If the shoe fits…4 ways to find the right therapist for you

Choosing a counselor that is right for you is a lot like finding the right pair of shoes. And one size does not fit all in the case of finding the mental health therapist that is right for you. What works for one person will absolutely not work for another. Consider the shoe shopping analogy. When you’re shoe shopping, you’re going to go for the shoe that you feel comfortable with, has a style that suits you, incites creativity and inspiration, and will sustain the wear for the long haul.

 

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See? More than one style to fit more than one person…

 

Most people aren’t going to think twice about not buying a pair of shoes that pinches toes and has heels so high that you can’t walk a step in them, right!? So why should finding a therapist be any different?

Let’s tease apart these details a little further as there are definitely the do’s and don’ts of finding a therapist/counselor that suits you.

1. No matter what, you must feel comfortable with your therapist. Your therapist is someone that you will be {read should be} telling your innermost thoughts to. Your therapist should not: be judgmental, rigid, and or tell you what you should do.

Good therapists are not advice givers. Good therapists recognize that their client is their own best expert and knows what they need to do, although talking about it with a trusted source is how the healing begins and the decision processes occur.

Your therapist should never judge you or make you feel less than because they disagree with something that you have said or done. Therapists should recognize that humans will make mistakes and have difficult decisions to make—and continue to show support throughout.

2. Your therapist should have a therapeutic and interpersonal style that resonates with you. I’ll use myself as an example. By nature, I am quiet in my tone and assertive in my communication, but not aggressive. I would never do well with a therapist that was forceful or overbearing. Some individuals prefer the more forceful “tell me what to do approach” but I know myself enough to know that I would never go back if a therapist was loud and aggressive with me. If you enjoy a sense of humor or a truly authentic person that will curse in front of you and tell you how messed up the world is—then these are the traits that your therapist should have.

If you cannot relate to someone on an interpersonal level, your therapist and you will not be successful. Therapy is a human centered business. Underneath it all, we all have struggles and it’s important for you to find that counselor who is able to communicate the most effectively with you. And has an interpersonal style that matches your personal preference.

3. Your therapist should help to inspire you. Inspiration occurs when a new idea is brought forth to you, you totally “get” it, and you feel inspired to be a better mom, dad, sister, aunt—person. Maybe your therapist validates your feelings of how difficult and tiring motherhood is, but is able to point out all of your successes in raising your son. This very interaction could ultimately be enough for you to realize what a valuable asset you are and thus propel—aka inspire—you to be the best mom that you can be for your son.

See, therapists have this unique ability to “plant the seed” in their clients. They can tell you a tiny fact that that you may or may not have known about yourself and from that tiny seed grows a beautiful flower. And the beauty of hearing it from someone you’re not related to or friends with is meaningful in itself.

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4. Your therapist should be in the therapeutic process with you for the long haul…or until your insurance runs out…! Unfortunately most people cannot afford to attend therapy unless their insurance pays for it—and most managed care companies only allot 6-12 sessions annually. With this being said, your therapist should be someone that is truly working with you, not just telling you what you want to hear, or endlessly scratching notes on a yellow legal pad as you spill your life story and current issues.

Your therapist should not “shy away” from the difficult stuff that you bring to the table. Therapists should take responsibility for choosing this profession and be open to hearing some of the very hard, traumatic details of you—their client’s—life. Burnout in the counseling profession is a very real phenomenon and counselors must take the steps necessary for their own self-care so that they may best help you move forward and heal.

Tying it all together…

Please realize that you always have the option to bow out of receiving individual counseling from a particular therapist if the two of you truly are not jiving on a core level (I’m not referring to an instance where you may not like something your therapist said-tell them why you didn’t like it! I’m referring to a deeper experience of just really not caring for the person you’re about to go bare your soul to).

For example, maybe you can’t put your finger on it but your gut instinct is that you don’t care for them. If you go into a session knowing that you’re not a fan of your therapist, how do you think you’re going to be able to effectively process and work through what you need to?!

Never sell yourself short throughout the process of finding and working with a therapist. As you change, your needs may change and you may have outgrown your current counselor. Maybe you want to reduce your sessions from once a week, to once a month, to once every three months for a periodic check in. Your therapist should not take this personally.

Choose a therapist that causes you to feel comfortable, is easy to talk to, and is focused on you in the session. Therapy is not about the therapist and what they have overcome, how they solved a problem, etc. Therapy is your time to shine so to speak. The therapy session is a sacred place for you to go when you need feedback, evidence based techniques for healthy living/sorting out a problem, or quite simply— to feel HEARD.

