Kate Balestrieri | Psychologist, Radio Co-Host, Sex Addiction Therapist

Working within a wide range of human behavior and demographics, Dr. Kate Balestrieri (@drkatebalestrieri) is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Supervisor in California and Illinois. With over 3 years of clinical experience, Balestrieri specializes in building resilience and recovery from trauma, as well as substance abuse and addiction, intimacy disorders, eating disorders, and a variety of personality and mental disorders. She has a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology with a concentration of Forensic Psychology, and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Triune Therapy Group in Los Angeles, California.


Beauty By The Real:     What inspired you to take a career path in Psychology?

Kate Balestrieri:     “I’ve always been intrigued by what compels human behavior. I wanted to understand the motivations for the most benevolent and malevolent behavior, so embarking on a career in psychology, a second career for me, seemed like the best way to scratch that itch and make a living currently.”

BBTR:     As we know, Dr. Daniel Kahneman came up with how we make decisions from two key areas; system one (fast/intuitive reactions that are emotional) and system two (thinking that involves rational analysis). When is being too emotional detrimental, and when is being too rational disconnecting in decision-making?

KB:     “It’s the best to make decisions based on an integration of rational thinking and emotions. Emotions serve a crucial function of communication, and our thoughts and feelings are often in an inextricable feedback loop with one another. Making decisions from either polarity is to deny oneself critical information about any context, which may change the decision one makes. A good rule of thumb, in my opinion, is to make big decisions only when one’s feelings are well regulated, meaning they are proportionate to the context and do not feel too big to navigate, and when one does not feel numb or all in one’s head. A beautiful quote I read recently, although the author is unknown to me, says “Follow your heart, but take your mind with you”. That pretty much sums it up.”

BBTR:     As Co-host a weekly talk radio called “Behind Closed Doors”, can you give is insight on what your show is about?

KB:     “Our show is designed to be a platform for people to discuss issues that generally carry stigma, that might not feel comfortable discussing in social circles, or that they do not know. All of our topics are related to the main issues we treat at Triune Therapy Group: mental health, addiction, trauma, sex, and relationships. We want people to have access to information, and feel less isolated in asking questions or learning more about any of the topics we broach. The feedback we've received is stellar! People love hearing about the issues we bring to light, and often write in with additional questions. I’m an educator at heart, so curiosity fuels my life, and my passion is to share information with anyone who wants to learn.

BBTR:     How did you and Co-Host Lauren Dummit meet?

KB:     “Funny story. I had just moved to L.A. from Chicago in 2014, and we both were in Kansas City, Missouri for the second module of our Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Training (through IITAP). Everyone had to introduce themselves, and I made my standard joke about being a recovering vegetarian, which went over well at an addiction training. Lauren chuckled to herself, as she often introduced herself with the same language, and everyone kept telling us we had to meet, given that we were the only two therapists from LA at a training. We met and become fast friends. We realized how similarly we practiced and joked about opening our own group practices someday, and two years later we did just that. It has been a wonderful ride together, and I couldn’t ask for a better business partner in our practice and on our show.”

BBTR:     What is the funniest blooper/ most embarrassing moment you and Lauren had on air?

KB:     “Oddly, we haven’t had too many gaffes. There was one instance when we were interviewing Debra Kaplan, one of my mentors, about narcissism and Lauren and I did not know who was going to ask the next question, so we just had a long pause of dead air. Luckily our sound engineer has a mean thumb for editing, so I don’t think it aired as awkward as it sounded in the studio.”

BBTR:     What was the impetus with you and Lauren starting Triune Therapy Group?

KB:     “We both have an affinity for treating trauma, and all that is born out of unresolved trauma, recognizing that a somatic approach is often required for people to fully heal. We also wanted to create a home base for our work, and we were both juggling our small private practices with work at various treatment centers. We wanted to cultivate a therapeutic space where other clinicians could grow and have community, as the work of a therapist can be very isolating, in that the professional relationship a therapist has with a patience is one sided by design. We both wanted to have more work/life balance, and to be able to innovate where we saw opportunities to do so, which is difficult to do when working for another organization.”

BBTR:     You’re also in the mist of writing a book called “F*ck You, F*ck Me: Rage, Sex, and Money in Relationships in Society”. If you had to summarize the book in one excerpt, what would it be?

KB:     “This is a book that extrapolates the intersection of sex, money, and anger in relationships and cultural practices. My work highlights the ways in which people express anger indirectly, through sexual and financial objectification, as means of self-protection from other feelings and rational fears, but end up thwarting the very intimacy and connection they seek with these insidious behaviors.”

