Therapy is not parent bashing

Therapy is NOT parent bashing

There is an idea out there, that all therapy does, is just blames your parents for all your problems. This post is to help you understand a bit more about this process, why it isn’t that, and what it really is instead!

Many psychotherapists (myself included) spend time rummaging around in your childhood. Many people think “it’s the past, just move forward.” But our brains don’t work like that. They are wired and re-wired as a result of our experiences! Healing from the wounds allows some re-wiring to happen, otherwise you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again (isn’t that the definition of insanity?). If knowledge was the answer, the world would be a different place. Problem is, we have feelings, and knowledge itself doesn’t heal feelings. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Playing the “blame game” isn’t helpful. Sure in therapy we understand what wasn’t taught, that which needed to be taught, what wasn’t given that needed to be given. What was done that was hurtful. What would have been more helpful and what was damaging, etc. ect. But we can’t stay there and the goal isn’t to just blame away. Because guess what. We can’t undo, or redo. But we can UNDERSTAND more. And blame can be lifted of yourself, and of the situation, but understanding can happen and compassion can be cultivated.

For people who describe their childhood as “mostly good,” there seems to be much resistant to go to these places. Almost like we are blaming parents or calling them bad or something. It is this dichotomous thought process that everything has to be black OR white. Just because you had an unmet need doesn’t mean your parents were bad, or that you’re weak, or overly sensitive. It is what it is. Understanding these needs are essential in undestanding these patterns that have been set in motion, these defensives that have been build. With knowledge and awareness comes space to create change!

Now, you might be saying, “Stacey, but I did have really shitty parents, and they are the cause of all of my problems.” No doubt, as a trauma specialist I work with a lot of people, who have had super shitty parents. In fact, knowing what some people have lived though makes me marvel at what we can withstand as a species. Some people test our strength through extreme sports. Some people had no choice but to withstand what was given and kept living.

No matter where you lie in the spectrum of childhood experiences, you can say whatever you want about your parents, but the goal of therapy isn’t to blame them for all your problems and to not just speak ill about them. In therapy we explore the depth of the childhood experiences, understand how the past is impacting current relationships and other problems, and move toward a place of understanding, healing, and wholeness rather than blame, hurt, and emptiness.

MOST people have a mix of wonderful and not so wonderful memories of childhood. Unfortunately, some have horrible memories and not many good memories. Working out the attachment confusion of an abuser also being your only source of love is difficult and fucked up really, but the points I’m trying to make are:
1. you didn’t need to have to have a horrible childhood to heal old wounds
2. despite how horrible it was, you are entitled to your story and it’s not the therapists job to bash – we support and validate you, but when we bring to the table some tough stuff, it’s not in the spirit of bashing, but should be in the spirit of understanding.

Hope this clears up any fears or confusion around this topic!

If you are wanting to read more about this check out my older blog post

How do I know then I'm done with therapy?

How do I know when I’m done with Therapy?

I have a love/hate relationship with ending the therapeutic relationship with my clients. I love the fact that I see my clients reach their goals that once felt impossible when they began therapy and am so grateful to have been a part of their journey. I also become saddened by the ending/loss of the relationship. I love my clients so much, that I truly miss them when they go, even when the reason is positive! So this topic is as difficult for me as it is for my clients!

I work very much on a weekly to biweekly to monthly and maintenance visits with my clients. Usually people come in starting weekly or biweekly (whatever works best for need, scheduling, finances, etc) and then when my clients are feeling better I bring it up in session.

I’ve been known before to say something like, “you know, you don’t NEED to come in every week anymore.” But I’m not always a jackass. Often there is a mutual feeling between me and my client that “things are going well” and I recognize that I’m doing more work on “instilling treatment gains” than I am helping my clients navigate problems. So I usually bring up their progress and may ask, “so what do you need from therapy at this point?” or even, “what do you need from me at this point?” This usually opens up a discussion into my client’s progress, goals completed, and if they have more goals to work on we can get refocused, and if it’s just maintaining then I usually recommend monthly visits so that there is more to cover between sessions and we can see how things go with less frequent visits (do you find you’re falling apart? or managing well without so much support).

What if my therapist doesn’t bring up reducing our sessions or ending? Will I hurt his/her feelings if I do?!

