As individuals are continuing to become more open to receiving therapy, I’ve noticed that even though many are mentally to begin therapy, they may also be emotionally overwhelmed around the process of looking for a therapist. I often tell prospective clients that looking for a therapist is like dating. You may have to chat to many before you find the right fit. In this article, I am going to share with you, some of the variables to consider, as well as general tip on how to go about looking for a therapist. This is not a sponsored posts, so any links I share is because I just believe in them to be adequate sources.
Understanding the therapeutic framework(s) that your potential therapists believe in and operate from is somewhat equivalent to understanding the family or values that has shaped a friend or significant other. There are over 50 therapeutic frameworks and most therapists pull from several. When a therapist goes to school, no matter if they’re background is social work, psychology, clinical counseling or marriage and family therapy, they are taught about human behavior from various perspectives. Those perspectives guide their approaches, tools, and understanding of a clients’ particulars needs and limits/strengths. For example, I am very introspective based, therefore my sessions are not typically venting spaces. I ask my clients a lot of questions, and provide deep dive questions and worksheets outside of session.
When you inquire with a therapist, ask them about their approach, and how they may go about supporting you. Here is a great list of various therapy approaches .
Are you looking for therapy for a child, adolescent, adult, couple, partner arrangement or family? Are you looking for in-office sessions, online therapy, or in my case, eco-therapy? All therapists don’t serve all populations. There are some therapists who are strictly online. There are some that are just in-person. There are others who offer both for flexibility. For myself, as a mindfulness focused practitioner, I offer sessions outside, which we refer to as eco-therapy.
Private Practice or Community Based
There are therapists that work in private practice and therapists that work in community organizations. Those who work in private practice tend to have higher fees, whereas those in community organizations may offer lower fees or no fees at all. Community organizations typically receive financial support from local, state and federal agencies to provide mental health resources to the community. Those in private practice may take insurance or allow for private pay. Community organizations will often have public resources to offer you, in supporting your psychological needs. Those in private practice may make outside referrals, and share private resources with you.
Costs/ Forms of Payment
All therapists have different payment systems. If you have insurance, you want to check if your therapist takes your insurance/ are in network with your provider. If the answer is no, you can also inquire if your therapist provides superbills, or if your insurance provider accepts superbills. Superbills are summary of your services, and some insurance providers allow you to pay out of pocket, but may reimburse you up until a designated amount, for the services rendered. For example, if the therapist charges $150 for a session, and you find out your provider reimburses up to $75 or 50%, you will initially pay $150, but after submitting your superbill, your insurance company will send you a check for $75. When neither of these apply, you will have to pay cash. You may see the words cash pay, private pay, or out-of-pocket on a therapists’ website or therapy profile. For clinicians that take private pay, they will likely have an online payment system set up.
It is often known that costs can be a barrier to some people having access to therapy. Most therapists base their fees on the average of their city, the cost of living, their educational/credential level, as well as their demand. When it comes to therapy, there are some therapist who have a public price, and some may offer limited sliding scale (income/situation based) fees. There are also therapists who offer pro-bono services.
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Grief is an emotive experience I have been more comfortable with over the last few years, as I have lost both my primary parental figures since 2016. My grandfather passed in 2016 and my mother passed in 2018. I could never really describe the depth of the pain I felt, but I can tell you that bother experiences took me out of work and required an intense of amount of therapy, mindfulness, and external support to get through. As a therapist, what I know, is that we are constantly grieving various aspects of our lives because change is constantly occurring. We grieve changes in in career and work, possessions, relationships, and parts of ourselves.
Even in knowing this, there is one aspect of grief that I have had to accept will always be ever-present and will never change; the grief and experience of being a Black person. In the US, Black bodies have been exploited, murdered, abused, and pillaged since the creation of the 13 colonies. It is these actions that help create the superpower that is the US. Those in power, have done an exceptional job to continue their systems of degradation, disenfranchisement, abuse, neglect, murder, and exploitation to this day.
