Thoughts from inside a therapist’s mind
Shelley Shaffer, MS, LPCC | Shaffer Professional Services | 11/22/2019
First random thought: I will be sharing things that I feel are positive and healthy about me and my life. Consent will always be received before posting and these gals just want to have more attention, so they said "Sure, Mom".
These are my dogs and I love them. They make me happy so I put them on here. Iida (pronounced “EEe-dah”) is on the left and Ginger (prounounced “DEEE-vah”) is on the right.
WTF is a therapist doing writing a blog?
Good question! I have absolutely no clue how to write a blog, but I’m interested in sharing a little bit about me, what I do, and what we therapist-people think about. You’ve got to wonder what’s going on in our heads from time to time, don’t you? Yes, we do too. So, this is how this is going to work.
− Every Friday, I’m going to “drop” a new blog. I’m feeling really cool saying “drop”, like I’m some famous podcaster or something, but I really feel like I should say, “Every Friday, I’ll figure out some way to get my words up on the Internet”. Yes, that’s more accurate.
− Each week is going to have a new “WTF” and no, sorry, it doesn’t stand for THAT. Those that know me, well, they think it does mean THAT, but I have a feeling my mom and dad will be reading this at some point. That means I’ve got to watch my language a little bit. But, every now and then, it’ll come out. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you’ve heard me say those words before.
This week’s WTF?
Drum roll, please…..WHO (is) THERAPY FOR?
Therapy is for ANYONE. It’s for those people who have just had enough of not feeling happy, not feeling enough, or just not feeling at all. It’s for people who are sick of their jobs – did you know that most therapists go into private practice because they leave a toxic agency? I didn’t know that until I started joining all of these private practice Facebook groups and listening to those types of podcasts. There’s a LOT of those and some are ok, but I just don’t have the time to listen to those and get my true-crime podcast fix in.
So, I digressed. Therapy is for those feeling overwhelmed – by work, by money, by stress, by kids, by their partner, by the thought of yet another Minnesota winter on the horizon (it’s snowing here as I’m typing. I’ll give you that it’s pretty, but I’ve got to shovel this shit now that I’m a business owner. No more driving over it because it’s only a couple of inches. Nope, one slip and fall lawsuit and I’m done. So, it’s not that pretty, got it?)
Are you sleeping too much? Not enough? Are you angry at everything but can’t list one thing you are REALLY angry about? Do you snap off at the people you love the most? How about when you make plans to do something and it sounds like fun when you make the plans but then you’ve got to come up with some really creative excuse when it’s time to actually DO it?
I once had a client come in because their spouse said they “had to”. After talking for a little bit, I started thinking it should have been the spouse that came in instead of my client. So we had to figure out how they could help promote some change at home, work on themselves, while not saying, “YOU are the one that ‘needs’ therapy”! So far, it’s been going pretty good and I actually look forward to meeting with this person, who didn’t “need therapy”.
I worked in Corrections for over two decades. Just about every single client of mine wanted meds. They’d look up symptoms of some serious mental health diagnosis and sit down, cite the memorized symptom list, and tell me I “had to” refer them to psychiatry. Well, I have this personal and professional policy that I want to try “skills before pills”. Just this alone weeded out a large percentage of the people “needing” help. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly enough people with true mental issues that “need” to be regulated with medications. I’m going to be the loudest one to agree with that – I mean seriously? If you were told you were diabetic, would you “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” to get your pancreas moving on making more insulin? Hell no! You’d try diet and exercise or go straight to insulin. Because, guess what? That’s going to SAVE YOUR LIFE. Why not take the same approach with anxiety or depression? Just like diabetes, these are CHEMICAL IMBALANCES. You can’t “man up” or “woman up” or even “suck it up”. Our brains are powerful, but if you’re not making enough serotonin, norepinephrine, whatever neurotransmitter you want to insert here, you need something to help your body regulate that. And just like insulin, it can SAVE YOUR LIFE!
I don’t think there’s a whole lot of families that teach Anger Management, Conflict Resolution, or Stress Reduction during dinner or “family meetings”. If these happened at your home, I bet you lived with a therapist. My son hated me “therapizing” him when he was growing up. He wanted to be a “normal kid”. I wanted him to have tools for survival. I didn’t do a great job being a mom because I was too worried about preventing him from becoming one of my clients. I did him a great disservice and thankfully, he’s forgiven me. But I definitely gave him plenty of material for his therapist, if he chooses to go to one.
Well, this is what these blogs are going to be like. I’m going to find some random sentence/statement that fits the “WTF” model and I’ll run with it. My ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) brain will go off-topic frequently, I’ll probably say something that someone won’t like (I’m good at this), but it’s coming from my heart. And I believe that I was born with a loving, caring, and gentle heart. I don’t want to hurt people – I went into this field to HELP people. And, well, that’s what I’m going to try and do.
So, Who (is) Therapy For? It’s for me. It’s for your next-door neighbor. It’s for your coworker. And yup, it just might be for you. And it just might help you live your best life. What have you got to lose? Or, if I may reframe that, what have you got to GAIN???
Be kind to yourself and one other person today. You never know someone else’s story or situation and your smile might help them feel as if they’re not invisible today.