January 30, 2015
What Does it Mean to Be a Good Therapist?
Many members and friends have come to me over the years and said they’ve had a bad experience with their therapist. It breaks my heart to hear this, because often times after a bad experience, people will never go back. Sometimes, a bad experience can be the result of not finding a therapist you “click” with. Other times, the therapist is more directly responsible. Either way, I think it’s important to share with people what they can and should expect from a therapist. Also, there are qualities that distinguish a good from a bad therapist—whether they are a physical, occupational, recreation, art, music therapist or a psychologist, licensed counselor or social worker.
Here Are 5 Tips to Keep in Mind As You Search For A Therapist That is A Good For You!
1. A Good Therapist Will Not Pretend to Have All The Answers.
In the old days, Western medicine followed the medical model, which stipulated that the doctor was in charge, and it was the patient’s job to listen to and obey whatever the doctor told them to do. While the medical model still influences the relationship between healthcare providers and clients, the “father knows best” attitude is quickly (thankfully) being replaced by the concept of patient-centered or client-centered care, which I elaborate on in another post. Under this, more enlightened and empowering paradigm, healthcare providers are expected to get to know their patients, understand their patients’ goals, and collaborate with them to reach those goals. Someone gave me the metaphor that, “the patient steers the ship of their life; the therapist just stands by and helps navigate for awhile.”
-----> Under the paradigm of patient-centered care, you should expect:
- Your therapist should proactively ask you what your goals and wishes are for therapy
- Respect your goals and work with you to achieve them
- Demonstrate commitment to collaborate with you on your therapy goals as an equal partner, not a superior expert
- Ask your permission before giving you advice
- Give you the ultimate responsibility for creating the changes you seek
2. A Good Therapist Challenges, As Well As Comforts
A friend, mentor and fellow therapist once defined “idiot compassion” as mindlessly validate everything their patient tells them without providing honest feedback or insights. Members and friends have complained to me that some therapists’ and listeners’ responses feel “canned” or superficially demonstrative of care without providing real empathy. Repeated responses like: “how did that make you feel?” or “that must be awful” don’t do anything to advance the patient/client/members’ understanding of complex problems.
At best, they provide sympathy or pity, which is ineffective at relieving suffering. Novice therapists and listeners sometimes use idiot compassion because they are afraid to admit they don’t know the answer, or they fear not being able to relate to a difficult situation. Seasoned therapists resort to idiot compassion because they are burned out or suffering from compassion fatigue.
-----> In Addition To Not Providing Superficial Displays of Compassion and Sympathy, A Good Therapist Should Always:
- Give you honest feedback
- Address and identify your emotions, especially if you seem sad or angry
- Challenge you to think beyond your current concepts and assumptions, especially if you seem to be “stuck”—but do so in a respectful way
- Openly admit it when they don’t know or seem perplexed
- Provide you with cognitive tools and demonstrate their use, and then encourage you to adapt, think for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.
3. A Good Therapist Sets and Maintains Boundaries
Once a child family member had a therapist who gave her toys, stuffed animals and baked goodies every time she saw her. Was this sweet and kind, yes. Was it therapy, no. A good therapist can provide comfort without being your mother, advice without being your buddy, and discuss difficult truths without becoming your mean older brother. Therapists have an obligation to delineate themselves as professionals.
When the lines between therapist and friend/family/lover become blurred, the potential for healing and growth stops. Patients often test boundaries; it is the therapists’ responsibility to set good boundaries and maintain them. Not every boundary violation is catastrophic, but over time, some therapists can lose a sense of their mission and purpose. A paradox of being a good therapist is that to serve our patients well we must both demonstrate compassion and empathy while at the same time exercise a sense of clinical objectivity and detachment. In this way, our personal problems don’t become a burden to our patients, and our patients problems don’t become enmeshed and confused with our own. Good boundaries are defined differently based on the state, country, culture or setting, but here are some things to expect:
-----> A Good Therapist Will Not:
- Be your Facebook friend or connect on other social media
- Accept gifts from you except a small, home cooked item
- Buy you gifts
- Hang out with you, socially
- Ask to date you, flirt with you, or try to have sex with you
4. All Therapists—Good and Bad—Are Required to Follow The Law and Their Own Professional Code of Ethics
Each profession’s code of ethics is different, but if you feel you have been mistreated in any way, you can make a complaint to your therapists’ state licensing board, and the complaint will be investigated. Generally speaking, you have the right to privacy and confidentiality of your files and records, the right to be free from abuse and harassment, and the right to be free from financial exploitation.
