This Inspirational Interview brought to you by Dr. Mollie Lyddane of San Francisco, CA.
I was born in Santa Monica, CA and lived in various parts of Los Angeles for most of my life. When I was 32 I moved to San Francisco for my pre-doctoral internship in my Doctor of Psychology graduate program. It was an inspirational program with only two spots open for the 350 applications received. I actually thought it was a complete Hail Mary to apply, but something propelled me forward, and the road towards landing it was virtually effortless. I still reside here in the SF Bay Area today and practice as a licensed clinical psychologist and astrologer. In addition to in-person psychotherapy sessions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Skype sessions are also available for those who wish to undergo therapy from another location.
Typically I work with individuals 18 and older who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, life transitions, spiritual issues, relationship issues, creative blocks, personal growth, and those really wanting to extract deeper meaning from their existence.
I’m a psychologist who talks about the soul. While I was trained in a very traditional way in my masters and doctoral training program, I am also an astrologer with a bias towards viewing people and their symptoms from a multi-sensory, spiritual perspective. I pull from and integrate a wide variety of orientations into my practice (Jungian, mindfulness, psychodynamic, humanistic, etc.), often to the needs that best serve the individual in front of me. The degree to which the individual allows for a discussion of spirituality and the soul tends to dictate if we will dive into those themes to uncover more information. The deepest work needs to pull forth the drives of the soul, which is why I find the astrological natal chart as a sacred roadmap towards pointing the individual in the necessary direction if they find they have lost their way.
Can you describe what you mean by Jungian psychology a bit more?
Diving into more detail, Jungian psychology attempts to bring the psyche’s unconscious elements into greater conscious awareness to uncover and allow for a richer, fuller, deeper understanding of the ways in which we operate in the world both personally and at the collective level. The theorist, Carl Jung, discussed such matters as the personality construct, archetypes, the personal/collective unconscious, and synchronicity as a means toward individuation and wholeness.
Archetypes are universal, mythic characters that reside within the collective unconscious of humanity. One way to access greater health and vitality is to consciously identify the primary archetypes that carry the most significance for us and then work toward deepening our relationship to these archetypes. We need to be continually feeding the primary archetypes that comprise our own personal psychology.
The archetypal imagery of Venus you see in this article is an example of an embodiment exercise for greater exploration of the sacred feminine archetype. The act of embodying archetypes actively brings them out into more conscious manifestation, where we invite them to speak and live through us. In this process, we open up a gateway from the universal collective unconscious, making the collective quite personal. It is from here where we can investigate our relationship to these archetypes, face to face, and address what arises. Needless to say, it is a very powerful exercise that elicits quite a bit of collective and personal psychological material (doubts, questions, our strengths, our weaknesses, overt and covert beliefs/scripts, etc.) to be processed.
Particularly in today’s modern world, working women tend to be largely enacting their male script to the detriment of their feminine script, and embodiment exercises of the sacred feminine archetype do well to reawaken and revitalize these sleepier, more dormant energies. But any archetype can be potentially sharpened within an individual’s consciousness with an embodiment exercise such as this.
What do you mean when you refer to psychodynamic work?
Psychodynamic work is also something that I consider rather crucial in an individual’s personal work. It focuses on the family of origin and the early relational templates that tend to play out repetitively in relationships later in life. Discovering the basic, primal wounds of the individual allows us to understand what they may be seeking to heal in their important relationships. There is a lot of pattern recognition in this orientation that is important for the client to acknowledge and reflect upon before they can take the necessary steps towards interrupting those patterns. It is here where the client can also grapple with the overt and covert rules that governed their earlier years and begin to consciously alter the ones that do not serve their highest state of wellness.
How does your humanistic orientation operate with clients?
As a psychotherapist, I maintain a humanistic frame, which essentially means I tend to believe that the client’s own individual truths and inclinations can and will emerge given the safety and tutelage to do so. Much like how Michelangelo approached a stone he was about to carve, I like to see what approaches and angles I can take to set someone free, to help them breathe into a more authentic way of being. Good therapy can take on the quality of good art.
How has mindfulness influenced your work?
Mindfulness has been a monumental influence on my way of being and working in the world. Because mindfulness is about being with what is without pushing any emotion away, this becomes a major principle to adopt when working with emotions. So mindfulness principles offer some really essential shifts in our perception that can lead towards a greater sense of ease in our experience of whatever happens to be arising for us emotionally. The practice of mindfulness also goes a long way to make the ordinary extraordinary by widening the experience of the now and noticing all the subtle variations in our momentary, day-to-day experiences that make it new and alive in ways that someone without that awareness would not necessarily see. So I see mindfulness as an educational instrument for the client as well as something that facilitates my own ability to attend to something that might arise in the therapy setting that may be uncomfortable. There is always an invitation to practice!
How do you use astrology in your work?