Although I do believe scheduling aimlessly with clients week after week to not be of highest ethical standards, I have been told by my colleagues that they think I bring it up too much. Then again, I suppose it is my goal to work myself out of a job, that I know will never happen, but rather I just get to serve more and more people. But anyways, if your therapist hasn’t brought it up yet, he/she may think that you are still wanting/needing the ongoing support and is just following your lead (because it is your treatment after all!) So it’s important to let your therapist know where you’re at because we can’t read minds! :)

A great way to bring this up to your therapist might be saying something like: “You know, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my therapy goals and how I was feeling when I first came in, and I realized I feel so much better and I think I completed my goals!”

Your therapist will likely be very pleased and ask you how that makes you feel…… It will likely turn into a discussion on where you’re at in therapy and where you need to/want to go.

Do I want maintenance therapy visits? Or do I want to end all together?

Again, you’ll likely figure this out with your therapist, but for my clients usually if they’re feeling they completed their goals, but are afraid of going backwards, or not wanting to dive fully into the deep end, but step comfortably down into the cold water, maintenance visits make a lot of sense. The frequency of maintenance visits can look different from person to person depending on how often you were going previous but usually they are monthly visits. I even have clients who come in every 2-3 months, just having me around and an appointment on their calendar feels better for them.

Other clients I have are sometimes comfortable with completely ending. Life is going well and it seems silly to pay money for what otherwise feels like a discussion over coffee and if that’s how maintenance visits are looking, then ending usually is the most logical sense. My clients know that even when ending, they are always welcome to return. And although my goal is for them to not struggle with the same problems in the future, I do know that more problems arise in life and glad they know they have someone they can turn to if support is needed again in the future.

If you’re currently navigating this issue, I hope this article served you well. And if you’ve googled such a problem and landed on this page then CONGRATS! I’m glad you’re feeling better. I hope bringing this accomplishment up in therapy either depends your therapy goals, or helps move you to new beginnings into life after therapy, or life in between therapy :)

Thinking about ending therapy but not because of positive reasons and moreso because you’re feeling worse? Read this article first, which has seemed to be helpful for people to understand more about the therapy process and next steps to take.

Your therapist has been in therapy

Your therapist has been in therapy

I actually hate the stereotype that “therapists are therapists for a reason” indicating likeness of past issues and struggles with mental health.  It actually makes me cringe a little when I hear that….. What I can tell you, though, is –  it is a good thing if your therapist has been in or is currently in therapy.

Not all colleges require their graduate students to receive therapy, but it is often highly encouraged. Honestly, I would like it if social work/psychology/counseling programs to push it more and describe why it is necessary (in my opinion) in becoming a therapist. In addition to all the papers, graduate school is 2 years of extensive self examination, assessment and reflection.  I thought nothing was going to make me grow and challenge me as much as grad school did….. and then I opened a business.  Oye Vey!

We have often worked and trained very hard to understand what it is like to sit in your seat

We know it is uncomfortable, we know what it is like to want to dig your heals in, and know how it feels to be challenged or called out on something. It is my belief that by revisiting the experience in your seat, we are better in tune to how to respond and best promote growth, while being compassionate, empathetic, and challenging all at the same time.

I actually spent a part of my life wishing something was wrong with me so that I could go to therapy.  Silly right?  Or does that alone qualify as a need for therapy? ;-)  In High School I had a friend that went to therapy but never opened up and it didn’t help as a result, and I wished I had that because I wanted to open up. I had so much to let out that I never wanted to tell my parents, and even my closest friends. I didn’t even want to think the thoughts.  I wanted an outlet and I couldn’t have it, because there was nothing “wrong” with me.  I was a high achieving student with an amazing family and support system.  No one knew I wanted this.  I’ve never told anyone.

I finally was able to get myself in therapy in graduate school.  I was paying for it as it was included in the cost of the program, so I finally marched my butt down there.  This was a good decision.  I was nervous to go. I also didn’t want my classmates who were interning in the counseling center to see me, even though I was open with my friends about going.  This helped to break the stigma barrier and to allow the permission to seek out therapy whenever I wanted it.

