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Bella Sterling, LPC

Individual & Couples Therapist

Bella Sterling: Clinical Counseling

As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, this phrase completely summarizes the therapeutic work. According to the South African human rights activist Desmond Tutu, A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships”.  Therefore, in my work, I seek to build therapeutic relationships. So, Clinical Counseling provides support, empowerment, insight, and compassion at times when life situations are confusing and thoughts turn dark.

I work with children, adults, couples and families, and I accompany my clients on their journeys to understand and heal trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and relationship problems.  Events that can seem overwhelming when we are alone can heal in the safety of a relationship and also be a source of learning.

Befriend Your Feelings and Rediscover Your Life

As a therapist who deals with psychological trauma, I will help you learn how to treat your feelings in a nonjudgmental and compassionate manner. This may be the last thing you feel like doing. But the crazy and counter-intuitive thing is: the more you try to avoid your painful and troubling feelings, the more powerful and influential they become.

Just the act of avoiding them robs you of the energy and vitality you need to deal with them. Trauma counseling can help. You don’t have to go it alone.  Therapy can help you learn to differentiate between the feelings that are normal part of life and process and heal the ones that are a result of trauma.

Personal Journey and Clinical Treatment Modalities:

We help ourselves by helping others. This simple truth has led me through a tumultuous career change to become a therapist. I am grateful every day for the privilege that I have now to work with people, hear their stories and share their struggles, while helping you to not feel alone and while working through them. Having become a counselor later in life and as a second career, has given me the opportunity to appreciate even more the gifts of therapy for me and for my clients.

So, I believe it is my job to help my clients to get where they want to get and be who they want to be. Sometimes, when things seem not possible my biggest job is to help you with hope. Moreover, I help to empower you to see a larger picture beyond difficult experiences.

In my practice, I use therapy approaches that can help you move along the path to recovery.

In response to the unique needs of the individual, I utilize Family Systems Theory, Humanistic Existentialism, Jungian, Somatic, Attachment Theory, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy techniques, Psychodynamic Therapy (the deeper meaning and understanding of the effect of patterns and history on current life) and Person-Centered Therapy. I also completed trainings in EMDR and Somatic Experiencing (level 1).

Research shows that the strongest predictor of success in clinical therapy work is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client. I seek to build therapeutic relationships that provide support, empowerment, insight, compassion and hope at times. “People start healing the moment they feel heard.”

I explore what shaped my clients’ thinking and behavior. I specialize in the treatment of complex trauma (trauma-attachment) and trauma-related difficulties. It includes such as depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, grief, anger. I also work with women who were victims of abuse, women’s career difficulties, and relationship problems. My goal is to help you heal and recover a sense of your own personal power and identity as you navigate transitions and overcome life difficulties.

Clinical Counseling: Couples & Relationships

Relationships are meant to nourish and sustain us, yet can be the cause of so much stress, pain and loneliness. Whether you have trouble finding someone to love, find yourself in constant strife over your troubled relationships. Feel your marriage or established relationship is falling apart and there is nothing you can do, I can help you.

This can lead to people feeling depressed and hopeless.  In response to this pain, people can start to pull away from their partners. It seeks comfort in someone else or gets lost in distractions.  None of these solve the real problem of how to make the relationship more satisfying.  Perhaps this has already happened and either you or your partner have had an emotional or a physical affair or are even considering divorce.  This can be a time of real crisis in a relationship. 

Couples therapy can be very useful to figure out how to heal and how to rebuild. However, and thankfully, more people aren’t waiting until things get this bad to work on their relationship.

According to relationship expert John Gottman, most couples wait for an average of six years of unhappiness before seeking help.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Couples therapy can be a place for personal self-awareness and processing as well as developing the capacity to understand and accept your partner’s world. Understanding ourselves and partners in a deeper way. It can help with pointing out specific work each of us needs to do in order to be a healthier self and do our part for a better relationship.

Most people come to couple’s therapy expecting to change the partner. However, let me tell you the only one you can change is yourself. I will help you with that and the change of your relationship will happen organically.

For my work with couples I draw particularly from Attachment based approaches since I want my clients to heal and get long-terms results. Behavioral and communications skills are important, but without deeper work they fall apart. I work using evidenced-based attachment methods such as Internal Family Systems-IFS (for intrapersonal and relational work), Emotionally Focus Therapy (EFT), Somatic Experiencing Training (SE), Imago theory and Gottman Institute of Couples therapy.

About Me and My Clinical Counseling Education:

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of VA. I hold a Master of Science degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling. Then Depth Psychology degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute. I am also a long-life learner by nature. So, I continue to study and train in the latest modalities and neuroscience to better inform my work.

I am also a mother, a dancer and an immigrant. In my practice, I draw on all my lived experiences and counseling education. So, it is helping clients move toward a more meaningful, conscious, and aligned life. 

Languages: English, Russian