Has the prospect of seeking therapy left you hesitant, overwhelmed, or uncertain about where to start? The abundance of information available at our fingertips can make the process of finding the right therapist seem daunting. Let's explore various therapeutic approaches, pose essential questions to ask potential therapists, and address what steps to take if you find that you don't quite resonate with your chosen therapist.
Therapeutic approaches serve as the framework through which counselors address clients' concerns. There are five broad categories, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and integrative approaches that blend strategies from multiple therapeutic types.
Psychodynamic therapy delves into uncovering and examining past events or patterns influencing a person's current state, emphasizing psychological drives and forces. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a brief, skills-focused form targeting irrational thoughts to foster emotional well-being. Dialectical behavior therapy provides structured psychotherapy with an educational focus on managing intense emotions and navigating social relationships. Acceptance and commitment therapy is action-oriented, encouraging clients to accept deeper feelings while moving forward in their lives.
Some therapists may combine strategies from different therapeutic types, tailoring their approach to the client's needs. This holistic lens ensures interventions are selected to achieve more meaningful results.
As you embark on your search for a therapist, consider it akin to a job interview. Asking questions is crucial for understanding the therapist's approach and ensuring a comfortable environment. Sample questions include inquiring about the type of clients they usually work with, their areas of expertise, treatment methods, acceptance of insurance, and the possibility of involving a family member in sessions.
Importantly, address concerns such as not meshing well with the therapist, feeling like your problems aren't as significant as others', or differentiating therapy from venting to friends. A good therapist should be open to understanding your concerns.
Give your therapist a fair chance by attending two or three sessions before deciding if they are the right fit. If you discover that the connection isn't there, don't hesitate to seek a new therapist. Request a referral and remember that finding the right therapist is a personalized journey aimed at supporting your mental well-being.
Setting boundaries is an essential aspect of self-care that establishes guidelines, rules, and limits on how we want to be treated by others. Boundaries are divided into different categories, including emotional, material, time, physical, and sexual boundaries. These boundaries are crucial for our emotional well-being and provide us with the framework to establish clarity, expectations, and a sense of security within our relationships.
Setting boundaries is about creating a supportive structure for relationships to flourish. Through effective communication, we can establish healthy boundaries that foster mutual respect, openness, and understanding. Boundaries help manage expectations, reducing the likelihood of disappointment, resentment, or misunderstandings. This, in turn, creates a safe space for open communication, where needs and concerns can be addressed without fear of overstepping.
To establish healthy boundaries, we must recognize which areas require boundaries. We can do this by clarifying our values or by evaluating our reactions to things that influence our daily lives. Here are two great worksheets, A Value's Worksheet and Visualizing your Boundaries that you can download and use as a tool to help establish and evaluate your reactions. These include personal space, communication, and emotional needs. By setting limits on personal time and physical space, we can maintain our identities within a relationship. Clearly defining expectations regarding open communication ensures that both parties feel heard and understood. Recognizing emotional needs and establishing guidelines for providing support without compromising one's emotional well-being is also crucial.
Parents can teach their children about boundaries by respecting their needs and encouraging open communication. Respecting a child's boundaries instills a sense of autonomy and self-respect in them and equips them with essential skills for setting boundaries in their own future relationships.
Engaging in therapy provides a structured environment to explore and develop healthy boundaries. Practicing boundary-setting with a therapist helps us articulate our needs and desires while building a vocabulary for effective communication. Therapists can offer guidance in navigating complex relational dynamics, ensuring that individuals feel empowered to express themselves authentically.
In conclusion, setting healthy boundaries is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication. Boundaries are not meant to create walls between us, but instead, to foster an environment where relationships can thrive. By respecting, evaluating, and practicing boundary-setting, we can create relationships built on mutual understanding, trust, and respect.
How does one go about caring for their mental well-being during the holiday season? While some individuals thrive during the holiday chaos, there are a few who find their stress, anxiety, and personal boundaries taking a backseat to the demands of others, turning what is often dubbed "the most wonderful time of the year" into a less-than-joyous experience. In this month's blog, we will explore the concept of self-care during the holidays and its significance to each of us.
When we mention self-care, what exactly do we mean? It can encompass a variety of practices tailored to your own needs. This might include unwinding with a soothing hot bath, setting clear boundaries with friends and family, or adhering to a well-structured schedule that suits your preferences. Let's explore some ways to safeguard your mental well-being during the holiday season.
It's a customary part of the holiday season to be in the company of family and friends, but at times, these gatherings can become overwhelming. Setting boundaries is a crucial tool for ensuring your well-being, both at home and during social events where you might require some extra support to maintain your peace. Utilize phrasing like "You're welcome to visit, but the kids need to be in bed by 7 PM" or "We'd love to join, but we can only stay for an hour". It's important to establish these boundaries in advance of the holiday season to reduce pressure later. Remember to stand firm in your decisions by sticking to the limits you have set.
Preventing Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion can result from life's stressors overwhelming you. You can alleviate this by taking moments for personal reflection and self-care. Consider having a quiet coffee break away from the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, journaling after everyone else has gone to bed, or indulging in a long, relaxing soak in the bath.
Use the HALT method to check in with yourself multiple times per day -
Have you ever heard of the grounding technique? This approach can be highly effective for those experiencing anxiety. Engaging in the 5-4-3-2-1 technique can help you regain calmness in the moment. As you identify each item, vocalize it while focusing on your breathing. Find 5 things you can see – with the holiday season underway (for example look for red or green patterns and objects you've never noticed before). Discover and touch 4 things you can feel (consider the texture of your clothing or identify anything soft). Identify 3 things you can hear (perhaps you can hear the wind or a favorite song). Find 2 things you can smell (can you detect an air freshener or the scent of freshly mowed grass?). Lastly, find 1 sweet thing you can taste, whether it's a piece of gum or a freshly baked cookie.
It's Okay to Buy That Apple Pie
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, there's a great deal of cooking to be done, and the pressure to create everything from scratch can be overwhelming. Does the mere thought of it stress you out? It's perfectly acceptable to ask friends and family if they'd like to contribute something or even consider purchasing certain items. Transform it into a collaborative effort rather than an individual burden.
Let's be honest, there will be moments of stress during the holiday season, but try to focus on the humor or the whimsical aspects of minor frustrations and mistakes. Find the positive aspects in stressful situations; one day, they'll make great stories to share around the dinner table. Keep your eye on the goal: spending quality time with your loved ones and having a positive holiday experience throughout the season.
Give yourself the grace and freedom to prioritize your mental well-being during the holidays. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup, so taking time to recharge and replenish yourself can help ease overwhelming moments. Give yourself permission to have a wonderful holiday experience, even if that means not making an apple pie from scratch!
Casey Medlin, Office Manager