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A Therapist’s Response to Alpana Singh

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 3, 2016

Last week I attended the inaugural luncheon for the PWCC 2016-17 season. I’d signed up immediately after learning the speaker would be Alpana Singh. To me she represented a strong, successful business woman who’d carved out a brilliant and enviable niche for herself in the “eat or be eaten” food and wine industry. I knew she would exude confidence and hoped that some of that might rub off on me, propelling me forward professionally and personally, as speakers at PWCC luncheons tend to do.

What a surprise to find that this woman, who could have spoken about her skyrocketing success as a sommelier, T.V. personality and restaurateur,  chose to talk about her intimate struggle with isolation, depression,  envy and the belief that she was not “good enough.”  How honest is that? Who allows themselves to be so vulnerable in front of a room full of talented, entrepreneurial women, many whom have learned to hide the very feelings that she was speaking about?

Alpana knows us, she is us, and for this reason she decided to give herself to the women in the room. She encouraged each of us not to present as an image of ourselves, a hologram of our “would be” successful selves, but as we are, clear about our intensions and the choices we make and unapologetic about what we need and want.

As a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, I was blown away by Alpana’s words. Not only did she affirm what I consider to be the most valuable aspect of therapy, finding one’s voice and expressing it authentically, but she modeled this practice in her presentation, by showing us who she really is, not leaving us with the feeling that we do not measure up to her. “I am a Ferrari,” she stated. Nothing less.  She gave us tips and encouraged us to maintain and care for ourselves as Ferrari’s, too.

During the question/answer session, a woman in the audience got up and asked, “Can I come with you?” after the speaker explained that she would be taking a vacation by herself later this fall. I imagine every woman in the room felt the same way. Can I come with you? Can we be friends? I like you not because of your privilege or title or glamour, but because I feel like I know you and you would make a good friend.  In a world where we are used to pitting ourselves against each other, comparing ourselves to someone who in our own mind who does it better, I found her voice refreshing and true. Thank you, Alpana!

Caroline Steelberg, PSY.D, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. For the first ten years of her career she worked in the Department of Psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. During this time Caroline began a private practice which she’s had for over 20 years, treating straight and GLBT adults and couples. Caroline’s website is

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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