I'd finally come to understand what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.
- Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Margot Goralczyk, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Margot is a Licensed Master of Science of Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. She has a history of almost 10 years of working with the older adult population in a wide array of settings and positions. Her undergraduate degree is in Rehabilitation Science with a concentration in Gerontology. After completing graduate school, she worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Austin State Hospital. Margot went on to work with individuals in the death and dying process, providing grief support to their loved ones and caregivers. In her last position, she worked with adolescents and adults as a therapist in an outpatient therapy setting where she provided intensive individual, family, and group therapy. Margot enjoys hiking the Greenbelt, taking her rescue and emotional support dog, Poppy (who accompanies her to work at AMC) on adventures around town, practicing yoga, reading/listening to audiobooks, drawing, running around Town Lake, and eating tacos (Tyson’s is one of her favorite taco places).
It takes courage and self-awareness to seek help and support, and by doing so you’ve taken the first step toward a more fulfilling and functional life. I am here to act as a guide as you begin your journey to transformation, healing, recovery, and self-discovery and exploration. I recognize the vulnerability that it takes to share one’s feelings and challenges and I hold space with sensitivity and honor. I became a therapist because I truly want to make a difference in other people’s lives. In our sessions, I will tailor my expertise, within evidenced-based practices, to best suit your personality, background, and worldview. I believe that everyone has the ability and strength to heal from within. I offer a unique background and set of skills due to personal and professional experiences that have shaped me to be the therapist and person that I am today. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA, and I come from a hard-working family that values a strong work ethic along with treating others with the utmost dignity, knowing that one person is not of a higher status than another. I carry these principles close to my heart and convey them through my therapeutic practice.
How I Work
There is a principle that I have held onto for as long as I can remember, and which I hold close to my heart. The principle is this: we are all equal and deserving no matter what class, status, or upbringing we come from. As a clinician, I like to consider not only how you operate as an individual, but also how you operate within the family, work/school, and community systems, which have shaped you into the person that you are today. I want to empower you to take up as much space as you need to feel your feelings.
I have extensive experience working with others, whether it be the older adult, adult, or adolescent populations, through trauma-informed care. A gift that I hold is patience, a supportive presence, and the ability to sit with and be present with others that have had challenging experiences. I also have been drawn to certain modalities that I like to integrate into my therapy practice, such as the Relational Cultural Theory, Strengths Based Practice, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Attachment, and Mindfulness. I believe my strengths are my deep compassion, my gravitation toward advocacy for others, and a genuine and authentic disposition. The Mindfulness approach is one that I have personally found successful having practiced yoga for 12 years and adopted many of its principles, such as radical acceptance and diaphragmatic breathing. Having these tools accessible to me has changed and improved my life in moments when things have gotten tough.
I feel the most at peace and at home within myself when I am living and experiencing the moment through the lens of my mind, the energy of my feelings, and the sensations in my body.
What made you decide to become a counselor?
From as early as I can remember, I have wanted to provide comfort and support to others, whether it to be a family member, a classmate, or someone I met in passing. I have seen people come to life when given the space to share and feel their feelings, and I have witnessed their internal shift as they’ve become more connected with themselves. I connect to people’s energy before, during, and after a shared interaction. I believe that the therapeutic process could be described in a variety of ways, but the word “beautiful” comes to mind. It is beautiful watching someone grow and heal despite internal struggles and life challenges.
If you could teach the world one skill or technique to improve their lives, what would it be?
Radical acceptance is the ability to reduce unnecessary suffering by accepting challenging circumstances that we do not have the power to change. This is a skill that I have personally found helpful in my daily life. An example of radical acceptance in action that I love to give to people is this: Think of a time when you brought your car to the mechanic for some minor repairs. After consulting with the mechanic, it is going to cost a lot more than you anticipated paying. It is okay to take a moment for yourself to be frustrated, sure. However, getting upset for hours that day, yelling, and pounding your fists on the table is not going to change the fact that your car still needs repairs. This type of situation would be an opportunity to incorporate the skill of radical acceptance because using up precious energy to fight an inevitable circumstance is not worth it in the end.