I realize as an adult, and as a therapist, I can go to therapy whenever the hell I want to

I didn’t need to have a horrible upbringing or experience a massive trauma. I can have little problems; I can have big problems.  Therapy has helped me understand things about my upbringing that I didn’t realize were affecting me in certain ways.  It doesn’t mean it was a bad childhood, but our childhood shapes us, and understanding it can help to figure out how to tackle current problems and to really understand and know ourselves. Therapy can also provide an unbiased supporter to really reflect on feelings without worrying about the reaction of someone else.  It’s a great gift, therapy is.

Have I worried about therapists with a lot of issues serving other people with a lot of issues?  Yes, I have, and I do.  I mainly worry when they are not getting the help that they need as that leads to projection and a whole sort of issues that makes me worry for the client.

I believe that the therapy we provide can only go as deep as we are willing to go with ourselves.

I really value going deep and bringing myself to those places for my own well being and to be able to tolerate and provide the space needed for my clients when they go there too.

Do therapists have to always be in therapy?  No, not all the time.  But it’s super great, especially when life throws curve balls.

When I reflect on the colleagues I have and who I am most likely to refer a client to, that person is in or has been in therapy.  They are often the colleagues I see to be most competent in their job.  In my opinion, personal growth is an essential part of your therapist resume.

I wanted to share this with you today because my clients often find it comforting to know that therapists go to therapy, and not because they are crazy, and not because our clients drive us crazy, but because we value knowing ourselves, going deep, and becoming the best therapists we can be.

Can I afford to invest in therpy?

Can I afford to invest in therapy?

What if I told you that by investing 5% of your annual salary in YOURSELF for 1 year could significantly change your life?

That’s what therapy does, and that’s roughly how much it costs.

When the topic of therapy comes up it’s always followed by “but it’s sooo expensive…. But the cost…. I don’t have that kind of money…. Therapy is only for rich people….” and so many more things.

Honestly, I often feel deflated when these topics come up.  Even around my own friends and family.  But I remind myself, it’s not about me.

More honestly, I used to think that way too! **embarrassing moment** I did not value myself enough to invest in myself. I realized I unconsciously took on the same views and beliefs of my social influences, without really looking into if for myself and developing my own thoughts and opinions around it!

The purpose to this blog post is to shed a different view on things… on investing in your health. I think information on this would have been valuable to me personally and wish I had realized it much sooner! So hope this helps others!

I provide psychotherapy in the Rochester metropolitan area. Most of my clients are from Monroe county but I have some that live in Wayne, Orleans, and Ontario county as well. The median household income for this area is about $52,000 – $53,000 a year. If the Average Rochesterian saw a therapist at $100 a session (oh hey, that’s my current rate, how did that happen?) and went to therapy every other week for a year, that comes out to be 5% of the person’s annual income!! WHA? 5 percent?! That’s so little!

Stacey, I got some serious shit, I think I need to come weekly, how expensive if that?! Well, if you saw me weekly at $100 a session that’s 10% of the average person’s salary, but there is a good chance your household likely makes more than that. Score! Also, I take time off, you take vacations and I’ve never seen anyone weekly for a year. Not mainly due to vacations, but because my clients are surely feeling better in the first year to the point that they don’t feel they need weekly therapy anymore and move to biweekly sessions. If you still want to come weekly I’m not gonna kick you out, but we will talk about what is healthy, what is needed and what is appropriate. Cause, therapy addiction is a thing. Wait, I just made that up. I don’t think that’s a thing. (but anything can be addictive right?!)

When I finally put some of these numbers into perspective, it helped me to be able to invest in myself.  I know we all have monthly bills of all sorts of kinds and some we can’t give up (you telling me to cut my Netflix?!) but I noticed things change for me when I invested less into things I that didn’t help my well-being and personal growth and started investing into things that do help my well-being and personal growth. (Beat bugs keeps me sane).

Therapy isn’t the only well-being investment out there.  I invest in other things too like workout classes, yoga, massage, pedicures, fresh vegetables…. etc….. But really those investments are ongoing every year!  Therapy is often intensive (weekly – bi-weekly) during rough times and transitions and less intensive during stable times (monthly, quarterly, not at all).  So one year therapy might cost you $5,000 and the next year it might cost you $500! (so on and so forth with a variety of combinations from a lot of money to no money at all).

