Therapist Feature: Allie Lewin, LMSW

We are excited to welcome Allie Lewin, LMSW to the team! Learn more about Allie below:

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?

When I was sixteen years old I developed a life threatening illness that landed me in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital for weeks. When I got out of the hospital, I relied heavily on the support of my family and medical team, including a psychiatrist, to regain strength and recover both physically and emotionally. During this process I realized how much mental health affects a person’s day-to-day functioning, and how life events can completely rock a person’s sense of security. I recognized how lucky I was to not only have survived my illness, but to have had the social support in my life that allowed me to thrive despite the obstacles I faced. From then on, I could only see myself in a career directly helping others, and given my innate interest in psychology, specializing in mental health seemed extremely fitting. Beyond that, the relationship I developed with my therapist after I was sick and continuing throughout my adolescence was immensely valuable to my growth as an individual and finding happiness, so the idea of being that person for others was extremely exciting and I imagined quite fulfilling. 

As a therapist, what are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about helping others learn about themselves and move forward with making the changes they want for their lives. Nothing makes me happier than when a client comes to session having thought more in depth about something we discussed or having put into practice changes we explored in the room. When I see firsthand that a client is serious about doing the work, I become overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for any part I can play in their success. 

What are your specialties and what drew you to them? 

My specialties are depression, anxiety, and disordered eating, all issues I have grappled with at some point in my life.  For years after I was sick I struggled with debilitating anxiety, spouts of depression, and using food as an attempt to control my emotions and fears. Through therapy, self-reflection, and a lot of trial and error, I learned to trust myself and live my life from a place of gratitude instead of fear.  I hope my journey can help others who struggle with similar issues, as well as the other inevitable challenges life throws, to become the person they aspire to be and find their place in the world. 

What makes you unique as a therapist? 

When people get to know me they typically remark on my openness and transparency, characteristics I definitely bring into the room as a therapist. I think I’m naturally a warm and accepting person, so as a therapist I tend to see people’s strengths and the possibility for a brighter future despite the symptoms and self-defeating patterns they find themselves facing. 

How would you describe your therapeutic approach? 

My therapeutic approach draws on elements of cognitive behavioral therapy as well as psychodynamic therapy. Every person is different, so depending on the presenting problem, the individual’s unique set of circumstances, and their way of relating to themselves and the world, my style changes to fit their needs. Regardless of modality, my style is warm, collaborative, and active. I enjoy teaching my clients skills they can use outside of therapy, often incorporating homework in some capacity so they have the opportunity to test out new beliefs and behaviors explored in the room in their everyday lives. 

Everyone needs self-care. How do you practice self-care? 

Self-care for me includes yoga, cooking, and spending time with loved ones. It also includes indulging in a little reality TV to de-stress and unwind. 

What is your favorite...

Quote: “Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” 

Book: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Movie: The Silence of the Lambs

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know? 

The most important relationship you have is the one to yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion and you are far more likely to find the motivation, productivity, and strength you are looking for as well as enjoy healthier and more fulfilling relationships with those around you. 

Allie Lewin is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. To schedule an appointment with her or learn more about how therapy can support you in reaching your goals, contact Cobb Psychotherapy.

Recognizing Our Attachment Styles

By Erica Cramer, LMSW

Do you ever wonder why some relationships succeed while others fail? Contrary to popular belief, it's not solely based on fate, luck, or trial-and-error. A child’s relationship with their caretaker(s) can affect their relationships throughout their entire life. In the 1950s, child psychologist John Bowlby studied the manner in which infants respond when separated from their parents. Through his studies, he was able to establish a link between early infant reactions to separations from caretaker(s) and ability to connect with others. These attachment styles fall into three distinctive categories: secure, anxious, and avoidant. If you are able to identify your attachment styles as well as your partner's it can help you build a sustainable and fulfilling relationship.

Secure

If you have a secure attachment style, you are a warm and loving individual who feels comfortable with intimacy and closeness in a relationship. You are able to effectively communicate your feelings/needs to your partner and properly respond to theirs. You do not play games with other people’s emotions, and approach relationships in a genuine manner. As an infant, you most likely had caretaker(s) who were emotionally and physically available to you. As you grow older, you are able to go out into the world with a secure foundation and can form solid relationships with others. If a relationship is unsuccessful, you do not blame yourself, and have the self-confidence to realize that the relationship probably was not a good fit for you.

Anxious

When you have an anxious attachment style, you often live in a state of fear and uncertainty. Relationships tend to occupy most of your emotional energy and you become consumed with thinking about your relationship. You are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in your partner’s mood and believe that a small thing will ruin your relationship. You have difficulty articulating your feelings and often play games in relationships to sustain your partner’s attention. During your upbringing, chances are your caretakers were inconsistently available to you. If a relationship is unsuccessful, you often blame yourself and take personal responsibility for its failure.

Avoidant

If you have an avoidant attachment style, you are highly independent and self-sufficient. You are often afraid of losing your autonomy in a relationship and have difficulty getting too close to your partner. You often need to keep a physical or emotional barrier between you and your partner. You do not spend much time worrying about your relationship and tend to be physically/emotionally distant throughout the relationship. Chances are that your parents were distant, rigid and unaccommodating to your needs as a child. If a relationship fails, you often attribute it to not being meant to be rather than a personal character deficit.

Do you identify with any of these attachment styles? Therapy can support you in working to repair and build healthy and sustainable relationships. 

Source: Levine, A. & Heller, R. S. F. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.

Erica Cramer is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support in working on building healty relationships, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to see how therapy can help.  

Reflections on Being a Therapist

By Amy Brightman, LCSW

I recently left my job at New York Presbyterian Hospital where I worked for the last six years. Leaving a place and people who are very special to me gave me time to reflect on the work of being a therapist and the role of being a client. 

It takes a lot of guts to come to therapy. It requires acknowledgment that there is something you want to work on and then taking it to the next level of facing it head on. As a therapist, I feel fortunate to work with individuals who choose to work on themselves and want to improve their lives—it is an incredibly motivating aspect of the job as well as an important one. I tell my clients that I can't do the work for them. I'm here to help them understand the problem and then figure out strategies to manage it or solve it. It's up to them to then try it until we discover what is helpful. 

