Meet Maria Christina

Counseling and Therapy Pittsburgh PASometimes couples move beyond a place where therapy can no longer help their issues. Mediation presents an opportunity for a neutral third person to facilitate a constructive conversation between individuals experiencing conflict. It can be appropriate for issues regarding co-parenting, co-habitation during separation/divorce, custody, support, family disagreements, and more. It provides a neutral, safe environment with supportive guidance to help you work toward a satisfactory agreement.

We are excited to announce that Maria Christina, MS, Certified Mediator, will be bringing her valuable skills and talents in Mediation to our practice beginning June 1, 2015! We are pleased and thrilled to have her on board as a member of the PghPsych family! Join us in welcoming Maria by reading her Q & A.

In Good Health,

Maria Christina, MS, Certified MediatorHow would you describe yourself in three words?

Hopeful, approachable, grounded.

What is your role as a Mediator and how might a couple benefit from these services?

Mediation is a process designed to help individuals in conflict. As a mediator my role is to assist a couple through that process toward a common goal: reaching an agreement. Ideally this agreement is mutually satisfying and at the very least it is an agreement that is acceptable to both. I understand that couples begin a relationship with hopes and dreams, not with the idea that they will end up in conflict. Conflicts and disputes are a normal part of life. It is how we handle conflict that makes a difference. Mediation is a peacemaking process and it can help a couple avoid making long-term, reactionary decisions that deepen wounds. Mediation serves to lessen the harm caused by disputes.

What was the last book you read?

Recently I have been rereading some favorites, and one that I recommend is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is inspiring and helps us uncover those beliefs we carry that rob us of joy. Ruiz offers four agreements to be followed as a code of conduct: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Keeping these agreements is not easy, yet Ruiz encourages us to do our best to keep the agreements each day, reassuring us that soon it will be easy. One of my favorite lines is, “Today is the beginning of a new dream.”

What was the last movie you saw? 

The last movie I watched was “Saint Vincent.” I don’t think it was a big hit but I found it to be funny, touching, and inspiring. Maggie (actress Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (actor Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door to a crusty, hard-living veteran named Vincent.  Bill Murray plays Vincent and does a super job. As the title suggests, there is more to Vincent than what we see on the surface. And isn’t this true of all of us?

What was the funniest thing you have ever experienced?

I think funny things happen all the time and we just have to be open to seeing the humor in life and in ourselves. One example: recently I was preparing supper and watching the birds at the feeder outside the kitchen window when I spotted a hawk soaring in the sky. Now I know a hawk needs to eat, too, but I was not about to let this hawk use my bird feeders as his personal buffet table!  I ran outside waving a paring knife in one hand while flapping my apron with the other, all the while yelling, “Hawk! Hawk! Hide, everyone, hide!”

A little too late I noticed the UPS deliveryman, frozen in his tracks at the end of the driveway, package in hand. I lowered the paring knife, smiled and said, “It’s ok. I was talking to the birds.”

He dropped the package and drove off pretty quickly. I do hope he has recovered.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

There are so many choices!  There is my great grandmother Maria (I am her namesake) and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (I have heard him speak but never met him) – but I pick Bono. As front man for the band U2, Bono is a talented musician, singer and songwriter, and he is also an inspiring philanthropist and humanitarian.  He has raised money and awareness in support of many worthy causes and was the recipient of the Man of Peace award. Additionally, he has met many others whom I would love to meet. Oh, the stories he could tell!

What is your favorite art form and why?

Definitely music. Music can lift my spirits or soothe me. Music spans the generations and can tap into our memories. There is great diversity in music and it blends beautifully with the performing and visual arts. A great soundtrack can make the difference between and good movie and an outstanding movie. Plus, music is portable.