The Right Fit: Choosing a Therapist
Most of us were raised in a culture where asking for help was not easy and even downright terrifying!
It takes a leap of faith to make that initial contact with a therapist and hope this person may be able to help mitigate the discomfort or pain we present with. People are told to "listen to their gut" or "trust their instincts" in finding a therapist to work with. A problem with that is, as a potential client coming in for help, the chances are the degree of pain you are in will most certainly be stronger than your ability to "tune into your instincts or listen to your gut".
The following is an outline of questions and observations for you to make and ask, most especially for clients who are new to the process:
1) Did the therapist return your call or email in a timely manner?
2) Were they able to schedule an appointment to meet with you within a reasonable timeframe?
3) Were they willing to spend a brief time on the phone, willing to answer questions you may have?
4) Lastly, does their manner/voice sound pleasant and/or warm?
1) Is the therapist's office clean, comfortable, and inviting?
2) If your appointment is scheduled for 10:00, does he or she greet you at 10:00?
3) Is he or she attentive, engaging and engaged with you throughout the session? Although therapists need to take notes, does he or she make good eye contact with you?
4) Do you feel heard? Does the therapist appear open and non-judgmental? Do you feel spoken to with respect and dignity?
5) Does the therapist talk too much or too little? We all respond to peoples' styles differently, but the focus should remain on the client!
6) Does he or she review what you have shared with them and given you a sense of their approach and how they hope to help you?
7) Lastly, do you find yourself feeling a bit less frightened or confused, the same, or worse at the end of the session?
The therapeutic relationship is just that, a relationship. Although you are seeking help from an "expert", your working relationship needs to feel like a collaborative partnership.
Why Clinical Hypnotherapy?
Throughout our lives, we develop limiting and unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, habits, and ways of "being" in the world that become stored in our unconscious minds. These negative thoughts often result in self-sabotage and an inability to achieve our goals or break destructive/unhealthy habits.
Clinical hypnotherapy serves to by-pass the conscious mind and speak directly to the unconscious, which is where these self defeating beliefs live.
Hypnosis is, basically, a natural "state of being" that we all experience on a daily basis. Have you ever driven to and arrived at your destination and then realized you were not aware of the journey? Or become engrossed in a television show, film, or book? How about the time just as you drop off to sleep or are just waking? These are all states of altered attention and heightened focus, which allows our minds to become unaware of things around us and focus in on something important to us in that moment. During this state, called "trance", our conscious mind is by-passed, allowing the therapist to access the unconscious mind in order to achieve the therapeutic goal/s that have been fully discussed and agreed upon between therapist and client in a pre-hypnosis session.
Clinical Hypnotherapists are specially trained professionals who utilize this natural state of "trance" to facilitate and partner with you to achieve your stated goal or outcome. At NO time is the client "out of control" or "at the mercy of" the therapist. Hypnosis is, and can be, a powerful tool and aid in learning relaxation techniques, in breaking old habits and achieving inner peace. By also learning self-hypnosis, the client is able to take these tools with them for future use!
Grieving the Loss of a Pet
By definition, grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed.
As therapists, we have the rare opportunity to learn from our clients, as our clients learn from us. Over the course of many years, I continue to bear witness to clients’ pain, whether it be buried, projected, internalized, or stuck. One thing remains the same; when it comes to the loss of one’s pet, there is nothing stuck about their deep and expressed/experienced pain! I have had a good deal of experience working with clients around the dying and death of their best friend, their pet. Quite often, it is this pain that brings them into treatment.
Many clients have shared their stories and their disappointment or feelings of a lack of empathy or understanding with a previous counselor around the issue of greatest concern to them, such palpable pain around the loss of their animal.
When seeking help and comfort, it is NOT okay for a client to feel empty, misunderstood, and even a sense of shame in the therapeutic setting!
