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Finding a Therapist

Sometimes finding the right therapist for you can be a long process and sometimes you will find the right person right away.  It’s important to find someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life.
Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person makes you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help.  It can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members. But sometimes, we need help that the people around us aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist  can help.

 

Myths about therapy

  • I don’t need a therapist. I’m smart enough to solve my own problems. We all have our blind spots. Intelligence has nothing to do with it. A good therapist doesn’t tell you what to do or how to live your life. He or she will give you an experienced outside perspective and help you gain insight into yourself so you can make better choices.
  • Therapy is for crazy people. Therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and want to learn tools and techniques to become more self-confident and emotionally balanced.
  • All therapists want to talk about is my parents. While exploring family relationships can sometimes clarify thoughts and behaviors later in life, that is not the sole focus of therapy. The primary focus is what you need to change unhealthy patterns and symptoms in your life. Therapy is not about blaming your parents or dwelling on the past.
  • Therapy is self-indulgent. It’s for whiners and complainers. Therapy is hard work. Complaining won’t get you very far. Improvement in therapy comes from taking a hard look at yourself and your life, and taking responsibility for your own actions. Your therapist will help you, but ultimately you’re the one who must do the work.

Finding the right therapist for you

. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery.

  • Experience matters. One of the main reasons for seeing a therapist, rather than simply talking to a friend, is experience. Look for a therapist who is experienced in treating the problems that you have.  Experienced therapists have seen the problems you’re facing again and again, which broadens their view and gives them more insight.
  • Check licensing. Credentials aren’t everything, but if you’re paying for a licensed professional, make sure the therapist holds a current license and is in good standing with the state regulatory board. Regulatory boards vary by state and by profession. Also check for complaints against the therapist.
  • Trust your gut. Even if your therapist looks great on paper, if the connection doesn’t feel right—if you don’t trust the person or feel like they truly care—go with another choice. A good therapist will respect this choice and should never pressure you or make you feel guilty.

What’s most important in a therapist  is a sense of connection, safety, and support. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it seem like the therapist truly cares about you and your problems?
  • Do you feel as if the therapist understands you?
  • Does the therapist accept you for who you are?
  • Would you feel comfortable revealing personal information to this individual?
  • Do you feel as if you can be honest and open with this therapist? That you don’t have to hide or pretend you’re someone that you’re not?
  • Is the therapist a good listener? Does he or she listen without interrupting, criticizing, or judging? Pick up on your feelings and what you’re really saying? Make you feel heard?

Types of  therapists

 

The following types of mental health professionals have advanced training in therapy and are licensed.

Common types of mental health professionals
Psychologist Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and are licensed in clinical psychology.
Social worker Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW) along with additional clinical training.
Marriage and family therapist Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) have a Master’s degree and clinical experience in marriage and family therapy.
Psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Psychiatrist generally do not provide therapy but provide medication management and you will see a different therapist.

What to expect in therapy or counseling

Every therapist is different, but there are usually some similarities to how therapy is structured. Normally, sessions will last about an hour, and often be about once a week, although for more intensive therapy they maybe more often.

  • Expect a good fit between you and your therapist. Don’t settle for bad fit. You may need to see one or more therapists until you experience feeling understood and accepted.
  • Therapy is a partnership. Both you and your therapist contribute to the healing process. You’re not expected to do the work of recovery all by yourself, but your therapist can’t do it for you either. Therapy should feel like a collaboration.
  • Therapy will not always feel pleasant. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might surface. This is a normal part of therapy and your therapist will guide you through this process. Be sure to communicate with your therapist about how you are feeling.
  • Therapy should be a safe place. While there will be times when you’ll feel challenged or when you’re facing unpleasant feelings, you should always feel safe. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or you’re dreading your therapy sessions, talk to your therapist.

Your first therapy sessions

The first session or two of therapy is a time for mutual connection, a time for the therapist to learn about you and your issues. The therapist may ask for a mental and physical health history.

It’s also a good idea to talk to the therapist about what you hope to achieve in therapy. Together, you can set goals and benchmarks that you can use to measure your progress along the way.

This is also an important time for you to be evaluating your connection with your therapist. Do you feel like your therapist cares about your situation, and is invested in your recovery? Do you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing sensitive information? Remember, your feelings as well as your thoughts are important, so if you are feeling uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to consider another therapist.

 

Making the most of therapy

To make the most of therapy, you need to put what you’re learning in your sessions into practice in your real life. 50 minutes in therapy each week isn’t going to fix you; it’s how you use what you’ve learned with the rest of your time. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your therapy:

  • Don’t expect the therapist to tell you what to do. You and your therapists are partners in your recovery. Your therapist can help guide you and make suggestions for treatment, but only you can make the changes you need to move forward.
  • Make a commitment to your treatment. Don’t skip sessions unless you absolutely have to. If your therapist gives you homework in between sessions, be sure to do it. If you find yourself skipping sessions or are reluctant to go, ask yourself why. Are you avoiding painful discussion? Did last session touch a nerve? Talk about your reluctance with your therapist.
  • Share what you are feeling. You will get the most out of therapy if you are open and honest with your therapist about your feelings. If you feel embarrassed or ashamed, or something is too painful to talk about, don’t be afraid to tell your therapist. Slowly, you can work together to get at the issues.

