Thoughts From A Psychotherapist

Home » Thoughts From A Psychotherapist

This is a collection of all of my Blog Posts.

August 2022

EMDR Intensives for the San Francisco Bay Area

2022-08-29T18:47:01+00:00August 11th, 2022|emdr, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I recently started my EMDR intensive program. EMDR Intensives are great for those stuck on some issue or memory. You can get immediate help without making a long commitment to therapy.

When I started this program I got some immediate feedback about cost and time. As a result, I am going to tweak things a bit to make things more accessible. If you are interested in an EMDR Intensive but something about it does not work for you feel free to email me so we can set up a time to talk about what might work for you.

The only thing I don’t make an exception to is that there must be a 90- minute assessment session and clients must fill out the long assessment packet. I am happy to set up an appointment to review it together. I understand paperwork can be an obstacle.  Success from EMDR comes from completing a thorough assessment and a client being well resourced. I use the 90 minutes to do that.

However, I can do a few other things. I can eliminate the follow-up session. I like to do this so that clients can integrate their changes but if you do not want to do this I will not require it.

I am also now offering three-hour sessions and 90-minute sessions. You can do those as you wish. If you want to start with one 90-minute session and then want more EMDR we can add a 90 or even a 3-hour session as you desire. This way you are not making any commitments beyond what you need or desire.

I am now offering an initial package of a 90-minute assessment and a 90-minute EMDR session for $750.  For an initial 3-hour session it is $125o which includes the follow-up.

I am offering these Intensives to those in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am a social justice-oriented therapist and value diversity in my client. I specialize in working with those in the LGBTQ+ community but I welcome everyone to my practice. Please shoot me an email so we can set up a time for a free 15-minute consultation so you can see whether EMDR Intensives may work for your goals.

Please check out my video on EMDR Intensives to hear even more about how I work.

July 2022

Making the move to EMDR Intensives

2022-08-29T12:59:15+00:00July 22nd, 2022|emdr, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

It is well-documented right now that there is a mental health crisis and a therapist shortage in the US. Add in the lack of trauma-informed therapists and gender-affirming therapists and it can be impossible for people to get the help they need.

As someone committed to both helping people reduce the effects of trauma on their lives and a therapist committed to providing affirming care to LGBTQA+ I want to help more people. However, as a therapist, I am limited as to how many clients I can effectively work with during a week using the 45-50 minute session model.

As an EMDR Consultant who provides consultation to others providing EMDR, I have heard many recent stories about how longer EMDR sessions have been super effective for clients. Weighing this along with the need for more therapy slots I have decided to transition to an EMDR-intensive model. All new clients will be for EMDR Intensives. This will allow me to see and help more people. It also allows me to work with a client on one specific topic or issue and be laser-focused on it. This model also helps those who cannot commit to the time or expense of ongoing weekly therapy.

I will do the work via Tele-Health which means clients can get help while in the comfort of their own homes. They can have their pets or weighted blanket with them or on them while doing the EMDR. In my work, I will do an extensive assessment. Each client gets a workbook where they can answer questions, fill out some assessments, and begin to formulate their Intensive Goals. I will then do a 90-minute assessment session. This allows us to get the goals and to do some resourcing. Resourcing is establishing a plan if a client becomes overwhelmed during or after processing. Then we jump into 1-3 2.5-hour sessions. We do these within a week or two depending on schedule and client desires. We end with a 45-minute session where we review progress and I can give any referrals needed, set up future treatment goals, or help the client integrate the changes they have made. 

Any client can get a free 15-minute consultation to discuss to determine whether or not EMDR Intensives are a good intervention for them. I can do adjunct therapy if you have a therapist already and just want to focus on one stuck point.

 

Feel free to email me at cathyhanvillelcsw@gmail.com today to set up an appointment for the free consultation.


 

June 2022

What I Want Non-LGBTQ+ People to Know

2022-08-29T18:50:20+00:00June 29th, 2022|LGBT, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

 

I am writing this post from my deeply personal place and the opinions expressed here are my own. I speak as a white person with many privileges.

What do I want Non-LGBTQ+ people to know and to do.

Pay Attention to LGBTQ+ issues

You don’t need to know or understand everything. But have a basic understanding of what rights LGBTQ+ people have and which they don’t. Be aware of what rights are being attacked and removed. The Supreme Court has stated (Thomas) that they are going after gay marriage, the privacy of sex, and birth control (Obergfell, Lawrence, and Griswold). You know who has known this for years. LGBTQ+ people. We have been saying it. But many Non-LGBTQ+ people have not been listening. I don’t have the time or the energy to be educating people on this. In my mind, if you cared we would already know what was happening. I have plenty of people in my life that do.