Many people come to therapy in search of happiness. Therapy isn't about finding happiness, it's about how you develop it for yourself. Therapy is about figuring out how to take control of something that feels out of your control. It reminds me of the advice my dad gave to me on my wedding day. He said, "Being happy will not always make you grateful, but being grateful will always make you happy." Life will give you ups and downs, good times and bad times, and you may not be able to have a say in this. Trying to start with happiness will be difficult because there are a lot of obstacles that come up in life. However, you do have a say in your gratitude. 

Practice being grateful for getting through challenges and also being grateful for the celebrations. It is from this that happiness will follow and there is nothing more rewarding than generating happiness for yourself. 

Amy Brightman, LCSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are interested in exploring therapy to support you in reaching your goals, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to get started. 

Coping After a Breakup 

By Heather Matzkowitz, LMSW

Whether you have been in a relationship for six months or six years, ending things with someone is never easy. When a relationship with someone you care about falls apart it can often feel like everything else in your life is falling apart with it.  Going from ‘we’ to ‘me’ is not an easy thing to do, and can make us feel lost, confused, and nervous about the future. Although what you are feeling in the moment can seem never ending, I can promise that you will start feeling better with time.

Here are some tips that might help you feel better during this difficult time: 

Invest in your wellbeing.
Take it easy and be kind to yourself. Now is the time to starting exercising more, eating healthier, join a group you have always been interested in, and start a book you have been meaning to read. By doing things that make you feel good, you can help break out of the emotional funk that may occur after the ending of a relationship.

Journal or go talk to someone. 
Writing out your thoughts and feelings is a powerful tool that can be incredibly cathartic. Many people will often try and avoid the array of emotions they are experiencing after a breakup by engaging in distracting activities. While using techniques to distract yourself can be beneficial, it is also important not to suppress the unpleasant emotions you are feeling. Try to let yourself feel the emotions that you are experiencing without judging them. Write out your thoughts and feelings in a journal and/or go speak with a therapist.

Remind yourself of why the relationship didn't work. 
When we are dealing with the aftermath of a breakup it is difficult for us to think about the reasons the relationship didn't work. This is especially true if we are the ones who were broken up with. Rejection is an incredibly difficult thing to deal with and when someone does not want to be with us we can find ourselves obsessing about the relationship and what we feel we might have done wrong. It’s important to remind yourself of the reasons of all the reasons why the relationship didn't work. Write out a list of all the negatives about the relationship and keep it with you at all times, at least for the first couple of weeks. Read through this list several times throughout the day when you need a reminder.

Build new relationship, or re-build old ones. 
Sometimes our friendships are put on the back burner when we are in relationships. Not intentionally, of course, but simply because that is how things work out sometimes. You invest so much of your time in your significant other that you forget to nurture the other relationships in your life. Now is the time to re-nurture those relationships. Call your friends and go do something fun. Or perhaps try out a new activity that you have had your eye on and meet new friends. This is the time in your life to explore and meet new people, without having to worry about anyone holding you back from doing so. 

Stick to a routine
Going through a breakup can make us feel like we have been set off balance. Setting a routine for yourself can help you regain a sense of control. Simple things such as setting the alarm for the same time each morning or going for a run every day after work can help you feel better and become more aligned.

Like most things in life the pain from a breakup will get better with time. It’s important during this difficult time to  listen to what your mind and body needs.

Heather Matzkowitz is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support in coping with a breakup, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to see how therapy can help.  

Anger as an Addiction

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

Recently, a number of the Cobb Therapists attended a training on addiction to anger through David D. Burns’ TEAM Therapy approach, which he developed base on the notion that it is not just our thoughts that influence our feelings, emotions, and actions — our motivation is an important influencer as well.

I found this training interesting because I see that many of us hold onto anger as a defense against feeling hurt. To feel the true hurt underneath the anger is too painful, so we use anger as a way to feel stronger and in control of the hurt. That is why it can be hard to find the motivation to let go of anger. However, the short term pleasure of releasing anger through yelling and screaming usually causes long term problems, especially in romantic relationships.  Similar to other addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, food, gambling etc., the act of engaging in the addictive behavior provides instant happiness or gratification.  But ultimately this is short lived, and the guilt creeps in and creates other pathological symptoms such an anxiety or depression.  For example, imagine a wife who holds onto small indiscretions that her husband may have engaged in before they were married, and uses it against him over and over again. Although feeling angry in the moment may feel good, holding unto this anger has caused a strain in their relationship and led to unhealthy behavioral releases of this anger in front of the children. The motivation to change may come from the intense guilt of having her children see her lose control.

Below are two important takeaways from the training that I would like to share in the hopes that it can help others to take a look at the relationship between their motivation and anger:

Cost Benefit Analysis to Address Motivation

David D. Burns, M.D. uses a Cost Benefit Analysis to address motivation to change by creating a list of advantages vs. disadvantages of one’s anger. If the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, then there is enough motivation for change. During the training we were asked to create a list with a colleague. Here were some advantages and disadvantages we came up with:

Advantages

  • venting
  • feelings of anger are easier to access then hurt
  • protection
  • catharsis
  • feeling powerful and courageous
  • being seen and heard

Disadvantages

  • false sense of power
  • being irrational
  • defensive reaction
  • dangerous to relationships
  • causes strife
  • seen as aggressive
  • leads to misunderstanding
  • displacement
  • lowers confidence
  • inhibits empathy
  • dangerous
  • isolating
  • avoidant behavior.

As you can see, the list of disadvantages was much longer.  By doing a cost benefit analysis we can see how our anger is and isn't serving us, and when the disadvantages of anger outweigh the advantages, it may be easier to find the motivation to change. 

"Should" Statements

There are many cognitive distortions, such as all or nothing thinking and magnification, that lead us to avoid certain positive behaviors that may benefit us. "Should" statements are another one of these cognitive distortions.  For example, you tell yourself that it has been a hard day and it would be okay to take it out on someone else, so you uncontrollably scream at the person who held the subway door and held up your commute. It may feel good in the moment, but when the guilt creeps in you may say to yourself, “I really shouldn’t have done that.” This will create more guilt and anger, and ultimately to contribute to a  lack of motivation to change due to a sense of failure. 

These should statement can lead to a lot of anger in relationships. However, these distortions can be turned into a positive distortion that trigger good habits. One way to try to change them and decrease the amount of anger is to take the "should" out of these statements and soften them a bit. So, if we are using our subway example, the statement may be, “no one should ever hold the subway doors.” To soften this statement perhaps we could change it to, “I would prefer if individuals didn’t hold the door, but I know they are only trying to make it home quickly as well.” This provides one with acknowledging their preference, but also creates a bit of empathy for the person holding the train door.

