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How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy

 

How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy

How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy

Having a conversation with your partner about therapy does not have to be a negative experience.  Often times the thought of going to couples counseling can be overwhelming for people.  While certainly there may be things in therapy that are uncomfortable or difficult to talk about, the end result people are looking for is always a positive change.  Keeping the long term goal of therapy in mind may be an important factor when exploring when, or if to seek relationship help.

Here are some other strategies to keep in mind when considering how to talk to your partner about therapy.

Be honest 

This seems obvious, right?  Even though being honest may seem like it should go without saying, sometimes what we don’t say holds just as much information as what we do say.   Being honest with your partner about what your concerns are as well as what your hope is for the future, can be a great place to start.

Therapy is not a last resort 

Viewing therapy as a last resort is a sentiment I’ve heard often…..and even felt in my own life to be honest. However, I think looking at therapy as a last resort option, sets us up for trouble.  Imagine these two statements –

  • “I don’t know what else to do; I guess we’ll have to go to therapy to figure it out.”
  • “We’ve tried some things so far and are still struggling, why don’t we try therapy and if that doesn’t help we’ll figure it out another way.”

Now based on the feelings from these two statements, which one would you say has a better chance of moving towards change?  I hope you said statement number two.  My point is that our intentions that we set prior to entering therapy can have an impact on outcome.

Make it about you 

Remember that your partner will probably not be convinced to go see a therapist if they think that you want to fix them or that it is their issues that need to be addressed.  So instead, make it about you.  Exploring ways you think seeing a therapist may be helpful for you will open up an invitation to your partner, rather than putting them on the defensive.

Make it about the partnership 

I know, I know, I just said something else right? The truth is that you can do both.  It can be helpful to speak about where we are coming from and our own needs rather than exploring how we can change someone else.  In addition, it’s helpful to set the intention that therapy is ultimately about how to make the partnership happier, healthier and more fulfilling.  So make it a collaboration.

To learn more about considerations to make before choosing a therapist, check this post out on “how to choose a therapist.”


 

If you can only remember one thing – remember this:  You are learning to cope with something. Learning to cope with a loss, a disconnect, a sadness, an infidelity or perhaps a list of many other potential struggles.   So, when approaching your partner, this acronym will help – COPE.

Calm

Open

Positive

Earnest

Calm – Approach your partner when you are both calm.  Often times the discussion of possibly engaging in therapy may come up during a fight….this can be a hard time to have this discussion (or sometimes any discussion. Revisiting this when both people are calm and can talk about options with a clear head is very important.

Open – Remaining open to not only what may unfold in therapy, but also how your partner may responds is important.  Remember that initial reactions may be off putting and that giving your partner time to process may be necessary.    On the other hand, not assuming that they will be closed off to therapy is important too.

Positive – In the same vein of not assuming, setting an intention for a positive outcome is important.  As you enter into any discussion with your partner, or anyone really, having a positive sense about it may help to set the tone for the conversation.  I don’t mean to say that things will always be easy or go your way in the conversation, but remaining open to the idea that something positive can come from it regardless, can be an empowering perspective.

Earnest – Offering the most sincere explanation for how you’d like to work on the relationship is important.  Honesty and authenticity is important, but remember, not at the cost of staying calm, open and positive.  Keeping a balance between these ideas can be a helpful strategy.

Ultimately though, no one knows your relationship better than the two of you.  Keep in mind that while you may be seeking some guidance, your own insight is so valuable!   I’ll wrap up with this quote –

“Another reality about relationships is that they are never static. All of us experience changes in relationships but a few stop to analyze why a relationship gets better or worse.” 
― 
Gary Chapman

Please feel free to reach out with questions.

All the best,

Michael

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Behavioral Health Jobs

 

Behavioral Health Jobs

There are many disciplines within behavioral health. To see more information about the different disciplines or about how to choose a therapist, see THIS BLOG POST.  For this post though, I want to talk about all the different areas that are possible to work when searching for behavioral health jobs.

