I have Cancer. How do I find a therapist to help me and my family?

by Charli Prather Monday, February 15, 2016


I have Cancer. How do I find a therapist to help me and my family with the social and emotional challenges we face? Here are some questions to ask:


• Have you had training in oncology (the last thing you need right now is to provide your therapist translation services)? 
• Have you worked, volunteered, or interned in a hospital or oncology center?

• Have you had a personal experience with cancer? If you are a survivor, how long have you been out of treatment? A healthy time frame of recovery is important.

• Have you worked with clients experiencing "chemo brain"? Do you have a complete understanding of "cure vs. remission" and the specific needs of a cancer patient/survivor?

• Are you available to visit me in the hospital, at home, or provide phone or closed circuit video sessions if I’m not up to coming into the office? What are the charges are related to this type of care? 
• What is your “late cancel” policy?  I may experience treatment side effects that come on unexpectedly.

• Are you willing to assist me finding resources regarding my employment, co-pays for expensive drugs, financial planning, how to talk to my kids, my boss, etc. 

• Will you be able to provide sessions that may involve family members who don’t understand the complexity of my prognosis if it changes? 
• For those with advanced cancers: Are you comfortable providing me end of life care if my condition worsens?   
• Are you familiar with MBCR?  Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery techniques?  


Charli Prather-Levinson, MSW LCSW EAP-C RYT is a former Board Certified Oncology Social Worker and 2 time cancer survivor. She works part time in private practice and works for the Cancer Support Community Headquarter’s offices part time as a Cancer Helpline Counselor.  Charli has over 20 years combined experience as a hospice therapist and as Clinical Program Director of the St. Louis Cancer Support Community affiliate. Charli also advises clients on healthy lifestyle changes that can ‘STACK THE DECK’ against emotional and physical disease. Charli also holds certifications as a Food for Life™ Plant Based Nutrition Educator and Warriors at Ease® Meditation & Yoga Teacher for those in need of a modified yoga practice due to physical limitations. Charli spends her free time traveling the country with the Wounded Warrior Project serving as a contract therapist and yoga & meditation instructor. 






 

Tags:

Advise | Anxiety | Healing | Intimacy | Mental Health | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Video Therapy | Wisdom

I Want To Switch Therapists, But Don’t Want To Hurt My Therapist’s feelings?

by Aaron Pawelek LICSW Sunday, November 29, 2015

I recently closed my therapy practice in Dallas, TX to relocate to the East Coast to be closer to aging family members. I decided to give my 50 or so active clients 2 months notice to provide ample time for them to prepare and for me to arrange continuity of care. Those 2 months were extraordinary! Because I initiated the ending, I set in motion what therapists call the “termination phase” of therapy. I had told people: “Get ready. We are going to say goodbye”. And we did. What’s extraordinary is that real goodbyes so often never happen for therapists. When clients are either frustrated with their progress or are legitimately ready to end treatment, they either fade away or just disappear.

Here is my advice (It may sound a little harsh, but hear me out): tell us what’s going on, say goodbye, and don’t worry about our feelings. If you’re ready to finish work with us, we will have feelings about it, rest assured. We will miss you! But if we let those feelings cloud our professional judgment, or if we take your departure personally, then we’re not keeping our part of the bargain. Remember, when we agreed to work with you, we agreed to ensure your best interests.

Here’s why I really want you to say goodbye when you’re ready to leave. Goodbyes are hard. They hurt and often bring about profound expressions of sadness and grief. In many ways, this is the essence of psychotherapy: learning how to communicate deep and painful truths in caring ways and developing the courage and willingness to do so. By practicing “goodbyes” in the therapy room, you will learn how to do it successfully in life.

Furthermore, it may be time to switch therapists. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your therapist, then there may be unaddressed issues in the therapeutic alliance. It’s possible these issues—at least your role in them—reflect the very things you are trying to resolve in your personal relationships. By intentionally entering into the termination phase of therapy and saying goodbye, you give yourself and your therapist a chance to explore and resolve these issues, so you don’t carry them into your relationship with your next therapist. Your therapist may also help with a referral to a therapist who may be a better fit for you, but cannot help if he/she does not know.

One more thing—sometimes clients want to switch therapists because the therapy has stagnated or become stuck. Again, bring it to our attention. That may be just what your therapist needs to hear to get the treatment going again. You might find it’s not goodbye after all. Maybe we just needed a nudge!

