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Yay-Boo How Lifes Gives Us Different Perspective

Yay-Boo How Lifes Gives Us Different Perspective

Recently I went to see a show Ann Randolph’s Inappropriate in All the Right Ways.  At the end of the show, this introvert was tricked into audience participation. Ugh. Ann had talked about Yay-Boo. She explained that life is a series of Yays followed by Boos. So I went to college-Yay. Then I failed out-Boo. Then I started a wonderful career-Yay. Then the recession hit-Boo. And so on. She wanted audiences members to write a series like that on their own. What I noticed was that the Yay-Boos that I focused on were in the last few years. When I tried to go back earlier I came up with Yays but wasn’t finding the Boos. I remarked on this to my friend and she wisely said that those Boos didn’t seem like much anymore since I had faced far more challenging stuff in my life in recent years. So my perspective had shifted. Things that I know I both struggled with and ruminated about in my younger years no longer seemed like a big deal now. As I have become middle aged the struggles are very different, losses in particular. I had never had a real loss prior to recent years.

My insecurity of my 20’s and perhaps even 30’s seems so meaningless now as I both experience loss and watch others experience the same. To me, life has become precious in a way that I could not understand when I was younger. When you are younger mortality seems so vague. When you get older it becomes very present.

And even now I know that there are losses in my life that will come eventually that may be even harder. That’s not to be negative it is instead to say that I am recognizing even now my struggles may seem silly in the future. Which is okay. I have also learned over time that I can face life’s struggles in a way that allows me my feelings but also allows me to push through the tougher times and find more enjoyment in the easier times. That to me is a Yay-Yay.

 

 

 

Photo Credit Copyright: irinavk / 123RF Stock Photo

Putting a little kindness into the universe

Putting a little kindness into the universe

I will admit I used to be exceedingly shy. In my 20’s I would have rather done almost anything rather than speak publicly. It gave me a bit of a reputation as aloof. Which wasn’t true. If I knew you I was super friendly but if not I could barely raise my head to talk to you. Back in the days when I got licensed (I had to throw this in), we had to take an oral exam along with the written exam. I knew I had to be able to do that. So I started on my own exposure therapy plan which included me teaching some classes. It worked and I passed the exam first try and subsequent to that I would no longer consider myself shy.

However, I would not say I was very friendly either. Again if I knew you it was fine but if not…. I am not sure what shifted in me one day but I became friendly. I started to talking to people everywhere. Not on every occasion but when something came up in a grocery line I would talk to the person next to me. I even initiated conversations. And what I found was that rather than draining this introvert it actually invigorated me.

There is a lady that lives on my street (this is related I promise) who walks a lot and has always seemed rather odd. Not bad just odd. One evening she rang our doorbell and gave us a package that had been misdelivered to her house. She had made a concerted effort to bring it to our house when we were home to make sure it got to us safely. It was very nice. Ever since that day every time I pass her she waves and I wave back. In fact, the other day I passed and she was waving at me with two hands. I actually almost stopped the car because I thought something was wrong but it was just an emphatic wave. It brought a big small to my face. She has been so happy to be friendly with us in this small way. I wonder how she gets treated in the world and I know perhaps people ignore her a lot because she does come across as odd. But not looking beyond is so short sighted. We won’t be best friends ever but I think it is nice for both of us to be able to exchange our friendly wave. And when I saw her two-handed wave the other day I really realized how important this small acts of kindness are. there is a lot of negative going on in the world right now. I think it serves us all to try and put a little bit of kindness out there when we can.

 

 

 

 

Photo Copyright: piovesempre / 123RF Stock Photo

Affirmative Counseling with Transgender Clients

Affirmative Counseling with Transgender Clients

One of my specialties is working with people that are exploring their gender identity. In my other work world, I teach classes on marketing and have online CEU classes for therapists to take (not psychologists). I have been long working on a class as an introduction to working with transgender and gender non–conforming clients. I have heard many horror stories from my clients that brought gender issues into the therapy room and had a bad outcome. So I am putting together the introduction I wish I had when I started my work with transgender clients. As I say in my affirmative counseling presentation I firmly below advocacy and fighting for social justice is part of the therapist’s job.

