Do Therapists go to Therapy?

DO therapists go to their own therapy?

Yep, at least, here at Phoenix Counseling Collective we do. In fact, many therapists do, and we aren't the only ones who think it's a good idea.  We want you to know that there's no stigma for us about going to counseling or therapy. We do it ourselves because we see how it can benefit everyone! Here, we share with you some of the lessons we've learned in our own therapy. We've done individual therapy, couples therapy, and even family therapy. We have gained valuable lessons from it and wanted to share our experience with you.


These ideas might sound familiar to you, or perhaps in your own therapy you've worked on something different- that's perfectly okay! Each experience with a therapist is different for every person. 

18 Lessons from a therapist’s own therapy:

Lesson #1- The way I was raised and the environment I grew up in still impacts the way that I live my life today. I still have residual stuff that comes up. Therapy helps me recognize it when it shows up. It helps me accept it. Then it helps me choose how I want it to influence me. These things are going to influence me, it's not a question of "If" but "How." I get to work on the how part in therapy. 


Lesson #2- I've grasped some understanding about my own parts. We do parts work at the Collective, and I've learned that I put them on the shelf sometimes, so I've been getting to know them and their needs as well. 

Lesson #3- We all can use a safe space with no judgment. In my own therapy, I get a safe space to allow all the parts of me to process whatever is there. There's no judgment in therapy for me, which has been a lesson I needed to learn for myself. My therapist doesn't judge me or the parts of me, and it's helped me to accept all the parts of me as well. 

Lesson #4- Things aren’t as black and white as I thought. There isn't always a clear right or wrong decision. Instead, I've learned that every decision has utility. If I choose and don’t like the outcome, it is feedback to learn from for next time


Lesson #5- Much of my personality is grown out of my childhood, family cycles, and act as coping mechanisms for self-preservation. It's okay to give myself some credit where credit is due. My actions make sense in context. 

I’m not broken.

Lesson #6- My wants and needs aren’t “too much.” They are valid. Knowing this gives me permission to look at how to get these needs met by myself and others. 


Lesson #7- I've gotten insight into the cycles of my relationships. I've learned to recognize my own patterns, and the patterns I create with the people in my life. Learning about these gives me the choice to change them. 


Lesson #8- I've practiced more coping skills. No single graduate program can teach you every skill or exercise. It's great to learn mindfulness, coping skills, how to slow down, say no, and improve communication from another clinician's perspective. 


Lesson #9 - I've learned better how my clients feel. My own counseling has given me more compassion and empathy for how my clients might experience sessions. I have to deal with my own anxiety and nervousness as I wait to enter into the counseling room. This gives me understanding on how my clients might experience their own anxiety as they sit in the counseling office. 

Lesson #10- I have determined to trust the therapeutic process. Sometimes I don’t know what exactly I want to talk about and that is okay. Sometimes I have a lot to talk about, but other times I just need a space to process less heavy stuff that is going on in my life. Not every session is meant to be "life transforming."

Lesson #11- I realized that I need to feel a connection with my therapist. I have been in counseling where I didn’t feel like my therapist showed up on time, kept their word, and understood my unique struggle (most of the session was me showing up for them.) It is refreshing then to find another therapist who is competent and confident in their ability to help me and one that I can feel safe and connected with. 

Lesson #12- Change takes time...a long time. And usually that change looks different than anticipated. 


Lesson #13- Growth, freedom, and contentment are possible. 


Lesson #14- My mom always said "slow down and enjoy the journey." Her words never seemed to sink in, but during two different bouts of therapy (with different therapists) I came to better understand my desires & longings that drove me to keep seeking more and more. It was taking a look inside, tuning in to my self, my body, my stories, my own traumas that I was able to bring my unconscious motivations to the conscious where I could make more mindful choices of how to move about in my life.

Ultimately, I learned the process of slowing down and enjoying the journey. 

Lesson #15- "Small" traumas have lasting effects. I have had a privileged, good, nice, happy upbringing, AND loneliness, harm, and trauma were still present. The idea of both/and helped with my ability to hold the ambivalence of the good and heartache of my childhood and adolescents. 

Lesson #16- Living and being present in our bodies is one of the most difficult and fulfilling ways to be. 


Lesson #17- I’m primarily a relational being. Without deep relationships, life loses a lot of meaning and worth.

Lesson #18- Being “good enough” beats trying to run the rat race of being perfect. 


If you have interest in experiencing your own therapy and learning the lessons that are out there for you, please feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to walk alongside you in this journey. 


Take Care,


-The Phoenix Counseling Collective Team

Caleb, Elisa, Andy, Kim, & Molly

Photo by The Roaming Platypus on Unsplash

Time Mapping - Blending Sabbath Practice and Goal Setting

I am a person who enjoys setting goals and making lists. Even better than making lists is checking them off.  I don't know where I picked up the term "Time Mapping," but somewhere along the way I started using this practice.

I call it "Time Mapping" because I create a map of the week that I envision having.

I map out where time goes, and what gets done. My inspiration to start this practice was Whitney English, Founder of Day Designer.

