We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Olivia Schläpfer Colmer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Olivia, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
As a couples therapist, clients frequently ask me if I am married and have children. The assumption is often that as a couples therapist I don’t have the same issues they are coming to therapy for. Many times I normalize this reality by telling my clients that I can relate to most things they bring into therapy, and that my marriage is not perfect either. In fact, a perfect marriage does not exist. I tell my clients.. “a dysfunctional family is a family with more than one person in it.” I find this to be true when it comes to humans, relationships and families. I tell my clients I fight with my spouse, we have parenting differences, and there are highs and lows depending on what is happening in our lives and environment. It is normal to ebb and flow in how partners connect and disconnect. The advantage as a trained couples therapist is that I may be more aware of the relationship dynamics, communication breakdowns and more equipped to detect patterns in the larger context of the family system, that go beyond just the couple. At the same time I am human just like everyone else. I am a person who has good days and bad, and can fluctuate from my mature side to my immature side too. Another misconception is that therapists do not have anxiety, or if they do, have it under control. I tell my clients that if you are alive and a human being, you have anxiety. We all have anxiety. To be alive means to have anxiety. The question becomes how do you manage your anxiety? That’s where therapy may be helpful to some.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am single private practice under the name of Morningside Therapy. I am a marriage and family therapist and provide individual, couples and family therapy. I believe in commitment, passion and always keeping an open mind to learn and grow. My practice grew quickly and I believe a major factor for that is the love I have for the work I do, and the dedication of many years of studying family therapy and the world of relationships. After graduate school and becoming a licensed therapist, I have continued to educate myself and keep myself current with what is relevant in the therapeutic field. I do trainings and have pursued certifications in couples therapy as a specialization. I am also a board member on the Florida Family Research Network, an organization that is dedicated to the study of families based on a systems theory originated by Dr. Murray Bowen. For the past 6 years I have lead a support group for women who have lost their mother. It is called Motherless Daughters Support Group Miami. It’s a space where women of all ages can connect with other women who have faced the same loss. The group provides a safe space to talk about loss and healing. I came to learn about family therapy after the death of my mother. My curiosity to understand my family better, who and how I am in the world and in my relationships, has lead me down a cathartic journey that ended with me becoming a therapist. It’s been the biggest gift I have given myself, and I am grateful to now be able to pass that gift on to my clients by helping them understand and manage their relationships with themselves and others better.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take my friend to the beach, maybe even a day on a boat to explore the beautiful views of the Miami skyline from the water. I would visit Wynwood and the Design District for a taste of the art world, and stop at Michael’s Genuine Food and Wine for a delicious lunch and glass of rosé. Another day I may venture over to Sunset Harbour for some yoga, shopping, Panther coffee, and dinner at Lucali. An amusing people watching experience is lunch or dinner at Carpaccio and exploring the beautiful shops at Balharbour mall, even if it’s just to window shop. The koi fish and turtles downstairs are always fun to watch too while having a drink at one of the café’s. A morning delivery of Salty Donuts has to be on the menu for sure. To burn off all the calories from the good food, I would take my friend to play some tennis in Morningside or Flamingo Park in South Beach. As an avid runner I couldn’t pass for a run down the Venetian causeway. I love gardening and one of my favorite places in Miami (and a way of escaping the city feel of Miami) are the Redlands in Homestead. It’s so fun to drive around, explore the many nurseries, and find lunch spots off the beaten path. I grew up in Switzerland so seeing the open green fields there brings back many memories. Knauss Farm and Robert is Here offer yummy produce and smoothies. I would also squeeze in a trail hike by Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to see alligators and Miami’s wildlife. Miami is a vibrant and diverse city, and there are endless things to do day and night. It’s hard to get bored here!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people from family, friends, colleagues, professors, mentors (as well as organizations). who have contributed to my experience, knowledge, and success as a therapist, it is hard to list them all. I am grateful for every single one of them. In addition, an eagerness to learn and having an open mind, has helped me broaden my thinking and develop into the therapist I am today.
Facebook: Morningside Therapy
Viveca Ljung Michele Anne Photography