As a history buff, I carry an extended historical insight into the Black experience in the US, but also experience of African peoples dispersed across the globe because of Imperialism. As a Black body, my DNA carries the emotional experience of my ancestors. As a person living in the 21st century, thanks to print, tv and social media, I get to carry the images of countless names of Black bodies killed by white people who claim fear and protection.
It is hard.
As a therapist, I get to create safe, open, and honest space for my clients to share their most difficult, exciting, darkest, light-bearing, and vulnerable selves. I love being a therapist. Its what I've wanted to do ever since I was 8. And in that love, is one of the most difficult challenges: maintaining composure and the capacity to hold space for them, when we are both grieving another black body being lynched, murdered, abused or exploited in a hate crime.
Usual emotions that come over me whenever I hear a hate crime: sadness, anger, hurt, pain, disgust, confusion, and/or envy. It is rarely shock because of all the reasons mentioned prior. Grief begins to ensue. More tears for another person who will become another hashtag , and really be forgotten by the people who should see that the elimination and genocide of Black bodies is disgraceful and the fact that those who take their lives, rarely get any type of serious consequences, goes beyond injustice.
So imagine, I get to move through my own emotions, put them on pause, so I can be present for my clients, and often have to look at the cascade of tears running down my clients cheeks. It feels like torture. To add insult to injury, there are unfortunately many white therapists who don't care or are indifferent during these times, and so, I also think about the Black clients who don't even have someone empathetic enough to their experience, holding inadequate space for them.
Sometimes I just cry, in confusion, and ask, why can't they see us? Why don't they see we are humans? Why don't they see that we matter? Why don't they see our value beyond beauty, athleticism and entertainment? I think to myself, how freeing it must be for people who are racist to be numb to the pain of others. I'm fortunate , I could never be that way. However the down side to being so compassionate and empathetic, is feeling so intensely, and you just want to stop it sometime.
I do my best to affirm my clients. Most of them are from historically marginalized groups, and of course, when aspects of your identity is targeted through hate, how can you not develop beliefs doubting your worth or value? To be a member of an oppressed group, trauma based off ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, vehemently shapes your perception of yourself.
By May 31, 2020. there have been 10 public cases around the murder of a Black person at the hand of a white person, and that's just public news. It hurts. I'm sad. Its exhausting to hear and have to move through. I want to cry with clients. I want to scream. Some days. I just don't even want to see clients. I have mastered self care, so fortunately, I engage in a lot of deep restorative practices, but no matter what, it feels unfair. Its unfair that race based trauma is still a reality of 2020. Its unfair that my emotional body, continues to have experiences to hold on to. Its unfair that my brain and body has to continue to adapt to the trauma. I can't stand it, and all the while, its something I still have to accept. Whether I'm in the US or another country, I have to spend my lifetime, continuing to witness parts of me dying.
Despite it all, I always lean into gratitude and focus on strengths. That is literally, what gives me the strength and depth to show up for my clients. It hurts, but I'm grateful and proud to be a Black woman. I can't stand that they do this to us, but I'm proud that some people feel so threatened, that they want to exterminate us. I'm grateful for allyship. I'm grateful for advocacy. I'm grateful for progress in opportunity and some justices. I'm grateful for a richness in history and the impact Black people have made in this world. Lastly. I am grateful for the resilience. Because no matter what, we always rise, and that is something to be proud of and celebrate.
I just want people to know, the therapists are hurting too; they grieve, get depressed, and anxious about some of the same current events as you.
If I asked the average person in the US what routines and practices they implement in their life to take care of their physical health, something tells me at least 3 out of 4 people would have some answers. Even if they aren’t considered to be at their healthiest, most people can at least share general ideas of steps to take towards improving their physical health. If I asked the same questions, and replaced physical health with mental health, I’m not too confident that one would be able to share information as quickly or thoroughly.
With so much information about mental health and major mental illnesses available to the masses, why is the topic of mental health still not integrated into our thought process about general health management? It seems that mental health becomes a trending topic when an atrocity is exposed in the public eye, e.g. a mass shooting, a suicide or substance induced death of a public figure, and then gently fades from peoples’ attention until the next time. Because mental illness (not mental health) becomes a circumstantial topic, I presume it can only be understandable why mental health is a back thought, but it is a personal focus of mine, to change that.
