111. From Therapy Rooms to Global Vistas: How One Therapist Redefined Professional Boundaries Honoring Her Ancestry Along the Way with Cynthia Welsh

111. From Therapy Rooms to Global Vistas: How One Therapist Redefined Professional Boundaries Honoring Her Ancestry Along the Way with Cynthia Welsh

In this episode of the Traveling Therapist podcast, we had the pleasure of hearing from Cynthia Welsh, a therapist whose journey from traditional practice to globetrotting professional embodies the spirit of adaptation and innovation in the modern world of therapy. Cynthia's story illuminates the transformative power of technology, specifically the advent of Zoom during the pandemic, which opened up a realm of possibilities for therapists to work remotely, thus marrying their passion for travel with their professional commitments. Her narrative is a testament to the evolving landscape of therapy, where geographical boundaries are becoming increasingly irrelevant, allowing for a more flexible and enriched lifestyle without compromising the quality of care provided to clients.

Cynthia also shares insights into her personal motivations, drawing from a rich family history that spans continents, and her father's unfulfilled dreams of travel. This deeply personal element adds a layer of authenticity and passion to her professional endeavors. Her approach is not just about offering therapy from any corner of the world but also about creating a fulfilling life that honors her heritage and personal values. Through initiatives like hosting retreats for overworked women and offering specialized CEU training courses, Cynthia is broadening her impact, helping others find balance and rejuvenation, and equipping fellow professionals with the tools to navigate the demands of their vocation more effectively.

Key points from the episode include:

  • In her pursuit of dual citizenship, Cynthia's journey began with tracing her ancestry. 
  • The influence of personal and family history on professional paths, illustrating how personal motivations and backgrounds can enrich professional practices and offerings.
  • Expanding professional services beyond traditional therapy, by hosting retreats and offering specialized training, showcasing innovative ways to serve the community and fellow professionals.

Cynthia started life as a child of immigrants who, due to financial constraints, weren't able to travel as much as they would have liked.  After losing her father at a young age (he was 56, she was 23) She decidedI she needed to start seeing the world and not wait for later! Her mother started to travel to all of the places she and Cynthia’s father wanted to see. She decided she would honor him, and now them, in the same way. By living life, seeing the world, and sharing it with her family. In her adulthood she has visited over 20 countries on 3 continents. During the pandemic, with the availability of telehealth therapy, she started to figure out how to make travel and work blend together. She left her agency job where she had been a Director for over a decade and started her private practice. She traveled and worked from all over the US and abroad when traveling became possible again. In the last year, She has focused on beginning to run domestic and international retreats for "The Overworked Woman" and turning burnout to living life. She is an excellent travel planner and considers all contingencies. She is in the process of planning trainings in family therapy and mindfulness to incorporate another part of herself as a clinician and as a traveler. Finally, and with great excitement, she is  working on getting her Spanish citizenship through ancestry!  She is planning to move to Spain for part of the year once her children are out of college in just a few years. Then, the expat life is the full retirement plan for the future. 

Alma Counseling: www.almacounseling.net

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Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Travelling therapist podcast really excited today to have Cynthia Welsh here with us, she has a super cool story of what got her started with traveling and also how she's using her skills as a therapist to continue to travel the world and offer things to other people. It's just super exciting. And Cynthia, I always start out the episode with asking how did you go from becoming a traditional therapist to a traveling therapist? Yeah, so

I realized I started traveling, maybe like, really consistently, probably about 15 years ago. And in that time, I always had to tick off and really have to say, the pandemic and the beginning of zoom, right. And then we could go anywhere, said, Oh, I could, I really could do this anyway, I don't have to sit in the room, I can do this wherever I go. And then just meeting different people in my travels has shown me Wow, there's other ways I can, you know, Build My Income, spread kind of like my my skills in different ways, so that I can have the life I want to lead and still do the work I love to do. So that's kind of how it just like it really naturally kind of formulated to where where I'm at bay. And where I am today is going to be very different in like six more months. So I'm super excited about it. Oh, yeah,

we're going to talk all about that. I can so relate to that. Because, you know, 2018 is when I went online, but before that it was, you know, literally, I was taking eight weeks of vacation a year. So I go on vacation, and then I come back and just cram all my clients and then take another vacation. It just, I mean, it was kind of exhausting, because you come back. And it's like, you don't even feel like you took a vacation. Because you're just so like having to see so many clients, you know, to incorporate it into my day, like see a couple and then go explore a town or whatever is perfect. It's just the perfect combination. For me anyway.

