RALITZA PEEVA: UNLOCKING PEOPLE'S HEARTS


The therapist and motivational coach has extensive international experience

Ralitza Peeva.jpg

The Bulgarians and expats who seek psychological help and therapy from Ralitza Peeva are in for a pleasant surprise. The therapist and motivational coach has over 20 years of experience helping people from different nationalities, cultures and professions in the US, Europe and Asia, especially Singapore. Ralitza has a deep understanding of the challenges related to stress, burnout, relationship difficulties, lack of self-esteem, life crises, loss or separation in the family, difficulties in adaptation, trauma, and has the tools to help clients deal with them effectively. She has a PhD in Sociology from The New School for Social Research in New York, a Masters in Social Science (Counselling) from Monash University in Australia, and a Masters in Sociology from The New School for Social Research, New York. She is a certified ontological coach (Newfield) and certified NLP practitioner (ITS, London). Together with Dr. Shirin Jacob she co-authored the book, FoodZestVitality, which focuses on the impact of stress, hormones, and nutritional imbalance on immunity and gives advice on how to restore balance and health.

What did you learn through the years of working with international clients?

I learned that regardless of our differences, our worries, grief, joy and hopes are very similar. All of us face similar challenges: family, relationships, health, grief, financial issues, career, issues of transition – to another job, city, country, relationship. The fear that we are not good enough in what we do, in any social role we have, is a fear shared by top CEOs, middle managers, young professionals, housewives, unemployed, teenagers, children. Our humanness is universal.

Why did you choose to specialize in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Scientific research demonstrates consistently its efficacy across a wide range of psychological conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, OCD, and more. Its focus on the present, the fact that it is goal-oriented and collaborative, structured and systematic and that it teaches coping skills relatively quickly, make CBT one of the most widely used therapeutic approaches.

It focuses on our negative self-talk and each of us can relate to this. Most often we beat ourselves with phrases such as "I am not good enough," "If people really see who I am, they will not love me," "What's wrong with me?".

Our negative self-talk is embedded deeply in our minds. It takes time and practice to become aware of it and to start replacing it with self-compassion, acceptance, and patience. We have similar thinking distortions when we think about events. Some of the most common ones are black-or-white thinking (when we think in absolutes with no room for middle ground), catastrophizing (when we tend to magnify the impact of events and how awful they would be), personalizing (when we take blame and responsibility for anything unpleasant even when it is not related to us), negative filter (when we focus on the one negative comment instead of paying attention to ten positive ones), mind reading (when we believe we know what another person is thinking). Each one of us can practice the principles of CBT once we have worked with a therapist for a few sessions.

How does this work in practice?

The key first step is awareness. Here is an example that you can practice immediately. Notice your usual negative thoughts. Pay attention to what your "inner critic" is constantly berating you with. Learn to notice when that critic has "hijacked" your mind and you are in the spiral of the negative self-talk. Then ask yourself "What is the evidence?," "Is this a fact or is it my perception right now?,” "Will this be important in one year?".

When you stop yourself from negative self-talk, take the next step – think what would be a more helpful thought in this situation. Did your friend cancel on you because she doesn't like you or because she's had a really difficult day and is tired? Is your boss really in a bad mood because of your job performance or because the planned merger didn't turn out the way she was expecting?

We all can successfully reverse the negative spiral of our own thoughts if we practice this regularly.

Regardless of the specific issues in each case, the main quality of a therapist is the ability to create an environment of safety and understanding. Each case is unique and when our focus is on nurturing connectivity and eliminating judgement, the individual feels empowered, with increased ability for introspection and kind-heartedness.

What inspired you to open a practice in Bulgaria?

Opening my practice in Bulgaria at this point of my career, after I have gained experience and knowledge from living in the US, Western Europe and Asia, is very rewarding. I felt that it was time to share my experience and knowledge here, in my country where therapy and coaching are becoming a part of everyday life.

You also consult foreigners living in Bulgaria. What is specific in working with this client group?

Expat life, while exciting and gratifying, has its own challenges. Moving to a new country or city can lead to a culture shock, which involves feeling disoriented, frustrated, lonely or overwhelmed by the differences in language, customs, social norms, and daily routines. Adjusting to these cultural differences takes time and effort. Expatriates in Bulgaria encounter communication challenges like difficulties to navigate the subtleties in daily life – greetings, habits, social etiquette, and holiday celebrations. Often we discuss cultural differences, local customs, way of thinking.

Why do companies need hOUR THERAPY?

HOUR SPACE is a therapy coworking community with three locations in Sofia. It is Bulgaria's first shared workspace for psychotherapists, psychologists and mental health consultants. I see my clients there and many companies contact us because they seek to provide mental health support for their employees and even their employees' families. Nowadays companies all over the world recognize that their employees' mental health is the key condition for business success. It is encouraging to see how many companies in Bulgaria embrace this philosophy.

+359 898 589 075

rali@ralitzapeeva.com

www.ralitzapeeva.com

www.hourspace.bg

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