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Life is always happening. Stressors are constantly coming our way. Under heightened periods of stress, it is so easy to either throw ourselves into staying busy or completely vegging out on unhealthy foods and mindless activities.
However, there are practices and tools we can utilize to support our self care. When one thinks of self care, you can be inclined to think of massages, nail spas or hair salons. Yes that may be one form, but there are simple, affordable and natural tools that you can utilize to combat stress.
When it comes to stress, it is important to know, that your body is responding to external stimuli on a neurological, physiological and energetic level. Most of the time when we are "stressed", we do not even perceive it because consciously we are built with protective factors and operate thru resilience. Regardless if our conscious selves process all of our stressors, its beneficial to have tools that stabilize us neurologically, physiologically, and energetically.
-Burn Something Edifying
Burning herbs, woods, and incense to clear energies, bless bodies, and purify the atmosphere of the home is an ancient practice utilized indigenous, African, Asian, and LatinX cultures.
Look for these scents which are known to have a positive effect on the nervous system. They may reduce feelings of nervousness, anxiety and stress. Lavender, eucalyptus, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Sage, Palo Santo, or Incense
These are shorter burning items, that only require a little bit at a time. You can purchase and look up how to burn white sage or palo santo. Sage and palo santo are used to smudge (clear energies and toxins) so you would burn the tips and let their smoke fill the air for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on how much you have). Incense will surely burn longer but not as long as a candle.
-Meditate and/or Pray
Meditation is essentially the practice of focused breathing, typically done in silence. In meditation, you become mindful of your thoughts, and as you deepen your meditative practice, you develop the strength to quiet your thoughts. Because we are so overstimulated, the thought of meditating can seem challenging, and initially it is. Fortunately there are tons of apps and wellness channels on YouTube, that support meditation, no matter how fresh or seasoned you are.
The goal is all about stillness and awareness.
The same goes for praying. Praying is a time where people talk to their respected higher power and that power responds back and guides that individual on their life journey. Prayer time, allows you to shut the outside world down, and focus on your intention in that moment.
-Practice Sound Healing
Listen to binaural beats, meditative music, music that stimulates your chakras.
Every object and every person is composed of energy. As the great Sir Isaac Newton theorized thru the law of conservation of energy, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but it can be converted from one form to another and it can be transferred from one object to another. This means that you, during times of stress emanate certain energy. Therefore, one energy based tool you can utilize is sound healing. All that "sounds" are is energy captured in frequency form. Of course there's a science to it, but for the sake of this conversation, just know that there are specific sounds that you can listen to that scientifically enhance your mood or relax you.
You can simply use YouTube or your favorite music app to search for binaural beats, meditative music, sound healing songs, chanting, or chakra balancing hymns.
An essential oil dropper or roll-on, a tincture, or a tea
As herbs come from the ground, we humans have mastered various ways to ingest them. Either on your skin or thru your blood stream, utilizing the power of herbs works. Some herbs can be used for cooking as well as aromatherapy. Others can be used for tea. When herbs are doused in rubbing alcohol, they become what we call tinctures, and can be placed in water or tea. No matter if the herbs are in a form of an oil that can be burned, rolled on you, in a tea bag, or in a tincture, utilizing the different forms are great for your well being. You can locate herbs in various forms at your local farmers market, health food store, alternative healing store/clinic, or online.
Look out for the following
- Lavender -Licorice root
- Chamomile - Holy Basil
- Eucalyptus - Ashwagandha root
- Kava - Eleuthero root
- Vanilla - Rhodiola root
- Cinnamon - Bergamot
- Lilac - Jasmine
Your breathe is the most centering tool for self care that you have. Taking intentional moments to practice 6 second inhalations and exhalations can center your body, improve your oxygen flow, and stabilize your fight or flight system. Focus on inhaling thru your nose and exhaling thru your mouth or breathing in and out of your nose.
