Meet this week's Sexuality Superhero, Todd Baratz. Todd is a NYC-based psychotherapist, shaping his client into their best sexual selves. Read his feature below and learn more about Todd!
How did you find yourself working in sexuality?
When I was 15 I started to see a psychiatrist who was also a sex therapist. He later has turned into a huge mentor and influence on my professional work. At the beginning of our relationship, he helped me develop language and comfort with my sexuality. He gave me the tools I needed to turn something that scared me--being gay and sexual--into something empowering. I found this to be incredibly helpful considering absolutely NO ONE else was talking about sex or expressing curiosity. The experiences I had in my own personal therapy shaped my intellectual pursuit of sexual education in my undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate training.
What is the best part of the job?
My favorite part of what I do is the relationships I build with my clients. They are rich with meaning and it is that deep connective tissue that breaths the most reward into my daily life.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
Sitting! I am a physically active person and sitting is taxing on my body. My hamstrings are beyond sore and I have back problems. SO needless to say sitting is difficult. It’s also challenging to maintain the type of focus necessary to stay present, listen, and respond throughout the many sessions I have in a day. Sometimes it is hard for me to participate in my personal life because I am drained from the stillness and hyperfocus I bring to my work. It’s an ongoing effort to find a work-life balance that allows access to the energy I need to maintain equal participation in both.
What is your most important piece of advice that has the potential to revolutionize relationships?
I can’t choose one! Too many. But it isn’t communication. It is curiosity. Be curious about yourself and the stories that lurk behind all relational and sexual dynamics in which you participate. Resist reacting in judging, labeling, or categorizing. Instead, deepen your conversations and understanding with curiosity. Curiosity to me represents learning and flexibility. NONE of us got a formal relational or sexual education that was actually helpful. Therefore ALL of us need to heal, relearn, and grow as relational beings. I truly believe that if one can connect with the multilayered historical and sociocultural contexts of their relational stories then they can work to improve them.
What do you do to decompress and take care of yourself given that you spend so much time helping and caring for others?
I work out a lot. It helps reconnect me to my body and it is energizing. I also make sure to have a good balance between the time I spend alone versus time with others. I am more of a homebody and the chill time allows me to recharge. Without it I would burn out. I also attend weekly supervision. I find that to be incredibly helpful in not only obtaining insight into my cases, but also in feeling less alone as a solo clinician in private practice. Lastly, I of course continue to go to weekly therapy. Therapy has been the most impactful and powerful experience in my ongoing effort towards self-care and healing.
What do you want people to know about your work as a licensed mental health counsellor?
I am a human being first; I bring my entire self to all the work I do. I do not diagnose. I do not like medicalizing problems. I am not a cartoon of a therapist who sits in silence, nods, and asks about your feelings. I of course will do all three of those things but I will also swear, make jokes, try to make you life, engage, challenge, push, and reinforce all your positive efforts even if you don’t think they are positive.
Where can we learn more about your work?
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