And boot back has been where I felt built in the last like, couple of years. Go ahead, what

were you gonna say? I was gonna say the last couple of

years. So for 15 years, I worked for a big corporation started as mosaic. And we joined to be Sheppard Pratt, and so I ran clinics. Oh, wow, that's supervised at one time, three different clinics of clinicians, nurse practitioners, doctors, like the whole thing. And it was exhausting. And it was really hard to take vacations. But that also gave me the gift of in, you know, if you can kind of do like the high mids every frame and the old therapist way that when I went away, I never really got to take off. Because there were still emergency decisions to be made. So I realized that like, oh, I can be off, step away from dinner for a second. If I had to answer a call, then come back and continue to enjoy myself. So it really started, like laying the groundwork for how can I incorporate this? And then the second part that I'm learning now, like, how can I incorporate that and be happy? And, you know, because Exactly, they are chore?

Oh, it's tough. Like I'm doing this interview today. But we have to we're actually supposed to check out of this Airbnb at 10am. And I asked them for an extension. First, they said yes. And then they sent me an automated message that said, make sure you're out by 10. So I'm like it. You know, I message back up. Like you guys said, 1130 was fine, but they haven't answered me. So I'm like, in the middle of this interview, the cleaning crew cook cook, man, I have no idea what's going to happen. So roll with it right there. But that's the life right? It's like, gosh, all right. You know, it's just it can be stressful. So yeah, yeah.

And I've wanted to build in to international travel. But I started with local. So when zoom started, I had to, you know, they allowed you to work from most places. And you could be anywhere. So we rented a house at the beach, so that my kids because they're online for and we rented a house so that we could be near the beach, and I would do my sessions. And you know, if you had a two or three hour gap

at the beach? Yeah, exactly. Back. They made

sessions. And it really I realized how it changed. Just your outlook. Like for me? Yeah. You know, if I knew that, I was like, Oh, I got refreshed and like, you know, feel back. Yeah, I can go back because I do a lot of trauma work, which can be super heavy. And I try to work short days, so I can have fun on weekends or do extended trips. Or sorry, long days, short weeks. And yes, you know, nine or 10 sessions of trauma in a day can be like, Yeah, you know, on anyone I know. I know. So that's how people onset. Yeah. And I tell people you know, I used to do EMDR back to back sessions, trauma, you know, PTSD, heavy PTSD, chronic with EMDR. And once I started really traveling more and more of like the traveling therapist type traveling, you know, it's like, I

can't I don't want to do this work anymore. It's too heavy. It's too like you were saying, you know, it's like, gosh, I just want to be able to enjoy what I'm doing and it's just too heavy. So Oh, you know, I pivoted out of that eventually. But you know, so So you have a cool story about your like origin of traveling and all of that stuff where you shared all that I'd love to just hear I like to hear the background of how people got started and have this like Wonder lust or this desire to just go and see new places. Yeah,

