influence our lives, relationships, and careers in many ways. I, personally, have a few family members who live with mental illness.  While I was learning about psychology in undergrad, and learning about counseling in graduate school, lots of things about my family system were put into perspective for me.  This education did not heal me or even equip me to help my family.  Sure, it gave me a new lens to look through.  I see them differently and understand them more.  I even understand myself a little more and can put some coping skills I’ve learned about into practice in my personal life.  So you may be asking what the big deal is…why you can’t help your family when you’re a therapist.  Simple. It’s a conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest in the counseling world (and other helping professions) refers to the notion that a professional is not objective when trying to intervene with family members and friends clinically.  If someone is too close in proximity to you, their problems are less clear.  Your objectivity and accuracy become compromised. You may also inflict judgment upon them because you know too much.  Like I said earlier, non-judgment is essential in this line of work.  This is why, even on Grey’s Anatomy, doctors are not allowed to perform surgery on their coworkers or family members.  The best thing to do here is to refer your loved ones (or anyone too close to you for that matter) to another therapist so that they get the unbiased help they need and deserve.

If you’re still contemplating on becoming a therapist, I hope the reasons above delivered clarity and busted some myths for you about this career.  If you already are a therapist and you recognize any of the above reasoning in yourself and your colleagues, it may be a great discussion topic while you are in consultation.  Bottom line, it’s great that you have a compassionate nature, but remember the realities of becoming a therapist because it’s a robust and challenging profession.

 Visit for more posts from myself and various mental health professionals!  You won’t be disappointed!