Aaron Pawelek, LICSW, has been providing psychotherapy to adults, couples, and teens for 10 years. He is a graduate of both the Boston University School of Social Work and the Boston University School of Theology. He is in private practice with the New England Pastoral Institute in Salem, NH. Prior to moving to New England to be closer to aging family members, Aaron was the training director and a staff therapist for the Pastoral Counseling Center of Dallas, TX. Aaron has a variety of clinical interests including working with people with disabilities, adults raised by parents with mental illness or addiction, people in addiction recovery themselves, couples in crisis, and people in the GLBT community. As a pastorally oriented psychotherapist, Aaron helps people integrate their spiritual and religious resources into the therapy process if they wish.


Tags:

Advise | Anxiety | Healing | Intimacy | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Wisdom

The Drawbacks of Online Scheduling

by Sherry Katz Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The obvious value of online scheduling is efficiency and convenience.  Therapist and patient do not need to talk with each other to schedule their appointments.

Since our entire method of professionally offering service relies on talking to people, what, if any, areas of our work are affected by utilizing online appointment scheduling? 

The initial phone contact from the patient was once referred to as an “intake”.  

This was a chance for the therapist to assess an overview of the case and whether they or their agency, would be able to handle the level of care required.

This was also a way for a prospective patient to get a firsthand feel of working with either the particular therapist or the overall view of how the agency would address their matter.

The question for therapists to consider is whether the demographic and “check the box” information of online scheduling, is an equal substitute for a phone assessment intake.

Maybe in fact the first in person session has become the former phone intake. 

Only now we have a hopeful new patient sitting in front of us who may not be a good fit for the type of therapy work we do.

What if, when scheduling an initial appointment, instead of prioritizing time efficiency and convenience only, we limit our online scheduling gadgets to situations which do not actively require our professional skills?

Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome www.newviewsfamilytherapy.com.

Tags: , , , , ,

Advise | Anxiety | Mental Health | Self-Awareness | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Video Therapy | Wisdom

Surprise! They’re Not Changing. How About You?

by Sherry Katz Friday, June 12, 2015

Is one of your reasons for starting therapy because every approach you’ve tried in a particular relationship increases your frustration, hurt, and sadness?

And after explaining your outlook and reasoning to this person many times, the relationship patterns are still the same?

Therapy will give your sincere and heartfelt effort and concern, a new direction. 

Step One is accepting the profound realization that you are only able to change yourself. 

Despite your many good ideas and earnest care, the other person in the relationship, whether partner, sibling, adult child, any meaningful family member, may not want to understand your point, or want to agree with it.

The deeper problem is not necessarily that you have bad ideas or that the other person is intentionally being difficult.  

The discontent you are facing in the stressed relationship, is a pathway to knowing more about your own standards and satisfactions in relating.

If you are upset because the other person does not accept your suggestions, instead of inwardly disapproving, utilize this feeling of rejection as a sign of how highly you value that your advice is followed. 

If the other person criticizes what you consider key points in your value system, then allow yourself to appreciate that you have a clear value system.

If the other person dismisses your feelings, then this is your moment to be even more aware that your emotions are a way to express yourself.

All of these interactions are painful and tiring to some degree. 

Your reason for talking with a therapist is to stabilize and ground your perspective, believe in your right to be who you are, and strengthen your confidence in handling your part in a relationship that is currently stressed, and any relationship that develops in your world.

Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome.  www.newviewsfamilytherapy.com

Let's Get High

by Julie Davis Thursday, December 4, 2014

Smoke a joint … Drink a shot of tequila … Eat a donut … Get angry … Worry … Run on a treadmill … Climb a mountain ... Hunt for a fashion bargain. 

You can get “high” by ingesting a substance, activating a thought, or moving the body in a way that triggers a chemical reaction leading to a feeling of “high.” 

Until you are comfortable NOT being “high” you will search and find how to get “high.” You might stop drinking alcohol but find yourself reaching for more sweets.  When you are unable to exercise you might become agitated, start shopping, drink alcohol, caffeine, or soda.

Do you think you have an addiction/motivation/discipline problem with alcohol, food, anger, worry, spending?  Are you are interested in eliminating unhealthy substances and processes that make you “high?”  Good!  However, until you are willing and able to be “NOT HIGH” you might find yourself seeking other forms of getting “high.”  

