XPAT Spotlight – Interview with Claudia Tichy, a writer and therapist bringing European therapeutic techniques to Southern California
Claudia Tichy is originally from Steyr in Austria, a small town between Salzburg and Vienna. After deciding to move to California she settled first in Calabasas before finding her final home in Oak Park. She shares her life and home with her husband and their two cats from Austria: Funny and Fipsy. Fridolin, a Golden Retriever just recently joined them as well in the Agoura Hills Area and he instantly inspired Claudia to a new book that will be coming out soon: Fridolin, the Cuddlemonster.
What made you move to California?
It’s a funny story. I met my now second husband Martin 15 years ago in Austria. One day he came into my office as a client. He was very frustrated because he had lived in LA for a few months but it hadn’t worked out for him as he had expected. As a therapist, I supported him through this difficult time and I can remember when I said to him: First find a deep connection with your roots and then you’ll be able to be free and happy in any other countries, too. He eventually came back to live in Austria but his longing for living in California never left him.
We continued to stay in contact occasionally, and after a while, I met him privately and it happened – we fell deeply in love. We got married and moved on with our lives very happily together. Then, a couple years later we had the opportunity to visit Martin’s best man’s family here in L.A. and we were house-sitting for a few weeks. That was when we started thinking about living here… and suddenly an opportunity presented itself and we got the chance to move to Los Angeles.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me because all my family members live in Austria – my four children, my six grandchildren, my very close friends, my clients too…; but everyone who knew my husband Martin and his talent as a composer and violinist supported us to take on this opportunity. I myself knew that the climate in L.A. would be much better for my health than the climate in Austria. So we took the plunge and moved to L.A.
How did you transition from your full life in Austria to a new world in California?
The first few months went very well for me, I had time to relax and I enjoyed life. On the other hand, I was taken aback by many circumstances here that were new to me and that I had a hard time understanding, so I wasn’t sure if I would ever get used to it, and if I actually even wanted to…
So we decided to allow us three to five years to figure out if this is the right place for us or not.
I wanted to understand why things here are as they are and why it was so hard for me to find my place and staying true to myself and my work. Especially as a therapist, I am a healer and not a businesswoman. I offer all my experiences and skills to treat and support people but I don’t sell this gift or make sales pitches or exuberant promises.
I always had very serious teachers and was taught not to take away the clients’ responsibility. I treat them as adults and not as dependent childlike clients. I don’t run after them to remind them of their next steps or their next appointments or follow up too often after a session. I trust my clients’ understanding and their decision to come again for the next step when they feel ready. I make very specific suggestions to my clients, but their active decisions to move on is a very important part of my healing work. So, this seems the opposite of how people are used to be treated by therapists here in CA.
What were some initial challenges after moving over here? How did you adapt?
The language was and still is a challenge because I just speak a lot with Germans. My English is getting better, but it’s a slow process…
I also realized that living here is in some ways more dangerous than in Austria. I wouldn’t walk at night alone in certain areas, and what really shocked me is police violence. In some regards, I learned to appreciate Austria much more than ever before.
But, I also see that there are so many opportunities here that you would never have in Austria, especially in terms of creating or re-creating yourself. It is amazing how many different people from different cultures are here. I love this and I am still so amazed by the people and all the nature here …..I can’t get enough of it all!
Do you miss Austria?
Last summer I went to Austria a lot. It’s never easy to return to California and leave my wonderful grandchildren or my ‘little’ daughter, who is 27 years old 😉 – I love them so much! The other day my granddaughter said to me: “Omama, do you pick me up from Kindergarten tomorrow?” Or she says: “Omama, I prepared the bed in the guest room for you, do you come?” Can you imagine how it breaks my heart in these moments? But we all have to pay our price, right?
I also miss my friends in Austria, we have such a deep connection and a long history. What I miss the most is the quality time of being together and having intense conversations about ‘god and the world’. But with Skype and FaceTime, we have a tool to stay connected until I fly back for the next visit.
I also love to return to my clients in Austria and I love working with them. My family constellation workshops in Austria are always fully booked. It’s a wonderful and deep systemic work that people in Europe respond to much better… Curiously, these workshops are not so much in demand here in California.
What’s your professional path out here in California?
My intention when I moved to L.A. was not to work here originally, but when I saw how many people could benefit from my work, the wish emerged to help people heal also here in my new home, California.
Before I really started working here in my own office, however, I wrote a healing story for children. The book is called “Tesha entdeckt die Welt”. The English version will be available soon.
In my therapy work, that I practice now, I’m dealing a lot with people’s roots, their family and ancestors, and life events dating back some generations ago. So many clients’ ancestors survived tragedies and emigrated to the US. They or their children got disconnected from their home country and their roots, and this affects their own lives and their children’s lives. They are not able to deeply connect with other people or to engage in deep relationships. As a result, so many people feel lost and empty, alone, and afraid. There’s so much fear around them – this makes me really sad…
So, I am very happy now to be able to help people with all my tools and gifts.
In my Personality Training, I help people find themselves. I help to heal and release shadows and hidden movements in life that shield us from reaching happiness and success. With the help of Kinesiology, I can test what’s beneficial and what’s detrimental to an individual, on a physical as well as mental and spiritual level.
With the help of a kinesiological muscle test, I help clear blockages that keep individuals from living their life to the fullest. I support my clients in finding the energy to deal with certain issues or help with relationship concerns, and I can help with improving concentration before exams.
My husband composed and produced a CD for my special healing work to support the ‘Emotional Release Process’. You can listen to one of the songs here.
TALKING while WALKING® is a new concept I incorporate into my therapies as well. Besides that, I am also offering ‘Systemic Healing with Conversations and Constellations’, which is a very special work that reaches deep into your past and brings order into your roots. I practice this using Skype with clients from Europe, and I’m holding workshops in Austria about two to three times a year.
How has living here in CA changed you personally? What do you like and what don’t you like about living here in CA?
Many aspects of living here in CA have somewhat changed my personality I perceive. Some aspects I like but others I don’t.
For one part I changed in a good way because people here are most of the time very friendly and so many people have a positive attitude that’s influencing me in a very good way. Also, I realized that despite the fact that traffic out here is very dense, most of the time drivers support each other, which doesn’t happen so often in Austria.
On the other hand, before I arrived I was a kind of a naive person, with a lot of trust and belief in people’s words. This has changed and I am really sad about that.
Interesting for me is the importance of money matters here in CA! Some of it I see actually as quite healthy but other aspects of it I find rather sad. What do I mean by that? …Where I am from, we don’t talk about money, but here everybody talks and thinks about money ….So, here in the USA, it’s easier to talk about it, but on the other hand, it’s sad that money is always on everybody’s mind…
Just being together because you like each other and spending time together without any hidden intention of someone being beneficial to you, this is what I really miss. The best would be a mix of the qualities of Austria with the qualities of California. That would be perfect!
Lastly, what is your special Expat Insider tip for living in California?
What I really love about California is all the nature! I am so thankful that we stay in such a great place.
So, my suggestion for others: Go out there and explore the beautiful nature – the mountains, the national parks, and so on…. It is an absolute experience!
Thank you, Claudia, for speaking with us. We wish you all the best with your new life out here in California!
Images: ©Claudia Tichy
*Edit: The recent extent of the Woolsey Fire in California forced Claudia and her family to evacuate. She could since return to her home safely but it was a scary and unexpected moment of experiencing California in a quite unfamiliar way.