Clients who ask questions during a therapy session are either NEW to the process and want to know a little more about who they are considering continuing to talk to….OR people who have been coming for a long time, trying to do some of the things I suggest for both anxiety and depression, and want to know, basically, if I really know what I’m talking about and suggesting to them……..Many therapists do not consider such questions appropriate … and I DO…well, within reason! So here are a few……
Q: Do you really do the things you recommend and tell me might work for me?
A: I have tried every technique, used every inventory, studied every questionnaire, read the articles/books I recommend/suggest. The main things I suggest for stress are EXERCISE, MEDITATION, HEALTHY EATING….I build all those things into my daily routine as a way of staying healthy, managing stress, and being focused and present. I will acknowledge that I do fall off the healthy eating routine when I travel…and once in a while here at home. AND full disclosure, I suggest my three books….actually I give them to clients. RELEASE FROM POWERLESSSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE….YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS…. and WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH! ….because I obviously know the content! And I know the ideas in my books work for most people.
Q: How do you handle conflict?
A: I try to surface it as quickly as I can and I make every effort to 1) actively listen to the person 2) check for clarification….i.e., if I understand correctly, you think (fill in the blank with what I’ve heard)…..3)ask for any thing I need to have repeated 4) see if the person is ready/able to hear what I have to say in response, and 5) explore ideas from all parties for what’s needed to move forward…. I ALSO remember to relax and breathe….otherwise feelings start to shut down. AND if the situation is really heated, I try to throw in the following statement: “You might be right about this.” That actually helps ME as well as the other person… it eases my own “rightness” and helps the other person know I’m really trying hard to listen….That’s important because if I’m stuck…or if the OTHER is stuck in “being right,” listening becomes compromised….let alone the possibility of resolution!
Does this always work? No. But it increases the possibility of it working– of conflict resolution.
Q: Does meditation really work?
A: This is a FREQUENT question….perhaps because people expect meditation to be hard and that they have to do it RIGHT….and for most beginners that means a belief that you have to STOP THINKING. And that is neither possible OR desireable OR the goal of meditation. I’ve had a few clients over the years who simply 1) can’t do it; 2) don’t like the idea; 3) say it’s boring; 4) want a quick and easy remedy for stress and lack of focus. Reality, the hard part of meditation is carving out the time and sitting down with simple instructions for getting started. I’ve been a meditator since around 1974….there have been periods of time when I never, never missed a commitment to meditate twice a day, and times when I’ve taken a break because I simply could not sit still because of stress I was encountering. I RETURN to meditation quickly, even when I take a break, because for me it has historically worked. No one should hold themselves to such a principle unless it really and truly works. It does take a period of time, regular practice to SEE if it’s beneficial. My experience is that most people find significant release from stress, improvement in clear thinking, and generally just an easier “take on problems, on life.” It’s not magic. It just changes your brain! It re-sets, for most people your happiness/well-being “set point” over time.
Those are the most common questions…. and underlying most questions asked of a therapist is “am I safe?” Am I safe here with you, in this office? And that kind of UNASKED question is the really normal one….so I answer questions with that in mind.
If you are thinking of finding a therapist, or wondering about the best way to find one, feel free to be in touch with questions. I suggest “interviewing” anyone you are considering working with… some don’t like that….hummm. Ask what you need to ask…and don’t hesitate to head another direction if anything doesn’t feel okay….Oh, and at risk of offending many people, please do not try to have a therapy session or conversation or interview or inquiry via text messages.. Please. Text messages create more confusion and miss-information than almost anything I can think of…..Take care…and if you have questions, just get in touch on my website. Take good care of yourself…you deserve it…