Joe: Hello, my name is Joe Taylor. I’m a licensed marriage family therapist here at Chico Creek Counseling.
Jessica: I’m Jessica Wilkerson. I am a marriage and family therapist registered intern, number IMF69783, and I work here at Chico Creek Counseling under the clinical supervision of Joe Taylor, licensed marriage and family therapist.
Joe: What we want to do with this video is introduce you to how we look at the process of counseling and what would it look like for you when you walk in the door, sit down and you start having a conversation with us. What’s that conversation going to be like? We want to start off first with one of our values that we look at as therapists and that is to be good listeners. We’ve pretty much listened our entire life and we’ve been trained to be listeners. That’s a skill that we want to also include when you come in for counseling.
Jessica: You have friends and family and a support system often who are willing to listen to what’s going on in your life and help you and give you advice and support. After a period of time of venting about your significant other or your children or your boss, those folks start having an idea of who this person is and their character and they start making judgments.
After the conflict has been resolved with your significant other or whomever, you have this sense of guilt or this feeling of need to repair the reputation of that person. You have to go back to the friend that you vented to and say, “Oh, and all that stuff I said, he’s not really a bad guy.” It gets to be chaotic a little bit where you feel like, “Well I don’t have anyone to talk to because I don’t want to burn any bridges.”
Joe: Exactly. What we want to do is be that person where you can talk about things that are a concern for you and not have to burden your friends or you family or burn them out having to listen to you over and over again. One of the high values, the main reasons for doing therapy, is that you have a safe place to come and talk about whatever it is you need to talk about.
I kind of think about like this. When you’re doing the talking and you’re telling us what’s going on in your life, your thoughts tend to unravel themselves or untangle themselves when they pass through the lips or the fingertips. Either by journaling or by talking with your therapist, it helps to sort out your thinking. Listening is a high value for us, giving you a chance to talk.
Jessica: Another role of the therapist is to be a teacher or an educator. We all have certain skill sets, everyone of us. Our parents gave them to us, our children, our aunts, our uncles, our grandparents, our neighbors, our friends, our friends’ parents. We’ve gotten little chunks of how to cope with the world throughout all our lives and yet sometimes there’s still big holes.
You might be really good at coping with high pressure situations. For instance, you really excel at work. You have a high pressure job and you’re really good at that. Then you go home to your family and that’s a different kind of pressure. Maybe you don’t know what to do with yourself half the time because you walk in the door and everybody needs something from you. You can give at work and know exactly what to do but when you go home, it’s a whole other situation. What I feel our role is, is to fill in those gaps.
Joe: Absolutely, and to teach you skills to help you with those. If you’re feeling stressed or traumatized or worried or depressed, then what do you do about that? How do you manage that? A lot of what we do is to teach you skills to help you reduce anxiety or deal with managing the depression a little bit better. Teaching, educating you is really high value so that you can apply those and use those skills.
We also like to spend some time having you practice them either with us back and forth or if you’re coming in with your significant other, to practice things such as communication skills or just how to interact with that person so that you become a better communicator. Education becomes really important.
Jessica: For instance, some people go to a dietitian. The dietitian usually has a Master’s degree in Nutrition. They give you the skills and the direction that you need in order to eat healthier and repair certain parts of your body. Or you go to a podiatrist who has an M.D. Maybe he’ll do some repair work on your feet. But then he’ll teach you. These are the shoes you should be wearing. This is what your gait should look like.
That’s the same thing. We went to school. We’re educated in psychology. We have Master’s degrees in psychology. We teach you how to stop negative thoughts or how to think differently than the way you’ve been thinking before.
Joe: Then the third skill would be … or the third thing that we would bring to the table as far as our approach in counseling, for me it would be best illustrated as like a mirror. When you’re telling me things about your life and what you struggle with or what your difficulties might be, I like to hold that up to you to reflect it back to you.
“Here’s what I hear you saying. Here’s what you’re saying about yourself. Here’s what’s going on in your life. Sometimes that helps normalize that. You think, “Oh, okay, that makes a lot of sense and here’s why I’m behaving the way or responding the way that I am.” The mirror seems to be a really good tool to help you move ahead in your dealing or dealing with whatever things you need to deal with.
Jessica: Well, a lot of times we’re looking at everybody else around us and the way they’re hurting us but we fail to look at ourselves, really that we’re hurting ourselves in the way that we’re reacting to the other people.
Jessica: His analogy of the mirror is good. I like it a lot, but the one that resonates with me is an analogy of a flashlight. In my mind a lot of times people come in and they’re looping. They’re stuck on this reoccurring thought or this pattern. They describe “this is happening at home. My husband did this, the kids did this, this is happening.” These are the options I have and they just keep cycling over and over and over. They’re trying so hard to make sense of what’s happening in their life. They’re pointing out these points and they’re just stuck on them but there are a lot more things out there.
Holding a flashlight and shining it on what’s happening over in this corner or what’s happening out there at work or what’s going on over here, helps people get out of that loop. What are the other ways I could be responding? What are the things that I can do to help influence the people around me to stop behaving the way that’s hurting me? Because we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves.
Joe: That’s right.
Jessica: We can create a domino effect with other people. Using that flashlight to show you what are some of these other options and then giving you the opportunity to decide for yourself which option, which road to take. Kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and she’s on her path and the trees are throwing apples at her and I’ve got the flashlight saying, “Oh, over there it’s clear and there’s …”
Joe: There is the yellow brick road. Let’s follow that. Yes.
Jessica: That’s my theory on being a flashlight.
Joe: Those are the really four different aspects that we try to have an approach with when you come to counseling. I hope that was helpful to give you an understanding of what that process might look like a little bit when you come in. Thank you for coming to visit us.
Jessica: Thank you.