This tactic can be used with our significant others as well. Instead of thinking, “he should just know what I want or need,” perhaps it's worth empathizing and changing the thinking to, “I wish he just knew what I wanted and needed, but maybe it would be better if I clarified and told him more.” We often think that our partners should know us well enough to just know what it is we are thinking without telling them. However, we all know that it's impossible for us to know what our partners are thinking all the time.  Sometimes we have to give them a break and let them in on what those thoughts actually are. 

If you have been told that you are angry or just notice that you feel angry and frustrated often, perhaps it is worth talking to your therapist or taking a look at why this may be happening and your willingness to let go of this anger.

Jessica Glynn is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support in addressing issues with anger or relationships, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to see how therapy can help. 

 

Therapist Feature: Vanessa Kensing, LMSW

Read our latest therapist feature below and learn more about one of therapists, Vanessa Kensing.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?

Inspiration isn't what lead to me becoming a therapist. Instead I have to give credit to my subconscious and the universe! I actually entered into undergrad as a mathematics major! And while I continue to be pretty good at math, I was never impassioned by math. Instead through subconscious drives (choosing to switch to a be a psychology major), being an overachieving first child (I have two master's degrees), having great mentors (thanks universe!), highly developed empathy (from life experience), and innate love for analysis, I find myself a therapist! 

As a therapist, what are you most passionate about? 

Ultimately being a therapist for me is about creating a judgement free space. I try to be be genuine and open which also allows others to be non judgmental towards themselves! Through that process people change and heal, and that is really passion fulfilling!

What are your specialties and what drew you to them?

I took a psychopharmacology class in undergrad that jump started my interest in substance abuse. And it was working within that field that fostered my specialties of working with codependency, perfectionism, shame, relationship issues, and anxiety. I'm drawn to those "issues" because of experiences in my own life and wanting to help others experience the joy of loving one's self and seeing your own worthiness.  

What makes you unique as a therapist?

Like other therapists I try to create a space that is warm, non judgmental, and genuine. However, what I think is unique is the relationship built between myself and the client. Each relationship is so dynamic and powerful, and together we create a distinctive and transformative energy!  

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

I practice from an attachment framework. Which basically means that I look at how early childhood relationships and experiences have an impact on present day issues. For me, it's the best of both worlds - we heal from the past, while creating a healthier present and future. 

Everyone needs self-care. How do you practice self-care?

A few years ago a friend introduced me to a cardio dance class. So, a few times a week the lights are off, the music is blasting, and I AM Beyonce! And I also really love Podcasts about history, comedy, politics, and TV recaps!

What is your favorite...

Quote: "Authenticity is the daily practice of of letting go of who we think we are suppose to be and embracing who we are." -Brene Brown
Book: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 
Movie: Pride and Prejudice
TV show: The West Wing 

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know?

Mistakes don't have to be shameful. I've learned more about myself in rectifying them, learning from them, apologizing for them, and owning them, than being "perfect" has even taught me! 

Vanessa Kensing is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. To schedule an appointment with her or learn more about how therapy can support you in reaching your goals, contact Cobb Psychotherapy.

Why You Should be Making Sleep a Priority

By Sarah Spitz, LMSW

Research has made it clear that sleep is vital for good health, but many of us still fail to get enough of it.  While we may take our health seriously in many ways—getting in regular work outs and eating a balanced diet—sleep seems to easily take a back seat. In a society where success is often measured on our productivity, and pride is taken in having the busiest schedule, there is very little time left for sleep. While sacrificing sleep may give us more time to work, exercise and socialize, what is the price?  Unfortunately it’s quite a high one. 

So why is sleep so important?

  • It affects our physical health. Getting good sleep supports growth and development, proper body functioning and our immune system. If we don’t get enough sleep, our body’s defenses are weakened, putting us at increased risk for getting sick! 
     
  • It supports our mental health. Sleep helps support brain functioning, influencing our reaction time and productivity, as well as how we learn, make decisions, and solve problems. So for the sake of both an important business meeting or driving a car safely, sleep is crucial. 
     
  • It is connected to our emotional wellbeing. Most of us can probably relate to feeling grumpy after a night of very little sleep. When we are sleep deprived we are more likely to be irritable, depressed and vulnerable to stress.

It is evident that sleep has a profound affect on all aspects of our health, so what can we do to get more of it?  The first step is to gain awareness of current sleep patterns. Once you have a general idea of your situation, finding solutions becomes easier. For example, ask yourself some of these questions: How long am I sleeping each night? Is there a lot of variability in my sleep schedule? Does it take me a long time to fall asleep? How do I feel when I get into bed? Try tracking your sleep for a week or two to see if you notice anything. Below are some common sleep issues and some tips to get you started. 

  • "I go to bed at a different time every night.” Having a routine can be really helpful to get your sleep on track. Try aiming to go to bed around the same time each night, so you can begin to regulate your internal clock. 
     
  • “Even if I get in bed earlier, I am just not tired.” If this is the case, try to figure out why. Eating close to bedtime, drinking caffeine later in the day, and using electronics late at night can all have an impact. Experiment and see if a “no technology after 9pm” rule, or switching to herbal tea instead of coffee after 3pm influences how you feel. 
     
  • “When I try to sleep my mind is racing.” Try finding a calming ritual to do before bed. You can experiment with meditation, yoga, or listening to relaxing music. You can also try out different apps to help you wind down at the end of the day. 

While there are many reasons why we find it hard to get enough sleep, and no one-size-fits-all solution, it is all about trying out new methods and seeing what works for you. 

Sarah Spitz is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to see how therapy can help. 

Using Mindfulness to Challenge Emotional Eating Habits

By Kristen Quinones, LMSW

Most of us have been there. You're sitting on the couch after a long stressful day— maybe you were assigned a difficult project at work, had an argument with a family member, had a recent breakup with a partner, or were just plain old disappointed by the nonsense you endured on your commute home. Your mind goes to, “What do I have in the fridge that I can eat right now?” In these stressful moments emotional eaters don't usually start chopping up some celery. Pizza delivery, a massive bowl of mac and cheese, or ice cream tend to happen. It’s called comfort food for a reason. In the moment when you make the decision to eat your favorite food (and probably a large portion of it) you begin to feel some emotional relief and happiness.