Since I am an avid user of the Day Designer planner, I was curious about their founder. So I did a little research and I stumbled upon this particular blog.  


Ever since I read this blog I decided to make "Time Mapping" a weekly discipline. In this article, the author outlines a practice that is now a big part of my Sabbath routine. I am intentional about resting on Sundays. Sundays are a very unique day of the week. On Sundays, I carve out special time to map out my time. I review my past 6 days, and then I look over the next 6 days. It is an opportunity for me to appraise what was accomplished (or NOT accomplished) over the last week, and helps me consider what I want to accomplish in the coming week.   And maybe "accomplish" is the wrong word. What I really mean is, I’m intentional about what it is I want to spend my time on.


At the beginning of 2019, I realized that I had reached almost every goal that I had set out to accomplish in 2018. Some were specific and some were general. 

But every single goal that I had written down at the beginning of the year, and then deliberately made time for every week- resulted in significant progress.

More than 90% of my goals were achieved.  These goals were important to me. They were ambitious to me. They were relevant to my life. Yours could be totally different. What matters is not the difficulty level for you- it's what you want your life to look like this year.  If you want your life to look and feel more peaceful, then your goal might be just saying "No" to things that don't bring you peace. Maybe you'd like to perfect a handstand - set that goal! Whatever goals you set, you must give it the time it deserves in order to receive the prize. Put that time into every week. Enough of the goal speak, here's how I map out my time every Sunday. 


  1. I write in my planner "Time Mapping and Highlight of the Week" on my Sunday slot. 

  2. I look at my planner over the weekend, and see that on my Sunday. 

  3. On Sunday, I get out my journal, my work calendar, my paper planner, and my erasable pens. I put them all on the table in front of me and I get comfy. 

  4. I begin with looking back at the past week. Did I hit my weekly goals for workouts, journaling/reading, my budget, and my career? I track progress either mentally or in writing. Some things, like journaling for example, I just tally how many days of the week I actually journaled. This gives me a little boost if I hit my goal of journaling 5 days a week, and it also gives me a little nudge if I didn't. 

  5. Then, I check the planner for any things that didn't get done. At this point, I decide if it this thing is worth my time, if so, I'll transfer it to the following week. If I decide that it is not worth my time I'll either let it go, or delegate it. (For example, I absolutely needed to clean my humidifier out. I did not get it done two weeks ago, and I went ahead and transferred it to last week, because it felt important to my health. I decided it was worth my time. It was SO MUCH WORK. But now that I've done it, I know how much time it takes, and if it is worth that time.)

  6. I then review the last week with my gratitude glasses on. What was the highlight of my week? I write that down, and put it into a jar. 

  7. I then begin to write in what I envision the next week to look like, with my color-coded pens. Work hours go in pink. Workouts go in green. Volunteer goes in light blue. Journaling time goes in indigo. Personal plans I write in purple. When I am doing it at my best, I also write in the meal plans for each meal to keep me on track. 

  8. Finally, to ensure that I'll keep it up, I'll write in "Time Mapping and Highlight of the Week" in the Sunday spot for next week. This helps me anticipate anything that might get in the way of this time, and plan accordingly. 


So, that's it! This system is what I credit with helping me achieve the majority of my goals in 2018. These are the things that work for me- you’ll have different priorities and color-coding. Keep in mind with this- we’re still human. I definitely make mistakes or fail to Time Map, and then I pay for it. For example, *True Confession, I failed to put this blog into my Time Map. So, even though I had the idea for this blog a long time ago, it didn't get finished a month ago. Just an example of how time so easily gets lost into anything and everything. This is why I like things to have their place in my planner, which means they have a place in my life. (I should really create a blogging time slot for next week!) 

We’d love to help you reach your goals at the Phoenix Counseling Collective. If you’re interested in learning more or becoming a client, feel free to contact us.

Take good care of your time,

~Molly J

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

What Can You Learn From Your Anxiety?

I always ask my clients what their anxiety looks like.

Sometimes they look at me with a look of “aren’t you supposed to be the expert?” But I can’t be the expert on their anxiety. Only they can be that. And so, we begin the process of looking at what their anxiety looks like emotionally, bodily, and cognitively.

Anxiety looks different for each person. Sure, there is the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and those can be helpful categories to look at, but if we stop there we miss the person, the story, and everything else beneath the anxiety.

One of my professors in graduate school talked about anxiety and depression as being different sides of the same coin. I find this to be very true in my own life and in my clients’ lives. When something is “off” in my life sometimes my symptoms manifest in more anxious behaviors or thoughts (irritability, flighty thoughts, sleep disruption), but other times my symptoms look much more depressive (muted mood, tired, quick to anger). Now, if I just stay on the surface and try to figure out if I’m depressed or anxious, it doesn’t do me much good. And, if I just try and appease my symptoms, that may alleviate some discomfort momentarily, but no real change happens. If I can look beyond the symptoms, behaviors, and tendencies, I will usually find much more. My symptoms become a gateway to understanding what is really going on versus just something to manage. Most of us want our symptoms to go away without realizing they actually have so much to offer us.