As a part of that class I put together a slide show on affirmative counseling. I thought by sharing it here it would give my clients and those checking me out as a potential therapist insight into how I work as a therapist. The video of the slide show is below. Please let me know if you think there are more concepts that that need to be added.

Photo Copyright: karenr / 123RF Stock Photo

2017-05-02T19:10:29+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Gender identity, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on Affirmative Counseling with Transgender Clients

What Your Mother Probably Did Not Tell You

What Your Mother Probably Did Not Tell You

I am at that age that can be called middle aged. Which means I have middle aged friends. I also work primarily with women and between discussions with friends and clients I have found most women are sorely under-prepared for the hormonal shifts that occur in middle age. In fact, most women seem to think menopause just happens. You turn 50, your period turns off, you may have hot flashes but that is it. But it is not it. Google mood swings and perimenopause I dare ya.

Perimenopause is that period leading up to menopause where all sorts of things may happen, or not. Menopause is official when you have stopped menstruating for a year. Perimenopause can be the up to 10 years (YES 10 YEARS!!) prior that you have other symptoms. These might include anxiety, tearfulness, bursts of anger, hot flashes, insomnia, breasts that hurt, irregular periods, depression, and many more fun things. What is striking to me in talking to women is how often they just put up with the symptoms. They don’t know what is going on. They feel crazy. They may try and see a doctor but more often than not they are told to either take hormones or just suck it up.

I have found that for most women finding some connection with other women that can normalize the experience for them is a big help. It is also good to find out some information so you can have reasonable expectations. Everyone is different and some women go through the entire experience super smoothly. Most have some bumps along that way. There are all types of herbal supplements and products you can try if you wish (please always do due diligence and research each thoroughly and let your doctors know what you are taking).

The most important thing is to recognize that if you are on an emotional roller coaster it will pass and you are not crazy even if it feels like it in any given moment.

A few books that are highly recommended are below. Please note that these are Amazon affiliate links which means I get a small fee if you purchase through the link. My affiliate disclosure statement is here.

The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup M.D. 

This article onIs It Perimenopause” from Prevention online is also short and helpful.

 

2017-03-25T23:07:59+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on What Your Mother Probably Did Not Tell You

A Therapist Works Hard To Take Her Own Advice

A Therapist Works Hard To Take Her Own Advice

I often tell my clients that No is a complete sentence. You don’t have to say anything past it. You don’t have to explain your reasons or make someone feel better you can just say no.

Great advice to give not so easy to actually put it into practice. Women in particular can be socialized to have a very hard time saying no. We are also prone to saying “I’m sorry” a lot more than is necessary. It is very hard to shift those behaviors. I fully admit I struggle with this as much as the next person.

Recently someone asked me to do something. I didn’t want to do it. It was a big time commitment and quite honestly I did not want to give up a precious weekend day to do something as a favor to someone. And it was a work sort of a favor not a helping a friend move type of favor. See what I just did there I rationalized my saying no as I write a blog post about it.

Anyway, instead of taking direct route one which was to just say no I first used a delaying tactic and said I had to check on something to make sure I could do the request. After I did that I knew it was a mistake but I followed through and checked out what needed checking and indeed I was capable of doing the project. Easy out gone. Darn it.

Next I procrastinated a few days before responding. Then I asked a friend advice on how to say no diplomatically which essentially means without upsetting the other person or having any consequences. I am a therapist I know this. They gave me advice that I hated about making it a business decision. Then we both agreed I could say it was just about the time commitment, which is actually the true reason. It is hard to just say no without a reason. I wrote and edited the email a few times and then quickly sent it off before I could change my mind.

Good news is that I set my limit. And the other person respected it. It was uncomfortable for me to do it but I have found the more I set boundaries and say no the easier it is to do it. Maybe someday I will do it when the request first comes to me. Maybe it will always be a struggle. The courage is in finding the way to try anyway.

