What I wish everyone understood about anxiety is that anxiety is not as much of a problem as its sister emotion—avoidance. Anxiety is a natural emotion that we need to keep us safe and on our toes. It is what we do with this anxiety that can impact our functioning. For example, if we are afraid of being on the subway because it might get stuck in the middle of two stations, that’s an understandable fear. The question is what do we do to manage this fear? Do we notice it and continue on with our day or do we avoid taking the train and only take taxis? Do we move to a location where we don’t have to take public transportation? Do we read reports over and over about the status of subways? These are avoidance behaviors that can become time-consuming and interfere with our daily lives. I wish people understood that avoidance is the issue rather than having anxiety. Anxiety we can live with, but avoidance changes our behavior.
I also wish people understood that depression is an incredibly isolating experience for people. The disorder overrides motivation to connect to others, which is exactly what people need to heal.
Those in a depressed state need empathy and patience. I have seen in my practice that oftentimes depressive behaviors can be misconstrued as lazy and rude rather than deeply impaired and in need of connection. It is also very easy to tell someone who is unmotivated all the things they SHOULD be happy about. However, no matter how wonderful your argument is, someone who is struggling with depression cannot truly hear it. It is not as though they are ignoring it or disagreeing with it—they literally cannot process it. So, be gentle, and give a hug rather than an inspiring talk.
One thing I wish people knew going into therapy is that they are a consumer. As such, they should feel more agency over choosing a therapist and a therapeutic modality. I, too, often see people who have been in therapy for a long time with a therapist or a therapeutic modality that didn’t work for them. I wish people understood that it’s their choice and before any work can be done, they need to feel comfortable with their therapist and that therapist’s methods. One of the biggest misconceptions is that therapists always link current problems back to your parents and/or childhood. This is not the case with many therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. We all struggle for different reasons, originating from different places. The goal for me as a therapist has been to help people struggle less in this moment by finding their own strength and healing from the inside—no matter how it initially originated.
As a therapist it is essential for me to be in therapy weekly in addition to having group peer supervision. I see therapy for me as both an opportunity to learn ways in which my past experiences might be impacting my work and as an opportunity for me to learn from someone else different techniques that might work for my clients. Going to therapy is also a wonderful way for me to feel heard and listened to. A job that largely revolves around listening to others can be hard, so it is important to me to have a place to share and be heard.
Just this summer I decided to create a clinic within my private practice so I could provide services to clients for a lower fee. I believe therapy should be accessible to all people.
Your therapy journey is private information. I have worked with people on both ends of the spectrum — people who share too soon or too late. There isn’t a right time to share that you are in therapy. People who are hesitant to share that they’re in therapy often have some ambivalence about therapy. Spoken as a true therapist, I recommend talking to your therapist about your feelings regarding opening up to others about your treatment. This is another wonderful gift of therapy, it allows us to understand how we relate to others, talk about our patterns, and decide whether or not we want to change them. Schedule an appointment with one of the therapists on our team today.