“Erin” came to counseling with all the signs of depression. She was unhappy with her career, her health and her family. Her mother was distressed, her father was distant and her disabled brother was sick.
Erin spent a lot of energy calming and directing her family, and she complained about how little her family supported her in return. She increasingly relied on sugar to calm herself down, and she struggled to end this dependence.
Erin’s anxiety was high, and as a newbie counselor, I struggled to operate outside of it. She cried through many of our meetings, and she grew increasingly critical of our work together.
Read the rest of my essay at Counseling Today.
Not long ago, a close friend of mine was struggling with a huge life decision: Should she marry her long-term partner, or was it time to part ways? “Be my therapist!” she begged me at one point, when the two of us were hanging out with a group of friends. I tried to deflect, but she kept requesting my advice, like it was a party trick. Over the course of the night, I watched as our other friends offered their own opinions on her partner, only sharing my thoughts when we finally got a moment alone.
Read the rest of my essay from New York magazine here.
In the United States, 1 in 6 adults has a prescription for a psychiatric drug. That ratio only increases among individuals who walk into counselors’ offices, leaving many counselors feeling that they must perform a special type of tightrope act to talk about medications with their clients. Given that licensed professional counselors don’t possess prescription privileges, some counselors feel that they lack the training to carry on such discussions. Other counselors fear letting their own beliefs and biases show. Regardless of the reason, some counselors are quick to refer clients back to their doctors or psychiatrists rather than engaging clients in a thorough conversation about medication management themselves.
Read the rest at Counseling Today.
When Karena Heyward and Jessica Lloyd-Hazlett were enrolled in graduate school together at the College of William & Mary, they agreed to split the cost of a hotel room while attending the American Counseling Association’s annual conference. The two counselors didn’t know each other very well, but over the course of the weekend they found themselves engaging in long, authentic conversations about their lives. Returning home, they reflected on the topic of vulnerability, and the two began to build a friendship based on helping each other through difficult moments in the counseling profession and life in general.
Read the rest at Counseling Today.
Check out my guide to students and divorce for School Counselors @NYUCounseling!
In January issue of Counseling Today
As Lindsey Mitchell approached the end of her doctoral program in counseling at George Washington University, she wasn’t quite sure what was next. After a decade of intense focus on her education, she found her career options in the field both exciting and intimidating. When Mitchell began talking to other women in her program about career choices, she realized that questions about ambition, leadership and family were common among female counselors.
Energized by these discussions with her colleagues, Mitchell decided to take the conversation to the American Counseling Association’s 2016 Conference & Expo in Montréal. Her idea took shape as a panel session called “To Lean In or Not to Lean In: The Diverse Experiences of Women in the Counseling Field.” The title alone was enough to catch the attention of many women at the conference and set the stage for an engaging talk between four ambitious and thoughtful counselors.
Read the rest here.
“Brain architect” sounds like a profession from science fiction, but in the book Mindsight, psychiatrist Dan Siegel argues that we have the ability to fashion our own brains. When we pay attention to our mind and the minds of others, we develop a sort of superhero seventh sense, which Siegel terms “mindsight.” Though Agent Phil Coulson might not be calling you up, this remarkable ability allows us to physically change the structure of the brain itself, long after we leave childhood.
How do you fashion a healthy brain? Mindfulness practices are essential to observing and rerouting our mind’s circuits. When we’re mindful, we slowly learn how to gain control over our reactions rather than smashing that bright red panic button. Mindfulness can look like meditation, but it also can be accomplished through small but significant changes in a daily routine. Here are some of Siegel’s suggestions.
Read the rest at Huffington Post
In the wake of the disturbances in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray this spring and other protests throughout the country in response to police shootings of young black men, the subject of racial injustice and what to do about it has received intense national attention. A New York Times poll reported this summer that 61 percent of Americans think race relations in the United States are generally bad, and 4 in 10 people think they’re getting worse.
In turn, many therapists have been considering how they can help address the problem of racism in America. One response that has rapidly gathered momentum since the unrest in Baltimore came not in the form of developing some new therapeutic approach, but in the shape of a growing self-help movement developed by and for the black community. Known as Emotional Emancipation Circles, it’s part of an effort to bring African Americans together to share their experiences and struggles with what Enola Aird, a lawyer, activist, and one of the founders of the movement, has called “the lie of black inferiority and the truth of black humanity.”
Read the rest at Psychotherapy Networker
Finding a good therapist is a lot like shopping for a good pair of pants. You’re going to have to try a few on and maybe even make a few alterations before they start working for you and help you feel great about yourself. Science tells us that psychotherapy works just as well if not better than medication, but unlike a pill, your therapist is a human. This means that personalities can clash, misunderstandings can occur, or occasionally people can just be outright weirdos. But once you get started, how do you really know you’ve found a good therapist?
Read the read on Bustle.
My latest in Counseling Today
A client comes in for his first counseling session. He has a carrot sticking up his nose and a banana in his left ear.
“Help!” the client cries. “Can you tell me what’s wrong with me?”
“Simple,” the counselor says calmly. “You’re not eating properly.”
Laughter is an essential part of the human experience, so it’s no coincidence that a profession that tries to make sense of the complexity and absurdity of human nature occasionally finds itself the butt of a joke or the punch line of a comic strip. In its ongoing quest to be “taken seriously,” however, the counseling profession seemingly sometimes forgets that humor can be a key component of wellness and even the therapeutic relationship.
The profession’s squeamishness with jokes arguably can be traced back to the image problem that psychotherapy has in the media, with TV show counselors often portrayed as zany bohemian personalities in offices full of waterfalls and wind chimes. If Tracey Ullman as Ally McBeal’s karaoke-singing shrink and Lisa Kudrow on her Web Therapy comedy series have served as our ambassadors to the world, then no wonder we’re so nervous.
Read the rest here.