Understand and Validate Our Feelings

My primary current emotion is rage. There can also be depression and sadness and anxiety mixed in. I deserve space for all of that. Let me have my feelings with you listening or validating them. Don’t try and make me feel better. You can’t except by  listening. Most Non-LGBTQ+ people don’t know what it is like to have a right given or taken away by the courts (unless you are of color and then you know for sure). I got married in 2004 in San Francisco. It was an amazing experience. Something I never expected in my lifetime. It got overturned by the courts. Not unexpected but still devastating. More devastating was 2008. I got married in the time frame between when CA legalized marriage and Prop 8 overturned it. From 2008 until 2015 when Obergfell was ruled on I was married in CA but not in the eyes of the federal government. Try filing those taxes. It was devastating. For weeks after the election, I looked at everyone I passed on the street and wondered did you vote against my civil rights? At the time, straight people in the Bay Area were shocked it passed. Gay people were not. We know.

Also, I love when I hear my Non-LGBTQ+ friends and family express rage at the attacks. Sometimes it feels like we are all alone in this.

Do Something to Support Us

Give money to causes, challenge transphobia or homophobia when you hear it, put your pronouns everywhere you can, vote like our lives depend on it, post supportive things on social media, tell us you love us and that you have our backs, and mean it. But do something. 

Understand Our Trauma and How it Affects Us

Every LGBTQ+ person has trauma from being part of a marginalized community. That is in addition to the normal life traumas they have. I am a white privileged person who lived for many years in the Bay Area. I have faced being called derogatory names, told I was in the wrong bathroom or glared at in the bathroom, had a negative word scratched into my car, had a house where the deed said I was unmarried when I was married, had friends and families not validate my relationship and marriage, had one marriage overturned and one that was in an in-between state for 7 years (married in CA but not federally). This is what I can come up with off the top of my head. Imagine being in an unsafe area of the country or being trans-identified or being Black or of color. It is never-ending. For those of us that are older, we remember having to be in the closet. We were scared of having any job that involved working with children because we could be accused of being abusive. We all have many stories. Those traumatic stories affect how we move through the world. Understand that. Never invalidate us by saying it’s not that bad or things won’t really happen. Because they are happening. As we predicted. 

This is a really tough time for LGBTQ+ people. The overturning of Roe is devastating to this country and we also see what is coming next. We are often not okay. We need Non-LGBTQ+ people to step up their game if they haven’t already. We cannot fix this on our own.

May 2022

Filled with Rage Today

2022-08-29T19:04:23+00:00May 4th, 2022|feminism, Gender identity, LGBT, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I had a list of topics to write this month’s blog. Then yesterday happened. There is one topic. The attacks on marginalized people. Right now, it is women. This means that it will affect women of color and women without resources the most. We also see attacks on LGB people, massive attacks on transgender people, and ongoing attacks on people of color. If Roe V Wade is overturned we know the next issues on the agenda are birth control, gay marriage, interracial marriage, and medical privacy. There will be no such thing as an established court precedent anymore.

Many of us have seen this coming for years. We have been gaslighted and told we were overreacting. Roe V Wade was a settled law. It would never be overturned. The right has been laser-focused on this issue since Roe in 1973 and have finally begun to reach its goal. Many of us have been feeling this rage for a long time, it gets amplified every time we face another loss. I am rageful at everyone who denied this was happening, who chose not to vote because it didn’t matter anyway, and to politicians who have failed on their promises. I am less rageful at people who support the overturn because they have been honest about their intentions for years. This should not be a surprise.

Why am I as a therapist being so vocal about this issue? Shouldn’t I be a blank slate for a client to work through their pain? No. That is not what I as a social worker believe. I believe in social justice. I am part of marginalized communities as are my clients. For me to be silent in the face of this is to be complicit in it. I don’t raise the issue in therapy but if/when my client does I am there with them validating their rage and the parts underneath the rage that are filled with sadness and feelings of powerless and everything else that is there. My clients need to be safe with me and part of that is knowing that I understand how marginalized people are treated in this country. My experiences are different from theirs but I get how painful it can be.

