Chris McDonald and Sam Mahon on Embracing Authenticity In Holistic Practice | PoP 579

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As a therapist do you find yourself putting up a front of who you should be to your clients? Does being authentic as the therapist to who you are, increase the success of the counseling that you provide? Why is self-care important to being authentic?

In this reverse podcast episode, Chris McDonald speaks with Sam Mahon about embracing authenticity in holistic practice.

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Meet Sam Mahon

Samantha Mahon is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)) in North Carolina. She has an associate’s degree in human services, a bachelor’s degree in social work, and a master’s degree in mental health counseling with a specialization in crisis and trauma, phew, that was a lot.

She is a certified life & business coach, is trained in Rapid Resolution Therapy®, and is a Certified Holy Fire® Level II Reiki practitioner. Rest assured, Sam is not a stuffy collegiate who brags about all of her educational experiences, in fact, she is quite the opposite. If you met her on the side of the road, you would have no idea that she was a therapist.

Her tattoos speak to the painful and miraculous experiences that she has embraced throughout her life. Her words- both written and spoken are words of authenticity, sometimes crude and lewd but always true to who she is as an authentic person.

Find out more at and

In This Podcast

  • Getting past personas
  • Does your authenticity aid counseling?
  • Self-care and authenticity

Getting past personas

It is challenging but it is so rewarding to see someone really step into that energy of being authentic and being true to who they really are. I don’t think that there’s any other options in living our lives these days. (Sam Mahon)

There will be times where you might modify or slightly change how you portray who you are, but the essence is that you are true to being yourself, in whichever way, shape, or form that takes.

You are able to be authentic in your role as a therapist because being a therapist should not mean that you change yourself. Instead, you bring the best aspects of yourself forward and utilize that in order to make your therapy stronger.

It doesn’t really matter what style of healing you do necessarily. What matters is the connection or the relationship that you have with your therapist or the therapist with the client. If I’m not showing up as me then they’re connecting to something that isn’t me. (Sam Mahon)

Does your authenticity aid counseling?

Definitely! As a therapist, you are a person first and it is from your personality that you can authentically connect with your clients through the lens of the therapy that you offer them.

People respond positively to sincerity and to authenticity, and when your clients can see that you are offering them your full attention as you are, with your therapist hat on and your full presence as who you are, you show them that they are valued, that you care and that you are not pretending.

If we don’t do the work ourselves, then it’s really hard to get our clients to do the work … for example, with most clients: I’m not asking them to do something that I haven’t already done myself … and I’ll tell them [that] this particular strategy … modality I have already done, so I know that it works, and here is how it works. (Sam Mahon)

Self-care and authenticity

If you want to bring authenticity to the table in your counseling, you need to be taking care of yourself in order to bring your best self.

Therapists are experiencing the same stressors and anxieties due to the pandemic as their clients are, and so it is important for you to also be taking care of yourself as well as teaching them to care for themselves.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Chris McDonald

Chris McDonald is a Licensed Therapist and holistic provider and owns a group practice, “Path to Hope Counseling” in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher and offers gentle yoga classes, workshops, and private yoga sessions.

She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma, and grief in young adults experiencing life transitions. She teaches clients relaxation skills, mindfulness, meditation and uses Brainspotting in the treatment of trauma.  Chris also offers Therapy for Therapists and published the book “Holistic Self-Care for Counselors.”

She launched The Holistic Counseling Podcast in April 2021 to help Mental Health Therapists learn how to integrate holistic strategies into treatment and build a Holistic Counseling Practice.

Visit her website, connect on Instagram and listen to her podcast. Sign up for Chris’s free 9-week email course.

Join the Holistic Counseling and self-care Facebook group.

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