Staff Therapist Q&A: Eleanor Parkins, AMFT

Pinnacle Counseling enjoys providing our different therapists with the opportunity to introduce themselves, highlighting their unique clinical and personal interests.

What led you to become an MFT? 

I’ve always been particularly passionate about human relationships, as I know how significant they are for the happiness and well-being of human beings. My passion was only confirmed after taking an interpersonal relationships course during college, as I was immediately drawn to wanting to know more about psychology and humans within the context of a larger system. I quickly realized how nothing “happens in a vacuum,” and by looking at all of the factors involved, I knew I’d be able to get a richer and more complete understanding of the entire picture. This is why I ultimately chose the path of becoming an MFT. 

On a more personal note, as an adolescent and young adult, I constantly found myself in the role of listening to others and giving advice. I’ve always had a deep sense of compassion for others, and I truly believe everyone is just trying to do their best on a day-to-day basis given their particular circumstances. Additionally, the desire to understand my own “stuff,” which includes being a witness to complex dynamics within my own family was also a large contributing factor in my decision to choose this path.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach/style? 

I strive to create a warm, compassionate, collaborative, and nonjudgmental environment. I believe therapy should be a place where you feel completely heard and understood. I believe it’s important to meet you exactly where you’re at, and I work hard to understand what your specific needs and goals are. From there, my role is to not only be a witness to your story, but it also involves helping you explore and challenge different thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that have developed over the years and may no longer be serving you. In general, clients can expect a combination of deeper emotional explorative work along with action-oriented strategies that can be incorporated outside of our sessions.

Are there any client systems or presenting problems you especially enjoy working with? 

While there is no “how-to” relationship handbook, and while most of us don’t receive a formal education on relationships, I am particularly passionate about working with couples on difficulties with communication and intimacy. Other areas I commonly work with (and that also often come up within couples work) include difficulties with family of origin, differentiation, life transitions, emotional regulation, anxiety, and self-esteem. 

I am also a big believer in the mind-body connection and enjoy helping my clients incorporate mindfulness strategies in order to practice tuning in more and blocking the outside noise. 

Lastly, I have a particular interest in helping men become more emotionally literate, especially in a society that often sets them up to fail in this department. Unfortunately, emotional avoidance can often lead to withdrawal, depression, a state of feeling “numb,” and even anger outbursts. 

What do you believe are some of the key factors leading to positive change? 

Curiosity and openness are absolutely essential in order to step out of what I like to call “tunnel vision.” I also think it’s so important to have compassion. Change can be tough, and this type of work also tends to take us out of our comfort zones. Without compassion, it can be easy to get down on yourself or even give up completely. Throughout the process, you have to learn how to be kind and loving towards yourself in order to move through it, especially since progress might not look linear. I promise you won’t regret it though… diving in and doing this work is completely worth it!

What do you like to do for fun and/or relaxation outside of work? 

Spending time with my husband, family, and friends! There’s truly nothing better than spending time with the people I love. I also thoroughly enjoy working out and staying active, as moving my body makes a huge difference for both my mental and physical health. Last, but not least, I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts. I honestly can’t believe how many different podcasts are out there (on every subject!), and I love listening to them throughout the day whether I’m in the car, running errands, or just hanging out. I’m constantly learning something new! 

Eleanor sees clients in both the Andersonville and Loop offices. For more information or to set up an appointment, contact today!