How to Choose the "Right" Therapist For You

I have heard a few stories from horrified clients as they tell me tales of pervious therapists they’ve worked with. I remember a particularly interesting story of an out-of-state therapist who suggested my client’s husband (who was suffering from PTSD and multiple chronic physical issues resulting from car accidents experienced on the job) “drink wine” to manage anxiety since his medication was no longer covered by his insurance. Hmm… interesting theory as he subsequently (and not surprisingly) developed a dependence on alcohol.

Now, the important disclaimer for this article is that we therapists are human (shocking, I know), and can occasionally make mistakes or miss the mark. That’s completely normal. It’s also completely normal to not mesh well with a particular type or style of therapy, as there are about a billion ways to approach the same problem. Not every approach is going to match well with you, and that feedback is welcome within the therapy process. This is not the same thing as a clinician who is negligent or careless in their work. This also is not an excuse for you, the client, to make little effort in your treatment. No therapist has a magic wand and can fix your problems for you –you have to be an active participant!

But how can you, the consumer, know just how to find the right fit for you?

1) Ask questions!

Sometimes therapeutic interventions can be so subtle you don’t realize its happening. A truly skilled clinician can sneak interventions in all over the place without you realizing you’re being “therapized”. This is not an attempt to trick you, it is designed to challenge your current way of thinking in a non-judgmental manner and promote the change that you are seeking in a non-blaming way. But if you feel like you are attending therapy week after week without progress, speak up! Advocate for yourself. Check in with the therapist to see where they see the treatment going and give the feedback that you feel stuck. It amazes me to hear clients will spend years in therapy where they felt each week they went in and vented, but nothing changed. This is your time, money and life. Use this as an opportunity to find your voice and get what you’re paying for. 

**Side note – sometimes the therapeutic relationship is used as a means for intervention. For example, if you are someone who is seeking therapy because you feel like a doormat in your own life, the therapist may intentionally be attempting to put you in the driver’s seat to practice assertiveness within a safe space. Speaking up and questioning the therapist may be a therapeutic challenge. So if you speak up, congratulations! You’ve just made a change!**

2) Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to find a good therapist is through personal referrals. Often we still find a stigma attached to going to therapy, so you may be afraid to ask around for fear of judgment by loved ones. But the reality is a good percentage of Americans today are in therapy! I worked at an agency previously where multiple members of the same family would all independently seek out treatment, having no idea that other family members were in treatment as well. It was hysterical when they all ran into each other in the waiting room! Don’t be scared to ask around and get honest feedback from your loved ones. If they have connected with a good therapist, chances are they would be happy to share their positive experience with you!

3) Do research.

When you work in the field long enough, you forget that the rest of the world doesn’t talk in therapy terms. A therapist may advertise themselves using all sorts of acronyms and initials that mean absolutely nothing to you. Look it up! Google can do wonders in helping shed light on some of these foreign terms. Or ask the therapist themselves as they can then tell you how this may apply to your work together. 

Also, don’t be afraid to ask what degree the therapist has, where they went to school and what further areas of interest or trainings they’ve participated in. In Connecticut, the Marriage and Family Therapy programs all produce very competent and well-educated professionals. However, each program has a slightly different theoretical focus. When you combine that with a therapist’s personal area of interest, this results in many different spins on the same process. And while we all do the same work, a Social Worker comes from a different perspective than an LMFT or an LPC (Licensed ProfessionalCounselor). Just like flavors of ice cream, there are many choices to pick from, so try them all and see which you most connect with!

4) Be honest with yourself and take accountability for your treatment. 

If you are someone who looks back on all the various therapists and therapies you’ve tried, but nothing EVER seems to work, it could be time to ask yourself if you’ve given the therapy an honest effort. Therapy can be a complicated journey, and sometimes even though we know we need to make changes, we just may not be ready to do so. And that’s ok. But it is not ok to blame 100 therapists or therapies for your life not changing. There are a huge portion of therapies that are evidenced-based, meaning they’ve been scientifically proven to be effective. It is not some fluke that it “just didn’t work” for you. At the end of the day, when you go home from therapy, you have to implement the changes you’ve discussed. Be honest with your therapist if you find that you are not implementing changes outside of the therapy room. The therapist is there to support you and find ways around the blocks you are feeling.

