Psychotherapy’s Benefits & the Right Therapist for You

Read this article. To Reap Psychotherapy’s Benefits, Get a Good Fit

It has good advice for those in therapy or thinking of engaging a therapist.  When people call me to set up an initial session I recommend that they interview me as well.  In other words, they are encouraged to ask me questions in the service of helping them determine of I am a “good fit” for them.  It’s one of the things I do to help develop what psychotherapists call a “working alliance,”  essentially team building.   

If we’re not a  good fit one or the other of us knows pretty quickly, sometimes even in that first call.  And it could be for all kinds of reasons; I may not have the expertise they are looking for, my office location or schedule may be prohibitive, they’d rather see a male therapist…  What’s more difficult to identify is when the lack of fit has more to do with that “je ne sais quoi” of personality or approach or style.

A good therapist is one who makes every effort to hone many skills since not any one is going to fit every person who comes to you for help.  We carry many tools in our tool kit.  A professor in graduate school said, “If you only have a hammer all you see is nails.”  Even if we only treated one person, as that person progressed through therapy their needs will change and so must the therapist’s interventions. 

So what happens when I don’t have the tool for what my patient needs?  Often I go to a colleague for peer supervision.  Sometimes I will read on the subject or go to a continuing education workshop.  Once in a while the best answer is to suggest a consultation with another professional.

What complicates this decision for the therapist is the concept of counter-transference.  We need to be good and sure that we aren’t pushing our patient away simply because we are frustrated, something about them irritates us and that something has more to do with who we are rather than the problem the client brings to us.

This is probably more information than you ever wanted so I’ll stop now.  Let me just say that being a good therapist requires quite a bit of juggling, balancing and constant assessment, not only of the patient but of ourselves.  To achieve that, our education and training never stops.  That’s what makes us professionals.

My Horse is My Therapist

Back in June I got an email from one of my favorite horsey magazines “Horse Illustrated.”  They wanted to print a little submission I sent about my opinion on riding helmets in the July 2007 magazine.  Troxel sponsored the segment and for the privilege of getting printed they offered me a new helmet!  They asked me what size and color I would like.  Classic black, of course!   What came in the mail was a periwinkle blue.   Oh, well, what’s that saying about a gift horse?  Here’s what I wrote…

A lot of us have reason to know that riding at fifty is a bit different from riding at fifteen.  Growing up with horses the only headgear required was a good straw cowboy hat in the summer and a warm felt one in the winter.  I remember spending days breaking in my hats so that the brim folded up just so and it didn’t look too embarrassingly new. When I first got back to riding after a twenty-year hiatus my instructor informed me of the stable rule, no helmet, no ride.  This was new for me and at first I felt like an idiot.  The helmet was big, the strap under my chin choking.  Over time it became a habit like my cowboy hat used to be, but I still felt a bit silly.  Then I took a couple of serious tumbles, or else I believe they would have been serious if I didn’t have the properly fitting helmet strapped on.  Now I have several helmets just like I had my collection of hats, different ones for different occasions, show, trail, schooling.  I’ve made other adjustments.  My hair is cut short to fit under my helmet, rather than fuss with hairnets or bands.  In other words, I’ve become friends with my helmet.  What was forced on me at first, I now embrace as being as essential to riding as my boots.

Here I am in my new helmet on my Annie enjoying a walk at Maple Row Farm.

Photo taken by Sofia F. Aletta


Real Deal: Advice 4 Tweens & Moms

My daughter is a clever writer.  She’s always coming up with stories, spending hours at her computer writing and editing and then sharing them with me.  Below is an excerpt from a story she composed featuring a fourteen year old girl who writes an advice column with her beautiful, chic, middle aged, psychologist mother.  Where does she find her inspiration!? 

I thought the idea of an advice column from the two points of view is great.  If you have any questions you’d like to suggest, please write us through the “comments” and we’ll consider responding to it for a future post. 

Dear Real Deal,
My mom says that I dress like a slut!  But I’m only dressing like the kids in my school.  Whenever I tell her that she only explodes and gives me the “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?” speech.  Right now I would, just to get away form her!  What do I do?
Not a Slut!

~Vanessa’s Take~
Dear Not A Slut,
I say that if dressing like a slut,
or a little more skimpy than usual, is your style then
keep it that way. But if you’re only dressing this way to
follow the latest trend at school I say find a better, more
comfortable style that fits you! =-)

~Mom’s POV~
Dear NAS,
If I were in your situation I would try to find a compromise with my mother.  For example, let’s say you were going to a party.  You could agree to dress with less exposure if your mom agreed to let you wear one article of clothing that is more skimpy.  As a mom I appreciate the effort it takes to negotiate terms where everyone gets, not everything they want, but at least a chunk of what they want.  I hope this helps.
Dr. A.

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