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.

 

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One therapists’ ongoing fight with shame

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Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy.

*Shaking my head* So, I bought a concert ticket to go see a show about two hours from my house. The ticket was $50. As someone who still struggles with social anxiety it is not uncommon for me to make plans and then rationalize not going. It was a big deal to buy one ticket and know that I was going alone, but I was really looking forward to this show.

I woke up feeling happy anticipation and put their music on my ipod as I started getting ready. Now, this is Los Angeles and it’s Thanksgiving week and President Obama was in town (for those of us with anxiety, all of these factors build up into a big deal). I decided to leave early in the day and get past all of the traffic traps on the 405 before rush hour started.

I walked out to my car and it wouldn’t start. If you have never experienced shame anxiety, I cannot possibly describe the heart-wrenching feeling that came next. In that moment I did not experience just the car not starting. I experienced every loss and every failure I had ever had in my whole life…in one moment. I quickly thought that I could call roadside assistance or I could call a cab to a rental car company. However, I also figured how much that would cost and could not justify spending more on a cab and a rental car than I did for the cost of the ticket. I came back in the house defeated and overwhelmed.

Initially I tried to call my husband who seems to be a magician in situations like these, but my unwillingness to spend more on transportation trumped my knowledge that he would insist I get in a cab and go to a rental car company. Instead I became my own worst enemy. I stopped functioning and just thought about NOTHING ever works out for me and how EVERYTHING always goes wrong. Even though I knew it was true, I allowed myself to go down the “Everything is bad” Highway. Nothing good ever comes from this, ha ha. 🙂

After my self-induced pity party I called my husband, the magician. He immediately sprung into action, but with Los Angeles traffic I could not meet his enthusiasm. I was in full eyeore mode. My husband’s compromise was to buy another ticket for tonight’s show over in Las Vegas. Now I have $90 ticket for a show 5 hours away and still no transportation, ha ha ha. As I write this my mind is computing 10 hours worth of gas, the cost of a cab to get a car, plus the cost of a rental car the day before Thanksgiving and making a five-hour drive from Vegas to LA in the middle night. Man, that’s worse than yesterday’s problem. But that is the way shame and social anxiety work.

Shame convinces us that we aren’t worth it and that our lives are crap and that the problems aren’t fixable. The anxiety that comes with shame prevents us from reaching out to others who could help us. The anxiety silences us because even to talk about shame hurts and talking about anxiety hurts. Then we feel isolated and alone, which hurts even more. We do not have to suffer in silence. There are others out there who would care about us if we let them.

If only I had moved into action earlier in the day while I still had time to fix the situation.

If only I believed I was worth the cost of a silly rental car.

If only ______________________.

I’m tired of saying, “if only”, how about you?

Why I am a psychotherapist

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Young teenaged girls across the world think that they have nothing of value to offer the opposite sex (and sometimes same sex). Their self-worth is entirely tied up in their sexuality. These girls want to fit in so badly, they want to be liked. Sadly, they think the only way that boys will like them is if they give up sexual favors. What many of these girls do not realize is that they are often giving up a piece of themselves that they can never get back. They trade their sexuality for short-term (often very short-term) acceptance from the very people who tell them that they are special or, “the one”.

Some of these girls learn much too late that those promises of friendship and acceptance were lies. They move from one person to the next seeking validation and love, but it always seems to come at a cost followed by abandonment or rejection. Most of these girls learn much too late that the promises of love and affection were lies just to obtain sexual favors.

These girls develop self-worth issues, poor self-esteem, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, difficulties attaching to others in a positive or healthy manner, sometimes these girls avoid forming close relationships in order to not be abandoned again. Many of them believe that there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow defective.

I am here to tell these girls that there is hope. They do not have to feel shamed any longer. There is another way. There are people out there who believe in them and support them. I am one of those people.