10 things I wish everyone knew about therapy

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10 things I wish everyone knew about therapy

Being a therapist can be an amazing profession full of challenges, heartaches, and celebration. We see you at your worst and see you at your best, but there is no better reward to see you succeed. Here are 10 aspects of the therapeutic relationship that are either unknowns or common misconceptions. I hope this clarifies what you can expect from working with a therapist.

1. I don’t think you’re crazy.

I think you are amazingly unique trying to find your way in the world. None of us is perfect and I surely don’t expect you to be anywhere close to mastery when you’re learning new skills to change your life. Effective change usually requires trial and lots of errors. It means you’re trying! Plus, if I think you’re being irrational, I’ll tell you.

2. Trust is everything.

Your ability to connect with me will be the number one factor determining how well we work together. If you don’t feel like you click with me after a few sessions, it’s OK to let me know and seek out a different therapist. We all need different things and my main priority is for you to achieve your goals.

3. My job is not to psychoanalyze you.

My job is to be curious and to help you gain more understanding. A good therapist doesn’t claim to have all the answers for why you are the way you are although we may have some ideas that we will willingly share with you. When it comes to getting answers and more understanding, we will form hypotheses together and you will come to your own conclusions. A therapist facilitates that process. They don’t tell you how to think/believe/act.

4. I’m not here to give you advice.

I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help you make your own decisions that are balanced, rational, and well-explored. Strengthening your own reasoning and decision-making skills will increase your independence and self-esteem. Win-win!

5. Work through your emotions with me instead of quitting, anger included.

Therapy is the perfect place to learn how to express your feelings. That’s what I’m here for, to give you a space to try out new ways of being, thinking, and feeling. Take advantage of this. When we learn how to work through our negative emotions with others, it increases our relationship skills and makes us more comfortable with voicing our hurts. This is a necessary component to maintaining relationships and managing your emotions in a healthy way.

6. I expect you to slide backward to old behavior patterns and I’m not here to judge you.

Most people judge themselves enough for at least two people. I encourage my clients to come clean. It’s only through acknowledging our steps backward that we can figure out what’s standing in the way so that you can catapult forward. Relapse is VERY common and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

7. You deserve to be happy.

Happiness is not reserved for special people. Everyone has regrets, things we wish we never would have done, people we’ve hurt along the way, people who have hurt us either intentionally or unintentionally. I’m a firm believer that we can heal our wounds and step into happiness. You deserve it just as much as the next person.

8. I can’t “fix” your life or your problems. Only you can.

I can help you gain more clarity, more understanding, and form a plan of action, but therapy is not a magic pill that erases all issues. It takes work, but if you’re up for the challenge, I’ll be there every step of the way!

9. The quickest way from point A to point B is action.

If you continue to come to therapy without putting any new behaviors or thoughts into action, progress will be a slow process for you. The path to action is different for everyone, but if you never do anything different, you’ll never get a different result. You’re the only one who can decide to take action. You hold all the power.

10. I want you to have the life you want.

I know your struggles, your dreams, your insecurities. There is nothing I want more for you than for you to bring your dreams into reality, push through your fears, and have the life you want. Your success is the ultimate gift to a therapist!

People come to therapy for all kinds of reasons. Usually people are experiencing a moderate level of discomfort in their lives and have noticed a toll on their work/school performance and in their relationships. Beginning therapy can be scary for some as they are showing a willingness to face tough topics, but for others, it’s a huge relief to finally be taking action to move in a different direction.

Therapy isn’t always easy, but I think it’s the most worthwhile gift you can give yourself. Find someone you trust and who puts you at ease. The relationship you build with your therapist is the most important aspect of all.

 

Caregiver stress

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Caring for others can be stressful. Whether we are caring for children:

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Or aging parents (and grandparents):

 

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Or a mentally ill or disabled family member:

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It sometimes feels as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. And, despite our best intentions we get worn down by our responsibilities and we find ourselves getting annoyed with those we are caring for.  Then we feel guilty, embarrassed, or ashamed for being angry with people we love. 

I am here to tell you that you are not alone. An estimated 65 million people are caregivers to mentally ill or developmentally delayed family members in the USA alone. And there is hope. 

  • Learn what resources are available to you. There could be respite services available through your county or day care facilities.
  • Regardless of which age group you are caring for, get some education regarding developmental expectations, or in the case of mental illness, learning which symptoms to expect can help relieve your stress.
  • Self-care is hugely important. Do something everyday just for yourself. Get a massage or go for a walk, or take a hot bath, read a book, watch one favorite tv show or movie, go out for a meal, etc.
  • Be realistic in your expectations and have small goals.
  • Support groups are wonderful. They provide you with others who can truly “get” what you are going through and you will feel less isolated.
  • In some cases, short-term therapy can be beneficial, either for yourself or for your family. Short-term therapy can help you get a handle on your emotions, help you develop realistic goals, and help you develop healthy boundaries.

Don’t let your struggle become your identity.

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Don't let your struggle become your identity.

Too often when we have struggles (especially mental health issues), others begin to refer to us as our struggles. For example, if someone has Bipolar Disorder, others will say he or she IS bipolar. That is just not true. He or she may HAVE bipolar as a part of them…but that disorder (or any other disorder) is not the total of that person’s existence. People have issues…people are not issues.

How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer.

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How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer.

I love how this woman was able to account for her weaknesses and perfectly counter them. I am so happy for her and encouraged by her.

18 yr-old dad bites off infant’s nose.

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18 yr-old dad bites off infant’s nose.

This heart-wrenching story is exactly why we, as a society, need to offer parenting classes and mental health services including stress management, coping skills, and anger management to young families and young parents.

Yes, I know that offering parenting classes costs money. Yes, I know that offering anger management classes cost money. But, so does 911 services, and police services, and emergency room visits, and public defender services (and this list could go on quite extensively).

Most of us learn how to express our anger by watching how our parent(s) expressed anger, or how our favorite screen characters handled anger. Many of us are never directly taught how to process our frustrations in a healthy way. This sometimes leads to dire consequences…as in this very sad and unfortunate case.

To make matters worse, unless this infant recieves direct intervention, he will also have difficulty expressing his anger and frustration.

I know that people do not like being told what to do.  I know many people feel they have all the skills they need in order to be a functioning member of society. But I do not know why we, as a society, have to study and pass a driving exam in order to obtain a driver’s license, but we do not have to take a parenting class in order to be in control of an infant, which is something much more important.

Please, can we just learn that spending money on things like parenting classes and anger management classes will cost us far less in the long run? Please?

Happy International Women’s Day.

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It seems odd to me that, in the US with women making up roughly 52% of the population, that there should be a “women’s day”. 

Then I remember that many men (and some women) are vehemently opposed to a woman president even though other industrialized nations have had women leaders for some time. Some men (and women) are even opposed to women voting:

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Women still do not earn equal pay with men, and men continue to legislate laws that solely concern women…AND WE ARE 52% OF THE POPULATION.

Women are still widely considered objects:

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And because we are more than half of the population, that means WE continue to allow it. When will we stand up and take our rightful place in society and no longer act as a minority when we are the majority?