Over the last few years I have spoke a number of times to different graduate classes or schools regarding the varying types of jobs one can get with a graduate degree in a helping profession.  When I was in graduate school I definitely would have been interested in hearing what kinds of options are out there, and it seems graduates students I come across have this same curiosity.   Although there are many pros and cons working in the behavioral health arena (for a good summary click HERE), understanding the options that exist may be helpful in making a decision.  Here is a short list and explanation of career options for those with a graduate degree in the behavioral health field (this list is not conclusive).

Behavioral Health Jobs

Community Mental Health

This area is typical for recent graduate school graduates who are looking for mental health jobs or social work jobs.  In my experience the kind of mental health job you will have working in a community mental health center is always advantageous for improving clinical skills and building awareness of multiple populations.   For more information about working in community mental health, click HERE.

Corrections

Working in corrections is often times an available opportunity in many communities because of the demand.   For an example of duties that may occur for a mental health job in corrections, click HERE.  The level of intensity in the environment of working within corrections may be high, due to the stress level.   However there are many important, valuable clinical skills that could be gained through working in an environment like a correctional facility.

Crisis Interventionist

Typically this kind of work is done within a couple different contexts, like an EAP or a community mental health agency.  Doing crisis work is specific and unique.  This is also a great experience builder that will expose a new mental health graduate to potentially many situations and populations.  The work is challenging and usually fast paced.  The role may vary depending on the context but usually involves helping individuals or organizations debrief from a crisis and find resources and supports necessary.   To learn more about being a crisis intervention worker click HERE.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

This career in mental health is also unique because it can involve a combination of clinical skills as well as business skills.  EAPs are benefits offered to employees that are either a component of a medical plan or an additional employee benefit outside of the medical plan.  The EAP allows for employees with this benefit to seek counseling services free of charge, within certain criteria.  The EAP professional can have many responsibilities including clinical consultation/assessment/triage, organizational training, crisis intervention or account management.   For more information about Employee Assistance Program work, click HERE.

Hospital

Working in a hospital within the field of mental health could mean a number of roles.  There are social workers, case managers, therapists and even mental health nurses.   To learn more about mental health nursing click HERE.  Working in a hospital setting may become more of a popular setting for mental health workers as healthcare in general continues to shift to an integrated care model.   To learn more about how integrated care may impact mental health jobs in the coming years, click HERE.

Private Practice/Group Practice

There are many advantages and rewards when working in private practice.  To see my experience of starting a private practice, see THIS ARTICLE.   The world of private practice can offer lots of independence and flexibility.  However, some people find private practice to be too isolating, which is why group practices can be beneficial. Group practices offer the same flexibility and independence as a singular private practice but with some additional support.  Having a group practice may offer more contact for staffing, triage and supervision.  Settings in a group or private practice may also lead themselves to being in a more casual environment.

Substance Abuse Professional

Working within the substance abuse area of behavioral health is somewhat unique. Unlike other kinds of counseling work, working in substance abuse does not require a master’s degree.  However, since it is an area that therapists often focus in, I wanted to include it.  Substance abuse work can exist in a wide variety of settings including, but not limited to, treatment centers, community mental health clinics, detox centers and in private or group practices.  HERE is an interesting chart looking at varying credentials one can pursue within the addictions field, with and without an advanced degree.

VA Counselor

This has become a more popular setting recently as there have been more opportunities opened up for not only social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, but counselors as well.  For more information about opportunities for counselors working the VA, click HERE.  Behavioral health specialists working in the VA may be working with issues like PTSD, trauma and family dynamic issues.  There may be additional benefits in working for the VA due to there being federal employee benefits packages.

I hope this short list gives some sense of all the varied opportunity that exists within the mental health job arena.  Ultimately, like finding the right kind of therapist, the right kind of job within the mental field has to do with the best fit.   My experience through working in a few different kinds of mental health jobs has helped me learn where my strengths and weaknesses are.  I have also learned what kinds of clients I work best with, as well as which client’s may be suited for another therapist or service.  Through this awareness I hope to ultimately have a better impact on those I work with, which I am thankful for.

