Isabel Sattler: "Therapy helps you discover your own 'blind spots'"

Portrait series of psychotherapists | 2nd Feb 2024

Even as a teenager, Isabel Sattler showed great interest in people and their behavior and tried to empathize with those around her. The enjoyment of observing and analyzing other people during café visits quickly developed into a desire to work actively with people, to get to know their life stories and to accompany and support them in difficult life situations.

Since 2012, Isabel has gotten to know various facets of the psychological field through volunteer work, as a social companion, as a student assistant during her psychology studies and through her work as an ABA therapist. She began working as a psychologist in 2018 and now works as an independent psychologist, primarily in the areas of high-functioning autism, the (unfulfilled) desire to have children, pregnancy and starting a family, and as a couples' therapist. She knows how to use her additional qualification as a yoga teacher to enrich her work by complementing her therapy work with elements of yoga.

**Isabel, you were interested in the emotional world of people around you from an early age on. When did you realize that you wanted to become a psychologist?

I already knew in elementary school that my future career should have something to do with people or animals. A school internship in a small animal practice, where the daily routine consisted mainly of neutering cats, helped me decide in favor of people. In order to better narrow down my professional field, I completed various internships in the medical and psychological fields and finally decided on psychology.

**What makes professional psychological support so effective?

Everything is in a state of constant change — our environment, our relationships, our working environment. But we ourselves also change, our thoughts and feelings change. Change can mean further development, but at the same time, change is also a challenge. Sometimes things develop unexpectedly, not as we had planned or hoped. Or we are always stuck in the same patterns and wonder why everything always seems to repeat itself. Sometimes the change brought about by a new life situation that we were looking forward to, such as marriage or the birth of a child, can overwhelm us at the same time. Sometimes we reach our limits in the face of change or even fall into a crisis. In this situation, it can be very helpful to seek support in order to work together on the current situation in a protected environment. In addition to the scientific evidence, I believe in the effectiveness of psychological coaching and therapy, as I have already witnessed the positive effects on many people. Additionally, I was able to experience them myself during the self-awareness part of my psychotherapy training.

«Psychological coaching and therapy help you to discover your own 'blind spots'. In my opinion, extensive self-reflection is essential in order to shape your life according to your own needs»

**As a trained psychologist, you have also had experiences with therapists who have accompanied and supported you psychologically. How has this influenced you?

It was crucial for me to sit on the other side and experience how difficult it is to communicate my own thoughts and feelings. This experience helps me to treat my clients with patience and empathy. It is also essential that psychologists know their own issues and patterns very well in order to differentiate between their own issues and trigger points and those of the person sitting opposite them during coaching/therapy – and not to mix them up.

**After many years in the profession, what would you say you value most about your work?

Working with people is incredibly exciting, fascinating and enriching. I value the conversations and am grateful for the trust my clients place in me. It is wonderful to accompany the processes, and I am thrilled every time one of my clients achieves personal goals, finds more clarity and/or experiences more satisfaction and acceptance in their own life.

**Have you ever had a big “Ahh, of course! Moment” in your time as a psychologist?

In my perspective, most people are fundamentally good people. They usually strive to fulfill their own needs and be happy. Even if situations or behaviors appear incomprehensible, strange or even harmful from the outside, a closer look often reveals that there is no malicious intent behind them, but that deeper motivations and emotions can be identified. It is worth looking at a situation on a deeper level as part of a psychological coaching or therapy in order to create more clarity.

**What helps you to deal with your own (mental) challenges?

On a professional level, it helps me to exchange ideas with supervisors or colleagues. Privately, it helps me to write down my thoughts and feelings. I also recharge my energy levels through yoga exercises, sport, dancing (preferably alone at home) or by being together and talking to people close to me. I always require some peace and quiet and time for myself, which I like to spend in nature — preferably by the water or in the mountains. But when I don't know what to do, I turn to one of my therapists from the self-awareness program.

**Is there anything people should be aware of before starting talk therapy or coaching?

Coaching or talk therapy means “helping people to help themselves”. Ultimately, it depends on you how much you take away from it and what you do with it. You will find your way. It's hard work that can be challenging and incredibly exhausting — but it's worth it.

Your therapist can climb the mountain with you and help you to read and decipher the maps and signposts, but you have to walk alone.

**Many people are unsure when it comes to choosing the right psychological support. In addition to the appropriate form of therapy, the personal match between client and professional is also crucial to the success of talk therapy. How do you know if you have found the right psychological support?

The chemistry has to be right. Close psychological collaboration is based on trust. It is important that you feel safe and comfortable in the session with your counterpart. I also pay attention to my gut feeling as to whether I can imagine working together and, of course, check whether your concerns match my expertise.

**In addition to individual therapy, you will also work with couples and families. In certain situations, it can also be useful to work on something together with your partner. How can you tell whether couples therapy could be helpful?

Human beings are social beings and are always in relationship with others. Our close relationships have an immense influence on our general well-being. Close relationships in particular can be challenging and complicated at the same time. Sometimes we get stuck in the same conflicts. Sometimes the very things that we found so exciting at the beginning annoy us. Sometimes we talk past each other and can't find the same language. Communication training, getting to know each other's "baggage" and our individual strengths as a couple and as individuals can often restore a great deal of emotional and physical closeness and sustainably improve and maintain the quality of the relationship.

**What are typical challenges that couples and/or families approach you with?

Certain situations can be particularly challenging, especially when a lot is changing within the relationship. For example, when changing from a relationship with physical proximity to a long-distance relationship (and vice versa), when traveling together (long-term), when the desire to have children is (unfulfilled) or when starting a family. Some relationship constellations, such as patchwork families, also bring with them many strengths, but also special challenges that require good communication and cooperation. Couple and family therapy is not about "right or wrong" or "good or bad", but always about making the construct as suitable as possible and accompanying, supporting and strengthening people on their individual path.

**Why did you decide to work with Aepsy?

I had been dreaming of having my own online practice for some time. I came across Aepsy while I was setting up my own practice and researching and saw the matching process and service as the perfect complement to my self-employment. As working in an online setting can sometimes be lonely, I am grateful for the Aepsy community and the lively exchange with other professionals.

I was really looking forward to working online, and the support from the Aepsy team gave me additional motivation and made it easier for me to get started. Personally, I really appreciate working independently and freely. I can develop more freely than in a clinic, work according to my own ideas and also decide who I want to work with. With the help of the matching process, Aepsy ensures that I find people who I can support with my expertise and with whom I can find common ground.

I also really appreciate the fact that Aepsy takes the "admin stuff" off my hands and helps me to become visible to my target group. This allows me to use the time for my core work, the sessions with clients.

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About Isabel

Isabel Sattler has been working with people for almost twelve years. She completed her studies in psychology with a Master of Science in clinical psychology and psychotherapy at the University of Bern. After several professional positions, she founded her own practice in 2021 and offers psychological coaching in an online setting via Aepsy. In her work for her clients, she has specialized in highly functional autism as well as topics such as pregnancy, post-partum and couple relationships (in individual, couple or family settings). At the same time, she has been working as a psychologist at an institute outpatient clinic on Lake Constance since 2022. Isabel is very interested in continuous further training and regularly acquires additional qualifications to consolidate and expand her range of therapies.

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