However, for many of us, by the time you finish eating, the guilt sinks in. You suddenly remember your goals to eat healthy choices and save money by cooking at home. Somehow all of the stress from your difficult day returns but now with a cherry on top — guilt and shame. Emotional eating is common because in the short term it serves as a self-soothing mechanism. Sometimes when we struggle to effectively cope with stress or relationship conflicts, we turn to food. The concept is not outlandish. People turn to substances all the time to take a break from their feelings. However, these choices have consequences and often come with feeling worse after.

Mindfulness is a skill that can be included into almost any part of your daily life. It means staying present in the moment, focusing on your experience, paying attention to your five senses, and reflecting as you make choices. Mindfulness can be used to challenge emotional eating habits by inserting this one basic question into your day “Am I hungry?” Think about it — Am I hungry? Is my stomach growling? Does my body need nourishment? When did I last eat? If your answer is "yes, I am hungry," then ask yourself this: What can I choose to eat that will sustain me, energize me, make me feel good physically and emotionally, and make me feel good about my decision?  That should guide your choice as you then select an appropriate portion of your meal. You can practice mindfulness in your eating experience. Smell the food. Slowly enjoy each bite. Chew your food thoroughly. Think about the taste and texture of the food. This makes eating a positive experience and helps distract you from letting the thoughts of your stressful day ruminate and take over your mood. Instead call a friend to vent and utilize social support.

Now if the answer to the question “Am I hungry?” is no, ask yourself: Am I bored? Am I stressed? Am I upset? If the answer is yes, then find an activity to keep yourself busy, active, or mentally engaged. This is when hobbies are very helpful. It is also important at this time to again utilize social support to talk about your stressful day. By utilizing these effective coping strategies you will be able to handle stress in a healthy way by also maintaining your physical health.

Kristen Quinones is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with emotional eating and using effective coping strategies, visit www.cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more how therapy can help. 

Understanding Procrastination

By Karalyn Violeta, LMSW

Putting off writing that report by scrolling through your newsfeed again? Have you planned to spend the afternoon sending out resumes and cover letters, and then found yourself deep cleaning your bathroom tiles? I myself was planning to write this blog post on procrastination, but decided to watch an episode of "Pitbulls and Parolees" and then take my dog for a walk.

Procrastination gets us all from time to time, so it’s important to keep things in perspective. In general, we tend to gravitate towards tasks we enjoy, that we feel competent in, or that have a more immediate pay off. These are the items that are often more easily checked off our to-do lists. I personally can’t say that I’ve ever procrastinated a barbecue, a day at the beach, or a vacation. If it makes us feel good, it’s less likely that we will avoid the task. When it comes to tasks like filing taxes, paying bills, writing papers, or returning phone calls, it’s harder to summon up the motivation to complete them without a looming deadline.

Why do we avoid certain tasks, even when delaying them brings worry and anxiety? These are issues I frequently speak about with my clients, and there is no single answer that fits for everyone. For many of us, the fear of failure may prevent us from even taking that first step towards completing a task. Perhaps the specific task evokes an emotional response that we’d rather not deal with? For example, some of us grew up in households where there was not enough money to pay all the bills, and we watched our parents worry as they struggled to make ends meet. As adults, we may feel anxiety or apprehension each month when our bills are due, or avoid even opening bills that are sent by mail. I once heard someone describe the cardboard box where he deposited unopened, unpaid bills as his “box of fear.”

Perfectionism and procrastination are interrelated, and we may feel paralyzed by tasks that put us in the position of having our abilities and competencies judged by others. The fear of failure can prevent us from ever clicking “submit” on those graduate school applications or applying for our dream jobs, and keeps us treading water. It may be that we have trouble trusting our own decision-making ability and so we either avoid making decisions altogether or vacillate between options, finding ourselves unable to settle on a single solution or choice. We may tell ourselves that we “work best under pressure,” but by waiting until the last possible moment to complete important tasks means that they will likely not be completed accurately and thoroughly… and then if we fail, we can always blame it on our lack of preparation, right?

While actively procrastinating, we may also engage in negative self-talk and worrying. This can affect our mood and further diminish our motivation.  For example, thoughts like “I can never finish anything,” or “I’ll only fail if I try, so why bother” only serve to make us feel depressed and demoralized. 

Some tips for avoiding procrastination:

  • Break down larger tasks into smaller steps. Once you’ve completed a step, find small ways to reward yourself
  • Reduce distractions and increase productivity when working on your computer by using an app like Freedom (https://freedom.to/) 
  • Make sure you’re getting the right things done – make a smart to-do list that focuses on the tasks that you are less motivated to complete, not the ones you are more likely to do
  • Ask someone for help or make your attentions known to others – sometimes it helps to be accountable to another person

So, how do we overcome procrastination? I think we need to start by accepting that failure happens. Failure is not necessarily a problem in itself because there will likely be other choices to make and opportunities to pursue. It’s what we are telling ourselves about WHY we failed that continues the cycle of disappointment and self-blame. In therapy, we can identify and examine the negative assumptions that are holding us back, and find strategies that help to overcome procrastination and perfectionism.

Karalyn Violeta is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with productivity and achieving your goals, visit www.cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more how therapy can help. 

Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Coaching to Support Your Child at Home

By Alisha Bennett, LMSW

We are excited to announce a new service for parents and children at Cobb Psychotherapy: BES Coaching.

What is BES coaching? 

BES stands for Behavioral, Emotional and Social coaching. It is a new service that our practice will be offering to parents who may need a little extra help with their children at home in the areas of behavior, emotional regulation, and/or social behavior (including social skills and understanding). 

Who is this for? 

Coaching can be for any parent that is having a difficult time at home with their child/children. The program was designed for children who may be "somewhere in between." This program is for parents that are not quite ready for therapy, or whose children may not need therapy, but do need supports in place at home. 

I've worked with many parents over the years that see different behaviors at home than what teachers see at school. For those parents that have tried everything in their toolbox and are at a loss for what to do, BES Coaching can help with making some small adjustments. 

How does coaching work? 

Coaching is a home visit service for families. The coach will come to the home and do an intake with parents, identifying primary goals and problems to be solved. Then there will be a follow up appointment during which  the coach will provide additional supports that may be helpful, as well as an action plan with goals and proposed solutions. Visual supports and materials will be suggested and provided as needed. A 3rd appointment will be made after a few weeks of the action plan being initiated to follow up and make any final changes. The service will be around 2-4 coaching visits.

What else? 

