The last few weeks have been rough mood wise. I have no idea why, and like I sometimes say to my patients, does the why really matter? The dark, shadowy mood just descended for no good reason. I needed help. Sometimes help comes in funny packages. For me it started with a series of quotes that seemed to appear out of nowhere but actually were delivered via friends, Twitter and Facebook. They aren't earth shattering, they just spoke to me and the weird mood I found myself in at the time. I'm sharing them with you just in case they speak to you, too…
"Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment." ~Dale Carnegie
"If you just try hard enough and long enough, you can always manage to boot yourself in the posterior." ~A.J. Leibling
"Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart." ~Swami Kripalu
"Self-confidence is the best accessory and cheaper than a new pair of shoes." ~Annie Fox
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anais Nin
Do you have a favorite quote you save for when you can use a lift?
"I think finding a good therapist to work with is a challenging
prospect… Why is it so difficult to find a good therapist?
Because the qualities that might be ideal for one person may not work
as well for another. A therapist is more than a plumber for your mind;
you can’t just pick one at random from the Yellow Pages. Well, you can,
but you may not find the right one using that method.
…No matter what qualities I may suggest a person look for in a
good therapist, ideally a person should look at finding a new therapist
as a test drive, a completely temporary arrangement that may or may not
work out. Most people try going to a single therapist, find it
incompatible with their needs, and never return for a second session
(much less try again with a second therapist). The key is to find a
therapist that seems to complement your needs and your personality."
Having said that, we both agree that there are some fundamental qualities to look for while you are test driving a new therapist. Dr. Grohol said a good therapist:
1) is positive and empathetic.
2) is professional, courteous, and respectful.
3) recognizes his/her strengths and limitations.
4) is genuine.
I would add that a good therapist…
5) is not defensive. If a patient needs something the therapist can't give him like expertise in an area he does not have deep training in; if the patient asks for a second opinion or says something critical about the therapist or her work, as hard as it might be, it is not therapeutic and certainly isn't professional for the therapist to get defensive.
If you haven't seen this 'Save the Date' Video give yourself a treat and click below. As the Huffington Post says, It's so well done that you can't help but love this pair and wish them a lifetime of happiness. Enjoy!
Sometimes we want to be told what to do and that's fine but not always what we need from our therapist. Dr. Keely Kolmes, psychologist and writer, explains…
"…giving advice is not psychotherapy. Therapy is a place to explore
your feelings and learn about yourself. It’s a place of self-discovery.
It’s a place to find out how you have become tangled up and a place to
learn how to untangle yourself. It’s a place to gain a better
understanding of your inner world and your relationships. This process
is what people come into therapy to learn. It’s what mental health
professionals go to school to learn how to provide. Sometimes it takes
time and reflection to see the patterns and it isn’t a quick fix, as
much as both therapist and client sometimes wish it were. Sometimes
just acknowledging and sitting with that pain, confusion, and wish for
an immediate answer is the best thing we can do."
She goes on to say…
"If you want a therapist to tell you what to do, as opposed to helping you figure out what is right for you, it could be worth thinking twice about what you’re seeking."
In other words, in therapy, as in life, the Rolling Stones said it:
You might not always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
To read all of Dr. Kolme's blog post click here.
In ‘Ten Ways to Find a Good Therapist’ I focused on how you can get promising referrals, an important step to locating a therapist who will work well with you. Once you have two or three names, then what?
Narrowing down your prospects is a lot like triage or 20 questions. You don’t want to spend a lot of time talking with someone about your problems only to find out they don’t have room for new patients. First contact is usually made by phone, but more and more frequently people are using email. Either way, making that first call or writing the first email to a prospect can add to your stress so here’s a script that I hope will help in your search:
Hello, my name is *** and I’m looking for a therapist. Your name was given to me by *** [or I found you on the Internet]…
1) Are you taking new patients? If the answer is NO you are done and you can say thank you and goodbye. If YES continue…
2) I am looking for someone to help me with (describe your most critical issue in a sound bite). Do you work with that? If YES continue to the next question.
3) Regarding your payment:Are you a participating provider on my insurance panel? Do you handle the claims? What types of payment do you take? Do not be afraid to be clear about your financial situation. If the answers to these questions are satisfactory to you, go on to the next question…
“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
Last night I couldn't watch the news. I felt ashamed that I turned away from the cries of horror and grief but I knew if I continued to watch I wouldn't sleep. This morning I forced myself to learn more about what is happening in Haiti and how the world is responding. The devastation and loss is unimaginable and it is only beginning.
Way back last Sunday night, after taking a hard look at our finances with my husband, I felt poor. This morning I felt obscenely rich. To be honest, that lasted about 15 minutes, but the understanding that my family has plentiful resources compared to much of the world? That lingers.
In therapy, people with kind hearts tend to minimize their troubles by comparing themselves to others. Others usually have greater hardships to overcome, their pain is greater. I suggest that doing this comparison is a disservice to themselves, that appreciating that the pain my patient feels in their unique situation is real and worthy of attention, regardless of what is happening to someone else. I still feel that way but today I'm realizing something else.
When we see other people suffering, our compassion allows us to detach a little from our troubles. That's a good thing. It's hard to be self-centered in the face of such horrible devastation and by stepping outside of ourselves, even a little, we can come back to our problems with a fresh perspective. That gives us purchase to push back at what's burdening us and leverage to lift us up.
So those of us who felt poor before Haiti's earthquake will donate what we can to the recovery effort, pray for the suffering and go back to our troubles with new resolve and hope.
Haiti Earthquake Relief Links:
Just found this website 59 Seconds, that bills itself as a self-help guide based on proper research. Founded by Richard Wiseman, (now why couldn't I have a name like that?) who was a professional magician (I kid you not) before getting his advanced degree in psychology (it gets better…) AND he's British! That means he has that accent we Americans go gaga over. As John Oliver, of the Daily Show said, anyone who speaks with a British voice in the US is an undisputed authority.
I could really hate him; Wiseman, not Oliver.
But I don't. I like Wiseman and his 59 second shtick. His tag line is "Think a little. Change a lot." He disseminates helpful information he says is gleaned from the scientific literature so at least he's making an effort to be reliable. See for yourself. This video is a taste:
“Life is a journey through time. Happiness is what happens when we make that journey together.” ~Daniel Gilbert, This Emotional Life
Last night's episode of This Emotional Life, the last one of the three part series, was excellent. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, even after two full hours.