-----> Your Therapist SHOULD NOT:
- Push their values or beliefs on you, or discuss their personal religious or political beliefs with you
- Verbally, emotionally or physically abuse, harass or intimidate you
- Talk behind your back or share confidential information about you
-----> As a Trained Professional, A Good Therapist Will:
- Clearly articulate their scope of practice and the limits of their practice
- Not perform any technique or method for which they are not trained, competent or qualified
- Refer you to other professionals if and when it is warranted
- Explain methods, techniques, practices and interventions to be used in the course of your treatment using straight forward, laymen’s terms in your primary language.
5. All Therapists Should Demonstrate Good Therapeutic Use of Self
Different therapy professions have different tools and perspectives they rely on to facilitate health and healing. Therapists typically have graduate-school-level training in these sophisticated techniques and theories. But the one thing they never teach in school, is the most powerful tool of all, the therapeutic use of self.
-----> Therapeutic Use of Self Means:
- Actively listening
- Accepting the patient without prejudice or negative judgment
- Understanding and respecting the patients’ values and beliefs
- Taking the time to establish rapport
- Valuing trust, respect, and kindness over being right or being in charge
- Respecting the role of gender identity, culture, race, and ethnicity in a patients’ life, and acting accordingly
- Doing no harm, and actively working to benefit the patient
Written By 7 Cups Listener: EmpatheticDude
January 23, 2015
The Great Depression: one of the easiest ways to lose yourself. But are there some easy ways to find yourself again?
Depression is all knowing, all seeing, all powerful.
It can take away your light, your hope and your happiness. It can take your self-respect, your identity and most of all the love you have for yourself.
What are we without these things? And how do we get them back?
So what is it that depression does...? It surrounds you in a suffocating dark haze, A hopeless, scary state of sadness. Self-loathing and despair. It strips you of your worth and your confidence. Of the good feelings about life you once had. Makes you doubt and question each and every move you make.
It doesn't have to be that way. There is a way out of depression, I've been a sufferer for 10 years and I'm okay. Life is okay again. And you can be okay too. Sometimes it takes seeing a doctor, sometimes it takes anti-depressants, that's not to be ashamed of. But here are some other options as well.
We can LEARN to be okay - here are 3 ways:
1) Learning to love yourself again!
It can help to think about qualities that you used to love about yourself, something other people compliment you on. Find those little things that make you feel good about you and put them to the front of your mind, those are important, they make you, you!
2) Learning how to feel worthy again!
I think depression twists our self-worth so much its hard to tell what way is up. I have a quote for this, however "depression is a flaw in chemistry, not in character." Depression speaks not for us as humans, not for WHO we are, but simply for the flaw in our brain chemistry. Everyone deserves happiness, kindness, love, respect. And if we give that to others as we should be giving it to ourselves. Your world will be a much brighter place. You're worthy. Keep telling yourself that. Every day, until you believe what's true.
3) Learning to have confidence in yourself again!
Here are a few:
"I am good enough."
"I look beautiful today."
"Today will be a good day."
"I can do this."
Say them to yourself over and over until your confidence starts to grow and you believe it.
If you're doing those things, you're taking control of your depression, which means it's no longer controlling you. By choosing to smile every day, choosing to eat right, choosing to exercise (Yoga/Pilates, running: any exercise is good exercise!), or choosing to have a positive attitude are all steps in the right direction.
It might sound silly, but here comes those positive affirmations again! Keep saying them to yourself regularly to change your thinking! Meditate on good beliefs: Beliefs that you're worthy of love, that depression can no longer have your life, that you're taking your life back and your doing it now.