That investment in yourself is priceless (in my opinion) as what you learn in therapy stays with you forever.  Granted you change as you grow so tune ups are sometimes desired by clients, but usually the core work has been managed and your life is much more enjoyable due to that initial intensive investment!  So really, therapy is the gift that keeps on giving :-P

What if I told you, you might even make that money back financially?!

Everyone has different struggles and goals in therapy, but I’ve seen a good portion of my clients grow into higher paying jobs, or more financially fulfilling businesses. How so? For one, increased confidence goes a long way when it comes to jobs as well as being more productive due to managing your emotions and life more effectively.  Think about how time an energy consuming it is to have relationships, or experience the death of a loved one, or to be struggling with depression or anxiety.  A LOT of time and energy.  So managing that well can lead to a more productive life in many ways.  Some clients end up saving money in other ways because they are no longer trying to buy their happiness and spend money wisely.  So in many ways, my clients earn back their investment in therapy. How cool is that?!

Stacey, I make less than $50,000 a year. What does that mean for me?

Well, some therapists work on a sliding scale.  Meaning if you are making less than the average income the therapist set the fees in line with, you could potentially qualify for a discount, as long as it is income based.  This all depends on what your income is and if the therapist has any sliding scale slots open. (we often put a cap to the amount of slots so our entire caseload doesn’t end up at a discounted rate).  So it doesn’t hurt to inquire about a sliding scale that you might benefit from, otherwise finding another therapist or a therapist on your insurance panel might be a good option. Not all therapists charge $100, you might find one that charges $70 and that is more in line with your income.

Funny you mention insurance Stacey. I pay a monthly premium for my insurance company.  Aren’t I entitled to use my insurance? I’m already spending the money.

Well yes, but let me explain a bit about that…..

Your insurance company sees mental health as an illness. A mental illness if you will. They want to see you NOT sick, and functioning. Not necessarily functioning well, but functioning. Working under the insurance model doesn’t accept working on self-esteem to be a real goal

(side story: I was told that once in my early years as a therapist “Stacey, self-esteem is not an acceptable treatment plan objective” I was lost and confused as to what job I signed up for)

or working on steps toward landing your dream job, or developing deeper meaning in life, or establishing meaningful, connecting relationships and all those wonderful things that people want to get out of therapy.

What insurance companies look for is if you are eating, sleeping, getting out of bed in the morning, taking a shower, not attempting to kill yourself resulting in ED visits, and not being a threat to others and so forth…

You might be struggling with some of the things insurance companies cover, but once those are improved, insurance no longer covers the services. Working on fulfillment in life will not be covered by your insurance company.  I am glad that insurance covers these services, as they are necessary for people, but then it comes to an end when you’re managing and honestly, that’s not why I became a therapist. I’m not about managing; I’m about enjoying!!

You definitely can find a therapist that takes your insurance and benefit from therapy, but I would encourage you to think about your treatment goals and objectives, shop around for the therapist that you feel like you could connect the best with and make your determination from there.

If you are in need of someone who takes your insurance panel, I’d be happy to help point you in the right direction!

I’m willing to pay fee for service therapy but I’m finding therapist charging anywhere from $60 a session to $200 a session.  Why such a difference?

There are so many factors that go into pricing for therapists.  Often newer therapists charge less and experienced clinicians charge more, but I’ve seen less experienced clinicians charge more and very experienced clinicians charge less so if you are looking to pay for experience, it is important to look not just into years experience but advanced training and ongoing education you therapist is getting.  Remember all these licenses and ongoing trainings are quite costly and factors into your price.

Some therapists rates differ so much pending on their own personal needs and lifestyle. Some people are supporting themselves, some are supporting a family. Some are doing it on the side for extra money, some it’s the only source of income.

Some therapists have a lot of overhead, some don’t have as much. Some offer more amenities, some don’t offer any.

For whatever reason you will find a HUGE rage of fees from therapist to therapist.  It is important that you do your research on finding the best therapist for you and feel you are getting you money’s worth in regard to investment.  Obviously the more you make, the bigger pool of therapists you have to choose from.

In closing, I encourage you to think about therapy as an investment in yourself. Look at your income and what a reasonable cost is for you, considering the benefits that you gain from therapy, and find a good match for a therapist within your price range.

person at dusk for blog entry. feeling worse after therapy session

What to do if you are Feeling Worse after your Therapy Session

Feeling Worse?

