The stigma behind therapy and only needing it when you have been through something traumatic is something that really weighs on my heart. Therapy is often seen as a tool to use when you are “broken” and need to be “fixed.” First off, let me point out that we’re all “broken.” No one is perfect. No matter how much money you have, how beautiful you are, how amazing your family is, how great of a job you have – we all still have problems; even more so with the fast-growing technology that leaves us perpetually unsatisfied.
During therapy yesterday (yes, I go, and I am not ashamed), we were talking about a sad statistic that my therapist had read. Depression in women has gone up 40% and suicide 60% within the last decade. These statistics are also directly correlated with the use of a smartphone. We live in a world of endless possibilities and also under a magnifying glass. Technology has brought some amazing things into this world – reconnecting with old loved ones, helping people run their own small business; and even more scientific upgrades, such as helping the deaf hear again and find your animals if they run away. But, as many of you know, according to Newton’s Third Law – “With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Social media has put us on a pedestal where many of us feel the need to be “perfect” and often go to for validation. We see all these moments of people’s lives and want to “have what they have.” But they are only moments. There is so much more to these people’s lives, and many of them are likely not as happy as you might think. Some of the happiest people I know actually use minimal technology and don’t use social media. But a post about social media is for another day…
My point is that we aren’t all as happy as we portray. “Success” has now become based off of money, looks, and travels. Many of us are constantly searching for happiness through external goals. But when we do that, we will never be happy. Once you achieve it, you may feel that joy… but it’s only a fleeting moment before it’s gone. But no one wants to talk about this. Instead, we talk about who’s engaged to who and the latest celebrity break up. Maybe it’s out of fear. Fear that if we voice our true thoughts and feelings we will be shut down; or even worse, ignored.
That is what is so great about therapy – you have a VOICE. You have someone that you can talk to about anything and everything. And you can do this without the worry of being self-centered or inconsiderate. Their job is to listen. To help you find your voice. To help you find your purpose and how you got here. They are there to remind you that you matter and are important because you are human and have feelings.
Now, I will say it can be quite hard to find a therapist that meshes with you and your personality. I have been to various therapists and found myself sitting in their room waiting for the time to come to an end. But that isn’t their fault. We are all unique and connect with different people for different reasons. The most important thing is that we are speaking our truth and reminding ourselves that we matter. Your mental health matters. It just takes some research and a few meet and greets to find that person that you can speak your truth without hesitation.
Now, I am not saying that there aren’t other ways to process difficult thoughts and situations. There is also exercise, writing, reading, art, and many more. I personally use yoga and writing along with going to therapy. But what I am saying is to not knock it until you try it. I am also asking that you try not to pass judgment to those that do use therapy as a tool. I want to remind you that going to therapy does not make you weak. If anything, you are strong and wise to be aware enough of yourself that you push your ego aside and put yourself first. Last off, I ask that you keep an open mind and read below for some insight on therapy from a professional standpoint.
A dear friend of mine, Emily Snodgrass, recently took the leap to go back to school and help people just like you and me. She found her purpose and that is to help others find theirs. She is a Counseling Psychology Intern at Mindset; a therapy and life coaching studio. I did a short interview with her to help understand therapy from the other side. You can read this below. Who knows, maybe she is who you have been looking for all along? Or at the very least, spark your interest and open your mind…
- What inspired you to go into therapy?
My therapy journey started at a very young age, 3rd grade to be exact. I was 8 and feeling much more than I knew how to handle. I have always been an emotional and intuitive person. Luckily, my mother was a huge advocate of psychotherapy and introduced me to my first school counselor. There are not many specifics I remember about my first therapeutic experience other than she was kind, open, and trusting. Fast forward through years of being the designated “go-to” friend for advice and a listening ear, I am 23, in corporate America, making more money than my mother ever had, but completely depressed, anxious, and unfulfilled in my life. I began therapy of my own again. Life seemed overwhelming and empty all at once. I had always had an interested in psychology, obtaining a bachelors in industrial psych a few years prior, but it was thought that therapeutic relationship I discovered the obstacles I placed in-front of being a professional therapist was completely my own doing. My mind was my worst enemy, but I would not longer let anxiety or depression control my actions. I wanted deeply to fulfill my desire to help others discover themselves as I had. So, I quit my job and began school again, beginning my career as a therapist. The rest, as they say, is history
2. I saw that Mindset KC follows methodology based off of Brené Brown. I LOVE her! Can you explain that a bit more?
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has spent the past sixteen years studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. She is the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers (The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong) and is well known for her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world! Mindset founder, Andrea Dixon, has been fortunate enough to be trained in The Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ curriculums—highly experiential methodologies based on Brené’s work. Mindset offers clients the opportunity to participate in these programs individually, in groups, and during weekend intensives. During the process, we explore topics such as vulnerability, shame, perfectionism, and worthiness. We examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back and identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead. More information can be found at https://www.mindsetkc.com/the-daring-way