It is also not ok to discount the therapist because they are asking you to work. Sometimes our role is to challenge you to do things differently or experience uncomfortable feelings that you want to keep avoiding because it hurts. We get that. But we are not pushing you because we are mean. You are coming to us because you want to make changes, and sometimes that means taking emotional risks so you can heal. There are no tricks or magic therapies that will do the hard work for you. If you attempt anything in life at 50% effort, you are only going to see 50% results. The same goes for therapy. We know that the effort you make now to face your pain will result in the healing you are seeking. Our only goal is to help you. Trust us.

Finding the right therapist can come down to trial and error. We as therapists attempt to remain open and curious in an effort to get to know you as best we can. We educate ourselves and fill our tool boxes with intervention upon intervention in an effort to give you the most effective therapeutic experience possible. But we are who we are, and you won’t always like us. We may remind you of that awful 3rd grade teacher who never let you go to recess and there’s nothing we can do about that. Whatever it may be, you have the right as a client and consumer to find the best match for you. Our only expectation is that you enter our partnership willing to try. We’ve got it from there.

With Gratitude,

 


Hello Intuition, You Slippery Little Bugger!

I will be honest when I say that I fully intended on sharing another blog post when I sat down to upload today, but something is compelling me to take a different route. Which is ironic considering the topic. Since I have begun exploring the energy healing world, a common message I’ve been given is “trust yourself, use your voice, don’t let fear stop you”. I have found great frustration in the fact that there seems to be a missing owner’s manual that instructs me how to do this magical thing called “listening to my intuition”. And even more frustration when I ask the Mr(s). Miyagi in my life how exactly I’m supposed to hear my inner voice and she often answers me with “What do you feel in your gut? What is your intuition telling you?” If I knew what my gut was telling me, I wouldn’t be asking!

So try, try, try again. Of course when faced with something I don’t quite understand, I take the most logical step and educate myself. And by educate, I mean obsessively find every book, article and Google link on the subject. I ask a million questions, force myself into meditation, cleanse and open my chakras (whatever that means) and buy every knick knack out there that claims to aid in psychic abilities. The results? The feeling as if my intuition is only slipping further away.

And of course it is! The harder I try to put boundaries and parameters around something so expansive, the cloudier my “vision” gets. Note the word previously used – “logical”. There is nothing logical or methodical about trusting your feelings. My analytical mind is too simple to hear my intuition because intuition is not heard through your overactive mind that seeks to classify every little thing. Intuition is felt in your heart. It’s understood in your soul.

Ok, so I will admit that the hours of forced meditation may have helped in this matter. I think what I (and all of us) need help with is slowing down long enough to sense what was already there. I was so busy with my iPhone and my clients and my life that I completely zoomed by the little voice in my heart guiding me all along. (What am I in such a hurry for anyways??) Ever get that urge to go left when you wanted to go right? Ever pick up the phone to call someone only to discover they’ve just called you? Hello intuition!

Once I settled into simply being present and feeling my heart and soul, as well as the energy around me, I was able to shift my focus. No longer was I looking through my physical eyes, but I was seeing through my senses. I discovered that intuition isn’t a flashing neon light that lays out a road map for me. It’s much more subtle. It may be different for you, but here’s what I experience. My intuition comes like a fact. There are things I just “know”. Sometimes I see a little movie or image in my mind and think “Yup, that fits”. Other times I just open my mouth and words fall out without me really thinking about what I’m saying. If I think back on life and choices I’ve made, I can almost clearly now see how I followed my intuition and really was hearing what message was being sent.

One of my favorite new ways to experience my intuition is with traditional therapy clients. I suppose this has been happening all along, but boy, does awareness open up a whole new level of fun! I will sit with a client as they share their story with me, and I’ll let my energy open to whatever they are sending my way. I’ll take note of any shifts in my mood or sensations in my body. Then, no matter how silly it sounds, I trust what image pops in my brain and I let it out. I may say to a client “You know, I just keep imagining you on one of those hamster wheels going nowhere fast when you talk about your husband, and I think we should try to shift here”. I find about 95% of the response I get is “Yes! That’s exactly it!!”.

