Dan Spiritoso MS (Associate Therapist)
Dan Spiritoso (he/him/his) is an Associate Therapist at The Center for Growth within the Society Hill office, and he also provides virtual therapy throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Dan offers individual therapy child therapy, adolescent therapy, individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy.
Dan was born and raised in Philadelphia, earning both his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and his Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling and Psychology at Chestnut Hill College. Dan’s studies specialized in child, adolescent, and family therapy as well as in supporting clients with histories of trauma and PTSD, ADHD, FND, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorders, and a variety of mood disorders. Dan spent over six years engaging in therapeutic work with children in need of counseling and behavioral support within school and home environments, working with teachers, therapeutic treatment teams, and families across Philadelphia to support each child’s behavioral and emotional needs. He also interned as a therapist with Drexel University’s Healing Hurt People, providing counseling to individuals, families, and children affected by community violence and generational trauma. Dan’s clients ranged in age from young children through adults, and Dan utilized a strengths-based approach to helping clients heal from their histories of trauma and exposure to violence. Dan also collaborated with colleagues in facilitating group therapy sessions for adolescents and young adults.
Dan first realized that he wanted to be a therapist after becoming a father and spouse. As he started his own family and raised two children in the city of Philadelphia, he began to reflect on his childhood and some of the struggles that he and his peers experienced while growing up. His unique experience of growing up in a middle-class family within a low-income and marginalized community led him to initially focus his work on underserved children and families across the city of Philadelphia. He spent many years working with children who had extreme histories of trauma as well as supporting their families by providing both one-on-one support and family therapeutic support. He also provided therapeutic support to children with a variety of learning disabilities, including working within an autism support classroom. Although Dan now works with adults and couples in addition to his work with children, adolescents, and families, he remains committed to advocating for the mental health needs of children and families through both his practice as a therapist and through volunteer activities within the larger community.
Dan’s Approach to individual therapy child therapy, adolescent therapy, individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy.:
As a father and spouse, Dan understands the complexities that families and caregivers often face raising children in a world where ever-evolving technologies and current events can feel overwhelming. He also understands the challenges that couples can face when raising children together while also juggling a multitude of other work and life responsibilities. Consequently, Dan is empathetic, compassionate, and collaborative in his approach to working with children, adolescents, and families, utilizing a variety of therapeutic modalities.
Dan utilizes a family-centered and strengths-based approach to child, adolescent, and family therapy. In the initial sessions, whether they are family sessions or individual child/adolescent sessions, Dan likes to meet individually with the caretaker/caretakers to better understand what they see as the child’s or family’s presenting problems. Dan strives to create a safe and supportive space where all family members feel heard and respected. In collaboration with the family, Dan also establishes clear and realistic goals for therapy. This process allows all family members to contribute their perspectives and desired outcomes. By involving all family members in goal setting, they feel empowered and engaged in the therapeutic process.
Once Dan works with the family to establish goals, he then utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities to help children and families work towards achieving those goals. Dan is trained in utilizing play therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness therapy, structural family therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and motivational interviewing to support children, adolescents, and their families. This may include promoting emotional regulation through breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and age-appropriate coping strategies for children and adolescents as well as constructive conflict resolution techniques that foster healthier interactions and break unhealthy patterns. Dan also provides psychoeducation to older children, adolescents, and caretakers on child development, family systems, and effective parenting strategies. By understanding child development, family members can identify strategies for communicating more effectively to meet each child’s developmental needs.
Dan recognizes that every child and child’s family has unique needs and strengths, and he works closely with both the individual child and the larger family unit to help them engage in honest and open reflective dialogue with the goal of identifying and improving interactional patterns. He also takes a strengths-based approach to family therapy by identifying and leveraging the family’s existing strengths and support systems to enhance family connections, foster shared activities, and nurture a sense of belonging and connection between family members.
When working with young children, Dan engages youth in creative play and art since young children often convey their thoughts and experiences best through creative forms of expression. Dan engages in a variety of creative activities with children, some of which include sand tray therapy, child-centered play therapy, expressive art therapy, and mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.
Dan’s Approach to Couples Therapy:
As a couples therapist, Dan recognizes the importance of creating a safe and non-judgmental space for couples to explore their concerns, improve their communication, and foster emotional intimacy. During the initial sessions, Dan works with couples collaboratively to understand their history, concerns, and individual perspectives. These initial sessions then help Dan and the couple better understand their relationship dynamics, strengths, and areas that require growth. Collaboratively, Dan and the couple then set specific goals for therapy, outlining what they hope to achieve, often with a focus on enhancing couples’ communication skills and breaking problematic relationship patterns.
Dan’s warm and gentle nature creates an atmosphere of trust, which encourages couples to engage in honest dialogue that helps enhance their emotional connection while developing effective strategies for resolving conflicts and fostering lasting change. Through therapy, couples begin to identify recurring patterns of interaction and underlying dynamics that can lead to relationship conflicts or disconnection. By exploring these patterns, couples gain insight into their attachment styles and triggers, which allows them to better understand and support one another. Dan also helps couples foster emotional intimacy through exercises and discussions that foster a deeper connection between partners. Throughout the therapeutic process, Dan serves as a facilitator and, at times, an educator, providing insights, resources, and feedback while also creating space for couples to generate their own insights and ideas for enhancing their connection and breaking unhelpful patterns.
Overall, Dan firmly believes in the transformative potential of therapy to strengthen couples’ relationships and overall well-being, believing that every couple can benefit from couples counseling. He also understands that each couple is unique, and so Dan always works closely with each couple in a collaborative fashion so that they can collectively work towards meeting their specific goals as a couple while also maintaining their individual needs.
Dan’s Approach to Individual therapy, Adult Counseling:
Dan believes that every individual benefits from one-on-one counseling in order to explore and break unconscious patterns; process unresolved conflicts that impact current thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; and foster self-compassion and non-judgemental observation of thoughts and feelings in order to cultivate a greater sense of awareness. With these goals in mind, Dan utilizes a variety of therapeutic approaches based on each individual client’s specific goals for therapy and unique needs. Some of these approaches include psychodynamic techniques in conjunction with mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and cognitive behavioral techniques.
Within the initial sessions, Dan works to first establish a therapeutic relationship with his clients, creating a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space. Dan aims to establish trust and rapport with his clients, allowing them to feel comfortable and secure in sharing their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Dan also uses these initial sessions to better understand his client’s past histories and presenting issues so that they can work collectively to identify the goals for therapy, which then informs the therapeutic approach.
Overall, Dan believes that the key to positive therapeutic outcomes for all clients starts with building a healthy and authentic relationship between the clients and the therapist. He also values each client’s unique cultures and intersectional identities, and he enjoys working with diverse clients from all walks of life.
Dan’s Hobbies and Passions:
Outside of his passion as a therapist, Dan also is a passionate and avid cyclist who enjoys biking around the city and building vintage bikes. As a father and spouse raising his children in the city, Dan actively seeks opportunities to spend time outside with his family whether it is going on hikes, biking to local parks, or enjoying the many restaurants and family-friendly activities that the city has to offer. He also loves to draw, read, and listen to music, and he is a firm believer in the power of the arts as a therapeutic tool and means for self-care. He is also passionate about continuing to learn and grow as a therapist, always engaging in research to identify the best therapeutic strategies to meet each client’s needs and goals.
- Pennsylvania: Working under Supervision