Our hope is that this can be a short term treatment plan for parents and children. Sometimes making a few adjustments at home can make a huge difference! If additional coaching appointments are needed, these can be scheduled after the initial 4 sessions. If the coach feels that more support is needed, other referrals can be made.

Alisha Bennett is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with parenting visit www.cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more how therapy can help. 

Am I Addicted to my Phone?

By Vanessa Kensing, LMSW

A few weeks ago, after a long day at work, I got home, and almost immediately dropped my phone into the toilet. I know, gross. And while my phone was meant to be waterproof, during the disinfection process I dropped it again, this time on the floor, thus ensuring its total demise.  In the following 36 hours without a phone, I realized my dependency on the device in ways that were troubling. Repeatedly, I found myself picking up or reaching for it in my purse, despite knowing that it was not functioning. As it happened time and again, I began to check in with myself and saw a pattern emerging.

Read a stressful email on computer- pick up phone
Worry about previous day’s events - pick up phone

Think about to do list around home- pick up phone
Wonder what to do this weekend - pick up phone
Think about an appointment, friend, scheduled event, etc. - pick up phone

As I continued to follow this pattern, I realized how much I used my phone as a tool to distract, avoid, and alleviate my anxiety in any given situation. Which lead me to think… Am I addicted to my phone?!?!

So what does constitute an addiction? According the American Psychological Association (APA), an addiction is a complex condition wherein a behavior is done compulsively despite harmful consequences. While the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5) focusing almost solely on addiction to substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, there has been a push towards both diagnosing and treating behavioral addictions, such as gambling, internet, sex, love, and yes, even an addiction to our phone.

Why do we become addicted? While there are many theoretical avenues we could explore, simply put, addiction is about seeking pleasure and reward, avoiding negative thoughts or feelings, and self-soothing.  

What does it look like to be addicted? Certainly there is a lot of individual differences and diversity when it comes to addiction. However, we can look to this cluster of behaviors to get a general picture:

  1. Urges and cravings to engage in a behavior

  2. Engaging in said behavior decreases anxiety temporarily, and lifts mood (reward)

  3. A need for more of the behavior over time to achieve the decrease in anxiety and reward, also known as tolerance

  4. Dysphoric state (restlessness, irritability, preoccupation) when not engaged in the behavior

  5. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop the behavior

  6. Engagement in behavior even when it has a negative impact

What to do? Perhaps like myself, you identify with some of the behaviors mentioned above. Whether it’s in relation to your phone, the internet, Netflix, etc., you recognize a hyper reliance on a specific behavior to help you cope with negative thoughts and feelings. The healthiest way to address this is by expanding your insight and means of coping. Therapy is a great place to understand why this pattern began and begin to find alternative ways to deal with distress. Depending on your situation this may include, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, identifying additional self care activities, and so forth. Likewise, if you are noticing a greater severity in relationship to these maladaptive behaviors, more intense treatment may needed. To explore this topic further in therapy please reach out to Cobb Psychotherapy.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164585/
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Vanessa Kensing, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on developing alternative coping mechanisms or increasing mindfulness, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

Therapist Feature: Nadine Burgos, LMSW

We are excited to welcome Nadine Burgos, LMSW to the team! Learn more about Nadine below, and look out for more therapist features in the next couple of months. 

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?

During my junior year in high school, I stumbled upon a psychology elective and no sooner was my existential angst resolved.  I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Upon entering college, I made a commitment to continue studying psychology. Fast forward several years later, I arrived at a fork in the road which led me to earning a master’s degree in Education.  During my years of teaching, I worked closely with general and special education populations.  Eventually, it occurred to me that no matter how much I tried to perfect my pedagogical and content area skills,  the ability of students to process information and take in new knowledge was exceptionally challenging, especially for those for whom mental health services were needed.  This realization was a catalyst which reaffirmed my longing to become a therapist. Upon applying to several graduate schools for social work, I was was awarded The Mayor’s Graduate Scholarship in participation with The Silver School of Social Work at NYU. I completed my graduate degree in social work while working as a teacher and followed the pursuit towards a career as a therapist.

As a therapist, what are you most passionate about? 

I read a recent study that showed that one in five Americans experience some type of mental illness each year, yet do not receive treatment. This statistic is staggering.  Restricted access to mental health, and negative stigmas about seeking professional help are a few reasons for this, but the cost of not treating mental health is too high to ignore. I’m passionate about dispelling the stigma of mental health services and continuing to help build a growing cultural acceptance of treatment.  The positive benefits of mental health are leading to an increased demand for services and a need for more professionals in the field. I love the work that I do and enjoy collaborating with clients from a wide array of demographics. I’m especially passionate in my work when clients begin to utilize the tools and coping skills they have learned in treatment, this is when I know that therapy is valuable for them.  

 What are your specialties and what drew you to them?

My background is in working with children and adolescents diagnosed with learning, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. I currently work with individual adult clients faced with depression and anxiety. I also see couples in treatment. I'm drawn to understanding how couples communicate and how they collaborate in therapy to develop more mutually satisfying relationships. 

What makes you unique as a therapist?

Having a background in education encourages me to incorporate psycho educational supports in therapy. I find that many clients who benefit from this approach enjoy completing worksheets, assigned readings, and self-help (hw) assignments related to treatment. I recently had a client who, after realizing there would be a gap between sessions, asked for homework that she could work on while she was away!  I’m also open to exploring some of the universal themes and content found in films and books (biblio-therapy) to which clients may be able to relate.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

By focusing on the past I may borrow from a psychodynamic approach, by focusing on the present I may draw from evidence-based approaches like CBT and DBT.  My approach can best be described as eclectic/integrative and draws from various orientations.  I typically develop a framework that allows me to work on a range of approaches that are most effective for addressing my clients specific therapeutic needs. I remind clients that therapy is a collaborative effort.  I encourage feedback, participation, and goal setting as ways of motivating change, but also respect that each client moves at a difference pace. I believe that as therapists, we must be willing to face our own history and continue through a discovery of ourselves. The client isn't the only one evolving in treatment, so are we.  

Everyone needs self-care. How do you practice self-care?

Here’s my top ten list:

  • Spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Staring at my Maltese, and contemplating her existence.
  • Purging all things toxic, including products, habits, and people.
  • Playing the piano - this is my daily meditation!   
  • Surrounding myself around nature, a walk through the forest/woods.
  • Committing to a proper sleep schedule,  a healthy diet (responsible amounts of dark chocolate) and regular exercise.
  • Practicing gratitude daily.
  • Traveling and embracing the beauty of new cultures and customs. 
  • Laughter and a healthy sense of humor.
  • Accepting that self-care is non-negotiable!

