Dr. Viviana Coles

DMFT, LMFT-S, CST, PRESIDENT of
Texas Relationship Therapy PLLC

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What do you do?
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist in private practice. I am also the lead instructor for my sex therapy certification program.

Length of time at this job:
I have been seeing clients since 2003 and have been working with sex therapy clients since 2006.

What is it that you like best about your job?
Helping individuals and couples to overcome seemingly hopeless relationship impasses is invigorating for me. I just love helping people to reconnect after disaster has struck either physically or emotionally.

Education/Major:
I received my bachelor’s in psychology at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, in 2003. I received my master’s (2005) and doctoral (2011) degrees in marriage and family therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I became a certified sex therapist in 2006.

What career path led you to where you are today?
My high school college adviser asked me if there was anything I felt I was really a “natural” at doing. I told her I like to talk and often have friends who would come to me to share their problems. I also remember saying to her, “but that’s not a job, right?” She replied, with a knowing, “Well, actually yes, yes it is.” After that, I made a beeline for private practice in psychotherapy.

When did you know that you were in the right place in your career?
When I had clients who were returning to me to focus on new or different issues months and even years after working with them initially. That’s when I knew I was having a profoundly positive effect on their lives.

Would you encourage your children to go into the same field?
Absolutely. I secretly hope my daughter Evelyn, now 8 years old, will choose to do something similar because it really is a beautiful field to be a part of, and private practice affords many women the opportunity to share in family life as well as a rewarding career.

Who were your mentors?
I was so fortunate to attend a graduate program where so many of the greats in our field either studied or instructed. Getting excited and motivated to do great things was easy.

What person do you most admire?
I consider myself to be very fortunate to have married parents who have always supported and encouraged me to reach for the stars. But as an adult and relationship expert, I admire the teamwork they exhibit to walk through life together.

What do you enjoy doing on a day off?
Staying close to my extended family means so much to me. We are on recreational sports teams together, and we all often get together for weekly cookouts and gossip fests.

How would you describe your leadership style?
While I enjoy getting input and considering other viewpoints when I am making big decisions, as a business owner, it’s my neck on the line, so ultimately, I have to trust my gut and make sure any decisions I make are in the best interests of the company.

How do you find balance in your life — career, community and home life?
I often take a step back and assess my life on a weekly basis, making sure I have checked off the boxes that mean the most to me by the end of each week.

*Dr. Coles’ comments have been edited for publication.