Alexey Shpychka


I was born in Kyiv on the eighth of July 1990, in the family of school teachers, intelligentsia in the first generation. My father became a history teacher and my mother a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature. My parents met in Kyiv, having arrived there from the countryside to study. I have a four year older sister.

Soon after my birth it was decided to move to my father’s village near Vinnitsa, where he is from. I finished first grade there. My parents figured that socio-economic crisis (the 90th) would be easier to go through there. Dad worked as a historian in the local school and did some work in the household, my mom took care of us and the household.

Life in the village was good. We had some cattle, cows, chickens and others. We also had a dog and cat. We had organic food, clean air. I was surrounded by beautiful nature. When I finished my first grade, the family decided to move to Vinnitsa. I was glad to go to a city.

I did not go to a kindergarten and went to school one year earlier than kids usually do. I did well academically, but socially it was a bit hard for me, I was timid around classmates. As a result, I stayed in the same grade for a second year, because the school environment was too intense for me at that time. Like most people, I cannot say that I was totally happy or unhappy in my childhood. It was good and bad at different times. Having said that, I understand clearly that my interest in psychotherapy did not come to me out of nowhere.

I did fine in school, some subjects I knew better than others. I was never stressed at home to study. I, somehow, managed to sit myself at the writing desk and do my homework without extra supervision. On average I had “Good” grades with a downward trend till the end of the school.


My father bought me a few bicycles, many soccer balls. Home PC appeared in our home when I was fourteen, two years later – the Internet. My parents … it is hard for me to find the correct word here, I want to say either “often” or “from time to time” … quarreled and had strong conflicts at home. It was overwhelming for me when I was little. I could not stand or bear that much verbal aggression.

It became clear to me at some point, that my parents’ childhood was not Christmas time, really. They were born in 1955 and 1954. Prominent psychoanalysts, John Bowlby and Francoise Dolto, only at that time made their discoveries about the importance of child attachment to mother, or other person who provides care, in the first years of life. So people generally were not aware of children’s emotional needs at that time and childhood emotional traumatization was something usual and widespread everywhere in the world.

Because of traumatization dangerous distortions of the perception of reality take place. An ability to see, hear, feel, trust, believe in good deteriorates. Family life was hard for my parents, sadly, myself and my sister felt it a lot, when we were kids. Such a psychological picture meant that conflicts were unavoidable.

I am sure that it undermined my growth and development to some extent. This is where the psychological problems that I brought to my therapist originate from. Such as, complex of shame and guilt, low self-esteem, difficulty in having faith in myself, alexitimia as an inability to differentiate and be aware of feelings. Too much stress (distress) negatively affected my cognitive function and educational activity.

I developed a strong rescuer complex by observing and sometimes participating in conflicts. Seeing how my childhood world was being torn apart, I strived as hard as I could to solve my parents’ problems, to save my world. I tried to be a negotiator, translator or mediator in the adult relationships of my parents. Child rescuer.

I finished school (2005) and colledge (2008) in Vinnitsa and, what is really important, three year courses of English language (2008). When I was around fifteen I had a dream to win a green card and immigrate to the USA. It was very easy to idealize this country. 1990 – 2010 were very prosperous times for the States. I fell in love with American culture through movies, music and computer games. My mother suggested that I start learning English at the courses.

And so I did. My teacher of English, Tatiyana Svichenskaya, played a very important role in my further mastering of this language. English lessons were a kind of activity in which I succeeded and felt confident. I really needed that. I very much liked the results. At some point I started to understand the meaning of songs, and soon I could watch movies without the translation. It was a blessing. It fascinated me and gave me strength to live.

There are three clearly recognizable periods in my life from eighteen to thirty one. First one lasted four years and the other two lasted five years each. I’ll walk you through them down the line.

First period – from eighteen to twenty one

It seems that at around eighteen years old I reached some new level of self-awareness. I started seeking vitally important knowledge. As famous gestalt-therapist Claudio Naranjo said, I became a seeker and a seeker becomes a finder, eventually. Apparently, I realized that I wouldn’t resque anybody.

By that time I had low self-esteem, besides the rescuer complex, I also had a strong complex of guilt and shame. Generally, I felt emotionally repressed, repressed anger in particular. I experienced chronic stress, regular physical pain in different parts of my body, in my lower back, headache, and ache in my eyes.

Stress negatively affected my thinking and behavior. It was hard to study and communicate with people at the university, at work and socially. I felt really bad and was mentally in a bad place. Nobody saw that in my immediate surroundings.

I had no idea what I felt and what kind of feelings there are, generally speaking, or how to build relationships. Frequent advice – “just be yourself” almost made me panic, as I really did not know who I was. The structure of my personality was damaged in some important areas and necessary basic personal qualities were blocked or unopened in me. Such were the consequences of traumatic experiences in my life.

I moved to Kyiv and joined a university (2008), my field of study was international economics. At the same time I worked full-time and, what is most important, I studied a lot. I badly needed to find some answers as to how to improve my mental and physical health. I felt so unwell physically and emotionally that I had to say no, with great sadness, to my much desired trip to the USA, for a summer. I thought I wouldn’t handle it, I was barely managing in Ukraine.