Have you heard of the dashboard analogy? Picture the dashboard of a car. The lights that routinely or randomly light up are there to indicate to you that something needs to be addressed. Sometimes it is a signal to find a gas station and fill up with gas. Other times it’s the indicator to change your oil. And then sometimes, the really obscure light pops up that we have never seen before. Do we need to drive straight to a mechanic because our car is about to explode? Is our tire pressure off? Does the engine need to be looked at? When this happens, we have a choice. We can choose to investigate and address the problem (i.e. filling up with gas, getting an oil change, pulling out the manual and determining what’s going on), or we can ignore the light. If we ignore the light, the car will ultimately stop working at some point or great damage will be done. Our anxiety symptoms are like the lights on our dashboard; they are there to give us a glimpse into acknowledging that something needs some care. If we choose to ignore, or mute, the symptoms, the problem doesn’t go away. You may have turned off the light, but the car will still run out of gas or oil or worse.

Therapy can be a place to begin to look at those symptoms with curiosity and grace. In participating in the therapeutic process we can learn how to manage symptoms in the short term, but to find lasting benefits we want to learn from what our bodies and brains are telling us.

Lots of therapeutic modalities are used to address anxiety. And there are lots of tools and skills out there to help with decreasing symptoms of anxiety. A tool I find helpful for myself and some of my clients is the Meta Fi app. It was created by therapists to help individuals learn more about what their body and mind are telling them. I often find it difficult to name (in the moment) what is going on (i.e. How I’m feeling, what I need, etc.). This app is really helpful in asking poignant questions to help us focus in on what’s going on. The app offers a lot more (like making connections with those emotions and bodily sensations, tracking patterns, journal options, etc.), but I find just simply taking the 1-2 mins to pause and enter some info in the app is incredibly helpful.

We can’t really start to address our anxiety until we begin to actually understand more about it. I realize that this doesn’t really sound “fun.” Most of us just want to rid ourselves of the symptoms, but I believe you can find much more freedom and choice if you risk stepping into your anxiety and asking it what it has to offer you.

Peace and grace to you and me as we hold our anxiety with care and curiosity,

Elisa

The Mental & Emotional Perils of Being An Entrepreneur


Life as an entrepreneur is hard.



Research shows that entrepreneurs have much higher rates of mental health issues than the general population.




49 percent of entrepreneurs report having one or more mental health condition. This is 2.6 times higher than the general population. In fact, compared to the general population, entrepreneurs have 2 times the rate of depression, 3 times the rate of substance use, 6 times the rate of ADHD, and 11 times the rate of Bipolar Disorder. Freeman et. al collected and wrote about their findings in Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal.

The debate between causation has been widely debated. (i.e., does being an entrepreneur lead to higher rates of mental health issues OR does having higher levels of mental health issues draw people into entrepreneurship?)

The safest answer is that this is probably a reciprocal relationship, rather than a linear one. So, instead of A causing B, it is more likely that A impacts B, which then impacts A… and on and on. This is often the case with many issues that are studied. The cause isn't clear, but there is a definite connection between the two ideas.




Despite the fact that the relationship between mental health issues and entrepreneurship is clear, few people are talking about it.




Not only do business leaders and entrepreneurs struggle with more mental health issues, but the business community is virtually silent on issues of mental health.




Sure, some business magazines and editorials discuss concepts of depression and anxiety (especially within the startup community) but more frequently these issues stay in the dark. This causes high performance leaders, such as CEOs and founders, to feel shame on top of the depression, anxiety, trauma that they already experience.

This is a big deal.


It's important that we talk about these issues. Shame thrives in the darkness. So, to address these issues I wanted to interview a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is willing to open up about the struggles of this role. I wanted an honest conversation with these leaders.




To start, I decided to sit down with John Herbold, who is the CEO of Brushfire Interactive, and ask him several questions. I focused on 6 questions that might start an honest conversation and one that might be helpful to other CEOs or high performance leaders.




  1. What are some of the emotional and mental struggles that a CEO faces?

  2. How does the pressure of starting and leading a company impact your family and friends?

  3. Since leaders often feel the pressure to hold it all together, often leading to loneliness, how do you stay authentically connected to your family and friends?

  4. What is one of your biggest mistakes as a CEO?

  5. What is one of your biggest successes as a CEO?

  6. What keeps you going when things get difficult? In other words, what is your “why”?

  7. What advice would you give to other CEOs?







John had some insightful answers to these, and was honest about what he faces.

(You can Click Here to watch the video from YouTube if you like.)




I hope this can be a first step to start having more honest conversations in the business community. I plan to do more of these talks and/or videos in the future.




What is hidden, can never be healed. As Maya Angelou states, “I did what I knew, but when I knew better I did better.” We have to talk about these difficult things if we are ever going to change them and provide support for this community.




-Andy Maurer




References:

Freeman, M.A., Staudenmaier, P.J., Zisser, M.R. et al. Small Bus Econ (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-018-0059-8

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash