Archive of ‘Support’ category

6 Things Your Therapist Wants You to Know

The decision to work with a therapist is an important one. Whether you are entering therapy by choice or because a parent or caregiver has decided you should, there are a few things your therapist would like for you to know…

By: Caitlyn Weeks, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Caitlyn Weeks, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

If it was easy, you would’ve already done it.

When I meet with a client for our first session, I don’t enter the room with a solution in hand. The truth is, if whatever is bringing you to therapy was easy, you would have already found the solution yourself. As we go through life, we build up a variety of ways to manage our challenges and often do a great job with the skills and tools we develop. If you’re coming to therapy, it’s because it’s complicated and therapists understand this.

No challenge is too small.

Sometimes we experience challenges that lay just below the surface. They don’t feel like headline news but consistently disrupt our plans and goals. We might notice these worries or concerns in dreams, when our mind wanders, or while sitting in traffic. Often, we seem to evaluate our stressors in terms of severity. Let’s drop the “Goldilocks mindset” of too big or too small and recognize that significant relief can come from addressing our day-to-day challenges. In doing so, you can develop tools that apply across situations and relationships and support your future self as well.

This is not (insert movie title here).

I like Netflix as much as the next person and don’t live under a rock. I’ve seen the portrayals of therapeutic relationships on TV and in movies. This is not Hollywood. While an inappropriate relationship or a twisted mental hospital setting may add drama on screen, these are things taken very seriously in the real world. Therapists are held to intentionally high standards (including state boards and codes of ethics) and we believe the therapeutic relationship is one built on mutual respect, not unhealthy choices.

Therapy isn’t for “sissies.”

I believe that engaging in a therapeutic relationship is an act of courage. Opening up to a stranger in an unfamiliar setting can set the bravest palms to sweating. Vulnerability can be terrifying (and really powerful). I know you might be nervous and I’ve been there, too. Like many therapists, I’ve been the client and I know what it is like to sit on the other side of “the clipboard.” I’ve also had life-changing experiences through therapy and believe that it is worth the initial anxiety. In therapy, we focus on building a unique relationship that exists when there is a feeling of safety in the room. Clients are often surprised by how quickly the fears that felt so big in the parking lot get out of the way and let us get started.

“But it’s just talking…”

On average, I meet with a client once a week for 50 minutes. There are 1440 minutes in a single day and 10,080 minutes in a week. Obviously, our session is a small fraction of your time. The work we do in session is only part of the process and the work you do outside of session is incredibly important. Going to therapy with the expectation of minimal investment of outside time is like learning the rules of football without ever showing up for practice and then wondering why the championship game didn’t go so well for you. Therapy is about developing awareness, understanding, and tools and then applying that work to your life. There will still be challenges and experiences we wish had different outcomes. That said, your life is full of opportunities to practice and mistakes are wonderful opportunities for learning.

We don’t think you’re crazy.

Labels often get in the way and popular culture seems to have a pathology-of-the-month. A situation may seem shocking or embarrassing to you but we’re definitely not here to judge. With years of school and training, I only become more sensitive to the fact that any experience involves a complicated interaction of factors like your genes, your environment, our society, your family system… (the list goes on and on). Labels can get in the way of process. We’re here to help you figure out what matters to you and what you’d like to do about it.

 

Therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s incredibly personal and should be. Finding a therapist with a style that fits for you is important and will help you maximize your time, energy, and money. If you think an unbiased perspective in a safe space could be helpful for whatever feels big or recurrent in your life right now, I encourage you to give therapy a try.


Dispelling Some Myths about Introversion

By: Jill Baumgarner, Pre-Graduate Intern Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LPC, LMFT

By: Jill Baumgarner, Pre-Graduate Intern
Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LPC, LMFT

The introverted part of me was something that took me a while to understand. We live in a society that praises and encourages extroverted characteristics; they feel ‘normal’ and we understand them better. I didn’t know why I would feel so exhausted after being social for a few hours. I always needed a “weekend from my weekend”, so to speak. There were times when I would think, “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I not as excited as others to attend large social gatherings?” After doing some research and reading Susan Cain’s work “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and Sophia Dembling’s “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World”, I began to dispel some of the negative things I felt about myself due to my introverted characteristics. Therefore, I would like to share with you a few things I took away from these articles to help you understand your introverted self or loved one a little better.

First, not all introverts are shy and not all shy people are introverts. Shyness is a quality stemming from discomfort and anxiety in social interactions whereas introversion is more about recharging and gaining energy through alone time. This seems to be the number one misunderstanding about introverts.

Second, it’s a common myth that introverts don’t like to be around others. Introversion is not the same thing as misanthropy; introverts just enjoy social interaction in a different way. They may enjoy observations of social situations rather than participation or one-on- one conversation. Quality seems to be more important than quantity for introverts.

Third, it’s a misconception that introverts don’t make good leaders or public speakers. Research has shown that introverts enjoy and excel in roles that involve leading others, speaking publicly and being in the spotlight.

Fourth, some may think that being introverted means that you have a more negative personality. This is usually perceived because introverts actually like being alone. Extroverts, when having spent too much time alone, may feel isolated or depressed and may falsely assume that anyone who spends a lot of time alone must feel that way too. “Different strokes for different folks”.

Fifth, it’s untrue that introverts are more intellectual or creative than extroverts. Again being introverted or extroverted has more to do with how you regain your energy. As Dembling says, “Creativity occurs in an introverted space but that doesn’t mean we’ve cornered the market on it”.

Finally, although you may think the opposite, it’s actually not easy to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted. Being introverted doesn’t mean that you cannot walk up to everyone at a cocktail party and strike up a conversation, it just means that they will be looking forward to spending some alone time later to re-energize after the night’s events.

I would like to conclude my post to you with a very helpful quote I got from Dembling’s article:

“The description that introverts seem to relate most strongly to is the idea that Jung presented, that introverts are drained of energy by interaction, and gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction. It seems to be most strongly an energy thing –- where you get your energy and what takes it out of you.”

 


Public Perception of Counseling and Its Meaning in Society

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Do you or someone you know have a negative view of counseling? On the flip side, how many people do you know who have a positive view of counseling? I am guessing the numbers are about half and half. The public perception of counseling is a diverse one and could be due to a number of factors including cultural views, media, age, and experiences – to name a few.

Let’s sort out the different factors one by one.

Cultural views: Each culture certainly has its own views regarding counseling. In some cultures, talk therapy is seen as completely acceptable and almost expected when you have an unbiased individual to listen to your personal concerns. Sometimes, it can be normal to have a therapist, just like it could be to have a personal trainer, doctor, or other common professionals. However, in other cultures, therapy can be seen as a sign of weakness. This can be due to the fact that in some cultures, your personal business stays your personal business. As such, talking to a therapist is not acceptable and you work out your concerns on your own or solely within the home.

Media: As a therapist, I often get very angry with the way that media portrays therapists. Therapists are seen as flowy clothes wearing weirdos, who get personally intertwined with their clients and over-step boundaries (in every which way possible). Too often, movies and TV shows do not show therapists following the ethical practice standards that real-life therapists abide by on a daily basis. As a young adult (putting my title as a therapist aside), I can completely see why media can give therapists are bad representation in that people may not take therapists seriously or trust them with their personal business. They seem like “weird shrinks,” which is not the most inviting to the average human being.

Age: This can certainly be a factor in whether an individual may choose to come to counseling or not. Often times, the trend can be that those of the older generation are less likely to attend counseling, whereas those of the younger generation are more open to the idea. Due to the sensitive nature of counseling, it is understandable that this may be the trend as older generations were raised in a society where personal business was kept personal. On the other hand, the younger generation lives in a time where everyone and anyone can know their personal business, especially with the rise of social media.

Experiences: Some people have been to therapy before. Some have not. Maybe those who have been before had a negative experience, which can understandably negatively shadow their views on counseling. Those who have never been may have no idea what to expect, which can naturally raise anxiety levels and make one less likely to see a therapist due to the uncertainty.

What comes up for you?

Counseling is a very vulnerable experience. It is understandable that counseling may not be for everyone, but it can and has changed lives. Because April is Counseling Awareness Month, I challenge you to take a moment and think about any of the above listed points. Do any of them stand out to you? Do you relate to any? If so, in what way? Counseling may not be for everyone, but open mindedness can be such a positive factor when considering whether you are in need of talking to a helping professional. There are times when having someone listen to us vent can be a very relieving experience! Society can have a big impact on our perceptions, but it is important to take a moment to dig deep and think about what you as an individual are in need of.

Until next time, be well!

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