When it comes to self care, there are endless tools you can use, however these are tools I have utilized in the last couple of years that have helped me.
Of course other steps you can take include quality rest, having a diet full of live foods, physical activity, practicing boundaries, being in nature, and taking quiet time.
In BE Love: Daily Intentions Guiding You to Self Love, I provide you with 35 activities and steps to practice self care and support you on your journey of self love.
What self care tools do you utilize?
Self- care is one of those words, at one time, that had a high level of regard in terms of how one could describe the way in which they tend to their mental, physical, and spiritual needs. Within the last 3 years, as the word has been ever present in the main stream, the strength or value of the term has shifted magnificently. It somehow became equivalent with pamper driven, cost directed products, routines, and services. Self-care has become commercialized and capitalized.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, the world is going through a major shift, and whatever privilege's that people had in terms of their monetized self-care, has been put on hold. All over the world, nations, towns and cities are on quarantine, as an act of protection against the Corona Virus which began to impact our world in November 2019. 5 months later, over a 1.3 million people have been impacted directly as hosts of the virus, and about 75,000 have died.
With quarantine, has come closure of all non-essential businesses, and for many, that includes the businesses they would frequent in the name of self- care. Salons, spas, gyms, restaurants, concert halls, performing arts centers, movie theaters, museums, and I could go on. For some, that even includes traveling, but we know the danger and impact of any person-to-person or outside surface contact at this time.
On top of stressors such as changes in employment, financial security, and adapting to being inside, there may also be the existence of stressors on both interpersonal and interpersonal relationship dynamics. Some are managing relationships within their home, or facing difficulty of not being in the physical presence of relationships that matter. Needless to say, if there was a time to really understand and implement self-care, now is surely an important time and opportunity.
The digital age can make certain emotional experiences extremely difficult to move through. When loss, transition, or any type of event that can bring about mourning and grief occurs, social media and the overwhelming amount information on the internet, can make going through these experiences challenging in a way that previous generations did not have to deal with.
This past week, the world lost a person that was idolized beyond talent, but was inspirational for his drive, mental strength philosophies, and leadership. In connection to the loss of Kobe Bryant, many people felt impacted by the loss of children and parents that were aboard his helicopter, who also passed. Anytime a flying vessel gets into an accident that leaves fatalities, it feels tragic. But this, to the world, has been absolutely tragic.
Major stories like these, stop the average person in their track, and lead one to consider the unpredictability of life, and realize the limits of mortality. When we have big news stories like this, especially when the story is surrounding a major public figure, it brings up so many other complexities around grief.
Because we are human, we are connected; and we always have the capacity to feel pain when others, whether we know them or not, are hurt, experiencing injustice, or in pain. It is no shock that people of all backgrounds, all around the world, are being impacted by this helicopter accident, which will continue to be in headlines for the next week or so. Beyond this news, it appears that every other week, we hear of a natural disaster, politically motivated act of violence, or mass shooting that is tragic.
In light of not only the loss of the Kobe and Gianna Bryant, but also John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Peyton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser, I would like to share 8 tips on how to navigate grief in the social media age.
2. Limit exposure to details of death.
Contrary to popular belief, details of death do not grant “closure” or ensure emotional composure. In fact, it may do the opposite. It may illicit fear, worry, and lasting fixation on how the person passed. As a result, your brain may create its own images which may replay causing you to re-experience the person’s death, thus creating difficult emotions.
3. Take alone time when overwhelmed by other’s condolences.
People mean well, around the times of death, however, sometimes you just need to breathe. Within the first 24–72 hours there is intense shock and grief. Handle your energy and attention with care. Its ok to take time to be with your initial thoughts and emotions around the loss, without engaging in conversation.
4. Memorialize the deceased.
There is power in staying connected to deceased. Everything is energy, and the energy of the deceased are merely transformed into other forms. Honoring the decease allows you to celebrate them and their connection to you. It also eases the pain of what a traditional notion of death and attachment looks like.