Yesterday, I had my most amazing energy healing session yet. All day as I was getting ready for the healing, I kept getting drawn to my pendulum crystals (a crystal of various properties hung from a chain so that it can swing freely, channel your energy and guide your intuition). I started researching (of course) and wrote myself little notes on the properties of each crystal. And then I got the insight to use them during the healing. I had never done this before, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out. 

My client reported he experienced the most intense healing he has ever had. Mind you, he has gone to some fantastic healers that are WAY more skilled and experienced than I. I asked him to pick a crystal that drew him, and he held it throughout the session. I then chose a few that amplify intuition and kept them in my pocket. Once we began, he immediately reported an intense rush of emotions as well as images that came to his mind in response to his session intention. I also experienced another first during his session as his deceased mother made an appearance! I didn’t “see”her per se, but got the funny feeling she was with us. When I asked him, he said in that moment he felt the most incredible and overwhelming feeling of being loved and supported. As the healing progressed, he described many other loved ones who crossed over that visited as well as visions and feelings that showed just how deeply he was releasing old hurts and blocksBy the time the session was over, he was happily “emotionally mushy” and I was reeling with the amazing feeling that I finally figured out how to use my intuition!

Blocks to our intuition can result from many experiences in our lives (and this may include past lives). The key is to know that intuition isn’t only a gift for witches, wizards and psychics. We all have it to varying degrees, and we can all tap into it as deeply as we want to. My suggestion is to get used to slowing down and finding quiet space to meditate and be with yourself. (*Note, if you just got the undeniable urge to avoid this or scoffed at the thought, then I’m REALLY talking to you!!*) It’s normal to want to avoid the discomfort we feel, which is why we get good at keeping busy. If this seems too difficult, then you may want to seek out the safety and support of traditional therapy to learn about your emotions and skills you can develop to manage them. Or consider other therapeutic healings modalities that feel right for you. But the reality is no one can tell you the path you need to take to connect with your intuition. You will only discover this path once you take the first steps.

Well played, Mrs. Miyagi.

With gratitude,

 
 

The Quest for My Truth

Ok, here we go. It’s time to take the plunge into the blogging world… a world I never thought I’d venture into. Lately I’ve had this undeniable nagging urge to pick up writing again. But honestly, what would I write about? The possibilities are endless and incessantly swirling in my mind. My interest in cooking and attempting to master healthy eating post-food allergy diagnosis? My exercise habits that I literally never stick with? My family? My hobbies?

Yes, all of that is good. But I also think it’s time to write about my journey. A journey that I think is familiar to most, if not all. A journey for truth. My truth. Your truth. The truth that we all hold somewhere deep inside. Some are lucky enough to be born with an awareness of this truth, and find it easy to connect with from childhood. Others of us struggle until we’re ready to leave this earth, still scratching our heads wondering why we are here in this lifetime.

I don’t know when my quest started for sure. I do know I was a sensitive kid. I think in a lot of ways, my self-reflection started very early for various reasons. *Spoiler alert, these reasons will probably be the subject of other blog articles!* But I do think my life experiences have been mine for a reason. Each event in my life has been purposefully placed in my path to teach me something valuable that I’ve needed to get me here… wherever here is!

I think the next step in my journey is this… speaking and sharing my truth. Finding my voice, even if that means my dad is the only one who reads these (hi dad!). Saying out loud what we feel inside is how we test out our theories about life. It is also how we begin to have confidence in ourselves. To build the faith that we’re on the right track. To know the beauty that we hold on the inside, and share that with the world. Because that’s what we’re here for.

So, if this sounds even remotely familiar, maybe - just maybe, you’ll enjoy my thoughts. My musings will vary from light-hearted to mind-numbingly deep I’m sure, because that’s all a part of me. But what I hope to accomplish is sharing my soul. To bare all the imperfections and not shy away from them. To honor my truth, and know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. To know that every step and misstep is part of a perfect plan to elevate me to the next level.

I hope you enjoy the ride, as I am learning to do.

With gratitude,