When to go to therapy?

How do you know when it’s time to start or return to therapy?

In a first session, I often will ask a client how they knew it was time to come in. Sometimes people are coming in at the encouragement of a friend or family member; sometimes they know they need an outside perspective to explore an issue; sometimes it is clear that anxiety, depression or other symptoms are getting in the way of day-to-day life.

For therapists, it is easy to know when we need to go to therapy. When our own stuff starts coming up for us in the midst of counseling others, or if it’s at all getting in the way of facilitating psychotherapy, we know we need to talk to colleagues or get our own therapy. It’s like how doctors need to be healthy in order to treat their patients; counselors need to be emotionally healthy in order to treat our clients.

For everyone else, it can be harder to answer this question. Generally, I encourage someone to come to counseling when they have issues that are getting in the way of living their life the way they want to. (This could be due to any number of things: a stress response that is out of proportion to the stressor; difficulty sleeping; low mood; overwhelming thoughts; relationship difficulties; adjusting to a traumatic medical diagnosis or event).

When you feel you need a safe person to talk to, to process recent events or explore a part of your identity, it’s a good time to come to therapy. When you need to voice the loss you’ve experienced or the secrets that weigh on you, it’s a good time to come to therapy. When you feel ready to build on the strengths you’ve got and develop additional coping skills to face the challenges or burdens of your life, it’s a good time to come to therapy.

I always tell my clients that therapy is about balancing challenge and support. So, when you feel you need extra support in your life and you are ready to be challenged to grow – that is the time to come to therapy!

Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

January’s Mindfulness Exercise:

It’s a new year, so let’s go back to the basics – starting with the breath.

Sit or stand as comfortable as you can, allowing your arms to rest at your side. Take a nice inhale through your nose, and exhale through pursed lips. Notice the feeling of expansion as you breathe in, and release as you exhale. Pay attention to the air as it passes through either your nose or your mouth.

Notice also how the rest of your body shifts with each breath in and out. Do your shoulders go up and down? Does your chest rise, or your belly expand? Bring your awareness inward to notice the details of each breath. Check in also with the muscles that might be holding tension, such as your jaw or shoulders. Do they shift when you inhale, or exhale?

As best you can, focus solely on the minute details of each breath – you have been breathing all day, perhaps without noticing it. Try to take 5 to 10 intentional breaths with this level of awareness.

 

Today’s exercise is intended to increase your emotional awareness, both regarding what you are experiencing emotionally as well as what you do with it. As always, if this feels overwhelming, please call Johanna to set up an appointment.

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

Hello, Prince Street!

As of this Saturday, 8/18/18, Perspectives has a fresh new location at 46 Prince Street. Right around the corner from the Memorial Art Gallery, this office has great neighbors, more space, a beautiful view, plenty of parking, and the same great quality therapy.

Please call Johanna with any questions you may have about the new space! (585)406-3012.

July’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

July’s Mindfulness Exercise:

Last month, we brought awareness to our thoughts. This month, we bring awareness to our emotions!

How aware are you of your emotions? Take a deep breath in, and exhale out slowly. Keep in mind the statement “as long as you are breathing, there is more that’s right with you than wrong with you.” Similarly, there are no wrong emotions – you get to have them all.

Notice what you are experiencing emotionally in this moment. Name the emotion or emotions to yourself. Maybe even write it down on a piece of paper.

Engage in this emotion-naming three times throughout your day today. Notice the fluctuations you experience in emotion and intensity. Notice what you do with the emotion. Is it healthy for you?

 

Today’s exercise is intended to increase your emotional awareness, both regarding what you are experiencing emotionally as well as what you do with it. As always, if this feels overwhelming, please call Johanna to set up an appointment.

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

June’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

June’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month, we are going to bring our awareness to the endcaps of the day. Pick either the morning or the evening, and every day write down the first thoughts that pop into your head in the morning, or the last thoughts that run through your mind at the end of the day.

We can’t control what first pops into the mind, but we can control what we do with it and the habits we shape around our thoughts. After tracking your thoughts for several days, notice if there are patterns to your thinking. Those first or last thoughts of the day – are they what you’d want to have in your mind?

If they are, carry on. If they are not, take a moment to reflect on what kinds of thoughts you would like to have at the start or end of your day. Write down on a piece of paper or post-it what you’d like them to be, and place them next to your bed. Every day, before you close your eyes to end the day (or get out of bed to start the day), review the piece of paper.

In doing so, you are bringing mindfulness to your thoughts and training your mind to take the thought paths you would most prefer!

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

May’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

May’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month, we are going to engage in expanded breathing. Begin by sitting or standing comfortably, and bring your awareness to your breath. Inhale and notice the feeling of your lungs expanding; exhale and notice the feeling of release. Pay attention to the feeling of air passing through either your nose or your mouth.

After taking several breaths without moving, begin to expand your awareness of breathing by engaging in physical movement. You can start by stretching your fingers out as you inhale, and relaxing them as you exhale. Take several breaths to do repeat this, at your regular breathing rate. Next expand your inhale by lifting your arms, and on an exhale release them. Take several breaths to engage in this practice also. You can continue to engage in this expansion or stretch and release with different parts of the body. After doing so, come back to a still position and return your awareness just to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

What do you notice about your physical self as you engage in this practice? What do you notice about your breathing?

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.