443-291-8090

Christa Bellanca, LMSW

Christa Bellanca, LMSW

Works with Children, Teens, and Adults

HEALING WORK

Therapy with me…Warmth, authenticity and connection, plus a little bit (sometimes a lot) of laughter, are the hallmarks of my practice. I focus on establishing and maintaining a safe, trusting relationship with every client because I believe through connection there is healing. To quote the inimitable Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias, “laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”.

My impacting identities/roles that inform my work: I was raised by a strong, independent single mother. My parents divorced in an era when the “d-word” was sometimes whispered, but my mother taught me strength, perseverance, dignity, hard work, and caring for others are what truly matter. Fighting for the underdog, standing up for what’s right – even when it’s hard – , advocating for change, and speaking the truth in a world where fitting in is often easier, are values that not only inform my therapy practice but also define me as a member of the human family. 

I feel informed and knowledgeable about: working with children, teens and adults facing anxiety, depression, ADHD and past trauma. I specialize in helping clients in transition — separation, divorce, empty-nesting, college-to-adulting – the major life changes when we often find ourselves questioning, doubting or just wondering. I am skilled at unearthing the complex and challenging relational dynamics impacting our own experience. The “AH – HA!” moments when we finally come to understand what was heretofore unknown…those are the moments I cherish most.

I work best with clients who… are open to exploring their feelings and willing to trust the strength of our therapeutic relationship to guide the healing journey. Therapy can be scary, and I never take for granted the privilege of walking beside my clients as they navigate the sometimes-bumpy therapeutic ride.

I am not a good fit for clients… struggling to acknowledge their less-than-perfect qualities. I don’t take myself too seriously, since I’ve learned the hard way that defensiveness impedes growth. (Ask me how I know…better yet, ask my husband and kids.)

What makes me unique… I wasn’t always a therapist. I began my career as a researcher and writer for CBS News, 60 Minutes and the Children’s Defense Fund, and eventually started my own production company. After life threw me a few curveballs, I returned to my social justice roots and got my Masters in Social Work at the ripe age of 47. I am also the founder of the non-profit organization Isabel’s Gift, named in honor of my now college-age daughter and established to provide support and comfort to families with children in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

LEARNING AND GROWING

I am currently expanding my knowledge and skills in Family Systems therapy, including genograms (similar to a family tree), mapping, and other practical techniques to help clients visualize and understand the role interactional patterns play in their own lives. 

Fun Facts/Resilience-Building

Here’s something fun – after college, I travelled in an international group called Up With People. We lived with host families, learned about different cultures, and spread a musical message of tolerance and global understanding. During my travels, I collected recipes from every host family which I eventually turned into a cookbook. That cookbook is the stuff of local legend, because really, where else can you find an authentic family recipe for Finnish tea scones? True story.

How do I build my own resilience and self-care? I am a study in contrasts and have come to embrace my own yin’s and yang’s. I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. I love yoga, hiking, good wine and really loud Country concerts. Holidays, parades, Broadway musicals and hosting parties fill me up, but so do books, warm cups of tea, church, and quiet time with my husband and children. I cry unabashedly during movies and the occasional commercial. I’m a voracious reader, a rabid Washington football fan, and a pretty good cook, but I DON’T bake – something about the precision of following a cake recipe versus the creativity of cooking up a really fun batch of chili…? (See note above about being raised by an independent single mom.) 

Education

MSW, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Bachelor of Arts, University of Delaware – Magna Cum Laude

Communications with a Women’s Studies Minor

Certification/Training/What I’m Reading

Eco-Systemic Family Therapy (ESFT)

Bowen Family System – The Bowen Center for Family Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

I am currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, and recently listened to J.D. Vance read Hillbilly Elegy just because I think it’s magic. I also read a daily Bible devotional to keep me spiritually grounded. I am a closet Dateline / 48 Hours aficionado and subscribe to all the true crime podcasts. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Christa is supervised by Caitlin Heffernan, LCSW-C.