In an online therapist group, the question was asked Would you tell your client your feelings about this issue if they asked? And some of us said our clients do not need to ask. They already know where I stand. Especially, since 2016 when politics became a constant topic in therapy. Then COVID when therapists were experiencing the same trauma as clients. One of the most effective interventions I had during the shutdown was to say it’s not just you to my clients. At the time many of us felt like our feelings were just ours as a result of not being exposed to many other people to check in about this.

I have to be honest with my clients about my parts that are activated with what is going on in this country. I don’t ask them to take care of me. I don’t tell them how I deal with it because that is mine to manage. I do model that I am activated also. That is who I am as a therapist and as a person. I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. I am figuring out how I will move forward and what actions I need and must take. Probably a combination of self-care and activism. A combination that may shift back and forth over these next months until the next election. What I won’t do as a therapist or as a person is be silent. I will scream and yell with every bit of energy I have. And I will tell my clients that when they ask.

 

April 2022

What Comes After Covid?

2022-08-29T12:54:45+00:00April 5th, 2022|Thoughts From A Psychotherapist, trauma|

 

I am writing this post knowing full well Covid is not over. However, it does sometimes appear like we are in a bizarro world where not only is it over but we are acting like it never even happened. This attitude minimizes the trauma most people experienced in the last two years.

Many kids had losses from missing in-person school. Many people lost loved ones. Others were ill and are living with the fallout from that. Everyone is living with the effects of having a life-threatening illness hangover their families’ heads for over a year and the loss of not being able to be connected with loved ones in the usual manner.

In a country that already had a pretty severe mental health crisis, it got worse during the last two years. And while it got worse, there was even less access to care. Unless you could pay out of pocket, many people were out of luck finding a therapist with openings.

The other day, I found myself laughing, at a social media post I made in April 2020, about an interaction I had with a loved one about not touching a package without disinfecting it first. Thinking now how silly we were back then believing we had to Lysol everything or leave it in the yard for a week before it came into the house. At a time when we were not even consistently wearing masks. Laughter can be a way of coping with the trauma but it also can be a way of distancing from it or ignoring that it happened. For me, it feels like coping and distancing. This trauma has not just lifted because we can be out and about again.
We are all still adjusting to the changes in our lives such as where we work or if we had to reduce work hours to caretake for children or parents. Much of life is still online and will continue to be, for better or worse. We may have some family estrangements from how different members coped with the pandemic, whether they got vaccinated.
How do we move on? Especially since we aren’t clear on whether there could be another dangerous variant in the future. When we now know that everything can change in a matter of weeks.

Now we have to move forward the way we have since March 2020. Do the best that we can each day. Some people will bounce back faster than others. People have different levels of resiliency and experienced different levels of trauma. Some are still feeling cautious and overwhelmed. Some immunocompromised people don’t have an opportunity for a different life because they will continue to need to be careful in a world that wants to throw precautions in the trash. The rest of us just do it step by step. Maybe we learn to not freak out every time our nose is runny. Maybe, we start venturing back into environments where there are more people. Maybe, we liked being home all the time, and want to keep living that way. The most important thing is to try to listen to ourselves and try and follow our inner wisdom. A positive for many during the shutdown was the reduction of overscheduling. Can we keep that up or do we return to filling every minute of every day?

It all seems like so much. Because indeed, it is so much. Hopefully, as time goes on it will feel easier. Certainly, with the other crises in the world, it can feel indulgent to be stuck on the pandemic. But new crises do not resolve the past trauma and in fact, can make them feel even bigger. I encourage people to keep any good habits/routines they picked up during shut down. Like those walks. Or regular video chats with friends. Finally, just continue to allow yourself to have your good and bad days without overanalyzing either. It has been a tough long two years. We need time to process that.

February 2022

It is always okay to ask for help

2022-08-29T19:53:58+00:00February 4th, 2022|stress management, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

One of the things I hear often is that someone is reluctant to come to therapy because things are just not bad enough for that. My question is why does it have to be VERY BAD to ask for help. Why not seek help when things are just hard? Our culture sends this pull-up by the bootstraps mentality. The message is it is “weak” to ask for help. We must solve things on our own. Turning to a professional can be looked at as necessary only for a level of distress that is severe and debilitating.

