In a sea of psychologists, people often stumble across successful therapy founders who dove into unknown waters with the purpose of providing help for voices that need to be heard. Triune Therapy Group‘s founder Kate Balestrieri is one of those extraordinary founders.
Kate Balestrieri is a Psychologist, co-founder of a female owned group psychotherapy practice, educator, and Co-host of a radio show entitled Behind Closed Doors together.
Kate Balestrieri spent the early part of her career working in prisons with high-risk sex offenders in doing valuations for the court systems, before going into private practice. Kate is completely self-made and did not receive any help from anyone with her education. In fact, Kate Balestrieri was the rebel of the family that was actively trying to persuade her against pursuing any higher education, as it went against their vision for Kate Balestrieri being a stay at home mom.
Kate is currently writing multiple books, but one is especially interesting and timely in the current Zeitgeist. It is about the relationship between sex and money in anger in relationships and our current cultural climate.
Being a strong woman, and engendering empowerment another woman is a big part of Kate Balestrieri’s life mission. That is not to say that Kate doesn’t love and appreciate the man, but because women need to band together, and not only listen to their own voices that speak them loudly and without apology.
Triune Therapy Group
Healthy relationships are key to living a happy, fulfilled life. Triune Therapy Group is founded on that principle. Kate and her team work with individuals, couples, and families who are struggling to break addictions and recover from unhealthy patterns in their lives. They specialize in key relationship areas such as sex addiction, sexual trauma, anger management, substance abuse, and a number of other maladaptive relationship issues.
Kate tell us what led you to begin a career in psychology?
I’ve always been interested in what compels human behavior. Psychology is a second career for me, one that I pursued after a career in insurance and employee benefits. A longtime fan of true crime shows, forensic psychology fascinated me. To understand the criminal mind was an endeavor that led me to understand the impact of various kinds of trauma on peoples’ lives, and that is what curate my areas of specialty: trauma, addiction, sex and relationships.
What inspired you to start Triune Therapy?
My blood is comprised of olive oil (I’m 100% Italian), curiosity, persistence and quiet opposition. My family’s vision for my life was very different than the life I chose, neither inherently right or wrong, but I wanted a course in life that allowed me the liberty to explore the unknown, set my own limits, help people, and embark on a path less traveled. Opening my own business allows me the luxury of being as creative as I want to be, as hard working (and hard playing) as I want to be, and hold s me accountable to a set of standards higher than any I’ve encountered in corporate America: my own!
My business partner, Lauren Dummit, LMFT, CSAT, and I started Triune Therapy Group for many reasons. We were both hustling, trying to make a living working at multiple treatment centers, feeling burnt out, feeling under-inspired, and over-committed. We wanted to create a space that focuses as much on integrated and innovative patient care, as it does on self-care and professional development for our staff. We firmly believe in the necessity of balanced life, and as such we work with our patients directly and indirectly by setting an example of such balance.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
Yes. My original degree is in Marketing, and before that I raised money for books in school, had lemonade stands, and ran for student council in my early years.
"Money doesn’t buy happiness, but success does afford a certain liberty and that has been what I’ve been creating for years."
I equate entrepreneurship to an equal position between artistic vision and logistical prowess. Balance once again comes to mind, and in my book being entrepreneurial allows me to exercise my most salient strengths and challenges me to grow where I feel deficient.
When starting Triune Therapy, what were the legal issues involved?
We needed to incorporate as a Professional Corporation, which was tricky from a tax perspective. It was difficult to navigate the concurrent demands of my business partner and my respective licensing boards with tax language and were learning as we went along! Thankfully we had strong support in our legal and accounting teams, and were able to sort out all we needed to incorporate ethically and generate patient paperwork that ensured we were safe from a liability perspective. It may seem like a burdensome endeavor to hire a legal team at the start of a business, but it is well worth the investment!
What was it like when you had your first client? How did that go?
Would you say you have to have specific potential needs in order to start to become a psychologist or an entrepreneur? If so, what are the specific potential needs?
How do you make anyone can find Triune Therapy?
We can be found at our website, www.triunetherapy.com, and on social media @triunetherapygroup or @drkatebalestrieri. We have so many great programs for people looking to heal from trauma, addiction, sexual issues, and relationship foibles. I encourage people to check it out. We are very active on social media and have a radio show called “Behind Closed Doors with Dr. Kate and Lauren.” In which we discuss various issues related to sex, relationships, mental health, addiction, and related current events. People can subscribe to the podcast on our website www.triunetherapy.com or tune in live Saturdays at 6:00pm(PST) on www.kabc.com.
What is unique about your work with clients?