2017-03-25T23:07:59+00:00 February 17th, 2017|Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on A Therapist Works Hard To Take Her Own Advice

Vulnerability and Empathy

One of my favorite places on the Internet is Humans of New York. A photographer in NY goes around and takes pictures of people and writes a sentence or paragraph of their story. It is full of vulnerability and empathy. The subjects are vulnerable when telling their stories and the photos show such empathy and kindness to the them that it amazes me.

The reason I bring this up is that it feels like we have become completely incapable of listening and hearing each other. In conversations everyone seems to focus on their next point in an argument that will never be won. So how has it become that we have become culturally unable to listen? That answer may be beyond me but what I do think it that listening requires both vulnerability and empathy. In order to engage in a true conversation we have to be vulnerable and we need the other person to respond with empathy. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with what anyone says but it does mean you have to hear his or her feeling underneath and respond to it. When we have a conversation in which we are vulnerable and the other person responds with something other than empathy we often become defensive or even angry. They respond in kind and an argument ensues.

I am not sure how we move forward in communicating with vulnerability and empathy with those that differ from us so much. It is hard to be vulnerable when you feel like you are going to be attacked. I suspect that is the reason that many of us right now are in our safe places where we only converse with those who are like-minded. And that is okay. We need to feel safe. But perhaps when we push out of our safe places instead of having a discussion about current events we can ask the other person about themselves. What is their story? What are their fears and their goals and desires? Maybe if we can find a way to connect with them on that level then at some point in the future other conversations can happen. Maybe not. I admit to fluctuating between saying stay safe and try to connect with other that are different from you. I think that there is room for both.

What I do know is that when we can listen it makes a difference. And listening to people’s stories always matters.

2017-03-25T23:07:59+00:00 December 19th, 2016|connection, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on Vulnerability and Empathy

Transgender Rights and Resources

Transgender Rights and Resources

Since the election, a lot of concerns have been coming up for the transgender people. I have put together some resources and information below so that you can have the best possible information when you make any decisions. Obviously right now we do not know anything for sure. I don’t want to perpetuate panic but at the same time, people need information on the best ways to protect themselves. Everyone needs to make the decision that is best for them in their own circumstances.

I am going to focus on the practical concerns of documents and health insurance.

Please feel free to comment or email me if you have anything to add to this post.

 

Documents

In California, the go to for information on legal documents is The Transgender Law Center. Here is the link to their page with detailed information about this topic. Here is their extensive guide.

Here is my quick summary:

California State-Documents

In 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1121 which made it easier to get documents changed in CA. Full implementation occurred in July 2014. So with the same Governor in office and statements issued both from him and the Legislature that assert that they will protect Californians, at this time there is no indication that this law will change and you should still be able to change your name and gender in CA fairly easily.

It is important to note that you do not currently need a court ordered gender change to change your California driver’s license, social security card, or U.S. passport. You also no longer need a court order to have a new California birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender.

You DO need a court order for a change of name.

 

Documents-Other States

For information on other states and their rules, The National Center For Transgender Equality has an awesome site here. You can click on any state to get additional information including some local advocacy partners.

In states with Republican Governors, there may be a backlash against gains for transgender people and those laws may be at risk so please check in with your local transgender advocacy projects.

 

Federal Documents

Social security cards and passports are Federal documents and as such may have more risk for change.

 

Social Security Cards

National Center For Transgender Equality also has a great fact sheet on changing your gender for Social Security. Right now it is considered a relatively easy process but we have no idea at this time if this might change and become more challenging in the future so if this is an important change for you, it should be done as soon as possible.

 

Passports

In 2010 the State Department updated its policy to make it easy for transgender people to obtain a passport that has their correct name and gender identity. This may be an area that is targeted and changed moving forward.

If you believe you may want to leave the country at some point this is a very important process to complete as soon as possible.

Here is information from the National Center for Transgender Equality on passports.