What is your favorite...

Quote: "Feel the present, hold the vision, let go of resistance, enjoy the journey and trust the process.” Frederik Talloen

Movie: West Side Story.  It never gets old.  It’s timeless!
 
Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde I tend to read read more non-fiction than fiction.

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know? 

When making the distinction between talking to a friend vs. talking to a therapist there are several things to keep in mind.  Firstly, making the commitment to seek treatment is more encompassing than paying to chat with someone.  A therapist is trained to look at things objectively, to identify behavioral patterns, challenge negative beliefs, and encourage self-reflection.  A therapist uses various theoretical frameworks to help clients reduce symptoms of mental illness while helping clients build cognitive and emotional skills.   Friends may empathize and agree with you, but a therapist may challenge your way of thinking so you can learn to identify and reframe your thoughts. A healthy friendship is a give and take.  If you try to use a friend as a sounding board or as a substitute for therapy, chances are the friendship’s boundaries will be jeopardized and the relationship may become something unhealthy and distorted.  Therapists set therapeutic goals and healthy boundaries.  In therapy, you are the focal point throughout the session and when the session ends, you have a safe, non judgmental, and supportive space to return back to the following week.

Nadine Burgos is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. To schedule an appointment with her or learn more about how therapy can support you in reaching your goals, contact Cobb Psychotherapy.

How to Respond to Others With Empathy

By Sarah Spitz, LMSW

Simply put, Brene Brown is my hero. Her research on vulnerability and shame is inspiring, and I often use her work with my clients. She has a great animated video in which she explains the difference between empathy and sympathy. As she says, empathy is a powerful tool for connection, while sympathy creates distance. Have you ever struggled to respond to someone when they tell you bad news? Or despite trying really hard to make someone feel better, you seem to only make them feel worse? Responding to other people's pain is difficult, so how can we learn to respond more effectively?

Below are some tips to responding with empathy:

Avoid Minimizing

While we may have the best intentions, when we try to “put things in perspective,” we often do more harm than good.  As Brown says in her video, rarely does an empathic response start with “at least.”  For example, if you had just been passed up for a promotion that you had been working really hard for, would you feel good if someone said, “at least you still have a job.” While finding the silver lining to a negative situation may feel productive, often that is not what the other person wants to think about in that moment. Sometimes, “thank you for sharing that with me, it must be really difficult,” is all you need.

Avoid Problem Solving

I'm not saying that problem solving isn’t important.  However, there is a proper time and place for it.  When someone is feeling really down in the dumps, they may not be ready to start coming up with a list of ways to make the situation better. Instead of responding with solutions, meet the person where they are.  From there you can support them in the way they need.

Avoid Judgement

Regardless of our thoughts about a person’s circumstance, they probably already have enough judgement from themselves. Instead, respond with compassion. I assure you that it will go a lot further.  When we respond without judgement, we are more likely to be able to start an honest and productive conversation. 

Sarah Spitz is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with communication and relationships visit www.cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more how therapy can help. 

Why You Need To Prioritize Self-Care

By James Farrat, LMSW

I’m sure you have at least one friend who tells you to “treat yourself” more often. Or that you need to “take it easy” and “slow down.” But I don’t think anyone talks more about self-care than therapists. We are always going on and on about how we need to take of ourselves, love ourselves, have compassion for ourselves, etc. etc. You know the deal. We might even come across as zealots for the God of Self-Care. The reason for our devotion usually began right after we stopped rolling our eyes and actually tried some form of self-care….and it worked. So we end up singing self-care’s praises after we finally took a little care of ourselves. 

Now most people think we advocate for self-care because were are trying to prevent burnout, or feel better in our everyday lives. But another reason that is overlooked is that self-care actually makes you more productive and more successful. CNBC noted that the top thing someone can do for themselves to become more successful is to take a vacation. It sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it? Many of us choose not to take a vacation because we’re scared of the backlog, worried we might miss something, or that we don’t have enough money to travel. But taking the time off is key, and taking the time to disconnect from your job will rejuvenate you and make you a better and more efficient worker.

Now success is not only measured in the workplace, but also in the home. The stress of raising children also takes its toll on parents. The blog A Child Grows in Brooklyn encourages parents to engage in regular self-care. Some of the points are surprising and we may not always see them as self-care:

  • Listen to your body. Honor what it is telling you.
  • Be consistent in taking care of yourself each day.
  • Follow through when your body tells you it needs to rest.
  • Exhibit patience with yourself.
  • Don’t take yourself (or parenthood) so seriously.
  • Give yourself a break when you ‘mess up.’
  • Learn from yourself, your children, and others.
  • Forgive yourself when you make a mistake.
  • Be present.
  • Express gratitude and love to yourself for the amazing work you are doing.

I don’t think we normally think of these attitudes and actions as pathways to success, but in reality if we don't have them or engage in them, we will burnout and become less effective. So give self-care a try. I did. It works.

James Farrat, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on prioritizing self-care, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

Using “I” Statements to Foster Communication in Relationships

By Salina Grilli, LMSW

In my previous post, I spoke about the four communication styles that predict the demise of relationships. This post will focus on one way to strengthen relationships through communication: using "I" statements. 

In the heat of an argument, our natural tendency is to accuse the other individual of their wrongdoing by using “you” statements. For example,  

  • “Why do you always forget to take out the trash?”
  • “You were late again. Clearly you only care about yourself!”

Sound familiar? These statements are actually toxic. Rather than bringing about a positive change in the relationship, “you” statements put the other person on the defense. In turn, this creates more conflict and hostility.

In contrast to “you” statements, “I” statements foster positive communication by reducing defensiveness and blame in the other person. “I” statements include two components: a feeling and an explanation: “I feel emotion word when explanation of problem.” Some examples of“I” statements include:

  • “I feel very lonely (emotion word) when you come home late from work and don’t call to let me know (explanation of problem).” 
     
  • “I am frustrated (emotion word) because you keep forgetting to wash your dishes even though you promise that you will (explanation of problem).

Practice using “I” statements next time you voice a grievance to your partner. Notice how your partner responds. Are they more receptive? Are you able to get your point across? Using “I” statements take practice, so don’t get discouraged if it takes some time to getting the hang of! 