We treat patients holistically. We combine empirically validated and innovative therapeutic techniques that blend together cognitive, affective, and somatic approaches to maximizing each person’s strengths, individual and relational potential.
Do you focus on a specific group of children?
We primarily work with adults.
What sacrifices have you had to make as an entrepreneur to become the person you are now?
This is a good question. I often feel like the life of an entrepreneur, especially a female entrepreneur is over glamorized. I work hard. Every day. While I ensure time for rest, and balance, the company does not move forward unless my partner and I move it forward. That comes with certain sacrifices. For example, I am writing these answers on a Friday night, when some of my non-entrepreneurial friends are out for dinner and drinks. I can take vacation when I want, and create my own schedule, but I have to weigh the pleasure with the reality of what will go unaddressed in my absence, and then decide if the break is worth it. The biggest sacrifice though, if I’m being honest, has been my dating life. This is true for two primary reasons. First, I don’t have time for riff-raff, so if I feel my time is being wasted (which is often the case whe one is dating is LA) I am quick to pull the plug.
"Many, MANY, men are intimidated by a strong, well educated, and professionally motivated women who may or may not make more money than they do. "
Many men say they want an intelligent, independent, woman, but when faced with that reality, cower and try to get me to attenuate in subtle ways. For example, I frequently hear things from men I am dating like “I wish you were more vulnerable” or “You are pathology well adjusted.” Ironically, several men have accused me of being a gold digger, because I like to go to nice restaurants or hotels. The reality is that these are the places my girlfriends and I go, as we can afford them and since we work so hard, we appreciate the nicer thing in life. Many men, however, will accuse me of trying to get a free drink or meal. I mean really… I pay for my own Range Rover, but so many men are in denial that many women don’t need them to buy them a martini. It is an interesting paradox, that likely cost me my first marriage and many relationships since. Men often don’t want a woman who makes the relationship their only priority, but when the relationship is not the woman’s first priority, the men feel slighted. It’s a catch 22 that any straight, successful female entrepreneur has likely encountered and already understands. I often feel as if I have to choose between having a relationship and my business. Sad that this is still our current state of affairs.
We understand that you have several books and you are still writing. About which topics can we look forward to reading?
My business partner and I are working on several books related to sex and love addiction, codependence and other relationship pitfalls, and are converting our radio show episodes into a book. Individually, I am authoring two books. One is entitled F*ck You, F*ck Me: Sex, Money and Rage in Relationships and Society and it address the way in which people use sex and money in defensive strategies to protect against relational pain, and how those defensive strategies end up thwarting the very intimacy they seek. The second is a book, yet to be titled, that is focused on how women are impacted, across all domains of life, by having an enmeshed parent. Women often are socialized to take care of others first and when a parent makes their child their emotional caregiver, the child’s development is arrested in many ways. This bleeds into adult functioning in every aspect of life: identity, friendships, relationships, sexuality, body image and women’s relationship with food, work and achievement, parenting, and spirituality, etc. My hope is that this book provides enmeshed women with a glimmer of hope and liberty in their adult lives.
Tell us about your proudest achievement?
Hands down, my proudest achievement is completing my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. This was an endeavor 10 years in the making and one I fought for with all of my might. It cost me relationships with family who did not support my journey, and cost me a student loan balance that I will likely ever pay off completely. Nonetheless, it was worth it. Education can never be taken away from you. You may lose a job, or have your degree revoked (in rare circumstances), but you will never lose what you’ve learned. Education is power in my book, and my degree opened up a whole world of possibilities that I never imagined were possible. In addition, I met some of my best friends in school and to this day, they are my support and community and share my passion for knowledge and critical thinking; aspects of my personality that were not supported by family, or a community that believed women did not need an education.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
My biggest failure was my first marriage. While I do not regret marrying the man I married, as I learned a lot from that experience, in hind sight I had no business getting married and should have said “no” when asked. He was a lovely human, but we were ill-matched from the start. I was so focused on my career, and trying to balance the expectations of me that I settle down and find a man to support me that I said “yes” even though I had big reservations about the relationship. I don’t look back with regret, though it ended horribly, and instead I choose to see how that experience set me up for future learning, professional and relational success.
Could you suggest three guidelines for the individual who is entering the field of psychology?
The field of psychology can be extremely rewarding. It can also be very taxing, as it requires stalwart boundaries, and is very isolative, as the nature of the therapeutic relationship is one-sided by design. If you want to pursue this field, make sure you have or are sorting out your own baggage (we all have it!) and are not using it a s a means to get answers in your own life. You will not be an effective therapist if you are not doing your own personal work! That’s not to say that you won’t learn along the way, but be sure you are getting consultation and supervision, so you’re not working out your own stuff with patients.