“The Self-Esteem Doctor” Simone Alicia is a private coach and a public speaker helping kids, teenagers and adults to transform the way they feel and think about themselves. While self-esteem has a reputation of being a women’s issue, Alicia says that it affects everyone. Boys together with the fathers involved in the parenting process represent a big part of her clients.
#MIAMIGIRL set down with Alicia to talk about the importance of healthy mindset and the way self-esteem influences our lives.
WHY DO PEOPLE CALL YOU?
Some people call me with the traditional self-esteem problems when they lack confidence, struggle with a negative body image, thinking they aren’t smart enough and things like that. And then I get requests from parents to work with kids with abnormal behaviors — kids who tend to get angry, screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, or on the contrary, kids, who refuse to interact. I trace these behaviors back to see if it could be a self-esteem related problem, because behavioral modification comes from the same foundation as self-esteem. The real essence of my work is getting into the mindset of these children, teens and their parents to first understand how they see the world and relate to it and then shifting all the negative attitudes. My approach requires answering questions like: How is this person feeling? Could it be that this person doesn’t feel loved, doesn’t feel important or is feeling invisible and how does it drive their behavior?
WHAT IS NLP AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL PSYCHOLOGY?
NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programing, a form of Integrative Psychology used to improve behavioral patterns learned through experience by “recoding” the way our brain responds to familiar situations. Traditional psychology takes people back to see what went wrong in the past and how the past events contributed to the current problems. NLP practitioners aren’t interested in knowing people’s past traumas, but rather focus on where people want to go, what’s stopping them and what is the best way to get there. NLP method is future-oriented and solutions-driven. We say: Let’s see what your current problem is, how other people with your problem fixed it for themselves, what worked for them and how they got out of it?
I want people to disconnect from the idea of being stuck to current and past negative experiences and instead focus on becoming who they really want to be.
WHAT KIND OF CHANGES CAN HAPPEN AS A RESULT OF YOUR HELP?
The depth of my services runs really far and deep. To give a few examples, I recently worked with a 6-year old girl, who was very shy, refused to speak and interact with other kids during the play dates. It took a one-hour session to reshape her behavior. Another previous case is an eleven-year-old boy, who had suffered from an infection causing severe pain, which triggered sleep deprivation. After traditional medical care cured the illness and relieved the pain, he still couldn’t sleep at night, because of a fear connected to experiencing pain again. A two-hour-long session, helped him to go through his fears, reframed his thinking and took him back to sleeping through the night. A classical self-esteem case is an eighteen-year-old girl, who had problems with fitting in at school. When the time came for her to go to college, she refused to go. She was completely scared but wasn’t acknowledging the fear. Instead, she was telling her parents she didn’t need the education and was coming up with some absurd ideas about the direction of her future. Her mindset was such as she was telling herself she couldn’t do it. After my sessions she admitted and faced her fears and became confident enough to fly off to another country to go to college. She even sent me a thank-you note from the airport.
ARE THERE PROBLEMS YOU CAN’T FIX?
It gets difficult when the person I’m working with isn’t ready or doesn’t want to make the changes. This mostly happens with the kids who don’t agree with their parents that they need help. NLP is led and directed by the client. They have to be willing to do it. I cannot force them to go through the practice. In some cases, there is resistance: “I’m scared and I don’t know why my mom called you and what you are doing here, I don’t want to talk to anybody but I do want the help.” In those cases, my biggest challenge is to get them warm up to me. Those who aren’t ready I can’t help.
Another thing to consider is that I’m never going to be a replacement for a therapist. I’m a coach and cannot touch severe mental issues. I work alongside medical therapists and psychiatrists; they often refer their clients to me for complementary behavioral adjustments.
WHY DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN SELF-ESTEEM?
The first time I became aware of the self-esteem issue was in connection to my race. My family moved to South Florida from Jamaica when I was 6 years old. My parents never divided people by race and I never heard them say “white people” or “black people.” At a private Catholic school I attended, I gravitated towards like minded kids from many different backgrounds. As a result, the concept of race was foreign to me and racial division was never put into my head.
When I transferred to a public school in Miami, I wanted to join the track team, because I was really good at it. This is when one of the girls on the team accused me of trying to be white, because, according to her, I spoke like a white girl and I got good grades like a white girl. The attack didn’t impact me in the sense that I wanted to change something about myself, but it made me realize it was not something I was willing to deal with daily just to be on the team. I guess, my parents brought me up in some special way, because I decided to walk away from the conflict. There was no pay off for me to confront the girls on the team.
Even with that experience, it was my brief time in the modeling industry that made me truly aware of people with self esteem issues. This is when I encountered women with low self-esteem. They were saying things like “I’m ugly, I’m fat, I look horrible” I never thought about myself being perfect but it would never cross my mind to go around trashing myself out loud in front of other people. When I started hearing that, I thought it was very different from everything I knew. At some point, when I was teaching in the elementary school a girl came up to me and asked if she was fat. And at some point as a model I did a show and as we came out there were girls in the front looking at us with the shining eyes, thinking we were role models. The irony for me was that those girls were secure, happy and healthy while the majority of those “role models” were very insecure, hating their bodies. I felt this was so wrong and they shouldn’t be aspiring to be what they perceived us all to be.
If you keep looking at the things that bit you up, then you are stuck. Holding on to the past traumas will exhaust you eventually. People have infinitely more control of their mental space than they choose to believe. We get to pick what we want to think and how we want to be. I want people to disconnect from the idea of being stuck to current and past experiences and instead focus on becoming who they really want to be.
THREE EXPERTS YOU TRUST AND WHY
New Creations Counseling – Online addictions and cyber safety
Amazing attitude, connect with clients and knows what she’s doing
2. Cici Kelly
The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center – Teen Addictions and Family therapy.
Passionate about her work, serious about helping families, crosses all t’s and dot’s the i’s.
Lemieux Solutions Unlimited – Licensed Marriage and Family Counseling.
Super easy to relate to, skilled in her craft a natural counselor.
SELF-ESTEEM SUMMER CONFERENCE
Family Conference is a yearly event presented as a high energy, interactive show, providing tips and tools for self-esteem, mindset and communication to create more positive relationships with self, family, friends and others.