The Stories that Make Us: Alta Vista


I’ve been thinking about stories lately.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that stories shape our lives. There are our own stories – and the stories of our clients.

Our clients’ stories fill our days. In my experience, many clients come to me with stories from their lives – stories about themselves – they haven’t told anyone else. When they share these stories, the sense of lightness they feel is palpable in the room.

It’s no small thing we offer each other when we listen to the stories we have to tell. But there’s also a lot of value in sharing – and that’s something we can’t forget.

I wanted to share a story with you today about my private practice. It’s a short one, but it’s one that’s formed an essential part of my life.

It’s the story of how my practice, Alta Vista Therapy, got its name.

Alta Vista was the name of the street my family lived on when we first moved to the US.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while my family was living there for my father’s work, but my family is actually from Uruguay.

I moved to the Washington, DC area as a young child and grew up there before attending college in New York state. Then I spent several years attending graduate school and working in Boston before moving back to Washington, DC.

But I never forgot our first house on Alta Vista. I loved that house, and I remember thinking when we moved out that when I was an adult, I would make enough money and come back to buy it.

There’s one other thing that sticks out in my memory about this house and that street, though, and it’s a very immigrant experience.

I remember my parents being so happy with that street name because it was so easy to pronounce.

Except they would say Alta Vista in Spanish, and no one would understand them. My parents would usually end up having to write it down, and whoever they were communicating with would eventually say, “Oh, you mean All-tah Viz-tah.”

How ironic that they were saying the words in the original language, but it was still pronounced wrong!

Fast forward a few years to when I was opening my practice and trying to think up a name. I really struggled on this one, and I went back and forth on a few options, but none of them felt right.

I knew I wanted something that worked in English and Spanish and that would somehow reflect my background and my clients – it seemed like an impossible ask! And a few people even said to me, it’s impossible – you should just settle on something you like.

During this time, I remembered the house I loved on Alta Vista. All the memories of that home came back to me, as did the experience of my parents pronouncing the street name, and I knew I had the name I was looking for.

Alta Vista Therapy was officially born!

So, there you have it. One of the stories that made me; a happy house on Alta Vista Street that now proudly forms an integral part of my work story and brand.

I’m willing to bet that many in this community have similar experiences and stories of the small things from our past that mean a whole lot more than others might realise. I’d love to hear them, and I hope you’ll share them with me.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I never did go back and buy the house. It’s still on my list, though!

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.

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