Intro to Therapy (Part 2) - How Do I Find a Therapist?

So you've made the decision to see a therapist? Great! That's a courageous first step.  Now it's time to find a therapist that is right for you. In this video, Karen explains the most common ways to find a therapist in your area and how to know if they are the right fit for you and your needs.

In the next video in the Intro to Therapy series, Karen answers the question 'What is therapy like?'.

Stay tuned!

What does it mean to be defensive?

When we are defensive, effective communication stops. Let’s consider what it means to be defensive. When someone is defensive they:

  • Make up excuses
  • Criticism or attack
  • Sarcastic
  • Blame: “It’s not my fault, if you hadn’t ___”
  • Complain instead of taking responsibility for their part

How To Stop Being Defensive:

  1. Paying attention to what you are feeling physically can help you to recognize defensiveness. Our body has a physical reaction to a perceived attack. Most likely your body feels tense and you start thinking about what you can say back as a defense.
  2. Take a deep breath and remember that you are not in a battle!
  3. Just listen without thinking about what you are going to say next.
  4. When your partner has finished speaking, repeat what you heard and ask if you understood correctly. "If I heard you correctly, you are saying ..."
  5. If your partner becomes defensive, ask yourself if there was / is a better way to send your message.

When we are not defensive:

  • We assume responsibility for our part
  • We sincerely recognize our mistakes and apologize
  • We seek solutions to problems together
  • We agree to make changes and then do it
  • We recognize the feelings of our partner.

Remember "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." (Steven R Covey). No one is perfect at managing their defensive responses but consciously working on it helps us have better relationships. The more you work at being non-defensive, the better you'll get at it!

Here's a great and entertaining 3 minute video that illustrates this topic:

Stacey B. Thacker, MA, LMFT.png

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

The mind heals itself in the same way the body does. Much of this occurs during sleep, particularly during REM sleep. Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in 1987, utilizing this process in order to treat PTSD. Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat many mental health problems.

What happens when you are traumatized?

Most of the time, your body routinely manages new information and experiences outside of your awareness. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatized by an overwhelming event (e.g. a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g. childhood neglect), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being "unprocessed".

Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a "raw" and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. This limbic system maintains traumatic memories in an isolated memory network that is associated with emotions and physical sensations, and which is disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories.

The limbic system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present.

Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.

Who can benefit from EMDR?

EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of your past traumas and allowing you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone.

The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of and willing to experience the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts which sometimes occur during sessions.

Will I remain in control and feel empowered?

This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time.

During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible.

Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy. EMDR uses bi-lateral stimulation, negative cognitions, and positive cognitions in order to fulfill the treatment protocol.

Ask yourself:  How do you feel about you?  Do you have an uncomfortable memory you no longer wish to carry with you?

EMDR can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy program.  EMDR sessions can last from 60 to 90 minutes in length.

What is an EMDR session like?

EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body.

A trained therapist performs an EMDR session

A trained therapist performs an EMDR session

After a thorough assessment, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist's finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a short while, then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.

With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

What evidence is there that EMDR is a successful treatment?

EMDR is an innovative clinical treatment which has successfully helped over a million individuals. The validity and reliability of EMDR has been established by rigorous research.

There are now nineteen controlled studies into EMDR making it the most thoroughly researched method used in the treatment of trauma and PTSD.

In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat: Anxiety and panic attacks, Depression, stress, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief, addictions, pain relief, phantom limb pain, self-esteem, body dysmorphia, performance anxiety, and many others.

Freedom’s Travails, Freedom’s Triumph

This month we celebrated the 241st anniversary of the birth of our nation.  Independence day celebrates the freedom gained not only from England in the late 1700s, but also the promise of freedom America is to the world, at large, ever since our nation’s birth.  We know that freedom isn’t free, and the steep price that has been paid over the last nearly two and a half centuries for the cause of freedom has been through much travail and sacrifice.

In our day, the struggle for freedom continues – not only for our political freedom as a nation in a world full of commotion – but for personal freedom as individuals and families.  However, the great threat to freedom often lies within.  

As a therapist at Roubicek and Thacker, I see great courage in the lives of clients struggling for freedom and independence.  Whether it is someone striving for freedom from addiction to pornography, gambling, or food or a person seeking freedom from the trauma of childhood abuse, an upbringing in an alcoholic family, or the battle with a mental illness – I find their daily efforts fighting for freedom requires as much courage and personal fortitude as those brave men and women who’ve historically battled for our nation’s liberty.  

The human soul strives to be free.  We want to be the master of our course in life.  Yes, that yearning to be free must fit within the context of important relationships in our lives such as family, friends, and community, but those systemic relations ought to enhance our personal freedom rather than stifle it.  We each have been given a great gift – the ability to choose for ourselves.  Like Thoreau, we each seek to “live deliberately” plotting out a course in our personal “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that Jefferson so eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence.  Our efforts, as therapists, are to aid you in your quest for both liberty and happiness in your personal and family lives.  

Each person who gains mastery over a mental illness through the use of coping skills learned in our offices is another step forward in the pursuit of liberty. Each client that we see overcome an addiction, or find ways to live harmoniously with a spouse and other family members is a freedom fighter planting a flag of triumph in their lives after the hard-fought battle has been won.  We applaud your success as you choose personal freedom from those addictions and challenges in your lives.  We know the way is laced with great difficulty and the price you pay for this type of freedom is steep, but after the travail for freedom comes the triumph of your own independent liberty.  And that is also a freedom worth celebrating.