One of the most common questions I get comes out basically like this, “I’ve never done therapy before, I don’t know what to expect, what is it like?” Often they have an idea of an older guy in a tweed jacket, pulling his pipe away from a finely cut beard and saying, “hmmmm, yes… yes… how do you feel about your father?” Others might imagine a somber toned middle aged woman with eyebrows that never move, peering deeply from behind glasses. I can’t speak for other therapists, we all have our own voice and style, but it is becoming more common for therapists to break molds of tradition to meet you where you’re at to provide the best support for you. Here’s me as an example of the type of therapists you can find.
This is Me!
Any given day, if I’m not legally required to wear pants, I’m probably in a kilt. Can’t stop, won’t stop… too legit to quit. Carl Rogers, the father of modern therapy said you need 3 basic things to be a therapist: empathy, full faith people can grow, and authenticity. I love all 3, but if I had to pick a personal joy, it’s authenticity. For some, the profession of being a therapist is like an actor wearing a mask. They put on the therapy uniform, go into the therapy space, and use their therapy skills in their therapy voice. For others, like myself, becoming a therapist was a life transforming journey that’s never really over. I wonder if a therapist leaves a session and hasn’t learned, remembered, or grown in some way how in the work they really were. When I was learning to become a therapist my wife and I were having an “intense discussion”, then she told me not to speak to her in that therapist tone of voice! Then she started studying to be a therapist… now we talk to each other like therapists because we’ve ingrained the tools used to approach people with curiosity and compassion first rather than critically or defensively.
One of my favorite professors suffered a long term disability that required the use of a walker, which she named Paul. Paul Walker. Telling her I used to do stage comedy, I asked her if I could use humor in sessions or did I have to talk in “therapy tone”. More deadpan than John Cleese at his finest, she looked me dead in the eyes and laconically quipped, “only if you’re funny.” From there she asked what my approach would be. There’s a laundry list: Gestalt, Alderian, psychodynamic, cognitive, Freudian (is still somehow around), DBT, CBT, EMDR, ACT…. I said Rogerian, named after that guy Carl Rogers I mentioned earlier. She said everyone’s Rogerian, pick something else. I took some time, looked some things up and came back with Eclectic Rogerian, meaning I use the treatment model research, experience, and my client collaborates on in a way we believe would be the best. She said it was a cop out, but that she was also an eclectic Rogerian. As time went by my approach was informed by another Rogers, Mr. Rogers. The Two Rogers guide me. When you see me, I will acknowledge your challenges, we will make your treatment plan, and I will help you build from your strengths in an atmosphere where you can be who you are while you find out who you are.
What is Therapy?
If you need someone to talk to, I’m listening. I’m 50/50 on turning this into an actual ad. I like the whimsy, not sure I love the cheese… we’ll see. One of my absolute favorite experts to listen to is Dr. Brad Reedy. He takes kids out to the wilderness and has them work through some hard issues. He has been working with his therapist for about 30 years. She has seen her therapist for longer. Dr. Reedy’s grand-therapist helped impart some of the best wisdom I heard from him. Therapy is the relationship. Research says the number one indicator for success in therapy is not the diagnosis, ages, backgrounds, etc., it’s how well you and your therapist click… it’s why I do free consultations. One of my best moments was when someone told me a client we both saw was lying to us. I told her I knew, they weren’t ready yet. Like Ogres & Onions (I’m turning that into a D&D one shot), people have layers, and you only get to the tears when it’s time.
Any type of self improvement is a sacred journey only you can do. Arnold Schwarzenegger said only he could give himself his body, he cut every calorie and lifted every pound. A therapist is your guide on the side as you take your next steps. Therapy is the time you take to pause for a bit to hold space with someone(s) who really want to help you walk your path a little easier.
If you or someone you know is a little off center and is looking for some help, feel free to reach out to me for a short, free consultation. Even if you don’t pick me, hopefully for a moment you feel heard and I can offer something that will help.