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Meet the Therapist: Jordon Iorio, RSW

Every month, we showcase one of our talented therapists and learn more about them, their story, and their approach to therapy.

Jordon Iorio - Therapist

What inspired you to become a therapist, and how do your personal experiences shape your approach to counseling?

There are a few different experiences from my life that led me to becoming a therapist. As a child I experienced intense situations at my elementary school early on and my anxiety quickly became a factor in my ability to attend school. I was exposed to social workers in terms of receiving counselling early on and accessed counselling several more times before becoming a young adult. It was clear in my childhood that I was an empath who was drawn to listening to and helping those in need in any way that I was able to. In high school I quickly found that my skills and interests lied more in the arts and social sciences (I was terrible at math and science!) and it was in Grade 11 that I took the psychology course, offered by most high schools, when I became interested in behaviour and things like attachment theory.

Later, it was a Grade 12 Biology project that I did on how SSRI antidepressant medication works in the brain that showed me just how interested I was in understanding mental health further and just how interested I was in learning more about psychology and helping others that I applied to Wilfrid Laurier University. I met one of my best friends, to this day, and she and I committed our four years to working as hard as we could to get into a masters program in social work or counselling psychology. We were both accepted into Yorkville Universiy’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program and I further learned what my style and approach to therapy would be as a clinician. Humanistic and person centered approaches to counselling and therapy spoke to me the most and I related to them highly due to my experiences growing up.

My feelings about past experiences with sports coaches/teachers and how they lacked compassion, patience, and understanding of my personal experiences with anxiety were a big contributor to my becoming a therapist as well. I knew that I never wanted to treat people how I was treated and help others going through similar experiences that I once had.

Can you share a bit about your therapeutic philosophy and the theoretical approaches you integrate into your practice?

I am a big, big believer in what a professor in grad school and clinical director at my practicum, and first employer in counselling, had told me regarding what the biggest thing a therapist should aim to provide a client. This was a warm and trusting relationship that leads client’s to feeling a sense of hope. I was told that, no matter the approach to therapy or personal style a therapist uses, it is the therapeutic relationship that is the central factor in successfully helping a client and that forming a sense of hope will be key factors in their journey through therapy. Without this, no amount of book smarts or training in therapies like CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc. will help most clients in reaching their goals and overcoming their struggles. Since this has always stuck with me, I continue to use an integrative approach to therapy,  incorporating tools and strategies from many different types of therapies, tailored to each client and their needs. In my view, every human being is unique and that should always be respected and considered in helping them as a therapist.

What specific populations or issues do you specialize in, and what unique insights or techniques do you bring to those areas?

I love working with teens and young adults, but also see many middle aged and older males in my practice. I’ve learned over the time I’ve been practicing that genuinely being myself and not considering what a therapist ‘should be like’ (based on other therapists styles and approaches, how they are depicted in the media, books, movies, etc.) has been my biggest asset in forming strong relationships with clients. Letting clients know early on that I truly have their back and will do all that I can for them in overcoming their struggles is key to them committing to the therapeutic process and implementing tools and strategies learned in our sessions.

In your experience, what are some common misconceptions about therapy, and how do you work to address and overcome them in your practice?

In my experience, there are a few different misconceptions about therapy, including:

  1. Therapy is only for ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’ people and is something to be ashamed of attending

  2. Therapy never ends and I will have to go for years and years

  3. Therapists only do ‘talk therapy’ by listening and ‘analyzing’

  4. Only psychologists and psychiatrists provide psychotherapy

I address the above by first having clients come to understand that therapy is very ‘normal’ and is part of holistic health, just like exercise, a good diet, doctor’s visits, massage, physiotherapy, dentist visits, etc. I want clients to see that therapy is something people access for many different reasons: from being in crisis with psychiatric issues to wanting an impartial, empathetic, and understanding person to talk to about life overall.

I also think many people who are new to therapy believe that what most therapists provide is psychoanalysis involving the client laying on a couch as the therapist ‘analyzes’ their childhood until all traumas are ‘resolved.’ I always want clients to know, very early on, that my goal is to not provide this service or to see them for years on end, every week, but to provide client centered, solution-focused strategies and tools for them to successfully move forward in their lives.

Lastly, I believe one of the major issues in Ontario, in particular, is that of those struggling with their mental health being able to easily find and access mental health services. One of the, rarely considered yet important issues, in my view, is that of who to go to for counselling or psychotherapy. I have been called a psychologist or psychiatrist many times by clients who assume that those two practitioners are the ones who are not only the brightest in the mental health field, but the ‘best’ at providing therapy. Movies, media, and television have consistently depicted these practitioners as the ‘only ones’ who can be of real help when it comes to therapy, but this is not the case. Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Social Workers (like myself) are the most common therapy practitioners and I believe our provincial and local governments have a responsibility to educate the public on this!

What’s your favourite self-care activity?

I grew up playing competitive basketball and baseball and still love to play both sports, in addition to golf and lifting weights at the gym. I find all of these activities are amazing at getting me ‘in the zone’ (which, in my view, is a meditative state, like the practice of mindfulness). I always tell my clients that I do not work out primarily for ‘looks,’ but for the mental and physical health benefits! I also really enjoy watching my niece play rep basketball and baseball. It’s a great escape for me and makes me so happy.

What do you find most rewarding about being a therapist?

Being a therapist, in my opinion, is the most unique and ‘free’ job in the world. Helping those in need is 100 percent the number one reason as to why I do this job, but I also really enjoy the uniqueness of the job because, as a practitioner, as long as I practice ethically and provide clients with evidence-based strategies, tools, and practices, I can have my own therapeutic style and be myself. Just as many contractor clients who have improved in their time in therapy with me, have felt about when they have made customers happy,, there is no greater feeling than doing my absolute best and giving my all to ensure that the ‘work is done’ one day and the client walks away happy, fulfilled, and inspired. Changing people’s lives to me… there is no greater gift.

What would you say to someone who has never been in therapy before and may be considering taking that first step and reaching out?

Look into the term ‘holistic health’ and reframe how your approach to what is ‘normal’ when it comes to becoming a healthier person and what that entails. Much of society still holds a stigma when it comes to seeking help with their mental health and view it as something that is embarrassing, shameful, and only for ‘crazy people.’ This is not the case at all.

I wish more people knew that caring for your mental health is not only something we can do when we are not feeling well, but as a consistent practice, similar to eating a good diet and exercising consistently, to maintain our health as a whole. As I always say, if you become the person in your family or friend group who takes the leap to attend therapy despite your fears, you likely won’t be someone who is judged, but the one from the group who normalizes mental health and inspires friends and family members to seek out help themselves.

Jordon Iorio is a Registered Social Worker that assists men across Ontario on a wide range of mental health concerns. His specialities include anxiety, ADHD, men's issues, career guidance, and sports performance. To learn more or book a free consultation, call or email us today.

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