We had the good fortune of connecting with Gina Balit and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gina, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Firstly, I’d like to say how much I love this question. This was very real for me last year. Many know it took me a long time and several attempts to pass my licensing exam, which put me in a position that made me question my goals and dreams. The only thing that was clear to me was that giving up was not an option (even though I wanted to sooo bad!) so, I just knew I had to keep going and hoped one day I could inspire people to keep going as well. Looking back, I think I would say it’s about making a judgement call about whether or not to keep going. It’s never clear cut, but I think it’s definitely a matter of choice. I chose to show up despite how defeated I felt so I can defeat IT in the end. It’s also a matter of time. I always had my future in mind. I could envision it clearly, see my practice in place and kids happy. I was going to be patient no matter how long it took me to get there.
This was motivation for me to keep going. It was not a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
Decide who (or what) is going to win – I had already decided in advance that I was and wanted to win, but I also wanted something larger than me to win – my will. I let persistence win because I kept going, instead of self doubt and feeling “not good enough.” I ended up becoming stronger, believed in myself more, and built even more resilience because I kept picking myself up and persevering despite all odds. This was the ultimate success for me. This is exactly why I want to promote hope and resilience in children.
Have clear expectations – I knew it was going to be hard so I expected it to be hard and even fail if I had to. While I was a bit surprised when it happened the first time, and then again, I noticed myself holding my head up higher just a little each time because I was only getting that much closer to when this was all going to be over soon.
Trust your gut – I felt I was doing the right thing by not giving up and choosing to keep going. Because I had already envisioned my future, had clear expectations, and decided who/what was going to win, my intuition was already strong. If I didn’t give up, I knew I would pass. I trusted my gut – and my heart.
Try differently – If you feel like giving up, know that you don’t actually have to. Maybe it’s about taking a break instead or “giving up” on the specific tactic or systems you’ve set in place this time around. Maybe it’s time to try something new. It’s definitely time for more self-care!
Feel what’s right – I was hoping the stress would turn into relief and I tried to find moments of joy during the process. I knew I didn’t want to feel guilty later and feel ashamed that I never completed the test. I didn’t want to be a quitter so it felt right, empowering actually, for me to continue.
This wasn’t about bravery though – perhaps more about the courage to decide what feels right for you in this moment. You are not weak; you are strong and have power over this!
Reframe the weight of the situation – While this testing process really took a toll on me and weighed me down negatively, I looked within and shifted my mindset to something positive and understood just how important this journey and why the completion of the test was so important to me. I wanted this journey to be done, but I also had to embrace it. I didn’t have to prove that I could pass it, I just really wanted to finally live my goals and dreams with that much more life experience. I had nothing else that mattered to me and was as important in my life during this time (I even put relationships on hold!) so I kept that in mind and thought about how great it would be in the end. So, how important is this to you? Are you committed? I was – and nothing was going to stop me!
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’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Art Therapist in Woodland Hills, CA. I opened the doors to my private practice, called The Art of MFT, in January 2020. I’m a certified Domestic Violence and Grief Specialist as well as a SoulCollageⓒ Group Facilitator. I’m bilingual in Armenian (western and eastern dialects). While I utilize evidence-based methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my practice, in addition to Narrative Therapy, I believe there is an art to the therapeutic process and how we work with our clients. I specialize in working with young children, specifically under 10. I believe this is what sets me apart; many clinicians who work with children work with ages closer to 7 and up, while I’ve worked with children as young as two and a half. I feel proud I was able to keep my practice open, despite having my open house 2 weeks before a pandemic hit. I’m grateful that phones are ringing more and more and parents want to bring their children in for help. Of course, my office is taking all necessary precautions. Specifically, I work with children of divorce and abuse/domestic violence who may be experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, and fear of abandonment. My goal is to be warm, creative, compassionately listen and, at times, even utilize humor to aid in building rapport and trust with my clients as a solid foundation to begin work from. My dream is to inspire and instill hope in children so that they can lead healthier and more resilient lives. My mission is helping children look up and into their future with less worry and fear and more confidence and happiness. I’m excited and proud to have a space to be able to run support groups for children of divorce as well as young women of domestic violence in the near future. I also plan to host events and workshops that might benefit the community. I think my responses above about whether to keep going or give up as well as being a child of divorce gives you the insight needed to know and understand this process definitely wasn’t easy for me. However, business-wise, I guess I would say it’s a smooth ride to pursue your passion when you know exactly what it is you want and have love for. I’d like to think I’m unstoppable when I have my heart and mindset on something. I’ve always known I wanted to work with children and art and I also knew I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. I’ve learned to never give up and that I am good enough!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Disneyland!!! – Oh wait it’s closed! I miss it so much! While Downtown Disney is open, there is nothing like being in the park itself for a stress free day and letting your inner child out to play. I would go once a month and invite anyone along with me who would want to join me. Breakfast would certainly be at Carnation Cafe (mickey shaped waffle and bacon!). Lunch or snack options are plenty, but can’t leave without a churro! Finally, dinner would most likely be at Blue Bayou – the dark, mysterious dining area in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. If I’m not at Disneyland or inviting someone to go with me, I would want to have brunch. No day is complete for me without coffee. Some of my favorite places for brunch near both my “homes” (Burbank and Woodland Hills) are Broken Egg Cafe, Bea Bea’s, Belgium Waffle Haus, & Waffles, Leo and Lily, and Blu Jam. For coffee: Ugly Mug Coffee House, Blue Bottle, Dinosaur, Proof Bakery, Balconi…and Starbucks over Coffee Bean.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to thank my mom for raising me to be the strong, independent woman I am today; for crying and laughing with me through my journey. I’d also like to be the better person and thank my dad too – for “leaving us” with a challenge to work with and allowing us to learn how to reframe and use that to our advantage. Being a child of divorce is not easy, but I now have so much heart in wanting to help other children in need. I’ll also thank all my supervisors (the good and the bad) and mentors as well as my colleagues who have supported me through thick and thin. Specifically, I’d like to thank the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (SFV-CAMFT) for truly being my source of sanity – before, during, and even after the testing process. I never imagined how much I’d grow as a person, let alone as a professional being part of this organization, but I’m even more grateful for the wonderful colleagues (some now I call friends) I’ve met that have consistently checked in and made sure I would succeed. They attended my open house at the end of February and are still in support of me. Finally, I’d like to thank my friend/colleague I share my office with, for joining me in my hopes and dreams and for creating a space together what feels like home and a safe haven for many children to come.