If the client is interested, we can take a closer look at their psychological structure via their own personal mandala, the natal chart. Simply described, our natal chart reflects our personal Truth, reflected through the language of planets, signs, and planetary aspects. I resonate most strongly with a type of astrology called Evolutionary Astrology, which essentially holds that the natal chart reflects the intentions and necessities of the soul. So we can go as far and as deep as the client wishes. The unique nature of a natal chart reflects the unique nature of the individual, and the closer we investigate the chart, the more we can extract about the detailed nuances of the personality. Quite often an investigation will validate areas where we feel strong or weak, areas where we have been struggling, what we can feel comfortable leaving behind, what we do well to begin or continue, and essentially what our soul needs in order to feel fulfilled. It offers real support for this life that is incredibly valuable when we feel as though our path is unclear or muddled in some way. The law of cycles and divine timing become more crystallized in the study of astrology and even a study of transits can reflect when experience can hit high or low tide in some department in our lives. True Astrology is very complex and multi-dimensional and modern society has absolutely no true understanding of its offerings. That does, however, leave these juicy offerings to the mystics among us who revel in diving into these matters for the purpose of greater understanding and to facilitate others’ finding their way.
What is something you are passionate about?
I am truly, madly, deeply in love with yoga. There is a giddy, youthful energy that completely pervades my spirit with this incredible practice, which explores so much of what it means to be human. On the mat, I see my strivings, cravings, my aspirations, my disappointments, my nightmares, my grace, my humility, my self-acceptance. It allows for everything, holds all, and is an ideal playground for self-study through the physical form. I tend to sing its praises, ad nauseam, so you’re going to have to stop me somewhere in here…haha.
I’d like to share this story before we wrap up. My first psychotherapy client was an elderly woman diagnosed with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. I first began therapy with her in her home, due to her fears of leaving the house. It took awhile before she really let me in emotionally, but as she did and that therapeutic relationship developed, I began receiving a lot of “information” from various places. Most notably, I would visually receive flashes of her falling down, losing consciousness, and dying in her home unattended. It was a visual I would get too often towards the end of our therapy and I consulted my supervisors on this. My impressions were dismissed as “projection.” A couple of years later, I learned that this client did indeed pass away 3 short weeks after our therapy sessions ended. It was one of the most profound teachings that pointed to the need to trust my intuition, perhaps over that of authority and mainstream perceptions. The modern day mental health field leaves much to be desired if it does not leave space for the impressions gained from beyond the five senses. There is something truly magical that transpires when a true connection is formed to another human being that absolutely deserves our curiosity and awe.
What are you most proud of?
I’m always very touched and honored by the trust others place in me when they share their lives and their struggles. I’ve worked with women in abusive relationships, and I cannot begin to share how validating it is to see these women grow out of their victimhood and into their power, finding the strength to leave their past behind and begin anew.
You can find this Inspirational Soul online here:
Here are the awesome responses to our BONUS questions:
What advice would you give the teenage you?
Haha…there are a few that come to mind: “Hang in there…it’s going to get a hell of a lot better.” “You don’t have to be perfect at everything!” “Invite more self-compassion.”
Name a place you would like to visit?
I’ve been dreaming about visiting Tuscany for years now. The terraced hills, the villas, the romantic landscape, as yet unravaged.
What is your favorite Inspirational quote
I love this one: “We’re all just walking each other home,” a quote by Ram Dass. It reminds me of the collective, universal emotional experiences we all share, despite those times when we feel our experiences with a sense of isolation. And ultimately, it’s a reminder that it is our responsibility to love and support one another through life, as we each discover and walk the road of own personal Truth.
What is one attribute you got from your Mom? How has it been a benefit to your life?
My mother was a nurse and has always had a very nurturing, soft way about her. She is very good at reading the emotional needs of others and attending to them there. She was always that source of unconditional love for me, and I think she serves as something of an internal figure when I am sitting with someone who needs that kind of empathic, warm, archetypal mother energy.
What is one attribute you got from your Dad? How has it been a benefit to your life?
My Dad is the consummate pioneer and visionary in the aeronautics industry. He worked as a test pilot in my earlier years and I really attributed super-human powers to him just to manage my own emotional world as it related to the real dangers he faced. There really never seemed to be anything he couldn’t accomplish. He has always been a very ambitious figure who modeled responsibility and hard work on one very practical level as well as the courage and brazen audacity involved in taking risks and breaking new ground in a way that moves humanity forward.
Have there been any other instrumental figures in your life?
I have to say my younger brother, Chris, has been a huge figure. He’s one of those really autonomous free-spirits who does not follow the rules of a crowd or the beliefs of the majority. In a world full of order-followers and people easily led, he is a standout because he follows his own personal Truth. My love and respect for him are immeasurable.
What has the greatest loss in your life been?
I had a pivotal loss at the age of 19, a heartbreak, that really shaped by life. In hindsight, I do see that my experience of loss and despair in that wasteland of loneliness and confusion was precisely what led me to want to work with others in a deep, meaningful, emotional way. I wouldn’t change a thing. There was great meaning in it for me.
Have you ever run away? How old and how far did you get?
I tried running away from home a couple of times around 8 and 9, but I never got further than the front door. My hot pink suitcase could only hold so much! It was a perplexing dilemma. Haha…
What is your favorite tree? Why?
The Willow tree. It has such a poetic form…so graceful, so melancholic. It seems empathic and womb-like to me, almost inviting you underneath to come and write, sing, cry, and be embraced.
At the end of your life, how would you like to be remembered?
I would love to be remembered as someone who cared for and listened to others from the heart. As much as intellectual prowess is valuable in addressing matters of the psyche, I think the simple and profound experience of a true heart connection with others is what ultimately pacifies the soul. 💝
Here is more information about the most common types of therapists available to help people with their concerns in life, and how you can identify whether or not you can benefit from working with a therapist.