Should I get involved with my teenager's therapy? Parents and teen therapy

Why Should Parents Get Involved in Your Teen’s Therapy?

We have learned that true and influential change comes from numerous helping hands. Want to know how you can help in your teen’s journey through therapy? Here’s a few tips we have for parents that want to be more involved without overstepping boundaries.

1. You are with your teen WAY MORE than the therapist is.

You live with your teenager; therefore, your influence is more frequent than any therapist! It can be helpful to have several people working towards the same goal. For example, if your teen and therapist are working on improving depressive symptoms, it can help to have parent(s) or caregivers at home to remind the teen that they are doing a good job, are not alone in their struggles, and may need to try their therapy skills.

2. You can provide a different perspective.

The therapist and teen only have their own views. Adding in what caregivers see can greatly influence what is discussed, attempted, and a part of treatment.

3. You can help your teenager with their goals.

All humans need help. What would that look like?

  • Reinforcing what is taught in therapy at home
  • Encouraging your teen to do their therapy homework.
  • Practicing a therapy goal at home can influence change outside the therapy room into the teen’s whole world.
  • Could look like a family discussing and reflecting on the therapy session.

4. Your teen needs reassurance.

From my experience, when working with teens and bringing in their parents or caregivers, the teens are often happy we did. I’ve heard things like, “I’ve never talked like that before with them.” “It felt good.” “I didn’t know my mom thought that.” “I know my parents care about me, but it feels different; good different to know they really do.”

How do I get involved?

Your therapist may suggest you join a session or two. If that doesn’t happen, try asking the therapist if it would be helpful to join for your child’s treatment.

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, LSW. Learn more about Meredith and her work by calling True Counseling at 502-777-7525.

True North with the AFSP in the Out of Darkness suicide prevention community walks

“Out of the Darkness” Fundraiser with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As a society, we struggle with repressed emotions, feelings of hopelessness, and sadness to a worrying degree, and as a counseling practice, we see it in our own patients consistently. We provide assistance and care to those suffering, who walk in the dark – that’s why we felt that it was pertinent for us to form a team and partner up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in their “Out of Darkness” Community Walk, taking place on November 5th, 2022.

We pledged our team to fundraising, and have set our goal to $250 with the intent to honor those lost to the darkness, but also to support those we see, those we love, and those we work with who struggle and grapple with this concept daily.

To donate, join, or support our team, you can visit https://supporting.afsp.org/team/297815. There, you have the option to donate to a specific member or the entire team, download checking forms for donations, or register to join the team.

The Community Walks have been going on since 2004, and we’re proud to be able to participate this year to band together with others who fight against suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the largest private funder of suicide prevention research, and their evidence-based programs implemented in local communities across the country reach millions of people every year, so we’re excited to contribute to their work as we continue in tandem with ours to provide a helping hand.

Together, we hope to open all the avenues of communication around suicide and to rid the negative stigma around getting help when you need it so that it doesn’t have to become a last resort. If you’re looking for a safe place to start your journey out of the darkness, we’re always here at True North for you, and you can contact us or call us at 502-777-7525 anytime.

If you you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, chat online at 988lifeline.org, text TALK to 741-741 for a texting option, visit a medical or emergency building such as Urgent Care, your local fire or police department, or talk to a trusted person in your life so that you don’t have to struggle alone.

We’re all in this fight together, and we want to be here for everyone in every way we can be!

How Can You Tell If a Therapist is the Right Fit? by Meredith edelen

How Can You Tell If a Therapist is the Right Fit?

The goal is to feel comfortable with them.

Here are some good signs the fit is present…

  • You are able to be honest with them
  • You feel safe with them
  • You trust them
  • They do not cancel sessions on you often
  • They take and ask for feedback about how sessions are going and your preferences
  • They do not tell you what to do but instead help you discover what the best choice is for you given your current situation
  • They validate your feelings or experience
  • You don’t have to re-explain things to them over and over again

Here are some signs this therapist might not be the right fit…

  • You feel uncomfortable.
  • You feel judged.
  • You don’t see the possibility of changing comfortability level.
  • Your therapist over shares about their personal life or problems (and it feels odd).
  • They call you names or use condescending language.
  • They try to be your friend or form a relationship outside of therapy office.

For some people, they might know if the therapist is a fit after the first session. For others, it might take 2-3 sessions to see comfortability or trust. Does it take you some time to connect with others? It might be the same for your therapist.

The therapeutic relationship is sacred and important. You as the client have the right to fire your therapist if the fit isn’t right. One therapist cannot be the right fit for every client out there, so don’t give up hope! You will find a therapist right for you.

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, CSW, MFTA. Learn more about Meredith here

Here are self gaslighting signs you can learn about

What is Self-Gaslighting?

1. Blaming yourself for not “handling things better” …

Without acknowledging all the difficulties or challenges you’re facing and the strength it takes to survive them.

2. Criticizing yourself for being too emotional or disregarding a strong feeling and feeling shame…

Without checking in on your feelings, the place they come from, or noticing triggers.

3. Shaming yourself for being “too needy” or a “burden” …

Without acknowledging that you have needs, like every human, that is likely unmet, and it is this that drives the behavior you’re shaming yourself for.

4. Blaming yourself in the situation without seeing another side.

Ex: “They didn’t mean that, if I didn’t ____ this wouldn’t have happened.”