Have you personally been in counseling and if so, what did you learn about yourself?
Yes, I have been in counseling at different times in my life. I have learned how to tap into and channel my inner resources and strengths. I have learned to be less hard on myself. I have found that I am a lot more at ease when I incorporate a lot of grace towards others and myself. I keep in mind the idea that everyone is truly trying their best, instead of making quick judgments and assumptions. I also learned that I am a lot stronger and capable than I have sometimes given myself credit for. This self-knowledge has given me the strength to be a better therapist.
If you could recommend one book to all your clients, what would it be?
I would recommend the book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. In this book, the author recounts her journey towards acceptance, grief, and attunement of her own thoughts and feelings. The author had undergone several painful events in her early and adult life. These events trapped her in a vicious cycle where she acted against her values. She was desperately trying to numb the pain that she felt instead of working through it. In her book, she beautifully illustrates her adventure of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. During this journey, she was challenged to live in the present moment, attend to her own thoughts and feelings, and leave behind all of the comfort and security of conventional living. She gained confidence in herself and her ability to be on her own. She accomplished a variety of challenges as they authentically came up, and pushed herself mentally, physically, and spiritually to new heights.
What inspires you to help others?
I feel that it is my calling to be of service to others. I have been following my heart for a long time in regard to this calling. I cherish the moments I’ve experienced connecting with others. I’ve been privileged enough to hear people’s stories from all walks of life. I can sense the energetic shift that takes place when I’m with someone that feels seen, understood, and not alone. The memories that I hold of making a positive impact for others continue to inspire me.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is someone that is open to having guidance in connecting to their inner voice and intuition. I enjoy supporting a client that has difficulty opening up. Additionally, I like clients that are seeking out a nurturing type of therapist, as that is naturally my therapeutic style. I want to work with clients that are willing to dig deep in their sessions in an open way in order to peel back layers and get to the root of their issues. Additionally, I like working with clients that are looking to improve their relationship with themselves or with others.
How do you personally practice self-care?
I practice self-care through a variety of ways. I have been working to live a more balanced life by not overcommitting myself and learning when to say “no.” I enjoy spending time with my dog, Poppy. We have fun taking walks around local lakes and parks. I regularly practice yoga and other mindful types of practices, such as deep breathing. I am learning to play the harp (even though I have never known how to play an instrument!). I enjoy running and hiking, checking out new parks and hiking trails when I can, and engaging in a variety of creative interests such as doodling and journaling. I frequently listen to audiobooks and I love to read in general. A good fall back for me is watching the T.V. show, “The Office,” to have a good laugh!
How do you relate to Mindfulness? How do you incorporate it in your sessions?
For me personally, my biggest value is peace. This is not achievable if I am not being mindful. I feel the most at peace and at home within myself when I am living and experiencing the moment through the lens of my mind, the energy of my feelings, and the sensations in my body. When I am in sessions, I gravitate towards asking a lot of questions regarding how you are feeling in the moment. I believe that most of us live a pretty full and busy life. When you come to session and sit with the feelings or thoughts that may have been pushed aside while you were running on autopilot, I like to draw attention to them. I feel that those feelings and thoughts need to be attended to in the therapeutic process.
Your favorite quote?
“Happiness is only real once shared.” -Christopher McCandless from Into the Wild.
If you are hosting a dinner party, who are the 3 people you would invite and why?
I would invite my grandfather, Chip, who is now deceased. We had a very close and loving relationship. I would invite Christopher McCandless, (aka Alexander Supertramp), the man that had inspired the movie “Into the Wild.” I would love to hear about his perspectives on life along with his personal thoughts about the people that he met along his journey while hiking across the United States. I would also invite the author J.K. Rowling because I am a huge fan of Harry Potter. I would love to have a conversation with her and experience her creative energy in person. I also love the fact that she is self-made after having economic challenges. She did not let this deter her from writing a successful fantasy series.