Remember your therapist is there to help you and it’s important to find the right person for you.

 

 

 

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What it means to have Antisocial Personality Disorder

People often say “Sorry I’m antisocial” but most people don’t truly understand what it means.  Being antisocial doesn’t mean wanting to be alone and not spend too much time around people, that’s being asocial which is completely different from  being antisocial.

Antisocial personality disorder,   is a mental health  condition where a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others.  A  person with antisocial personality disorder tends to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They usually  show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.

 

Antisocial personality disorder signs and symptoms may include:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm to  manipulate others for personal gain
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them

Adults with antisocial personality disorder usually  show symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15. Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules

Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong, in some people, certain symptoms — particularly destructive and criminal behavior — may decrease over time.

 

Causes

The exact cause of antisocial personality disorder isn’t known, but:

  • Genes may make you vulnerable to developing antisocial personality disorder — and life situations may trigger its development
  • Changes in the way the brain functions may have resulted during brain development

Risk factors

Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder, such as:

  • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Family history of antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorders or mental illness
  • Being subjected to abuse or neglect during childhood
  • Unstable, violent or chaotic family life during childhood

Men are at greater risk of having antisocial personality disorder than women.

People with antisocial personality disorder are unlikely to believe they need help. However, they may seek help from their health care provider because of other symptoms such as depression, anxiety or angry outbursts or for treatment of substance abuse.

Though antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat, for some people, treatment and close follow-up over the long term may be beneficial. It’s important to have medical and mental health professionals with experience in treating antisocial personality disorder.Treatment depends on each person’s particular situation, their willingness to participate in treatment and the severity of symptoms.   The more severe the symptoms, the less likely for there to be a positive outcome in treatment.

 

Positive Discipline and Your Teen

Being the parent of a teen can be very challenging.   Teens sometimes seem intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we ask.   We have to try to remember that their job now is to find themselves as a person, to shape an identity and to figure  out what’s important to them. They often feel that their  integrity would be compromised by simply doing what we ask because we ask it.   So discipline as we usually think of it often backfires with teens.  If you come down like a sledge hammer, you can count on open rebellion. If you crack down on the rebellion instead of listening to your child’s reasons, you can count on your teen becoming a very good liar, and sneaking behind your back.  If you have a warm, affirming, open relationship where your teen feels respected and respects you, if you have relied on lots of discussion to guide your child, then you can count on easier teen years. Your child will honor your rules most of the time and will initiate negotiations about the ones that don’t work for her.  Also  kids who aren’t punished, but are lovingly guided to make reparations and solve problems, are earlier to develop internal discipline and a strong moral sense–so your teen now has the ability to make the hard choices to do what’s right, regardless of what her friends are doing.  However if you’ve relied on punishment to control your child , you may have difficulties because a parenting style that relies mostly on the threat of punishment doesn’t give a child the self discipline to manage himself. It’s time to shift to the kind of strong parent-child relationship that makes your child want to cooperate. So if you’ve been punishing, it isn’t too late.
Where to begin?

1. Commit to a respectful tone, for everyone in the household.
Try to  not yell as often.  Teens often yell and are disrespectful when they are yelled at often.

2. Focus on strengthening the relationship so that when you set a limit
or express an expectation , your child wants to please you. Make sure you have one-on-one time with each child,  in which you mostly listen. . You can’t have any influence if your kid doesn’t enjoy being with you.

3. Stop punishing.
Instead, be sure your teen knows the non-negotiable family rules.

4. Set clear expectations about what matters to you.
This will vary for every family.  These can include working during the summer, doing homework every night and chores which you have given them.

5. Give whatever support is necessary for your child to meet your expectations.
Regardless of the issue, your teen won’t necessarily know how to make things better. He needs your help. You may not know, either, but your  willingness to step in to support him in figuring out the next step will reassure him that he isn’t alone, and will go a long way toward solving the problem.

6. Foster accountability in a new way.
Worried that your child isn’t being “held accountable”? Introduce the concept of reparations. This isn’t a consequence (punishment) that you impose. This is when you ask your teen if there’s something he can do to make the situation better now. For instance, if he says something mean to his sister, he’ll need to do some repair work on that relationship. If he breaks something, he’ll need to help pay for a replacement.

These tips will go a long way in helping you to have a positive relationship with you child.