BBTR:    Where and when do you enjoy writing the most?

KB:     “I’d love nothing more than to go away to an island somewhere for three months to write in isolation, where all I do is wake up, workout, and write. If you know of any scholarships for such an endeavor, please let me know! For now, I write mostly at home on the weekends. My little dog sits in my lap or at my feet, and if I start getting a little stir crazy, I head over to the Nespresso Café in Beverly Hills, for a snack and change of scenery.”

BBTR:     What is your single biggest turn-off?

KB:     “Just one? Hmmm… It is so hard to say because there are a few that hold equal weight. I’d say a lack of reciprocity is a big turn-off, such as interrupting or monopolizing a conversation. I can’t even count how many men I’ve gone out with who fail to ask me one question about myself, or pretend to ask a question but as I start to respond, they interrupt and talk about themselves again, as the question was merely a catalyst for more self-disclosure. It’s boring, people. Learn to read the room, and your date!”

BBTR:     Going on an assumption, you like Sade. What’s your favorite song and why?

KB:     “That’s an interesting assumption. What makes you think I like Sade? I can’t even play, you’re totally right. She is elegant, passionate, incredibly sensual in her sound and movements, a true artist. She also represents clarity and liberation for me, as I remember being at her concert in 2011 with my then-husband. When the song “By Your Side” came on, I realized I did not feel that way about him and I wanted a divorce. Now that song is the epitome of hope and good barometer for how I feel in a relationship.”

BBTR:     What is a cocktail that best describes your personality, and why?

KB:     “My favorite cocktail is a high-quality single malt scotch on the rocks. The smokier the better. An apt drink to describe my personality. Not for everyone, strong, smooth, peaty (evident of fire but under control). Makes you think, makes you second guess yourself. Once found in nice establishments, no frill. Haha.”

BBTR:     How important is personal time, and how do you take time for yourself?

KB:     “Time for myself is key. It is critical for everyone, but especially as a psychologist, I have to re-calibrate regularly and ensure that I am able to practice with a regulated mindset. In every course I teach, I emphasize to my students that for therapists, self-care is not a luxury, it is an ethical mandate. I say the same thing to patients, self-care is a personal and relational mandate. We cannot be present for others if we are not attending to our own needs first. They gym is my happy place, and I try to exercise five times a week. Time with friends and family is key, and of course snuggles with my pooch. I try to travel at least once a quarter, just to change up the scenery and get a fresh perspective as well. Cooking is one of my only artistic endeavors, unless you count singing in the car. So when there are hungry and willing bellies, I am happy to play in the kitchen as well.”

BBTR:     What’s your standard look behind the mic?

KB:     “Whatever I’m wearing that day for work. Usually some kind of business casual ensemble with heels. One of my patients once told me that I had an “epic shoe game” and I guess he was right, because I always wear heels unless I’m at the gym or the topography is not permitting. Even when I worked in various prisons, heels are my uniform.”

BBTR:     Are you a more “natural beauty” or a “glam goddess”?

KB:     “Not sure how to answer this question. It is a good thing I have girlfriends who have mad style and makeup skills, because I am a creature of habit when it comes to my beauty regimen. Twice a year, when my bestie and I get together, she gives me the scoop on all the new hair and makeup trends, and I do that for the next six months until she has new tips. People always say I look very put together, which is nice to hear, but I tend to have a pretty simple routine. Good products are key, and for me, less is more.”

BBTR:     How do you take care of your skin? What are your skincare imperatives?

KB:     “I wash my face at least twice daily with a skincare line created by a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, and use of a combination of SkinMedica and OxyGenetics skincare products. I have a peel once a month and try to get a facial every so often as well. On my body, I use a basic sugar scrub that smells like maple syrup, and coconut oil in the shower before I towel dry to achieve maximum skin softness. For my lips, I sleep with a deep conditioning balm and use a gentle sugar lip scrub once weekly to exfoliate.”

BBTR:     When did you first start getting into makeup and/or skincare?

KB:     “As simple as my makeup routine is, I started wearing makeup when I was probably in sixth grade, and have always done so.”

BBTR:     What is your most compelling tip/technique for skincare/beauty that you stand by?

KB:     “I mix my primer and foundation for a more even coating and blended color, and use a mascara mini brush to get every lash long and lush without clumps. Finally, I use a Q-tip to blend a little dark eye shadow on my top and bottom eyelids, in lieu of eyeliner, for a subtle smoky look that makes my eyes pop.”

-as given to BBTR

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