so my parents and my brother and sister were from Chile, in Santiago in South America. And they came over during the time of Pinochet yet, so they left Chela and came over to the United States, and I was born here. You know why they were living here. And in that time, it was funny how when I was younger, because I had aunts and uncles, and cousins, and everybody came over. And so we were very tight knit family, where we did everything together. And my best friend was my cousin. And until I went to school, I didn't realize things were different, right? Yeah, even I was just thinking about this last night, I told a client a story how, when I was learning my letters in kindergarten, you know, we spoke Spanglish at home, like mainly my Spanish, I would answer in English, because that's how I would learn and that's how they were practice. So like, even just learning, like they're like letter P, and I'd be fun. And they're like, No, honey, that's Han. Oh, yeah, it's fun bread to play kind of Allah, that thing very close with my family. And because they were immigrants, and part of that story is, you know, money was always tight. So when we traveled, it would either be a big saving Saatchi there, we and I got very lucky, I got to go to Chile several times to see extended family or just local, like any place we could drive, right? Yeah, they visit and my dad would always tell me that one day, we're gonna he's gonna be a traveler. He's gonna, you know, go and see the world with my mom. But in that time, he was working two full time jobs couldn't do it. So sadly, he died very young. He was 56. And I was 23. And yeah, you know, really wasn't it was like, you know, he had a heart attack in his sleep. And it was unexpected. So, in that time, you know, is still fairly young, but had just finished graduate school, I realized, wow, he didn't get to do all the stuff he was waiting to do. Right. So that started to tell me like, I can't wait for these things. So when I was young, and I got married, right after graduate school, my husband and I just started to do what we could afford. Always some sort of travel, and we always try to go someplace different. Yeah. And I learned in that, that it wasn't for me so much the sightseeing, which is great. But it was really getting in with like locals. And so in now, that's been 25 years ago, 25 years married this year. Wow. Every time Yeah, right. Every time we go somewhere, I take a cooking class, I'm gonna learn how to cook with him. He you know, and then I incorporate, like, when we take that into, like, the traveling therapist, part of that is I incorporate those stories into the sessions that I have now today, you know, like, Oh, when I was at this place, you know, then I found a lot of, you know, bringing yourself into the room. And while I'm telling you personal stories, and you know, breaking that boundary, but like just using your life as like, oh, yeah, I understand that. And having so many experience to draw from has been great. So when I had a health scare, and I was like, oh, no, when I was 40. Here at this my time, like my dad went young. And I was like, I got to do it. So we traveled like big trips, my family and I once or twice a year, like I am the master, if anyone has questions on how to use your points. You know, I've got every app that talks up the different things so that it can be affordable and manageable. And then also being able to work while you're away and not lose your income. If you are in a private practice, like myself, it's my my own practice, you know, I don't have vacation time and pay leave, as most of us who are in private practice, you know, we just have to manage it, you moved the sessions, do what you can, but so the big trips that we've done have really just opened me up to, I could do this, I could live someplace else. And then it changed into I want to do this, I want to go somewhere else. So on my mom's side, my grandfather is from ghetto Spain. Okay. And now they have that you can get citizenship through heritage. Yes, I've so I'm in the process now of getting my citizenship in Spain. Wow. So I can have dual citizenship. And the idea is, you know, once my my children, my daughter is graduating high school this year, and she has four years of college. And then once that finish, we want to be kind of like after a year, kind of folks. If my husband can manage it. I can. Yeah, you can be anywhere. Yeah. And now I'm just in the process of traveling Spain to see where I'm going to land. Mostly

amazing. So, so what does that process look like? So I guess you You always knew your grandfather was from there, or did you stumbled across it like on ancestry.com or something? And it's like, Oh, okay. And then, you know, like, what is the walk us through that process a little bit later here.

I always knew he was from Spain. And it was kind of if if you know, a lot of mattina people, they're very proud of where they're from. So it was always the tease that he was a fake to Atlanta because he was born in Spain. So I always knew that right? And that he would podcasting. I know, in Spanish. So it did always know that and when it started coming up that you could find this and ancestry stuff. The problem that man was he passed away, and he passed away really fast when I was like sixth grade, right? Yeah. And so he and my grandmother were older parents to my mom. So they passed away when I was quite young. So getting the documentation has really been like searching for x, I need his birth certificate to do and gosh, so yeah, pass this was I needed his birth certificate. I needed my mother's birth certificate. And then I need my birth certificate to prove the lineage right. And so I had to get a birth certificate from the United States, a birth certificate from Santiago, Chile, and a birth certificate from quatro, Spain. Wow. And where the interesting part was, if anyone is listening, and they want to find Spain, and they have to get that birth certificate, they weren't at hospitals, they were through tricks, Paris's oh my gosh, really? You know, and I thought that? Yeah, so a lot of the documentation back, I mean, he was born in like, 1918 1918. So, you know, it was based on like, when you were baptized, and they would go backwards. So that, you know, so getting his records, and in Spain, they have a number, which I think the way it was explained to me is kind of like our social security number. Okay, but it's their, like, National ID number. And so having that number, I had to go back and it's an it's been a process. So when I'm going, I'm going to Spain again this year, I'll get it. Like I'll have all the documentation and the the appointment set to get that in my hand. And then I can formally start the process. And then once you do that, you have to live there a year to get the citizenship.