I believe that therapy is one of the most healthy, self-indulgent (in the most positive sense of the word!) and glorious experiences that a person can have. How often in life do you get a full 50 minutes to an hour block of time where you are able to talk openly and completely about yourself, your dreams, your triumphs, your progress, your hopes, your fears, your experiences?

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come strength”. –Sigmund Freud

Find the therapist that speaks to you on a deeper level. Just like in any other relationships you have in life, don’t settle. You deserve more.

Wishing you supportive therapy today and everyday should you so choose to partake in the process,

Rachel Ann

Why is facing reality so hard? The how and why of avoidant behaviors

“Face your fears. Know what you’re realistically capable of. Create a reality you love.”

Life is peppered with these statements from well-meaning folks, myself included. While these saying are meant to encourage and motivate, facing reality continues to be a struggle for many.

 

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Just because you look away, doesn’t mean it’s not happening…

 

What is it about “facing the music” that causes people to run? To indulge in too much alcohol so that they don’t have to face reality and instead, be numbed out for a while? To self-sabotage healthy relationships so that they don’t have to face the reality of being a part of a part of a healthy union? To flat out shut down and refuse to talk about the issues that need to be addressed the most because you think that avoidance will cause disappearance?

Let me remind you. Avoiding an issue does not cause it to go away. In fact, avoiding your truth, your reality, is a surefire way to prolong the inevitable and cause tension within yourself and others.

 “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

Reality is avoided because it means we must be the best version of ourselves and own up to our mistakes however humbling that process may be. And quite frankly, people don’t want to have to 1) be the best version of themselves or 2) own up to their mistakes. Thus avoidance enters the picture.

I once knew a woman that absolutely recognized that there were issues in her marriage. She was able to cite these problems to me and anyone else that would listen. However, she was not able to address them with the person that she needed to the most: her husband. Instead, they skirted around the issues, swept their problems under the proverbial carpet, and consequently became more and more distant from one another. What happened with this marriage? It disintegrated and resulted in divorce. All because both partners avoided the issues at home at all cost. Their work lives maintained, yet their relationship died and they both talked about feeling a loss, a sense of profound sadness in their personal life because the relationship was no more.

Owning our reality is uncomfortable. Reality is allowing life to be exactly what it is, no rose-colored glasses or avoidant behaviors in place. And I’ve noticed that people do not like this unglamorous, real-life way of living.

Sure, accepting reality is difficult, but the end result is one that so far outweighs the feelings of uncomfortableness that if most people knew that truth, they would wonder why they ever waited so long to accept the reality of their current situation.

When you accept reality, relationships will change. And in turn, facing reality will cause you to change! When you are able to see your relationships for what they are and begin to see yourself in the natural light of day, your relationships will naturally become more authentic because you are not living in a façade of make-believe.

When you are more authentic and self-aware, you will be able to observe how your interactions with others make you feel, gaining confidence in your ability to be discerning.

Avoidance is a technique that temporarily alleviates pain or discomfort. Ultimately, avoidance becomes almost a defense mechanism to protect yourself from the truth.

So you find out your partner is cheating yet you continue to live like nothing has happened? Avoidance can be used here to save face for the kids, to keep up public personas, and to attempt to maintain normalcy, yet this kind of behavior can only continue for so long. Maybe the very act of avoidance is causing you to drink alcohol more often or spend more time away from the house because you can’t handle the stress. Either way, the situation is not healthy.

Living in make-believe land is only a temporary reprieve from everyday stress.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Consider the aspects in your life where you have either consciously or unconsciously avoided the truth.

What would it be like for you to accept reality?

How would it change your life to admit that you are in an unhealthy situation/relationship/lifestyle?

In what ways would you have to make self-improvements once you accept reality?

Realize that the only person that can accept your reality is you. And likewise, the only person that you can control is yourself. If you are not living your truth, if you are not currently living the reality that you want to, then you have to be the one to make healthy changes. No one else will make the changes for you.

Accepting reality is accepting yourself in all the best and worst parts. While the process can be humbling and cause you to face parts of yourself that aren’t your favorite, it is necessary and if utilized correctly, can be life-changing.

Recognize when you are using avoidance behaviors in an effort to not face reality. Make the decision to be cognizant of truths and even better, seek truth in your everyday existence.

“Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Be the best version of yourself that you can be, today and everyday.

Wishing you success in accepting reality and seeking truth daily,

Rachel Ann