Introducing Beatriz “Betty” Alaniz, LCSW
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Licensed Clinical Social Worker:
Spanish & English
M.A., New York University, New York, New York. (Social Work) 2008.
B.A, Our Lady of the Lake University - San Antonio, TX. (Social Work) 2006.
Advanced Training in the Gottman Method
I believe we live in a society that pushes people to seek an almost perfect appearing relationship which doesn’t exist even in the best of marriages. In doing so, this attitude exacerbates the “throw it all away for something better” approach (via divorce) not taking into account others affected by this decision (i.e. family, children, etc.).
I believe that it is such a blessing to have the ability to share your life with someone who wants to share their life back with you but at the same time, it can be incredibly vulnerable and frightening, too. So it can easily become the thing we most desire but the thing we coincidentally most avoid and/or unintentionally sabotage. In it all, we hurt and we continue to create circles of hurt in our homes, families and communities.If I can help a couple create a more cohesive, loving relationship, this will result to a more cohesive, loving home. This can then motivate their children to become more compassionate toward other children and their communities.
I find working with trauma and affairs in relationships to be very satisfying. When reconnecting and rebuilding begins to happen in session, it feels like I’m witnessing magic and a unique kind of beauty that others don’t get to be a part of.
My involvement with the Gottman method sprang from a need to be able to work more effectively with the couples I was seeing in southern Texas.
My couples who have been to previous therapists tell me there is a difference in my approach. Even before I obtained Gottman training, I used Gestalt therapy and interventions that involved an emotion-focused approaches in couples communication.
It’s truly humbling to be a part of it.
I’m told often that I’m “sweet” by my colleagues. My clients have referred to me as “kind and compassionate.” When I have to use “gentle confrontation” in my work with couples, my clients do a double-take because they didn't see it coming. But because I am typically softer, the change causes them to stop talking and listen to me.
I know that couples have to be interrupted when they demonstrate the Four Horsemen in my office. I can't allow them to use abusive behaviors like criticism or contempt without interrupting these destructive interactions.
In the Hispanic and Latino cultures and in San Antonio in particular, couples therapy is still not a commonly acceptable thing to do, but by being a kind and compassionate professional, I'm easier for my clients to trust. It's also not in my nature to use raised voices and/or stern tones unless absolutely necessary. It takes a lot of courage to seek out therapy, so my therapy room is a safe place to be accepted and praised.
I grew up in Mexico until the age of 4 when my family made the move to the U.S. permanently and later became citizens. We settled in a suburb outside of Houston. I was the second of four children.
My parents met and married within 3 months and have been married for the last 40 years. From all our aunts and uncles, there is only one aunt that went through a divorce (and this is among more than 30 aunts and uncles, a big big family!). I've learned that commitment, fidelity and loyalty are a big part of any relationship. My parents have been my biggest teachers in knowing how to share joy and love within a family. I’m truly blessed to have had this growing up.
My father's family were ranchers in Mexico. My parents wanted me to keep the culture and language of Mexico, so every summer I worked in a furniture store owned by my maternal aunt and uncle in Mexico. There is a lot of poverty in Mexico and it's made me sensitive to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised.
My younger sister Vicky taught me one of my most painful lessons in life: suicide doesn't alway come after a series of signs and symptoms. She killed herself quietly and hid the signs well. After her death, we found letters explaining the growing problems in her marriage, her husband’s worsening emotional and financial abuse, and her belief that suicide was the solution to “unburden” everyone else of “her problems.” If we truly take a look at the qualitative data gathered from suicide rates, many, if not most of those who attempt suicide, attribute their actions to some form of betrayal or hurt from a relationship or a relationship loss.
I presented in a suicide awareness conference earlier this year and have been asked to now participate in the San Antonio’s survivors of suicide loss committee for their groups, workshops, and events. This will be my new volunteerism. I’ve grown more comfortable with and willing to share Vicky's story with others.
I have had a lot of trauma and loss in my past. I have divorced an abusive partner. I used to feel that if anyone were to know this about me, I would be written off as a hypocrite. I’ve worked through this over the last few years and have become more public about it. People need to know that domestic abuse is nothing to remain silent about and that it can happen to anyone.
I began my professional involvement internationally about 15 years ago in India, working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) agency. My community development efforts were in South West India in the state of Kerala and Karnataka.
Early on, I facilitated groups for children and families suffering from trauma, and a range of psychiatric diagnoses from anxiety and depression to alcohol and substance abuse. I've also worked with those with severe and persistent mental illness providing both crisis management and longer term services. In addition, I've worked as a clinical forensic specialist with traumatized children and geriatic patients.
In New Jersey my job involved services for victims of human trafficing and those recovering from Stockholm syndrome and pimp-controlled/trafficer-controlled lifestyles, as well as farm worker outreach for labor trafficking. I've also worked as Co-chair for both the city and northern region of New Jersey in coalition task forces.
I later went on to become a trainer and speaker both on human trafficing and Alzheimer's / dementia as well as grief support groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and suicide bereavement. In addition, I've provided trainings for Rape Crisis Centers, educational forums, coalition meetings, and the like in New Jersey and New York.
I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. Recently I've been trying to find recipes that can be healthier than the meals I love to cook (but know are unhealthy). My goal is for them to have the same or similar taste.
I usually schedule my early mornings to work out at the gym, doing intensive cardio, spinning or yoga classes 3-4 times a week.
I love spending quality time with my 7 year old daughter and fiancé, whether that’s going to her gymnastics practices or soccer games. We like to explore the city together on the weekends or take family hike trails.
Aside from spending time with my two loves, I do have occasional reunions with girlfriends, attend concerts.
I also love to travel.
Because we just moved in together and starting a life together, we do spend a lot of our free time together to form those bonds and work through those murky waters that come up on occasion. My daughter and I were living a care-free, single life together. We're now we're learning to become a family.