The darkest hours of a clients’ pain around the death of their pet can also help to create a new and healthy beginning of a therapeutic relationship. Bring in pictures, albums, memorabilia. Does your therapist remain engaged? Ask questions? Please do not ever forget, for some people, their relationship and loss of their pet is and was as important and heartfelt as someone else’s loss of a parent, friend, or partner/spouse!
Grief is for the grieving!!
How often do we forget the fragile balance or imbalance between our emotions and physical ailments? You can see your PCP for headaches, muscle aches, and a rash and leave his/her office with nothing more than $150 dollars worth of creams, ointments, and prescriptions. It is a delicate balance, however, as it can be equally as unhelpful to be told "it must be stress" or "it is simply in your head; get some rest, take some time off, and I am sure you will be good as new". As patients, especially in a Westerm Medical doctor's office, we learn early on in life that the doctor is the expert and must know us better than we know ourselves.
It is vitally important that we all, practitioners and patients, find ways to work more collaboratively together. Practitioners need to see the bigger picture, ask better, more thought-producing questions, and patients need to find their voice and make that heard. If you, as the client or patient find yourself rushed, don't feel heard or respectfully listened to, or your practitioner fails to engage with you in a dignified way, it's time to find a new therapist, doctor, or healthcare provider!
The Perils of Managed Care!
After more than 25 years of working within a managed care paradigm, I have spent the past year transitioning into a Private Pay Practice.
In my early years as a private practitioner, I can remember scrambling to apply to any and every insurance panel out there. For several years, as more and more of my colleagues discontinued accepting insurance of any kind as payment, I continued to struggle internally, my mantra remaining "People pay a lot of money for their health insurance and I feel a sense of responsibility to see they are able to use it", while at the same time becoming increasingly more ambivalent and mistrustful, particularly of the big HMOS! I became increasingly more suspect, especially for the "privacy" of my clients.
Within this last year, I was made aware of the perils of managed care. A client I had known for many years as a responsible person evidently had applied for long term care insurance and was shocked to find out her premiums quoted her were four times higher than other people she knew who had recently been accepted. After some investigating, the problem was, indeed, a depression diagnosis with two years of psychotherapy and she was seen as a "higher risk" as a result!
My new mantra has become "eliminating third party payment allows me to work more freely and collaboratively with my clients".
Life’s Messages Knock at Our Door…
Sometimes life's messages to us whisper, then knock, knock louder, or even scream before we really tune in and listen!
I cannot even count how many times I have appreciated my eyesight after seeing a person without sight, until my own next neurotic moment! Or seen a homeless person with no shoes, and felt blessed for my heated home and designer shoes, until yet another neurotic moment created its' amnesia again!
A recent and quite raw personal experience pointed this out to me, but unfortunately this one was a scream for me to tune in and listen!
A hard learned lesson, but the message is "When you are focused on your own pain, how little vs. how much you have, or how dimly your light is shining, THIS is the time to give to someone else..."
Remember, It’s Not So Easy…
I was recently interviewed by a psychotherapist/author writing a piece on the initial contact made by potential clients looking for professional help. It was astonishing, as well as humbling, to be brought back to "the basics", that initial call, and just what that must feel like to the person putting through that call or email. My reason in sharing this is to remind us all of just how important that initial contact is, as well as the feelings and needs of the prospective client on the other end. The most important lessons I took away from this interview were as follows:
1) Remember, every one of us, times we have been in the position of reaching out for help, in whatever form, and what that felt like to us. When leaving a message on someone's voicemail, how affected are we by the tone of their voice? How warm or inviting is their voicemessage? Don't forget, THIS is the very first, and possibly last, contact we may have with this person.
2) So, they leave a message and wait for a callback. How long should someone reasonably expect to wait to hear back from that professional? Two days, four, a week, or possibly not at all? I want to remind us all of the importance of timely response, within reason, and the message that sends to someone who reaches out to a psychotherapist for help managing their own life to never receive a call back at all!
3) Lastly, I was really made aware of the feelings of that person. We never truly know how anxious, fragile, or frightened they may be at that step, but one thing we all can be assured of is that it certainly can't be as simple as ordering a pizza!