This week, I invite you to consider how you might feel “NOT HIGH:”       

Confused? Embarrassed? Out of control? Terrified? Lonely? Edgy? Depressed?  Anxious? Calm? Bored? Unimportant?

These are the experiences that might require understanding and attention before you stop thinking, “Let’s get high!”

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keeppeople stuck (www.juliedavismft.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service (text JULIETUESDAY to 22828). Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California, New York), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

Tags:

Anger | Animal Instinct | Anxiety | Healing | Intimacy | marriage | Marriage and Family Therapy | Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Pet Therapy | Primitive Mind | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Trauma | Treatment Modalities | Wisdom

Black and White Thinking

by Julie Davis Sunday, September 21, 2014

Believing “black and white” (always/never/all/nothing) thoughts about yourself and others can trigger feelings and actions that harm health, relationships, productivity, and emotional stability: 

Belief

Feeling

Action

I always screw up

Ashamed, angry, hopeless, defeated

Beat self up, medicate,   screw up more, quit,       isolate

He never helps around the house

Angry, resentful, helpless, victim,

Nag, control, complain,       fix, explain, defend, manipulate, fight

All the good jobs are taken

Hopeless, scared, angry

Give up, settle,         medicate, complain

There’s nothing I can do about it

Powerless, afraid, angry

Give in, quit, seethe,        hide,

Over time, black and white thinking can lead to depression, obsessions, addiction, panic, rage, and trauma.  Thus, it is important to “hold every thought captive!” This week, I invite you to catch your black/white thinking and reframe it in a way that leaves you feeling calm, open, flexible:

Absolute

Reframe

Feeling

Action

I always screw up

Sometimes I blow it. 

Humble, interested, motivated

Improve skills,     try again.

He never helps around the house

Sometimes he forgets/puts things off. 

Curious, collaborative

Ask for clarity; discuss and       set  boundaries.

All the good jobs are taken

Many good jobs are taken.   

Disappointed yet determined, creative

Keep looking.     Ask for help.

There’s nothing I can do about it

There is something I can do. 

Curious, creative, collaborative

Get wise advice. Ask for help. 

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service.  Send “subscribe” in subject line to: julie@juliedavismft.com.  Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York – pending), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

 

It’s not about YOU

by Julie Davis Wednesday, August 20, 2014

 

 

You walk up to a guy and say, “Hi.”  He tilts his head back and roars with laughter.  You say, “Hey guy, what’s so funny?”  He looks you up and down, rolls his eyes and says, “You’re an idiot.”

 

What does all that have to say about YOU?

 

Nothing.

 

What does all that say about the guy? 

 

A lot!

 

But, you might have been taught (incorrectly) that thoughts, feelings, and opinions about you ARE YOU.  Someone laughs at you, looks a certain way at you, raises voice around you, does or expresses something hurtful to you and you think it’s about you.  Then you spend a lifetime trying to look and act better when It’s not – never has been – about you.

 

People who are late, hurtful, loud, messy, reckless, avoidant, opinionated, or anxious do not determine who you are.  Their words and actions provide a lot of data about them – important for making wise decisions about who to hang out with; but has nothing to do with the essence of who you are. 

 

This week, consider the words and deeds of others as information about them.  Don’t judge that (it’s not your job).  But use that information to move with/around them wisely while you are repeating to yourself, “It’s not about me,” and enjoying your day.

 

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service.  Send “subscribe” in subject line to:  julie@juliedavismft.com.  Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York – pending), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

Tags:

Anxiety | Healing | Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Primitive Mind | relationships, friendships | Self-Awareness | Shame | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy

The Story Behind The Story

by Julie Davis Monday, July 14, 2014

 

Consider this week that everything coming at you - anger, fear, judgment, criticism, avoidance - isn't personal; that it has a story behind it: 


-Spouse's anger might really be fear about his job.

-Child's resistance might actually be a natural development towards individuation.

-Boss's criticism might be rooted in his fear of being criticized by his boss. 

-Neighbor's avoidance of your "dog poop" letter might be he's busy taking care of sick grandma.

 

The only way to know is to ask.  This week - instead of getting defensive, offended, scared, angry - ask for the story behind the story.