My question to that is why? Why would we put ourselves in the position of suffering for a certain length of time rather than reach out for help? The longer we suffer the harder it is to shift the pain. Seeking therapy when things are just hard is the time to do it. Get support as soon as you can. Utilize your other supports systems also. Tell your trusted people what is going on. I suspect when things are hard many of us crawl into ourselves. We don’t want to be vulnerable or look weak or feel failed. Part of that is buying into what I call the social media lives of our friends. Meaning most of us don’t post about our hard stuff on social media. We post about the happy moments. It can be easy for people who are struggling to think that they are the only ones having any particular struggle. That is never true. I know when I became more vulnerable in telling my closest people my struggles I found most of them had experienced something like them. By a certain age, most of us have experienced grief, depression, and/or anxiety. When we normalize those experiences it validates everyone who has them.

I understand it is an act of bravery to be vulnerable when you are overwhelmed and have big feelings. However, if you find the people that validate you it will allow you to relax some and cope with whatever the issues are.

Therapists are here to walk with you through your struggle. If you find one that is a good match for you, they can help you address your struggles and feel less alone with them. And you don’t have to worry about being too much or being boring or not having a big enough problem for a therapist. We are trained to handle it all.

Let us normalize being open and vulnerable with our people, supporting them, and encouraging people to get help when things are hard.

January 2022

What will 2022 Bring?

2022-08-29T19:16:59+00:00January 4th, 2022|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

 

With all of the chaos outside of our homes, it can be hard to visualize what we want to see for ourselves in the New Year. As a person who just moved across the country and still does not have her belongings with her, I feel like there has also been internal chaos for the last 6 months. Self-induced but there nonetheless.

One of the many reasons for the move was that I started envisioning the life I wanted and then looked at what needed to happen to get there. Like many of us through the pandemic, my priorities have shifted. I want more time with my family. I want to live a more active lifestyle. I want freedom around my work schedule. I want to be in a connected community.

When I looked at what I wanted I realized that my current life was not it. It was not a bad life it just was not what I wanted for myself. Most people won’t and shouldn’t pick and move across the country but for me, it allows me to have more of the life I want. With the freedom of being able to work from anywhere, I no longer was pinned to living in one place.

I encourage everyone to think about what life they want to be living. It is so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day and lose our priorities. What do you want to wake up thinking about? How do you want each day to end? Decide what your top priority is, and then you can evaluate if there are changes you can make to live those priorities.

I suspect to survive the last few years, many of us may have checked out. How else do you cope with perpetual political crises and a pandemic that seems like it may never end? You watch a lot of Netflix, or eat a lot of ice cream, or do something else to check out. No judgments, It is a survival part. However, the pandemic may seriously impact our lives for years to come. We get to make a choice to either stay checked out or try and reengage. I hope by examining what you want you can make some changes that will allow you to live a calmer life.

Wishing everyone a calm and safe 2022!!!

 

November 2021

The Holidays Are Coming-How Will It Be With Your Family?

2022-08-29T19:26:13+00:00November 15th, 2021|relationships, stress management, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

The holidays are almost here. This is our second COVID holiday season. For some families, it will be lovely. Being able to be connected to be family that you may have been separated from for a length of time during shelter in place orders. Other families continue to be polarized. Some members are vaccinated and some are not. Many vaccinated people choose to not be around unvaccinated people. If people are not vaccinated they may have very strong feelings about people that are vaccinated. Given this time of a country divided, I am seeing more and more families divided also.

I am concerned that some of these estrangements may not ever be reconciled. How do you dialogue with family that you feel like are not listening to facts? How do you avoid confrontations about these issues? Do you just make up an excuse as to why you are not going to Aunt Hilda’s for Thanksgiving or do you say you are not comfortable being around unvaccinated people? What about the people caught in the middle? Aunt Hilda wants everyone to come and doesn’t understand why you won’t eat with Uncle Billy who is not vaccinated and refuses to wear a mask. And both you and Uncle Billy feel like you are right so how do you even have a discussion?

I think each of us is and should set our boundaries around what feels safe to us. Some don’t feel safe in any crowd regardless of vaccines or masks. That is okay. We have (and are still) been traumatized by this past year and a half of COVID. Over 750 thousand Americans are gone. Many of us had our lives turned upside down not being able to visit friends and family, learning to work at home, or having to work when you did not feel safe doing so. Feeling anger and confusion about what was happening and how it was handled. Many of us are still navigating trauma symptoms. We may have lost family either to the illness or estrangement. People are still trying to figure out what is normal.

It is still a very tough time. I have no easy answers to this. I can say the following:

Take care of yourself in whatever manner you can.

Set your boundaries and keep them.

If your family has strong differing feelings you don’t have to engage in discussion or justify your decision. No is a complete sentence.