Oh, wow. Okay, like, like, likelihood all of a year are like a year solid year solid. Oh, wow. Okay, different places,

like we had looked for my husband, he's his great. It turned out to be his great grandparents that his grandparents, it was one too far Irish. So we were going to do that originally. Because the Spanish one, it was just really hard to find the birth certificate. Yeah, then I went through work. And so now it's, you know, when I go and get that paperwork, I just have to decide what I'm doing that year. And I want to pair it with again, like traveling therapists. If your moms and dads or my daughter wants to do a semester abroad when she goes to school when she's in college, and she wants to be seen so not a you know, when she does her semester abroad, I'll be somewhere in the area so that we can kind of have that together and I'll do my year and have my citizenship. Yeah, nice.

So gosh, that is amazing. And then once you get your citizenship and do the year can you just come and go as you please? Or do you have to like, be there a certain amount of okay,

yep, so the coolest thing and I think you know, I need the minutia of it. I'm not as sure I figured out how to get myself in there and like the actual what happens after is is you know, TBD still but once all that happens I what was important to me as a traveling so traveller is that EU passport right? How many times have we gone to Europe and the you know, the EU folks they roll right through ever from the US and other words, I mean the line the last time I was in last year, I went to Spain, I want to say with an hour Wow going just immigration come to them sooner to get into the country. There was an older woman in front of us who just from the crowd and the heat, like was getting faint. Thankfully, we had like a bottle of water that we hadn't opened and our bag so all that kind of stuff is just kind of like you know when I have that EU passport, I can just throw it recently through That's amazing. Yeah.

Oh my gosh, well, you have to come back and tell it's well it is what you go what you pick a place. So do you have like an idea of where you might go like insane or

Okay, so the east south southeast area, so not so far south like severe? Yeah. And Grenada because we're really hot. Yeah, like above that and a little in so like Allegan Moravia, those little areas that are on the water, but a little in so like Murthy is a little like maybe 40 minutes and I think from the water so you can easily get to the beach. I'm a beach girl. I love to have the smell in the water. It's actually on my website is water in the background, a couple of reasons. And so that's where I want to that's where I'm looking to Go but I need to, you know, there's villages and there's a huge expat community in Spain. So I've joined all like anyone who's thinking about doing it for like, longer term. There's so many Facebook groups that are moving to Spain, expats in Spain, therapists in Spain. And they just share all that. And you can answer a question and thought are just so generous. Yeah, although they're answering, oh, here's a link or I know a guy and this is my lawyer. And just by asking, I've had so many lazing. Amazing things happen.

Oh, my gosh, I love that story. How exciting. Yeah. And to be there when your daughter is doing her semester abroad, like that's so unique to be able to do that.

Yeah. And the timing and the fact that she wants to be there. She wants to kind of, though, my roots are very tied to Chile. Her, you know, she wants to have like, really just be immersed in Spanish speaking culture, right? It's very different. I'm noticing as I'm talking, I'm a hand talker. That's a very, very Spanish thing. Like, you know, I'm a hand talker and I move I look around. And so she wants to really live that life. While she gets to do it, because I think she's got the bug I have, which is like, yeah, like, I'm so proud. Like, as a mom, because she wants to her graduation gift. She was like, I want to go on a trip. Just mean, you know, marriage, his dad has a brother. And she's just like, No, I want it to be you and I and going off on adventures. So like, my greatest, like, accomplishment is already reached, because she has that drive to just experience things. Oh,

my gosh, I love that so much.