Private Pay vs Insurance

When I started my private practice, I planned on being completely private pay and not accept any insurance.  I had heard so many stories about getting paid by insurance, how insurance companies will randomly audit your charts and how private pay was the only way to go.  So I I said no to insurance and I set up my website, put an ad in Psychology Today and started marketing and almost every time I got a call the first question was “Do  you accept my insurance?”  I would say no and explain about out of network benefits and 9 out of 10 times the person would say no thank you I want to use my insurance coverage.  So I started lowering my fee and yes I got clients but my fee was so low I was making no real  profit.  I spoke to a friend who is also a therapist in private practice and she said just accept one or two plans it’s not so bad and you can use my biller.  So I gave in and got on 2 panels and now I have a combination of private pay and insurance clients and my practice is going well.  I realized the people I really want to work with can not afford upwards of $150 a week for therapy and I don’t believe it’s because they don’t value therapy, they truly don’t have the money.  I haven’t had any difficulties with insurance companies and get paid on time and they haven’t questioned my treatment of clients and most other therapists whom I’ve spoken to outside of Facebook groups who accept insurance also say that accepting insurance as not caused them any major issues.  Of  course each person is different and it’s certainly possible to build a practice without accepting insurance but for me this was the best decision.

 

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When you lose your job

Losing g a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. Unfortunately this is something many people go thru at least once, I have gone through job loss in the past and can attest to it being very difficult. It’s normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed  or feel anxious about what will happen next for you.   Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once, which can hurt your sense of purpose and self-esteem. While the stress seems overwhelming, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation and come out of this difficult time stronger and more resilient.

Why is job loss so stressful?

Job loss is stressful because often our jobs  are much more than just the way we make a living. They influence how we see ourselves, as well as the way others see us. They  often give us structure, purpose, and meaning.

In addition to the loss of income, losing a job also comes with other losses, which are very  difficult to face:

  • Loss of your professional identity
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Loss of your daily routine
  • Loss of purposeful activity
  • Loss of your work-based social network
  • Loss of your sense of security

Losing your job forces you to make quick changes, which can leave you feeling upset, angry or  depressed.   Remember  grieving the loss of your job and adjusting to unemployment can take time. Try to accept your feelings and don’t be hard on  yourself. Think of your job loss as a setback and remember Most successful people have experienced major setbacks in their careers but have turned things around by picking themselves up, learning from the experience, and trying again.  This happened for me and can happen for you.

.It’s important to reach out to others even though your natural reaction at this difficult time may be to withdraw from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to offer solutions; they just have to be a good listener, someone who’ll listen without being distracted or judging you.  It’s also important to keep yourself busy.  If you spend most of your time doing something productive it will help you to feel better.

 

Remember to take good care of yourself and even though it might seem like things won’t get better after a job loss, try not to give up hope.

Talking About Race With Your Children

On August 11,  White nationalists marched on the campus of the University of Virginia in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee.  This led to violence and the death of a young woman and also a resurgence of discussing race relations in the United States.

Some people say  that “racism doesn’t exists anymore” or “All Lives Matter” however continued evidence is provided to show that this is a myth.    Segregation is technically over however our society continues to have overt and covert examples of discrimination and racism.  I have recently witnessed some disturbing comments and views from people who are therapists about race, racism and discrimination which has shown me that we have a very long way to go.  For most parents in particular Black parents, this brings concerns about the safety of their family and when should they  have a conversation about racial differences and discrimination..

For most parents of color, talking about race is a natural progression of being a parent  in America.  These conversations are often difficult for both the parent and the child.  It’s important to discuss the differences in racial identity with your children and do not fall into the belief that “we don’t see color ” or “we’re all the same”.  These statements are not helpful or factual.  We all see color and we’re not all the same.    It’s important for  parents to discuss with their children that they need to treat others with respect and also explain to their children about racism and discrimination.  Parents of color should also discuss with their children how to react in racist situations or when confronted with micro aggressions.  Speaking about race with our children has many positive effects such as children are more respectful of other racial and ethnic groups and they will recognize and respond to racism and discrimination.  When talking to your children, it’s important to recognize your own views on racial issues and also be ready to manage your emotions in order to help your child.  It is also helpful to share your experiences with racial discrimination and prejudice.    While this is a difficult topic, it is very important that we discuss it with our children.

 

Dating and Depression

People suffer from depression for many  reasons. From a horrible break up to hitting a rough patch in life, depression can hit at any time, and for many people it’s a condition they have to cope with every day and often need medication and /or therapy to help them.   If you are dealing with depression, you may feel you don’t want to date and feel that no one wants to date you however if you want to date, there is no reason you can’t even with depression.

When it comes to depression and dating, the most important person is you. You need to remember to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally before you start dating.   Try to  keep in touch with friends who are going through the dating scene with you. Having a support system during dating is very important.   Being around others who are going through similar experiences is often very helpful as you navigate the dating world.  Depression and the challenges that it brings can often be  random, one day you might feel great and the next day you might feel sad.  It’s ok to cancel your plans if you don’t feel up to going out on a date.

When you decide to be part of the dating world, it’s even more important that you’re able to accept your depression and take it for what it is. Just because you have a mental health issue doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to have fun and happiness.  Suffering from depression, as with any mental health issues, is a personal thing, there is no need to disclose this to your date when you first meet each other.  However, if you’ve been dating for awhile now and things are getting serious, you should tell your partner.  If the person chooses to break up with you because of your depression, they are not the person for you.     Once you’ve told your partner that you suffer from depression, they may have many questions.  You don’t have to answer every question, answer what you feel comfortable talking about with them.

Dating while having depression can be difficult but not impossible.  Also remember that if you choose to not date that’s ok too.