How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy…

Committing to Therapy…

In my practice, one of the biggest reasons therapy is not ‘successful’ is that people don’t commit the time or to making the process a priority. For many, this means attending the

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

session as scheduled and reflecting on the therapy outside of session. My time recommendation for new clients is a weekly appointment, as this allows time for you and your therapist to learn about each other, to develop a rapport, and to begin the therapeutic process. If time or cost is a barrier, every other week is an option to discuss with your therapist. Once a client is established or has achieved the goals for initially seeking therapy, we discuss sessions monthly as “well-care” or as needed. I have many clients in my caseload who schedule as needed because they used therapy to develop skills to keep them healthy, one of which is understanding when they need a professional’s unbiased thoughts. In terms of “how long therapy will last,” I don’t put a timeframe. Again, therapy is your own personal journey, aimed at working with your psychology needs, and this journey may not have an obvious or definite end. That all depends on you and your goals – which can change as therapy progresses.

 

… the Therapeutic Relationship…

Another reason therapy doesn’t work out is a lack of connection in the therapeutic relationship. Although your therapist is not your best friend or family member, a potent bond still forms. This person may be one of the only people who knows the most intimate and vulnerable details of your life. It’s important to feel safe and comfortable with them! But therapists are still human, and this means we may not click with every other human in the world. It happens and it’s ok to be realistic about this and seek out a new therapist. Instead of ghosting on your therapist, have a discussion to properly end the relationship. In these cases, professional therapists will understand where the client is coming from and can recommend a colleague who may be a better fit.

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Addressing Outside Factors…

Another reason I see clients reporting dissatisfaction with therapy (either with our sessions or past therapy with another therapist) is focusing on other aspects of the process. These can include costs or pricing, insurance issues, and rapidly switching therapists before change can occur or is about to occur. Yes, the cost of therapy is an important factor (we don’t want you going broke in order to grow or heal!) but is your growth and healing less important than finding someone with a lower rate or being able to use your insurance benefits? It’s important to answer this question in the best way for your situation, and also, to discuss this concern with your therapist.

In the past insurance plans were more consistent and changed less frequently than today. Now, the majority of plans could change in a year or a provider may leave your state or network. For instance, your employer may contract with company A this year though next year contract with company B, altering your network and your coverage significantly. Even private plans through the insurance company may change each year, resulting in a change of your benefits including mental health coverage. Before beginning therapy and choosing a therapist, I suggest exploring what is most important to you about therapy and then choose based on those options. If seeing a person with a specific niche or knowledge area is important, then choose a therapist based on those criteria. If using your insurance is most important, then choose a therapist who accepts your insurance with the possibility that this could change at any point during your treatment. And as always, discuss these issues with your therapist. He or she is invested in your success as well, and will often be able to find workarounds and compromises for insurance, coverage, and billing difficulties.

 

…And Embracing Unintentional Change

As I tell clients beginning therapy, be open to the process involving change you

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

aren’t expecting. Therapy is a journey and, at times, our path may take us down an unintended route. You may begin therapy with a specific goal in mind, but the could open other possibilities or provide insights you’d never considered. These can be some of the most moving and helpful sessions, even though neither I nor my client anticipates them when therapy begins. Much of my work with clients is not only symptom management but also helping clients learn about themselves (and learning along with them) and the systems impacting their development. Being too rigid with goals and expectations of therapy can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of growth. For those concerned about too much flexibility, a good therapist won’t let you flounder around and will help keep you and the process on track by reviewing the reasons you started therapy and reviewing the progress and change. And of course, therapy is grounded in communication: if you think your progress is slowing or something is not working for you, tell your therapist, who can help work out new strategies.

 

Tell us your thoughts about how you choose a therapist and what is most important to you…

 

Wear Your Label NOT the Stigma!

603727_379086905629270_1830533556763078321_n

I came across another great website and company this past week.  WearYourLabel.com fights the stigma of mental health by encouraging people to be open about their diagnosis instead of hiding behind shame, guilt, and stigma. According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s 2012 statistics, 18.6 of the adult population over 18 years of age were diagnosed with a mental health condition, and data from the CDC shows that 13.6 children ages 8-15 are diagnosed with mental illness. The company was founded by Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed who both have mental health diagnosis. Kyle and Kayley wanted to promote people talking about mental health and decided to create a clothing line addressing mental health illness. In addition, Wear Your Label donates to mental health organizations in order to end the stigma.  Check them out at http://wearyourlabel.com/collections/clothing

10256087_411736769030950_4938897200135181953_o

11059479_420525884818705_2049350949289717079_o

Photo credit from Wear Your Label Facebook page!

The Emotions of Grief

****Note: I wrote this a few years ago after my Uncle David passed. It was posted on another site, but I wanted to repost in honor of my uncle, and to share these thoughts with others.****

Wolf-pack-1

By blood, I am a Wolf. What I know about wolves is they are a family system with their own rules, conflicts, and traditions. I also know that, like many other family systems, wolves mourn the loss of a pack member.

Grief is a time when many emotions are experienced at once. We are angry. We are sad. We might not accept the reality of our loss. We may experience these emotions one at a time or all together. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no time limit for grief. Others may not understand our response, but that does not mean our response is wrong. The emotions of grief are our natural way of coping with events for which we do not have control.

Eventually, we will accept the reality of life (and death), and we may feel guilty for these feelings. I’ve read that wolves can mourn the loss of a pack member for weeks. What we must learn from wolves is, eventually, we must continue to huntwolf-pack-2, protect, and live free of guilt and shame. The life cycle will never end; it will continue to give life, nurture life, and take life back.

We must also continue to support and receive support from our other “pack members” no matter the distance between us. A lone wolf cannot survive on his or her own. As I write this, my family mourns a loss. Due to distance, I could not be with them on this day, but I stay connected to them through phone, text, and social media. Support can come from many different sources including family, friends, religious institutions, social groups, etc. Let these people in as the emotions of grief are strong and should not be experienced alone.

I dedicate this to my family and especially to my Uncle David who would be proud that I continued to move forward despite his passing.

“You’re a Sex Therapist? Does that Mean You have Sex with Your Clients?”

Part 1: What Does that Lingo Mean?

Many times friends, family, strangers, and clients have asked me, “What is a sex therapist?” and “What is it you do?” Many times the facial expression says, “Do I really want to know her answer?”

I decided to write a blog about not only the practice of sex therapy and how one can find and chose a therapist, but also how I became a sex and relationship therapist.

First, no, I do not have sex with my clients. A sex therapist is a trained and licensed mental health professional. These professionals are either a master’s or doctor’s level clinician or has obtained a medical degree with a focus in psychiatry. At some point, they decided to narrow their focus of treatment to sexual disorders and sexuality and have obtained further education and (possibly) certification.

grad photo op

In the United States, any professional claiming to be a therapist MUST be licensed by the state where they choose to practice or see clients. For example, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Georgia. In Georgia, you may also see Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or LAMFT/LAPC/LMSW, who are licensed therapists under supervision. Each state has the equivalent of the above licenses though different terminology may be used.

A Certified Sex Therapist (CST) is certified by a national organization called the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (this blog will focus on the “therapist” part, but visit AASECT.org for more information about educators and counselors). NOTE: Some states require state certification in order for a therapist to claim they are a sex therapist though most states do not require any additional training or certification. Please contact your local state board to determine if this is a requirement in your state.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, which will provide tips to find a sex therapist in your area.

For more information about Courtney Geter, LMFT, please visit www.SexAndRelationshipTherapist.com