 

So you have been going to your therapist for a few sessions now and you have felt good after your appointments.  Suddenly, however, you get home from your most recent appointment and you are feeling worse.  You notice you are having an increase of anxiety or depression or just overall discomfort.

“Is therapy making me worse?” You ask yourself

This is completely normal to happen at some point and various points along the therapy journey.  Change is uncomfortable.  Chances are it is a GOOD thing that you are experiencing a slight increase of symptoms.  It means you are moving outside of your comfort zone and the work is happening.

How to cope

  1. Keep a log of what is going on.  Don’t analyze and overthink the situation (I know easier said than done).  Just keep a note of how you are feeling and when you have the feelings.  Make note of what is more difficult for you to do.
  2. Engage in self care.  I’m sure your therapist and you have worked on self-care and calming techniques. Use those.  Guided imagery, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation.  Or engage in a hobby or activity – go for a walk, take a bath, read a book (whatever works for you).
  3. Know that it will pass.  If this is just a response to discomfort and working in therapy know that the “worse” feeling will pass and know that it means you are changing and doing what you set out to do in therapy.
  4. Allow yourself to feel.  It is important to be mindful of the feelings and not completely run away from them.  They are informative to you and your therapist.  Allow yourself to sit with the discomfort for a while before jumping into your self care.  This will help you increase your tolerance for emotions.

Call your therapist if:

  1. The symptoms persist or continue to worsen more than 2 or 3 days.  You know yourself and your baseline and if you are not falling back into your usual swing of things it would be good to inform your therapist to see what he/she recommends that you do.
  2. If the above coping is not “working.”  If you are feeling your feelings, logging them, engaging in self care and using positive statements of “it will pass” and the symptoms are significant enough, then please call!
  3. If you call into work because your symptoms are that significant to warrant inability to function.  Mental Health Days are good here and there.  But if you are calling in because you feel you cannot perform your job  because your depression is keeping you in bed or your anxiety is through the roof. Call your therapist immediately.

What is my therapist going to do?

Your therapist will assess the situation by asking you about your symptoms and functioning and determine the best level of intervention.  It may be reviewing coping strategies, asking you to call on your supports or scheduling you to be seen again within the same week to work on re-stabilization.

Your therapist is trying to help you facilitate change.  So sometimes we push you into your discomfort to illicit a response.  With the nature of therapy and mental health something can be triggered that you and your therapist are both unaware of that result in pushing too much and the symptoms increase more than we wanted them to.  These things happen and your therapist is trained to help you re-stabilize and put together a plan of action as you continue to move forward in therapy.

DON’T DROP OUT OF THERAPY

Whatever you do PLEASE CALL YOUR THERAPIST.  I know you went to therapy to feel better and not worse, but again, it is part of the process.  If you drop out of therapy you are leaving with an open wound that could become infected.  If you choose that now is not the right time for you the be in therapy, at least meet with your therapist 1 or 2 more times to help you stabilize before ending.
If you have questions regarding this topic/blog entry I encourage you to comment below or send me a message.

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Will therapy help me?

“Will therapy help me?”

“Of course therapy will help you!!” is the first thing I want to say, but I refrain.

I am obviously biased. I wouldn’t be a therapist if I knew it wasn’t helpful.

I might say however,

“What is the problem?”

“What are your goals?”

“What do you hope to gain from therapy?”

That information can help us determine how therapy can be beneficial for you. Or, maybe we will discover that you are looking for a detective, or a psychic, and in that case, I am not the one to come to.

The truth is therapy is hard work, but as your therapist, it is my job is to help you along the way.

Unfortunately I can’t “fix” you or give you the answers or tell you what to do.  What I can do is help you to solve your problem and provide you with the tools that you need to become successful in accomplishing your goals.

“But don’t crazy people go to therapy?”

“If I come to you does that mean I’m crazy?”

Well, if we work together, you’ll have a better understanding of why you are the way you are.  Plus, therapy will help you to be more equipped to change the things that you want to change about yourself and learn to love the rest.

Oh – and by the time we’re done ( likely much sooner) you will no longer feel crazy!

Did I answer your question?  “Will therapy help me?”  If you’re reading this post there probably is something you want to change and therapy can very well help you in that process.

Good Luck and I look forward to hearing from you.