So leading by example, you know, living I should say, By example, which, you know, going back to my dad who didn't get to do a lot of things, he was an incredibly generous man. Yeah, incredible, like, of his time of his love of all the things you know. And he was like, we used to say with Mr. Rogers, he was just like, chill, punk. You know, very funny. And so a lot of what I've done in my adulthood has been to honor him. Right. So my, my program, I guess my my private practice is called I'm a counseling. And so not, not the other. I'm not affiliated with all that. In this Spanish sense, and Elmas sole Spanish. Oh, I love that. Yeah. Oh, so my dad used to always tell me if you're gonna do anything, you'd say in Spanish, the delicacy called the wild mind Kakuka rasaan, which is with your heart and soul. So actually soul and heart but in American Translation with the heart and soul. And so, in a way to be able to honor him, I was like, How can I do that? And I started thinking of just the things he would say. And that's where I came up with Alma as the name rather than Cynthia Welsh counseling. No. Yeah. And that has led also to being the traveling therapist. Because honoring him with the travels and seeing the things he didn't get to see. And just experiencing them and then giving it to my children. Yeah, has just been kind of like, when you talk about like, as therapists we talk about, find your why. If we are, you know, having therapists, we talk about what we do and how we do it. But like, why do we do it? Right? So for me, it's an honor and a memory but also like to live what he taught me which was live with purpose. Live, you know, live. Yeah, working work, because you need to survive, but you live so that you can give to your company. So that's,

that's where I've always got it. Oh, my gosh, I love that so much. But amazing. origin for the name of your business, too. I

mean, that's Thank you. Fantastic.

Yeah, yeah.

When started to want to build traveling, you know, and go, I could be all over the world, right? I talk with FBO people, and they're like, you're gonna need to change your name. Because so yes, that Yeah. And I really struggled with it. I was like, You know what, I'm just gonna stay where I am. But 70 Something so? Yeah,

I'm sure I didn't even think of that. But I'm sure there's a lot of competition for almost. Yeah,

that's what comes up. And yet, people who are looking, will Google my name, and

absolutely, it's still but regardless of that, it's the meaning behind it. That's amazing. Yeah. So I can see why you stuck with it won't be

and just to travel, you know, going into like this next phase. So yes, definitely. When I do that one year, yeah, which could be in the next two to two years. I need to be able to, you know, earn money. So you had to think about how to diversify myself and my skills so that I could live abroad and live comfortably. You know, like not have to worry about the next thing. So continuing, obviously doing virtual sessions. But I'm also in the process of getting three different CPUs, like trading courses, so that I can offer them live a resume, but that path of income of recording them, and, you know, having them on demand, so whoever takes them, and you know, I've gotten some relationships with other private practices that are more group practices. And the one that I'm really training in is family therapy. You know, we don't get taught a lot about how to do family therapy, you kind of it's, you know, initiation by fire, I felt like when I get it, for sure. So the programs that I ran, I've always done family therapy. And so, but when I go to family therapy, trainings, it's like CBT, and the family and it says stuff, but nobody tells you how to do it. So yeah, what I'm building now, like, here's techniques, yes, it's CBT. Yes, you might be through DBT. You might use act, you might use iPads, all these different acronyms, the raises clinicians, well, it's your toolbox. But how do I actually sit in a room with someone and do it? Yeah, those are the trainings that I'm building and retreats to build my traveling therapist heart. I love it. Oh, that's amazing. I'm working with a friend that I met on a retreat. Okay. Another therapists retreat, and I'm going to a therapist or cheat next month. And they're really the incubator experiences. If you've ever gone to a retreat with other therapists, it's like the coolest thing in the world to be surrounded with like minded people. Yes.