3. How do you combine yoga with therapy?
First, with educating my client on how yoga may benefit them. Yoga isn’t for everyone, it’s not the magic cure, so being aware that yoga will not be beneficial to everyone is key. However, yoga allows your mind to focus on the body so entirely, that other thoughts seem more distant. You become more aware of your reactions emotionally and physically. Many people find that when they start becoming aware of how they react to certain situations, that not only do emotions and cognitions surface automatically, but the body also instantly reacts to the situation as well (i.e. when someone is stressed, their muscles tense, their heart races, and their breath shallows). When someone doesn’t have the ability to fully express the emotional and physical reaction to a situation (when they have to shut it down because expressing that emotion isn’t appropriate in the moment), that information doesn’t just go away, it’s remembered within the body and mind, imprinted.
Yoga is offered as a way for clients to become aware of their emotions, thoughts, and bodies in a space where it is safe to express those emotions resurfacing. Where I see a lot of this work is with those who experience anxiety and trauma mental health disorders, (i.e.: PTSD, GAD, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety) and those who have suffered abuse (mentally, physically, and sexually). Those suffering from these experiences have learned to disassociate their mind and body, separating them. Trauma-informed yoga allows emotions and experiences to be brought back to the present moment, and eventually, the impact that memory has lessens.
4. What do you feel is the most beneficial part of going to therapy?
I can only speak from personal experience within my therapy, but I would say the authentic relationship that is built between the therapist and client. There becomes a bond of respect and openness that allows one to fully express their thoughts without fear of judgment or ridicule. Through my personal therapy, I’ve been able to solidify my beliefs, put my happiness above all other things, and find peace in the chaos of life. I hope to one day help someone through their life hiccups as well.
5. What would you say about someone on the fence about going to therapy?
The rule of thumb is if you think it might be helpful, it probably will. Being open to new experiences can only enhance the knowledge of yourself and what can bring you peace. Therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, communication and working openly with another person can be challenging. It’s hard and it’s a lot of work, but the benefits can be seen in every aspect of your life.
6. I saw Mindset KC offers both therapy and life coaching. How would you explain the difference between the two?
People have many options when it comes to getting help and it can be confusing to figure out what kind of assistance you need. People often wonder about the difference between therapy and life coaching, and which strategy is right for them. I once heard someone use a “hole” and “mountain” metaphor to illustrate the difference and find it useful to help people decide which is best for them.
You may be struggling with self-doubt, anxiety, depression, negative beliefs, trauma, unfinished business, intense emotions, painful relationships, or addictive behaviors. You might feel helpless, alone, trapped “in a hole,” and have no idea how to help yourself feel better. Or, the things you try don’t work and just make you feel more hopeless. When you’re in this place, it can be very difficult to take action and have it be successful. Until you feel stronger emotionally, you may not be able to make major changes in your life. We often need to process and heal things on the inside before we make changes on the outside. In this case, you need the compassionate support of a highly trained therapist—someone who is competent to give you the support and skills you need you climb out of the hole and back onto solid ground.
On the other hand, you might generally feel okay and are simply interested in changing your circumstances (often in a specific focus area such as relationships or career) and improving your outcomes. You feel stable and ready to start making changes, to begin “climbing the mountain” that leads you to more success. If you’re truly ready for coaching, you are focused on designing your new life and figuring overcoming obstacles to making your dreams a reality. In this case, a good coach will help you get clarity about what your mountain looks like, devise a plan to get to the top, then support and encourage you as you climb.
In many cases, the lines are blurred between counseling and coaching. However, it’s important for people to understand some potential problem with the coaching profession as a whole. Because the industry isn’t regulated, coaches are sometimes serving as therapists and marriage counselors. Coaches do not need to have any professional credentials, education, training, or experience and are forbidden from practicing counseling or therapy—but man does it anyway. This is inappropriate, illegal, unethical, and even dangerous. Although certainly not true for all coaches, many only have a few weeks or months of training before being certified (or have no formal training whatsoever). In contrast, professional therapists devote years to Master’s degree or Doctoral programs and facilitate thousands of supervised hours learning about research-based, evidence supported strategies to be instruments of change in people’s lives.
Due to the stigma linked to traditional therapy, people in search of professional support may prefer to seek help from life coaches rather than therapists. This is even true for people who struggle with big issues. To ensure people in search personal growth and emotional wellness get their needs met, Mindset clinicians are trained to help meet clients wherever they are—in a hole or ready to climb a mountain!
7. What would you say is the most rewarding part of going into therapy?
Seeing people transform their lives from ones that made them unhappy and lethargic to a life that brings them energy and peace. Everyone has the power to change their world, we simply help them tap into that inner power. From there, the therapist simply watches and guides their growth from within.
If you are interested in therapy or life coaching at Mindset KC, you can contact them here.
In Love and Light,