Dr. Alexis Schottenstein, Ph.D., is a psychologist who specializes in family and marriage therapy. Practicing out of Buffalo, New York, she has more than 25 years of professional experience.

Dr. Alexis Schottenstein believes passionately in the power of human transformation when it is supported and guided by competent and compassionate care. She is also committed to upholding the highest standards of professional ethics, including discretion, confidentiality, and compliance with all regulations.

When she is not serving her clients and helping them re-invent and re-energize their relationships — with family members, and with themselves — Dr. Alexis Schottenstein enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. She also loves traveling and camping with family and friends.

Tell us a little about why you chose to specialize in providing family and marriage therapy?

“There are many rewards of specializing in providing family and marriage therapy. For example, I have the opportunity to witness tremendous — and in many cases profound — growth in my clients, and help them make lasting and positive changes. I am also inspired and energized by working with diverse clients who hail from a variety of backgrounds. Every day is different, and there is always something new to discover and learn. Also, I enjoy the independence and autonomy of being a therapist.”

What surprised you the most when you started your career, what lessons did you learn?

“I think what surprised me most when I started my career, is that I could often see with clarity some of the issues, challenges and blind spots that my clients had a tremendously difficult time identifying and acknowledging. What I learned from this is that it can, and typically does, take time for individuals to embrace and absorb certain difficult truths. My job is to help my clients discover them in their own way. With this being said, there are some situations where I feel that it’s appropriate, ethical, and in the best interest of my clients to be frank about my observations, and to ask questions that might make them somewhat uncomfortable — which is sometimes necessary on the road to understanding, healing, forgiveness, acceptance and progress.”  

What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?

“I would say that you definitely want to make sure that you are very grounded, and that you have tools and techniques that allow you to detach from work. Many people who are drawn to working as a therapist are deeply committed to helping others. But their compassion can sometimes be overwhelming, and they can feel personally responsible if their clients do not make significant progress. And so, I would advise emerging therapists not to take things too personally — or else it is only a matter of time before they will become disengaged and experience burnout. They have to accept that sometimes their clients may not be ready to move forward at the current time.”     

How would your colleagues describe you?

I believe and hope that my colleagues, as well as everyone who I have the privilege of working with in some capacity, would describe me as dedicated, professional, caring, ethical, competent, and fun. I would also like to think that they consider me to be trustworthy and loyal, and always willing to help in whatever way that I can.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

There are a few ways that I strive to maintain a solid work life balance. For example, I try and stay organized and keep to a schedule. I also try and prioritize my time to focus on high value tasks. It also helps for me to have a good sense of when I am the most productive, and when it’s necessary for me to take a break or to plan some less important activities. And perhaps most importantly, I strive to leave work at work. Admittedly, this is easier said than done some days, but overall I do a pretty good job in this area. 

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

I would say that the best advice I ever received was to always be true to myself, and have faith in my abilities. In my profession this kind of mindset is critically important, because I often work with clients who are in a tremendous amount of pain, and who may not believe that they will ever be able to fully heal their relationship and rebuild their relationships and family. My confidence in their success can inspire them to overcome their barriers, and achieve transformative growth. It can be truly remarkable.

 What does success look like to you?

Success to me is knowing that I did everything that I could, and that was expected of me, to try and help my clients achieve their goals and aspirations. When you are dealing with people, you have to appreciate that they are not machines — you cannot just fix them the way you would fix a car, or even how you would fix a broken bone. People are incredibly complex and have diverse, rich inner lives. They also have nuances and issues that can go back for decades, and have never been fully explored or identified. It is not within my power to fix a marriage or fix a family. All that I can do is my very best, and strive to empower, enable, energize and inspire my clients to move forward. Ultimately, it is up to them — not to me — to make success happen.

What is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers with?

I would encourage your readers to try and treat everyone they meet with compassion, and to act with empathy. I am reminded by the words of Maya Angelou, who said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” And so, I ask your readers: how have you made people in your world feel today, and what might you do differently tomorrow?