Create other communities or spend time with the people you feel safe and held by.

Remember we are still all just doing the best we can in a very challenging and unprecedented time in this country.

I hope you can enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate!

July 2021

It is okay if you are not okay

2022-08-29T19:30:09+00:00July 26th, 2021|anxiety, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I have not posted in quite a while. Like you I am getting used to whatever this new “normal” is.

One of the topics I hear the most about from people is how hard it still is. The problem is that most people feel like it shouldn’t still be hard. There is a culture in the US that does not allow us time to grieve but instead tells us to just pull up our bootstraps and move on. There is a vaccine now. Everything is okay. Move on regardless of whatever grief, loss, sadness, anger, or other feelings you have. This is the American Way!

It is so unfortunate because for the last year and a half (and for some of us back to January 2017) we have been going through  multiple traumas. But there has not been an acknowledgment of that fact. People feel a bit crazy if they are still struggling. Or maybe they are on the feelings roller coaster. One day is fine and the next day feels topsy-turvey.

The information we are getting seems like it changes every day. Is it safe to go indoors without a mask? Can vaccinated people get the virus and spread it? One day we hear yes and no and a few weeks later it is probably not and probably yes. Again it is enough to make you feel crazy. The risk assessment you did in May has probably changed in July.

So how do you manage this all? The first thing is you do the best you can every day. And you understand that some days your best may not be as good as you want it to be. Secondly, you keep up on your self-care your walks or bike rides or Friday night zooms with your friends. It’s harder to schedule things now because people are doing things but keep it going! If you have to return to an office it may be harder to keep up the self-care but I strongly encourage you to try and find a way to do it. Thirdly talk about it. A real issue is that many of us feel crazy in our heads but if we talk to others we find out many experiences are the same. Feeling like it is not just you having these feelings is a great way to reduce any feelings of isolation. Of course, if it all feels like too much I would encourage you to find a therapist.

Take care of yourselves and your families.

November 2020

Recovering from the last 4 years-Trump Trauma Disorder

2021-07-27T17:18:32+00:00November 13th, 2020|Thoughts From A Psychotherapist, trauma|

Like many of you, I was super stressed last week. I spent way too much time on social media and particularly Twitter which generally I find very toxic. When the results were finally announced on Saturday I was jumping up and down and yelling at the TV. I later had to go somewhere in the car and I turned on the classic “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang and blasted it. I was ready to celebrate. Instead, I found myself driving and sobbing. When I was able to sit with my feelings a bit later I realized that much of it was mourning the losses of the last four years and part of it was the idea that I had some hope again. I had not realized how my lack of hope for a future had affected me.

During the past week, I heard from almost everyone I spoke to about how they felt like they could take a deep breath or felt like a weight had been lifted from their shoulders. For four long years, we have been carrying so much. Fear and rage being some of the top feelings with many layers of complexity on that. For those of us that are a part of a disenfranchised group, many were carrying genuine fear for their safety. This is trauma. It has been a sustained chronic trauma for the past four years. This will take time for all of us to heal from. For people that had PTSD before 2016, it is even worse. Their world already felt unsafe but in recent years there was a real and genuine threat. Not an environment in which people can easily recover from their traumatic past.

Now people (and to me they always seem to be white cis straight people) are telling us to move on. To be generous and forgiving. To move forward and not be stuck in the past. This is so invaliding. Four years of substantial trauma and we are being told to get over and be forgiving in a week. Each of us needs to work through this at our own pace and in the manner that works for us. There is no one way of doing this. And like any trauma, this may take some real time to get over. We are also trying to recover in an environment in which many of us are missing our normal coping mechanisms due to the restrictions of the pandemic.

I wrote this post because I want to normalize that living through the last four years was for many of us hugely traumatic. That we can name it as such and process it as such. That the rage you might be feeling is okay and actually a “normal” reaction to having been traumatized. That if you lose your shit because you have read too many comments on moving on and forgiveness that is okay. Take your time. Use your resources. See a therapist you feels stuck at all.

We also know that although that many of us now have found some hope again post-election the administration will not change for another few months so this trauma is not over yet. And even when the administration shifts the baggage will be there and we each need to figure out our ways to untangle it all.

Take your time. Have your feelings when you can. Get the support you need and just know this is all real and it is okay if you are struggling right now.

Take care and stay safe!

 

 

 

 

Photo Copyright : lculig
Go to Top