 

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service.  Send “subscribe” in subject line to: julie@juliedavismft.com.  Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York – pending), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

Tags:

Anxiety | Couples | Healing | Intimacy | marriage | Marriage and Family Therapy | Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | relationships, friendships | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy

Healing After Sexual Trauma

by Gilbert Bliss Friday, July 4, 2014

I have had the privilege of working with patients who have had sexual trauma early in their lives, either as children or young adults.  As a result of this opportunity, I have come to believe that it can be important for some who have experienced such a terrible experience, either once or over time, to work with a therapist of the same gender as the abuser.  While I do not, in any way, believe that anyone should seek the advice of a therapist with whom they would experience immediate discomfort, I am of the deep conviction that a healing relationship with a therapist of the same gender as the abuser could help to lift the limitations a patient might feel with regard to letting themselves be available for a meaningful relationship with another person.

Such a venture is a very tender process, involving time and an openness of expression that could help a patient be liberated of old fears while becoming wise about how to best take care of themselves in situations that, after working through the trauma, might otherwise make them too anxious to allow involvement.  This is the process of moving from the position of victim to permission to thrive, perhaps on an even higher level than even the patient might have allowed themselves to consider.

As with any patient I see, my approach is collaborative.  If a patient is too uncomfortable with the work we are doing, I change my approach to take their feelings into account.  If the work just feels like it is "too much", we take a break.  No one should feel like a prisoner to the therapeutic endeavor.

I invite people who have had such difficult experiences to consider what, to some of my colleagues, seems a radical approach.  I would hope that the discovery would be that there is nothing to lose but some time.

Gil Bliss is a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) with a private psychotherapy practice in Towson, Maryland.  Gil has worked with a wide variety of patients, including individuals, couples and families, along with grief work with children.  His web site is www.gblisscounselor.com.

Tags:

Abuse | Anxiety | Couples | Healing | Intimacy | marriage | Marriage and Family Therapy | Mental Health | relationships, friendships | Sexual | Sexual Trauma | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Trauma | Treatment Modalities

How to "Shop" for Your Therapist

by Jake Jacobsen Monday, June 16, 2014

How can I "shop" for a therapist and what are the essential qualities of a good therapeutic relationship?

These questions go hand in hand, although they are different in content. First, ask yourself: Do you feel more comfortable talking with a male or female therapist? Is it important to you if the therapist is heterosexual or openly gay or lesbian? Do you need individual therapy, couples, family, or group therapy? Are you looking for a structured therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy where you are expected to do homework addressing your problems or do you want a therapy that uses a more relational method?

You should be clear about all of these questions when shopping for a therapist. If, however, you are not clear about what you need, that’s OK too. Start the ball rolling by going to a therapist that has some of what you want. For example someone might choose to work with an openly lesbian therapist that specializes in substance abuse. Once in therapy, the therapist can further assess if the client needs additional help, such as, weekly AA meetings or harm reduction as the main treatment method in the therapy. 

During the first session with a therapist, you will experience first hand how the therapist forms a good therapeutic relationship (or not) by how they interact with you. In that initial session, you can start by asking what the letters after their name signify, and what their training was in psychology. For example: an LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker that was trained in psychology, and psychotherapy techniques. An ATR is a registered art therapist that was trained in the psychology of imagery, psychotherapy, and the creative art process to help people express their emotions. If the therapist isn’t forth coming answering these questions or if the interactions feel too awkward or it just doesn’t feel like a good fit, then that therapist is probably not right for you. I often suggest clients initially come for three sessions to assess the fit. Usually, people know within the first or second session if it feels like a good fit. People are often anxious in the first session so it can be difficult to make an accurate assessment then.

The essential qualities for a good therapeutic relationship are a therapist’s compassionate warmth, professionalism, and transparency with how they are working with you. You want a therapist to be someone with whom you feel you can say whatever is on your mind without feeling judged or pathologized for expressing what you think and feel. A therapist is someone with whom you can feel heard, validated, and challenged by in a compassionately thoughtful way.

Jake H Jacobsen, ATR, LCSW works in Portland, Oregon specializing in working with the LGBTQ community, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Jake uses both online (Skype) therapy, and in-office therapy.  For more information visit http://jakehjacobsen.wix.com/therapyinportland

              

Tags:

Anxiety | Intimacy | Marriage and Family Therapy | Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Treatment Modalities

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