 

Health Insurance-California

The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) has ordered California’s health plans to remove blanket exclusions of coverage based on gender identity or gender expression. This was done to comply with the California Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2005. These rules did not apply to self-insured plans. Many larger businesses have “self-insured” plans governed by ERISA, a federal law that preempts state nondiscrimination protections.

Essentially what this means is that those who got transgender health coverage added because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) risk losing it if the ACA is repealed.

However, many in California will continue to have transgender health care coverage under private insurance plans.

With Medi-Cal is more complicated. Many people got on Medi-Cal through the Medicaid expansion in the ACA. Many others also got private health insurance because of the ACA subsidies to buy private insurance. Those aspects are at risk if the ACA is repealed. So people will lose their entire health care plans not just transgender-specific aspects.

CA law does still require coverage of transgender health but it could get more challenging if cities lose funding for public health.

 

Health Insurance-Other States

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed then Rule 1557, which removed trans health exclusions federally, will be gone. If you live in a state that did not protect transgender health care prior to the ACA there is every reason to believe that coverage can be gone by the beginning of 2018. Also, those who got coverage through the Medicaid expansion will also most likely lose their healthcare coverage if/when ACA is repealed. And we know repeal of the ACA is the top of the list of legislative goals for the Republicans. The other scenario I have heard is that Medicaid expansion may stay but become much more restrictive depending on the state. Vice President Elect Pence did do a Medicaid expansion in his state so we just don’t know how this will play out.

 

 

Resources for Further information

Transgender Legal Services Network

Transgender Law Center-CA Specific

Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting reports of incidents of violence and intimidation. They advise reporting to local police first but they are tracking the violence. The link to that is here

Trans Lifeline

US: (877) 565-8860 Canada: (877) 330-6366

Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well-being of transgender people. It is a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.

Lambda Legal resource guide on Documents

CA Courts Site Reference for further CA legal document questions.

2017-03-14T00:29:50+00:00 November 17th, 2016|Gender identity, LGBT, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on Transgender Rights and Resources

Post Election Trauma is Real

We have ended the ugliest election in US history by electing a man who has called Mexicans rapists, said women should not have the right to choose, said gays should not have the right to marry, and that Muslims should have to register if they live in this country. Many people think therapists should not speak out about politics. This therapist begs to differ. I am not speaking out against a party. I am speaking out against a clear and present danger to many in this country. I will not be silent when a White Supremacist is appointed to a job next to the president.

As many in the LGBT community know there was long a slogan that Silence Equals Death. Many of us wore pink triangles to represent the LGBT people killed in the Holocaust. Sadly I fear we are again in a time where silence could equal death and I will not be silenced while people in this country are being persecuted.

I recognize that for many people, including the people I work with, are scared. They are traumatized. They do not know what to do or how to handle this. As a therapist, I have no easy answers. We each have to find our own way to cope with this pain. What I can say is that I will be here to listen. I will be here to help you with the trauma you are experiencing and the fear you are facing. I commit to providing a safe space and I commit that outside of my office I am going to be doing everything I can to protect people in this country.

2017-03-14T00:30:25+00:00 November 14th, 2016|trauma|2 Comments

Personal Connection is How We Will Heal From This Election

Personal Connection is How We Will Heal From This Election

Wow. Honestly I feel like that is all I can say right now is wow. Everywhere I go people are talking about this election. People are really angry and people are really scared. It seems to me that the media is fanning the fuel of anger right now and social media can take it over the top. I certainly don’t want to minimize people’s anger and the reasons behind it but I am concerned about how it will permeate into other aspects of our lives and how we will somehow all move forward after this election is over.

I feel sad that this is what American Politics has come to. It used to be that we all had our parties and we supported them and hoped they won but we had some respect for those on the other side of the aisle. This has been falling to the wayside for the last eight years and has reached a critical point right now. I have heard multiple friends say they don’t want their children around people that support certain candidates. Relationships are becoming acrimonious or even ending.