I put all my efforts into my studies, no, not at the university. That, as it turned out, did not have real substance in it, except for the English language. I read many books, articles, listened to many lectures and seminars on history, philosophy, religious subjects, sociology, economics, psychology and other subjects. I discovered certain people who provided free education for the general public, by their own initiative. For four years of hard work on self-education I realized that I should focus on studying psychology.

The most important person in my life at that time was Vlidimir Mihaylovich Zaznobin. He will forever stay the dearest teacher and mentor of mine. He passed in 2018. He and his group did so much for young people like me (but not only) could receive solid knowledge about the world and humanity. Knowledge that allows one to find their own constructive, creative and individual path in life.

So, during these four years I did the following. For the three years I studied at the university full-time, but for the fourth and the last year I changed the form of studying to distant learning, in order to make room for psychology, as I lost interest in economics. At the same time I worked full-time in such a position that had only two hours of actual work out of an eight hour shift. So I could do my learning for the rest of the time at work.

Second period – from twenty two to twenty six

A girl that I knew recommended me to check out gestalt-therapy, that I had never heard of before. So, I read a few books about it and I was positively impressed with it. At twenty one I joined a five year training program for gestalt-therapists. When I was done with economics, I decided to do gestalt-therapy. My life as a student continued for the next six years. After that I started my private practice, but I’ll get to it later. The training program takes five years and a half.

The group works for three days every month and a half. The group performs both educational and psychotherapeutic functions. We work through personal stories of every student and group dynamic develops between members. At this time I also went through my personal individual therapy process. Altogether it took three years of weekly sessions. There was also a group therapy for a year and a half, once every two weeks, three hour meeting.

And there were four educational training groups on specialized topics, also, in the format of three day seminars. The durations of these groups were from one year to two years. Another important element of therapeutic training is gestalt intensiv, which is basically a summer school that takes place usually somewhere in the open, by the sea side or in the mountains area, which is nice. So, gestalt intensiv works for 11 days. As I was trained to become a gestalt-therapist I also received a degree in psychology.

So, this time period, from 2011 till the end of 2016, I was committed to psychotherapeutic training, my own personal therapy and receiving a psychological degree. In order to finance all these educational and therapeutic projects I worked full-time till the beginning of my practice.

In three years after the beginning of my training I started working with people for free or for a tiny amount of money to receive experience. These were 2014-2016 years. In about three years of my therapy I met my future wife. We’ve been together for nine years already. Relationship with Olya made me softer, more empathetic, caring and secure. I managed to turn my anxious-avoidant attachment pattern more in the direction of trust and safety. It has had a healing effect on my self-confidence and a sense of security. Olya also decided to become a psychotherapist.

Third period – from twenty seven to thirty one

At the age of twenty seven in 2017 I started developing my private practice, as my main professional activity. I continued learning with roughly two times lower frequency of projects compared to the previous six years. My focus changed to receiving supervision on my work, instead of personal therapy.

It is a very important, responsible and emotional time in my life. The time had come to do what I was trained for so thoroughly, in my opinion. As a matter of fact, within these five years I did more than 3500 hours of therapy and counseling sessions. One of the interesting features of the development of my practice was that around 40-50% of my clients were English speaking people.

They are either native speakers or the ones who use it as a second language. It turned out that there are quite a few international guests in Kyiv. In my first years of practice the possibility to work with English speaking clients supported me a great deal. In this narrow niche I had very little competition.

The beginning of private practice is by definition a hard endeavor, in my view. Before it, a specialist usually works for some years in a professional institution, a clinic or psychological center, to accumulate experience, skill and reputation. I chose a harder path and started developing private practice right after I left my office job, which was unrelated to psychology. Psychotherapeutic work with people as a profession and practice consumes a lot of time and energy in order to tune one’s brain for optimal performance.

Oftentimes, processing and assimilation of impressions from a fifty minute session takes the next three-four hours. It means that a relatively small practice of ten clients for a junior/beginner therapist is in fact a full-time work. It changes with time, of course.
So, these five years I worked on developing my therapeutic resourcefulness. This was a hard period in my life. It was the first time that I worked for myself.

I used to notice that every half a year my internal psychological space grew bigger, and my capacity to hold and process information about people I worked with got stronger.

This work requires a lot of emotional and cognitive strength and I cannot imagine doing it on my own, without my colleagues’ help. Receiving a sufficient amount of supervision was top priority for me in this period. I felt that I got full of personal therapy and my next strong desire and need was to share and discuss details of work with supervisors.

Well, this situation is typical and natural for therapists. The first years of practice are usually accompanied by many supervision sessions. When I was around thirty, my wife and I matured to having a child. We’ve gone a long way to come to this decision. We’ve done much work on ourselves, consciously, in order to get this relative readiness and the desire to become parents. We’re going to become parents in a few months. Can’t wait for this to happen.

I think I am at a good point in my professional path. A lot of work has been done by now, I acquired experience, I’ve made mistakes and learned valuable lessons. The idealization of this profession, of a healer, helper or guide, is behind me, I hope. For the future, besides further professional development, I am strongly interested in growing my family and doing some traveling, although the letter’s become harder to do in recent years.


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