Salina Grilli is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support with increasing positive communication in relationships, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help. 

Melt Your Summer Stress Away

By Amy Brightman, LCSW

The first day of summer is June 21st, but with this recent weather, it feels like we completely jumped past spring and landed right into the heat waves of summer. Summer’s reputation is that it is a time to relax and enjoy the outdoors. As kids, it marked the time of no school, a break from daily stresses, and a time to be with friends. As adults, we face the reality that we don’t get summer break anymore and work can continue to be just as busy as it has been. So, with the arrival of summer, take time to think about how to embrace it and feel like a kid again.

Move Outdoors: Get outside and get moving. The combination of exercise and Vitamin D will be great for your mood. Go on early morning runs or evening walks to avoid the heat. Try renting a Citi Bike and ride along the Hudson River or explore new paths in Central Park.

Take a Day Trip: Get out of the City for a day. When the summer heat hits, the concrete jungle can feel extra hot with no escape. Give yourself time away from the City for a day to feel like you can get some space and cool off. New Jersey and Long Island can offer great day trip options. Try the beach getaway deal at Penn Station and go to Long Beach.

Ignite Curiosity: Remember that assigned reading list for school every summer? Give yourself a summer reading list of guilty pleasures. Read fun books you can curl up with and give yourself a break from reading you may have to do for work. If work does get quieter in the summer months, take a class in the evenings of something you’ve always wanted to learn, such as an art or a language. Check out your local library for free classes - it’s also a nice cool, quiet place to get away from the hot, busy City.

Freshen Up: Go for a fresh, new look for the summer and eat fresh, local foods. Go shopping for comfortable, lightweight clothing for the summer, treat yourself to new sunglasses, or get manicures/pedicures to have fun with your summer look. Explore local farmer’s markets and get fresh produce, grow fresh herbs on your apartment windowsill, and snack on refreshing fruit. 

Just because we don’t get summer break anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the summer. Plan some things you want to accomplish this summer that are fun and relaxing. You deserve a break from working hard all year, so chill out with some of these suggestions and let your stress melt away. Happy Summer!

Amy Brightman, LCSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on finding balance and time for self-care this summer, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

Take a Vacation! (It's Good for Your Health)

By Heather Matzkowitz, LMSW

Many of us place a great deal of importance on our jobs. We work long hours, try to never miss a day unless we are sick, and put a lot of time and energy into our careers. This is all important, don’t get me wrong, but it's just as important to take time away from work. There are a multitude of physical and mental health benefits to gain from taking a vacation.

The average employee in the United States takes only half of their assigned vacation time. People often have the misconception that in order to be successful they need to sacrifice their happiness. However, research has shown that by taking time off from work you’re going to be more productive, have higher performance, and improve your relationships with others. Vacations help to reduce stress by distancing us from the environments and daily activities that we associate with stress and anxiety. It's important to note that taking several smaller vacations per year has been shown to be more beneficial for increasing overall wellbeing as opposed to taking one long vacation. 

So what exactly are some of the benefits of taking a vacation?

Mental Health: Vacations make us feel good and happy, especially while planning them (aka the ‘pre-vacation high'). Rumination, which is the anxiety-creating tendency that enables us to focus on things in our lives that cause us distress, has been shown to decrease during vacations and remain low several weeks after being home. Returning to work after time off helps you to feel less stressed and more focused. 

Physical Improvements: Sleep quality is improved and mood continues to remain heightened during and after returning home from a vacation. Studies have also shown that taking vacations can decrease the chances of getting heart disease.

Career: Taking a vacation reduces burnout rates, which enables you to be to be a happier and more diligent worker. Travel has also been shown to boost creative thinking, which can improve work performance. 

Relationship Improvement: A vacation can help promote emotional bonding and bring you and your partner closer together. Spending time together in a different place can help you rediscover the foundations of what made you a couple in the first place. 

Going on a vacation that is far away can be expensive, so picking a vacation that is close by home is likely to be more affordable and just as beneficial for the soul. Go away for a weekend (or week) to a small cabin in the woods, or enjoy the warm weather by relaxing on a beach. While vacationing you should try to minimize doing work related tasks (yes, this includes sending emails) and going on social media, especially if you are away with your partner. Doing this will increase partner bonding and allow you to truly immerse yourself into relaxation. So what are you waiting for? Go take some time and plan your next vacation! 

Heather Matzkowitz, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on work/life balance, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

Challenging “All-or-Nothing” Thinking in Relationships

 By Kristen Quinones, LMSW

Maintaining healthy and strong relationships can be challenging at times. Every person comes with their own background, belief system, personality, interests, and emotional needs. The complexity of people's communication styles and views on what constitutes a healthy relationship can often differ so much from our own that it can create conflict. This may be especially challenging to navigate for individuals coping with anxiety or depression.

Questions that may arise in one's mind during conflict may be:

  1. Why won't my friend text me back right away?

  2. Why wasn't I invited to that event when my other friend was?

  3. Why didn't they reply to my Snapchat when they're posting on their Story all day?

  4. Why didn't they come out for my birthday?

These questions not only stir up more anxiety, but begin to make us question our relationships and their value. Here is where dangerous all-or-nothing thinking comes into play.

  1. Why won't my friend text me back right away? They must not want me to talk to me anymore.

  2. Why wasn't I invited to that event when my other friend was? They must be trying to cut me out of their life. I wasn't important enough to them to be included.

  3. Why didn't they reply to my Snapchat when they're posting on their Story all day? They're ignoring me and think I'm annoying.

  4. Why didn't they come out for my birthday? They don't care about me or our friendship anymore.

This type of thinking is dangerous because it completely disregards evidence that may challenge it.  These flash judgements can make us feel badly about ourselves, badly about our friends, and sometimes encourage us to end friendships prematurely. With all-or-nothing we often miss the gray area. The gray area should include evidence to support and/or dispute the all-or-nothing claim.

  1. Why won't my friend text me back right away?  GRAY AREA: It's frustrating they won't answer, but their phone can be off or on silent, they could be driving or on a call, they could be in a meeting, or they could be waiting for some down time to send me a thoughtful reply. In the past they always answer me eventually.

  2. Why wasn't I invited to that event when my other friend was? GRAY AREA: I feel hurt to be excluded. Maybe they made these plans quickly and were careless in who they texted. Maybe they thought they invited me or assumed another friend invited me. Maybe they wanted their own one on one time. Maybe they didn't think I would be interested in the event.