Prior to this election politics and elections were rarely discussed in my counseling room. Now it is talked about all the time. I hear fear and anger there too. And I don’t have answers to that. All I can do myself and advise others to do is to take care of yourself the best you can. For different people that may be different things like not watching news, or limiting contact with people that support the other candidate, or becoming active in the campaign you support. But people feel helpless and that is a very challenging place to be.

Now I digress for a moment (hang in there I will make my point) but yesterday during a break in my work I wandered over to the bookstore. It is dangerous for me to have an office near a bookstore but it is also a place I like to wander. It calms me. As I perused the books an older gentleman came into the aisle and was grumbling about not finding the book he was looking for. I will be honest in the past, as an introvert I probably just would have nodded politely and moved on. But I have been pushing myself to try and connect more when opportunities arise. This gentlemen then mentioned the author he was looking for and I said oh you find him over in the fiction and literature section not here, because I read him too and that’s where I found him. He wandered off and then returned having found his book. We then compared notes on that series and then several others we both enjoy. He told me he was 92 and about the challenges of aging. He told me how old his kids were and I joked I could be one of his grand kids. He then told me about his grand kids and great grand kids. We continued to talk as we went to pay and he told me about his service in WWII. It was a very enjoyable interaction for me and I hope for him.

The reason I share this story (told you I would return to the point) is that it helped me recognize that human connection is what we continue to really need. I don’t know who that man is going to vote for but I do know we like the same books and I enjoyed talking to him. It actually made my day. I think as we move forward post election it is important to remember this. We can still almost always find ways to connect with others, even those we disagree with. And the healing will only happen if we try and do that and try to both connect and really listen. Try to hold on to that as we move towards November 8th and beyond.

 

 

 

 

Copyright: allegretto / 123RF Stock Photo

2016-10-11T18:12:39+00:00 October 11th, 2016|connection, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on Personal Connection is How We Will Heal From This Election

The Blame Game-Can We Find Empathy?

In the chaos that has been the last few weeks in the world a few friends posted the following quote by Brené Brown.

“I woke up this morning looking for someone to blame. Someone to hate. Someone who I could make the single target of my fear about the officers killed in Dallas and the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It was such a desperate feeling to want to discharge the uncertainty and scarcity. Then it dawned on me that this is the exact drive that fueled what’s happening right now.

Instead of feeling hurt we act out our hurt. Rather than acknowledging our pain, we inflict it on others. Neither hate nor blame will lead to the justice and peace that we all want – it will only move us further apart. But we can’t forget that hate and blame are seductive. Anger is easier than grief. Blame is easier than real accountability. When we choose instant relief in the form of rage, we’re in many ways choosing permanent grief for the world.”

I feel like I am just watching people further polarize and blame each other for what is going on in the world right now. Not just with the shootings recently but the parents whose son got into the gorilla cage and every other incident like that. People say if the person driving the car listened to police he would not have been shot. If the parents at the zoo had watched their son better he would not have gotten into the enclosure. I get it. We want to say those situations happened to “those people” because of something they did. That means in the same situation we are safe because of course we would listen to the police and watch our children more closely. Right now we seem incapable of looking at events with any type of complexity and/or empathy but instead rush to judgment. That may make use feel better and safer but it does nothing to address what is going on in this country right now.

This post is not going to delve into the deep racial divide that is in our country right now. It is beyond me to write something to address that. What I do want to address is the blaming and the lack of empathy. It is harder to try and put ourselves in the shoes of another person. It is hard to make ourselves vulnerable to listening to others stories. But I do not think we as a society can heal and move on until we can allow ourselves to be that vulnerable.

I do believe that most of us want a just world where bad things don’t happen. But that is the world we live in. Take a moment with each situation and try really really try to put yourself in the shoes of the person it happened to. Let yourself feel for a minute what that might be like for them. Have some empathy. It is hard really hard sometimes to do this but if we can all try and find our way to be a bit less judgmental and a bit more compassionate maybe we can all work on healing the hurts that are separating us.

 

2017-03-25T23:07:59+00:00 July 11th, 2016|Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|Comments Off on The Blame Game-Can We Find Empathy?