And, and, you know, have it

be about that, but also about like men, like you can be real and talk about it, you're exhausted, they can be real. So I want to offer that to clinicians, but also just to women. So my passion is working with women and moms and specifically for me, in my practice neurodiverse. Moms, so my neurodiversity? Namie off also be neurodiverse. Yeah, that's specifically moms who are parenting neurodiverse children, my child is their diversity is high functioning autism, which is another thing that's made me a great traveler, but And so being able to incorporate retreats in the US so I've been, you know, it's it's so hard to go to work when you're figuring out which file you want to take people to. Yeah, exactly. We've been scouting different spots to do work with the overworked woman is kind of what we're starting with women who, for whatever reason, mom, traveler, worker, independent and forest, whatever is your your thing that has made you exhausted. How do we identify burnout? How do we work on burnout? How do we avoid burnout? Right, so and to also give that incubator with, you know, just kind of having a sense of community in that moment of how you can let down that guard that mask that we carry.

I love that so much. Yeah, I've been on a few retreats myself, and it's it's magical. The connections you make with the people that are on retreat with you. It just lasts forever. Yeah, it

really does. Yeah, yeah, we all check in and the one I went to last year, was the first clinical one. I've done a bunch of yoga ones, man, but it was the first one that was specifically to clinical and I got a you know, got the bug. Yeah, hold it and go to him. Because there's a thing. Yeah.

So do you have one coming up that we could tell people about or is it still in the building phase?

So it's in building ish phase, okay. Yeah, I've already identified one that we're giving for the ever work women. And it's going to be in Austin mirrorball. The mirrorball concert. Some people have heard about it. And, and it's the best thing a part about it is it's really a place where, you know, when I went to go, like people were walking around in robes, like, Yeah, who's just come here. If you want to go and have green juice the whole time and exercise, you can do that if you want to, like do the spot and drink wine. You can do that, like whatever is your jam, they have it all there. But in the morning, we're gonna have like the times where we can talk about burnout, and trainings and teach mindfulness. You know, I have a certification in mindfulness that I'm really passionate about, that meld into a lot of different things of my work, that I want to give people that and then the same sort of training for a clinician, so that we can train them on how to do these things, so that they can train their clients and taken into their room. So just kind of spreading it out. In them getting a chance to be

in an incubator with it like to really live it for four or five days or something like that really immerses you in that. It's like, gosh, I see the value. I need to send this on to my clients. Yeah, that's amazing. My

Travel Card of that, you know, so when we do clinicians We're gonna, we're going to try a cruise in the bathroom. So people can go to different destinations. But you know, for the clinician part, but so that where I want to be different is it's not just going to be, here's what I do on my desk, or here's how we do it. Like, I want them to experience it so that I really feel like if you got it, then ya know how to help people do it. Right, yes. When we say therapists should have therapists, you know, like, you know, if you're going to teach someone techniques, you should really have experienced them and know what it feels like on your body so that you can say, this is what it feels like, you know, my body. See how it feels on yours? Right? Oh, I

love that so much. Yeah. We're

super excited about it. Like I can't believe all of the planning. It's like really aligning?

Yeah, so far. Yes. Yeah, it will, it will, right. If you have a passion for it, you put enough energy into anything. I feel like you can manifest it. So that's amazing. So how do people work with you? It sounds like you have a wealth of knowledge. You're You're a budget traveler. You have retreats you offer and this like how to become a citizen and dual citizenship and another country you got that experience to you. So how do people work with you, they want to reach out and in learn and learn from you.

Right? So I'm also building a shittier set of consulting and coaching. So I'm in the process of getting that LLC, but the way to contact me now to get all those things would be through my website. Sorry, if you hear my dog, www dot I'm accounting A L ma counseling.net. Like, man, okay. And that is just an it's like a homemade website that I did on my own because you my first thought was never going to be boutique. I only wanted to be by referral. And so now that I'm going bigger, all the different things are coming in the change. But that's how you get me. Yeah,

I love it. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time and share your experiences with us. And for anybody listening, I'm gonna put the link link below so you can click through and talk to her if you'd like to. So

thank you cam, I love following your website. I learned so much from it and from the people who post on it. So keep doing what you're doing. Because, you know, for people like me, it just gives me inspiration. So thank you.

Thank you. Thank you so much. And it wouldn't be anything without people like you contributing. So I appreciate that too, for sure. Good luck with your checkout. Thank you


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