  3. Why didn’t they reply to my Snapchat when they're posting on their Story all day? Maybe they're enjoying themselves in the moment and plan to reply later. Maybe they did not believe my message warranted a reply.

  4. Why didn't they come out for my birthday? Maybe they were having a bad day or not feeling well or short on money or going through their own mental health struggles.

Trying to challenge your thinking into the gray area should soothe anxiety and open up the possibility that this one situation doesn't make your friend “all bad.” Ask yourself, “Most of the time, are they a good friend? Do they try their best to be a good friend? Are they struggling with their own communication issues? Do they know I feel this way?”

Thinking these types of situations through should help you organize your thoughts in a productive way so you can effectively communicate your feelings with these friends and resolve the issues. This will also lead to feeling more connected to them, more open with them, and emotionally closer.

Kristen Quinones, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on maintaining healthy relationships, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

The Power of Facial Expressions in Relationship Communication

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

Paul Elkman’s research showed seven universally recognized facial expressions of emotion. These seven emotions that we express through our face are joy, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and contempt. Since it seems that we literally wear our emotions on our face, then we can easily be showing our partner, friend, or family member how we are feeling without necessarily being completely conscious of it. 

In relationships, this can be very important to communicating effectively with your partner. Many times, when couples have communication disconnects there can be dialogue that keeps us from being able to hear one another. One person may chase the partner with their words trying to figure out what is wrong or prove a point, but this can sometimes send the other partner in the opposite direction and heading out the door. This is due to one partner setting off the other’s defense mechanism causing the Amygdala to recognize fear, setting of the fight or flight response. In this case, the flight response.

In addition to the unhelpful dialogue and tone, the partner who is doing the chasing may also set their partner’s defenses off with their facial expression. Expression of anger with one’s eyebrows lowered can tell the partner that they are angry and the partner may feel like they need to flee the situation immediately. This doesn’t lend for a conversation where the couple would be able to sit, talk, and express what they are feeling calmly and in a constructive manner .

It is important to recognize how facial expressions can be playing into one’s relationship. If there seems to be patterns arising that have caused the relationship to feel like it is moving in an unhealthy direction, it might be time to reflect and ask your partner what is going on and what they need from you. Ask your partner if there is anything about your facial expression when you are angry or hurt that causes them to react in a negative way. For example, you could be showing your partner a combination of the expression of contempt and anger because you don’t like the particular situation. However, the harshness of the facial expression may make your partner feel, in that moment, that you are don’t like and are angry with them, triggering their fight or flight response. Once the fight or flight response is set off, it is difficult to return to a place that can be productive.

Another method to try to curb unhealthy communication patterns is to look in the mirror and simulate your argument with your partner. Recognizing the parts of your facial expression that you wouldn’t like if someone was directing toward you, can help you empathize with your partner and soften your facial expression next time an argument arises. The softness can lend for a safer space for you and your partner to share and be vulnerable. This way of opening up can often bring couples closer again.

Jessica Glynn, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on communication in relationships, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.

Therapist Feature: Dorette Greene, LMSW

We are excited to welcome Dorette Greene, LMSW to the team! Learn more about Dorette below, and look out for more therapist features in the next couple of months. 

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?

Therapy has always been a field I found fascinating, but never really thought of pursuing. When I first began my career, I spent several years as a Case Manager working with children and families. In that time, I found myself doing a great deal of therapeutic work and I fell in love with it! One day, I had a conversation with my mentor at the time (who was also the Associate Director of the agency in which I worked). I remember telling her that I was interested in pursuing a Masters degree as I had dreams of being a “counselor.” Her response to me was, “I don’t see you as a counselor… I do, however, see you as a therapist.” It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how much passion I had for mental health, specifically in therapy and the therapeutic process. Once I began to learn more and actually began practicing as a therapist, my passion for it only increased. I love to see people grow and change due to the benefits of engaging in therapy. Early in my career, all I knew was that I wanted to "help people." I had no real semblance of what that really meant or exactly how I intended to do that until I began practicing therapy.

As a therapist, what are you most passionate about? 

The Process! Anyone that has ever been through therapy or practiced as a therapist knows that therapy can be integral in someone not only gaining meaningful perspective in their lives, but also in understanding things about their life and experiences that they were previously unaware of. Making sense of ones thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and then applying that knowledge and perspective to making decisions, can only lead to better future outcomes and more positive dispositions in the present. It's exhilarating when I'm in session with a client and I see them mentally "connecting the dots" and gaining perspective they didn't have before.

What are your specialities and what drew you to them?

I wouldn’t say that I have any particular specialties, however I have a special love for couples work and interpersonal/relational work. While in grad school I was particularly drawn to psychodynamic modalities as well as emotionally focused therapy. I found psychodynamic therapy interesting mostly based on the subconscious/unconscious aspects of the work. I gravitated towards emotionally focused therapy due to its heavy base in attachment theory. Attachment being a fundamental part of the human experience is important to all relationships, not just romantic ones.

What makes you unique as a therapist?

I don't think any two therapists are alike, even if they have similar backgrounds/training. In that respect, I think all therapists are unique in their own way. I like to think of myself as having always been a therapist in some ways. I was always the friend that people came to for advice. I was always reframing problems before I understood that their was a clinical term for what I was doing. Although therapy is not about providing advice, or just helping someone conceptualize a problem differently, it's about facilitating a process/journey. I think part of what makes me unique is I'm very aware that in the dyad of therapist and client, I am not the authority. The client is, and I like to allow them to feel empowered by that fact.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

As far as my therapeutic approach is concerned, it varies based on my client's needs. I would say it obviously begins with building rapport and understanding the presenting problem, but from there it evolves into a mix of solution-focused, emotionally-focused, psychodynamic therapy with some CBT techniques incorporated. 

Everyone needs self-care. How do you practice self-care?

I love to travel, read, and spend time with my family. I try to keep a good work/home life balance as well.

What is your favorite...

Quote: "Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right." – Henry Ford

Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Movie: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (I know technically that is 3 movies but I cant pick just one)

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know? 

For anyone who has ever had difficulty saying no, I offer this: NO. Is a full sentence and a totally acceptable response. Saying no to things that don't align with your authentic emotions, beliefs, and desires is one of the most empowering acts of self-care you will ever engage in.

Dorette Greene is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. To schedule an appointment with her or learn more about how therapy can support you in reaching your goals, contact Cobb Psychotherapy.