Paola Gobbi


Born and raised in Rome, Italy, I have been living in the Netherlands since 2000.

My background is in the humanities with a Master's Degree in the Arts, followed by a Master's in human resource management. When I was living in Italy, I worked in both the private and public sectors, covering different roles, including recruiting, training, and academic research.

The experience of living in a foreign country confronted me with the challenge of redefining my professional identity and, after working for multinational companies for the first four years, I decided to retrain in psychology and counselling. In 2009, I was awarded a Bachelor's (honours) in psychology, followed by a diploma in multicultural counselling. The transition to motherhood and parenthood and the challenges of raising my children in a foreign country led me to further train as a family and couples therapist. I have followed advanced training in emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples, during which I had the pleasure to train with Sue Johnson, the developer of EFT and founder of the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) in Ottawa, and Scott Wooley, founder and Director of the Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy in San Diego.

I have obtained my diploma as a family and couples therapist at the ISSOOH Institute, which is recognized by the Dutch Association for Couples and Family Therapy NVRG). During the final year of my diploma study, I participated in an externship program at the Accademia di Psicoterapia della Famiglia (Academy of Family Psychotherapy) in Rome, founded by Maurizio Andolfi, a second-generation pioneer of family therapists. In addition, I have also followed several professional courses, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), nonviolent communication, and healing affairs using emotionally focused therapy, as well as seminars in stress regulation, vulnerability in health, psychopathology, and child abuse and domestic violence. In addition to my studies and my work as a counsellor, I have been actively involved in volunteer activities with the Dutch Mental Health Services, having supported adults with mental health problems and providing assistance to families with young and vulnerable children.

I work with individuals, couples, and families (foreign residents as well as Dutch nationals) on a wide range of psychosocial problems. My specialties include

    • Adjustment issues (expatriation and repatriation, including culture shock and reverse culture shock)
    • Work and career-related issues (including stress and burn-out and life-work balance)
    • Relationship problems and couple counseling
    • Premarital counselling
    • Parenting issues and family therapy
    • Life transitions
    • Self-esteem
    • Anxiety and depression

In my work, I strive to provide a trusting and supportive relationship that enables clients to explore the difficulties they are facing, gain a deeper understanding of their relationships, connect with their core feelings and beliefs, and understand their needs. I work "together" with my clients to activate their potential and resources and find ways to address present and possibly future crises -- at the client's pace and in ways always respectful of the client's culture, values and beliefs.

In my work with expatriates, I am focused on the psychological impact of expatriation and repatriation on individuals and families. Relocation is rarely easy or trouble-free and can become a stressful event. The experience of living in a foreign country, without the support of an established network of friends and family, can have a strong impact on a person's ability to deal with the challenges of life and with life events, such as marriage, parenthood, divorce, and children leaving home, just to mention a few. For employees who go on international assignment and who bring their family with them, living in a new country while trying to integrate into a new culture and a new workplace can be overwhelming. Also, it is not uncommon for the accompanying spouse to experience the loss of his or her professional identity. Even the most supportive spouse may at times feel resentful toward his or her partner, which can result in marital or family conflicts. In my work with couples, I am focused on strengthening the connection between partners in order to enable each individual to express his or her needs and emotions in ways that the partner can receive without feeling threatened. The objective of couple therapy is also to bring out the profound motivations of each individual helping them to analyze and re-evaluate their position within the relationship. In essence, therapy promotes a conscious and balanced choice with respect to the future as an individual and a member of the family.

I am an accredited member of the following professional organizations:

    • Algemene Beroepsvereniging voor Counselling (ABvC)
    • Register Beroepsbeoefenaren Complementaire Zorg (RBCZ)
    • British Psychological Society (BPS)
    • International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)
    • The Dutch organization for EFT counselors: EFT
    • The Dutch association for family and couple's therapy (NVRG)

I counsel in English and Italian and I see clients in Leiden.

e-mail: paola@icconnections.org