We can control depression, We can Love ourselves. Depression doesn't have to take that from us. It's hard, and it takes time, and what works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another, so be patient with yourself and don't give up! Depression is a war you don't have to fight alone and it's a war we can win.
Written By 7 Cups Listener & Mentor: Jaelin
January 16, 2015
Have you ever seen a piece if raw silk? The beauty and value of raw silk is not in perfection. It's preciousness comes from it's unique differences in textures and irregularities. As a matter of fact, tags on raw silk garments declare with pride that it's those very qualities that make the garments so appreciated. Now, you might say, "what does raw silk have to do with improving ourselves and our lives?" ...and, I would suggest, that we, you and I, are exactly like raw silk.
Our beauty and preciousness lies in our differences, idiosyncrasies, and our perfectly incomplete selves.
Here are 6 ways we think about improving our lives:
1. Just Get Started!
We can begin the journey of self improvement at any time or anywhere, knowing in the moment we begin, we have everything we need to fuel our success. It's all there, inside us. The way forward is the road through the valleys and mountains of our experiences and what we learn along the way.
2. You Know Yourself Best
No one knows us like we do. On the way home to ourselves we're going to gather self-esteem, confidence, peace of mind, self-acceptance, happiness and so much more. We'll also find ruts in the road; they slow us down, get our attention and make us think, check our compus, and change course, if need be.
3. We all need them... Teachers
Teachers appear when we need them. They come in different forms, like the kind stranger who smiles at us and says hello when we most need it, or maybe an angry driver who's honking the horn because we didn't move fast enough when the light turned green. Life might reach out with a helping hand or slap our self-esteem. The good news... they're there to gift us with opportunities to grow.
4. There Are Rewards Along The Way
Think of it this way, if we're cruising through life and never hit a rut or have to stop and check our direction, we'll speed by the really great stuff living is made of. Each time we challenge ourselves to make a choice we become stronger. Every change in course, we grow more confident. Successes fuel our need to go on and give us something to hang on to so we can brush off dusty doubt.
5. Yes We Can
We can do it, you, me, each of us has the desire to become more, to be heard, understood, happy and cared about and it starts at home, within ourselves. Yes, within ourselves; if it isn't happening there, it won't happen anywhere because our world is reflected outward from the mirror of our most inner feelings. Sometimes life is funny, messy, hard, rewarding, gloriously joyful or heartbreakingly sad... but it takes all of of those things and so much more to spur grow and flourish in our own humanity.
6. Why Settle For Ordinary When You Can Be Outrageously Awesome
Written by 7 Cups Listener: PerfectlyIncomplete
January 9, 2015
Our lives get can messy and out of control at times when we have many things to manage or if there’s multiple things on our minds. It’s something that happens to us and at the best of times; it can be very stressful - not only in our minds and emotions but also in our bodies.
-------> Here are 3 simple tips to help you get organized <-------
1. Get Organized!
Getting organized can be hard for some of us when in truth it can be quite easy. You just have to find something that works for you best. One thing to help you keep organized is by having a calendar or planner where you can write out what you are doing on what days and when.
2. Stay on a Schedule!
Keeping yourself on a schedule can help you to focus on one thing at a time, making things feel less overwhelming and help you feel in control. Keeping to a schedule can help you spread things out, making you feel like you have more to do in a short amount of time.
3. Make a to-do list!
Another good way to help you keep organized is by creating lists. When creating a list, write down tasks you have to do the night before for the next day. In that way, day you can finish those things and cross stuff off your list.
Surprisingly, crossing things off a to-do list can leave a great feeling, knowing that there are less things left to do. Like having a planner, it helps us to focus on certain things at a time rather than everything all at once.
So yes, keeping organized can be hard. What we all need is the right push and some ideas to help us get started.
Once you find something that helps you keep organized it can help you get into a healthy pattern of holding back future stress. Life is a stressful thing and helping to manage our lives and keeping our emotions in check is a great way to help our mental state relaxed.
Written By 7 Cups Listener: Caotn97
Edited by 7 Cups Mentor: Phanvan