Saturday, January 30, 2016
a Millennial, it's hard to imagine HelpPRO once existed in paper form, like a
giant catalog. Even though I’ve been working in mental health
for a few years, the prospect of finding a new therapist overwhelms me. It seems
natural to begin to search for a therapist online, but basic internet searches
lacks the authority you need when you are looking for someone to share your
deepest thoughts and feelings with.
In effort to make the process
easier, I wrote an article “How to Find a Therapist Without Losing Your
Mind" for a new website,
Modernae.com. Modernae.com is
the daily source for smart, original content that informs, inspires and
entertains the 21st century woman.
HelpPRO’s William Blout gave
me some great tips like avoiding e-mailing therapists since it’s easy to
misinterpret tone in an e-mail. Bill also emphasized the importance of finding
a mental health pro that you can trust. As Bill said, “If you don’t trust the
person therapy isn’t going to work. ”You can read more of Bill’s great advice in the article and check out my work on Psychedmedia.com.
Ashley Womble is a writer and
champion for mental health. She is the founder of Psyched, a website dedicated to changing the way
people think about mental health, and the Communications Director at Fountain
House. Connect with Ashley via LinkedIn
Monday, July 6, 2015
You will find all sorts of blogs and checklists out there of what to look for in a therapist. These can be incredibly helpful. However, the DO NOTs of therapy deserve some attention, too.
There are many obvious things a therapist shouldn’t do (see: psych central blog).
Here are some less obvious problems that should raise a red flag.
They fail to seek your informed consent.
Any therapist you see will have you sign a consent form at the beginning of your relationship. This is good, ethical practice. However, they should continually seek your consent as you move forward. Before any exercise, whether it be written, verbal, art or something else, they should check in with you to ensure you’re comfortable with what they are asking. You are always allowed to say no.
They do not ask for feedback from you (or can’t accept it).
Your therapist will be asking about how you are doing and what your experience is with various interventions and conversations. This is good. If they’re not asking, tell them. If they don’t listen, get a new therapist.
Manipulate you into remaining as a client.
Assuming you are attending therapy voluntarily and are not a danger to yourself or others, you have a right to decide who you see for therapy and how long you see them. (Patients in hospitals and in involuntary treatment have rights, too, but that’s a different conversation.) Signing a consent form is not a contract for length of services. You are free to leave whenever you want. If a therapist does not feel like a good fit for you, you can decide to see someone else.
Talk to other people about you.
Your therapist should never talk about your case with anyone. Exceptions do exist to this rule including: you give written permission, the therapist receives a court order, you are suicidal/homicidal or discuss child/elder abuse. This also applies to your written therapy record. If these boundaries are crossed, it is inappropriate and grounds for you to file a complaint against the therapist with their licensing board.
Try to be your friend, business partner or lover.
This is a big no-no. Your therapist is expected to follow the ethics of their profession regarding personal relationships with clients. These rules go something like this: No personal relationship with a current client is ever appropriate. Some professions allow for relationships if your therapy ended 2 years ago. Many professionals err on the side of keeping that boundary in place permanently. If your therapist is making sexual advances, suggesting you grab a drink or asks to borrow money from you, stop seeing them immediately and call the licensing board in your state. This is completely unacceptable behavior.
There are countless wonderful, ethical therapists but there are also a few bad apples. Keep an eye out for these red flags to protect yourself when you see a therapist.
Bethany Raab is a licensed clinical social worker in Denver, Colorado. She owns a private therapy practice where she works with teens, families and young adults.
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
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.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
At the dinner table, we said, “Hey, pass the stew,” and “Give me the gravy when you’re done.” We didn’t say “Please” and we didn’t say “Thank you.” We talked over each other and cut each other off. Conversations were loud and there was a lot of joking and making fun of each other.
My first dinner date with my future husband was almost the last (I found out years later…).
At his dinner table, they said, “Please, when you can, pass the stew. Thank you. Are you sure you are done?” and “Would you like more? Can I get you anything? I’m fine. Thank you. Please take the last roll.” They talked in turn and listened patiently. Conversations were soft and light – usually about something outside of the room.
My language was interpreted initially as rude and crude. His language was boring and superficial to me. It’s amazing we had a second date!
But we took the time to ask questions and discovered that the language was different but the intention the same. We both wanted to be heard and understood and were interested in hearing and understanding each other. So we created our own language. He became bolder in expressing raw thoughts and feelings and I became softer and added “Please” and “Thank you” to my vocabulary.
What language is comfortable for you? If you feel “in conflict” with someone (child, boss, spouse, employee, friend, etc) take a moment to consider:
This person isn’t purposefully rude/avoidant/loud/dismissive/disrespectful; he/she just speaks a different language. Underneath this language is someone wanting to be heard and understood and accepted.
If this person is interested (it takes two to communicate and grow closer) then initiate a discussion on how YOU can learn his/her language:
What do I say that makes you feel closer to/more distant from me?
What can I say that would make you feel closer to me?
Listen to the answers. Say “Thank-you.” Work together. Create a new language that works for both of you.
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: email@example.com. 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I am not a therapist, but I am a certified WRAP and NAMI instructor and I teach people with mental health issues and their families how to not only cope with, but rise above the challenges that people with mental health issues face.
My interest in mental health is from a strong family history of people who have either been diagnosed with mental health issues or those who clearly exhibit behaviors consistent with a diagnosis, but do not believe they have issues.
Those who have sought out treatment (both medical and therapeutic) definitely cope with life on a much higher level than those who have not. You are probably all too familiar with the reasons people choose or refuse to get care.
What I can testify to is that those who consistently monitor their behavior and track it to their lifestyle habits are acutely aware of how important our lifestyle choices are to living a ‘normal’ life.
So how do you accomplish this? Stay tuned…. Each week into February we will explore together tips and suggestions to supplement the care you are currently receiving to make sure you manage your condition instead of it managing you!
Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
While often people acknowledge professional therapy creates gains in self-awareness, more confidence handling relationships, and improved ability to manage stress, how these results are achieved appears mysterious.
What key factors in the conversation happen during a therapy session, which inspire confidence and awareness in the patient, which were previously either weak or lacking?
From years of clinical practice, I summarize the way a therapist listens and responds to a patient, as “bi-lateral listening”. A therapist who helps you reach desired change, listens with both their mind and their heart.
Hearing past the words, gives your therapist a read on your emotions. If someone tells a story that includes major life shifts, and is matter of fact while doing so, a therapist may ask a question that lifts these shy emotions into the therapeutic dialogue. By giving more attention to emotions and identifying and elaborating on them during a therapy session, the patient learns how to know and explain their feelings.
The flip side usage of bi-lateral listening is if a patient during a session talks almost exclusively about their feelings and has little understanding of when feelings arise and how they are effecting both the patient and people in the patient’s life. In this case a therapist most likely would hear the emotions and speak to the cognitive processing of the patient. Your therapist may ask questions that help you collect information and theorize on how you are responding to the ways you express yourself.
As you and your therapist repeat this basic listening process during your therapy sessions, you’ll notice greater balance in your own approach and dialogues in your everyday repertoire with others. What starts developing and strengthening is your awareness of the vastness and complexity of your emotions and thoughts, and your ability to moderate when to express your emotions and when to express your thoughts. You may surprise yourself one day with how naturally you articulate feelings in situations you did not know you had any!
You may notice as well, yourself taking a new path in conversation rather than a debilitating emotional rerun. This will be your magical moment of recognizing the rewards of working with a professional talk therapist.
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.