How Dr. Nicole LePera Is Making The World Of Psychology Think Twice
By Brianna Wiest
When psychologist Nicole LePera started sharing some of her insight on Instagram to an audience of a few hundred, her only goal was to create the content that she needed on her own healing journey. That audience has now grown to over a million and a half strong, and LePera is sticking to her principles. “I’m very connected to my community,” she shared with me. “I spend a ton of time in the comments and the DMs, and that is what helps me create thing that might bring the most value.”
You’ve probably heard of LePera, or at least, seen her posts shared by one or more of your friends. Her work has gained a cult following for being, well, that good.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, LePera always knew she wanted to be a psychologist. Her fascination with the human mind and behavior, as she describes it, made it the perfect fit.
However, through her training, LePera found fault with the traditional mental health education system, citing the major problem being the disassociation between mind and body. “It’s focused on the diagnostic model,” she explains, “which means labeling symptoms as disorders. I was trained that all people can do is basically manage symptoms. I wish I had been taught more about trauma, epigenetics, and the importance of conscious awareness. These are things I teach every day now because they lead to immense healing.”
“The main issue with clinical psychology is there is a lack of empowerment. We are now showing people the power of choice, habit, and environment that they can change if they do the work.” – Dr. Nicole LePera
She believes that trauma is at the root of our mental health crisis.
“We have more mental health practitioners than ever, and yet mental health issues are on the rise, which is something we need to look at,” she says. “We are also just now beginning to talk about things like polyvagal theory to understand how trauma impacts the body and entire nervous system. Many of us are living in bodies that keep us stuck in states of disease, and we aren’t even aware of them.”
LePera shared that she perceives the biggest mental health misconception to be that mental illness is a “genetic chip” that we are destined to live with forever. “Our symptoms are powerful messengers from the body trying to get our attention,” she said. “I’ve seen radical healing so many times from people who were told there was no hope. There is hope for everyone who commits to their healing. We need more practitioners speaking this truth.”
Right now, LePera is leading that movement, and innovating the way we access information in the process.
Recognizing the natural and inevitable evolution of the digital age, she believes that the Internet should rightfully play a role in mental health counseling and the promotion of better education. “Therapists are creating amazing content every day. Never in history have people had free access to such valuable content that can actually help them heal from things they may never even knew they needed to heal from,” she said.
“It’s no secret that therapy is expensive and out of reach for many people. Of course, social media is no substitute for therapy, but it does give people tangible tools to create deep change in their life.”
LePera recognizes that her field is at a pivot point. “This is a very important time of “waking up” to the reality that we need a collective healing,” she says. “It’s not something we can outsource to anyone else, though of course professionals can be a help to us on our journey. We need to be active participants in our own healing, or these numbers will just continue to rise. That’s the message I am passionate about getting out there.”