Best,

Michael

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Starting a Counseling and Consulting Practice

Greetings!  This is the first of many blog posts, so if you are reading this….thank you!  I wanted to start out reflecting about my experiencing of starting a consulting and counseling practice.  So far this has been an exciting, fear provoking, confusing and fun experience.   At the most this may give you something to work with, if you are a practitioner considering going out on your own, and at the very least – some entertainment.  So, here are 5 of the pieces that have stood out to me thus far, as I wind through learning how to establish a business.

Website

Writing a website, or at least the content for it, was quite the task.  It is not as easy as I thought it may have been to develop explanation for all the little pieces that begin to seem so necessary.  It has been interesting to balance between functionality, promotion, flare and professionalism….seems like a bit of an art.

The website is now active and although I feel pretty good about it, I think that it will be in a constant state of development (www.www.arcintegrated.com).   I would like to offer a huge thank you to RTS Consulting (www.rtsadvantage.com) and Sean King, who helped me to design and develop the website.  Sean was a patient and extremely helpful guide in this process.

I recognized recently that just the exercise of writing content for the website was valuable in and of itself.  This exercise forced me to look at what my values are, which parts of my work experience I want to draw from or emphasize, as well as how I am choosing to describe and present myself in a way that is more expansive than a resume or LinkedIn profile.

Expenses, Income and Budgeting

One of the great things about starting this business is that it has pushed me towards being more aware of where all the money is being spent and earned.  What I mean to say, is that if I am to be successful, I am now forced to really track my expenses and income.    This has actually been more fun than expected.   Before going out totally independent as a consultant/subcontracted therapist and therapist in private practice, I did some research on how to track things.   For this first year I have decided to track things on my own, rather than buying a program like Quick Books.  So far, this method seems to work well.  I’ve set up an excel spreadsheet where I can track all incoming money as well as all expenses and other details.   My hope is that come tax time, my accountant will approve of this process, I think he will.  I imagine as things continue to grow, I will make a move to a more sophisticated method of tracking, but for now, what I have works well.  I keep many more receipts and spend more time in a database tracking money than before.  Overall, I think tracking things helps me manage money more effectively and gives me a better perspective of my spending habits in general.

Client database management

When I decided I wanted to start seeing clients through my own practice I knew I wanted to have digital record keeping instead of tracking notes on paper.  Since I also knew I wanted to do distance counseling, I was able to find a way to integrate them both.  I found a service that allows me to see clients in a HIPAA protected platform, but also allows me to keep track of client information, take notes, create invoices, etc.  I’m still exploring this service but so far it seems great! The name of the service is Counsol (www.counsol.com).  I understand that there are many options out there for client management, notes and record keeping.  Although I only have experience with this one, I would definitely recommend it as an option.

Networking and Marketing

So far the networking piece has been the easiest for me.  I am naturally inclined to network anyway, and have experienced much success with this in the past.  My belief is that our ability to connect with others is a highly under-rated tool that we all have.  With social media at the tips of our fingers at every waking moment, it has become much easier to connect with people and let them know what the latest professional or personal news is, whether they like it or not.    However, I think that there is much added value from talking with people over coffee/lunch about what we are doing and how we may be able to help each other.  I continue to be surprised how simply setting up informational meetings and talking about what I am doing, continues to lead to more and more opportunity.

Social Media

I’m probably on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to social media user knowledge, but I’m learning!  I have not personally used anything else other than Facebook, so there was a definite learning curve here.  I realize the importance of utilizing social media, so I am all for it.  I highly recommend utilizing tools that can populate multiple social media accounts.  I have used a service called Hoot Suite (www.hootsuite.com) which I would recommend.   Deciding on what to tweet, post, blog about feels a little intimidating so far, although I’m sure this will pass.  It seems that the more I write the easier it may be to decide on material and continue to offer ideas.

 

This list of five is definitely not a conclusive list, but these parts of setting up this business continue to stand out for me.  It seems that with some research, enthusiasm, determination and intention, that starting a practice has been a great process!  I look forward to what’s ahead.

 

Thanks for reading!

Michael

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