5. Feel your feelings & reflect on what’s coming up for you.
Death will bring up all types of emotions; anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, and emptiness. One can feel lost. One will likely feel in denial. All of it, is fine. Try to also grant yourself the gentleness to create space for whatever comes up.
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In my journey as a healer and someone experiencing healing, I have evolved into a practitioner that centers everything around a transpersonal and mindfulness approach. I believe that so much of our human experience can be shaped by our connection to ourselves, the world around us, and the power of awareness in that connectedness. A key to walking a journey of awareness and connection comes through reflection. It is in reflection, that we learn to really see ourselves and the world around us. In reflection, we can learn to honor ourselves. In reflection, we can learn to be our best selves. In reflection, we can learn to the ultimate powers of love in the form of self-love and acceptance.
There is a time for looking forward, but there is also a time, to sit in the now, and also, reach back into the past. The past is a great teacher. The past can be a source of power. The past can be a source of growth. So as the month, year, and decade come to an end, I want to provide some great reflective questions, that give you space to connect to yourself, honor and celebrate the 2019 version of who you were!
How did I live out my purpose?
What are major lessons I learned?
What relationships am I most grateful for and why?
What experiences am I most grateful for and why?
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Anxiety can be an annoying, frustrating, paralyzing, and completely scary emotional experience. According to the Oxford dictionary, to be anxious is to experience worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiousness can be a temporary emotional experience, or it can develop into something a bit more serious.
Experiencing anxiety can you leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. For individuals who tend to feel anxious often, it can turn into various forms of a mental illness (or emotional disorder) called an anxiety disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders such as: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia and Separation Anxiety Disorder to name a few.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but when it happens for longer period of times, more intensely, its important to see a professional.
Symptoms related anxiety and anxiety disorders look like
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The holidays are here, and for many, that means braving the mind, heart, and spirit to withstand encounters with challenging family members. As the holidays is often associated with family time, its important to note that its ok if you don’t have one of those families that seem ideal to be in the same space with. Families are made of people, and people have problems. People have hurts, blind-spots, wounds, anger, shame, and insecurities that they carry with them everywhere, and what better time for someone to release their unhinged troubles, than with family?
Many families have those members that just cant hold their opinions and judgement to themselves. There’s those family members who have poor boundaries, and are inappropriately intrusive, asking questions and probing for answers that aren’t their business to hold. There are the family members that tend to start problems. Then, there just might be someone you’re very close to, that tends to easily trigger the more unpleasant emotions within you.
For all these reasons, its important to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to enter any of these spaces. There are ways to mindfully and intentionally engage with others. One of the key components to maneuvering interactions with others is being self aware of your boundaries, as well as those of others. Many conflicts are rooted in not being in tuned to boundaries. Either over stepping or not respecting another’s boundaries, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
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Working with individuals who have survived trauma, is one of my greatest passions. Research has suggested that 75%-85% of the population has experienced a trauma at some point in their life, however most people do not recognize certain events as traumatic, or they minimize the impact that such events have had on their lives. Needless to say, its pretty rare that anyone leaves this Earthly experience, unscathed by tough impacts of trauma.
Trauma can be experienced in so many different ways. You can experience trauma as a result of experiencing or observing physical, mental/emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial abuse. You can experience it as a result of institutionalization. You can experience it thru a major accident or natural disaster. You can experience thru systemic oppression. It can be experienced thru loss. It can be experienced thru neglect. You can experience it thru exposure to or involvement in violent acts, whether in your neighborhood, a business, in combat, on social media/online or in daily life.
Trauma has major impacts on the brain, one of many being a disconnection from certain emotional experiences. Because your brain is trying to preserve the parts of you necessary to survive and protect itself, trauma can leave you unaware of or disconnected from your emotions. For those who have experienced multiple traumas, especially over the lifetime or for an extended period of time, which is known as complex trauma, it can become even harder to access certain emotions. Trauma as its most simplified core, is an experience, that removes a sense of safety from an individual. After trauma, you develop hyperawareness around what you can do to remain safe. As a consequence, the human brain, creates all types of methods to help you maintain “safety”.
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