5. Criticizing yourself for not “getting over” that traumatic or stressful experience.

Ex: “Well it’s been 2 years, I shouldn’t feel this way. What is wrong with me?” No room for understanding the complexity of trauma, the impact, and the patience for working through the healing process.

Does any of this sound like you?

If so that’s okay, be gentle with yourself.

Remember your feelings and experiences are valid.

You can achieve balance.

Ex: “I feel really upset about this AND I don’t know if I making this a bigger deal than it needs to be.”

“I feel hurt AND I could have handled that situation better.”

“I love this person AND I didn’t deserve what happened.”

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, LSW. Learn more about Meredith here

What to expect from a first therapy session.

Never Been to Therapy Before? Here’s What To Expect

Beginning therapy for the first time can come with many questions, potentially making you feel overwhelmed. Here to help with that are 5 things to expect from a first therapy session.

1. Meet your therapist

The therapist-client relationship is one of the most important aspects of therapy. Determining whether client and therapist fit is a two-way street. Do you feel comfortable with this person? Do you feel heard? Could you give this person a try? 

2. Go over policies, procedures, housekeeping

Confidentiality is your right to privacy. Duty to warn maintains people’s safety. Your therapist will go over what those mean in more detail. Any other housekeeping needs- where is the bathroom, waiting room, what to do if you’re running late, etc.

3. Intake

An intake is your therapist’s way to get to know as much about you as possible.

What might be asked? What brings you to therapy, family history, medical conditions, abuse/trauma history, relationships, past treatment, strengths, goals, and more!

Not sure where to start? Your therapist will guide you.

Don’t feel comfortable sharing so soon? Your therapist will be patient and you can disclose as little or as much as you feel comfortable.

4. Wrapping up & Next steps

Your therapist will end with discussing the next steps such as scheduling a follow-up session or call, scheduling ongoing therapy, giving referrals, etc.

What’s a referral? There is a chance you are not at the right therapist for your specific needs. If that’s the case, that is okay! Your therapist could provide you with a list of suggested other options for ongoing treatment. Maybe it’s a specialized clinic or someone else who meets your availability needs. A referral is your therapist’s way of finding a better fit or service for you.

5. Yay, you did it! — Cue emotions & thoughts

Once you have taken the step to seek out therapy services you may feel a variety of emotions. Happy, proud, overwhelmed, upset, stressed, or more. You may discuss topics you haven’t in years. You may discuss difficult times in your life. You may feel overwhelmed with the process. These are typical and okay! Take this one step at a time and remember you are NOT ALONE.

Meredith is a Marriage and Family Therapy Associate in Indiana and Kentucky, a Clinical Social Worker in Kentucky, and a Licensed Social Worker in Indiana. She sees clients in person and via telehealth.

#Therapy TikTok: A Substitute For Actual Therapy?

By Rachel Eichberger, True North Counseling MSCFT Intern

I’ve been there- scrolling away and all of the sudden I find myself on an unexpected side of TikTok – that algorithm is getting a little too good. Eventually, after several likes and follows I realize that I found #Therapy TikTok. While there is some encouraging, validating, and even eye-opening content it makes me wonder- could people view this as a substitute for actual therapy? Since “#mentalhealth has 15.3 billion views and #therapistsoftiktok has 318 million” it is fair to assume that consumers are latching onto the de-stigmatization of mental health and potentially considering the content as guidance1. A study completed in 2022 gathered data on TikTok mental health content specific to ADHD and exposed some stirring evidence. Of “100 videos, 52% were classified as misleading and non-healthcare providers uploaded the majority of these videos”2.

While educational and inspirational content can leave consumers feeling supported, it is clear that TikTok is not an appropriate or effective substitute for therapy. A USA Today article highlighting the benefits and downside of #Therapy TikTok quoted therapist Jamie Mahler stating “TikTok can’t be therapy because therapy involves individualized care. The therapist creates the entire treatment plan around the client as an individual. It also is held to ethical standards and confidentiality in an interpersonal exchange”1.

So, should I even spend time on #Therapy TikTok? I would say, yes! The upside of this content is that users can find a welcoming environment to explore concepts and consider trying therapy. Ideally, this would provide connections to qualified providers and open doors to users who truly need the individualized care that psychotherapy provides. As with all of social media- consider the source before believing content as truth and enjoy those daily validations!

1. Dastagir, A. E. (2021, September 3). Mental health TikTok is powerful. But is it therapy?. USA TODAY. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/09/03/tiktok-mental-health-content-has-exploded-but-therapy/5694716001/

2. Yeung, A., Ng, E., & Abi-Jaoude, E. (2022). Tiktok and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a cross-sectional study of social media content quality. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, 7067437221082854, 7067437221082854–7067437221082854. https://doi.org/10.1177/07067437221082854

how therapists are trained

How Therapists Are Trained

Jennifer Kendrick here! Not only am I the clinical director at True North, but I’m also a supervisor for people seeking licensure in social work and marriage & family therapy. Many people don’t understand the differences between professions, or how the professions are trained. While the steps and regulations vary between jurisdictions, here is a basic overview.

Clinical Social Work

To become a clinical social worker, you have to first get a master’s degree in social work. This can take anywhere from two to three years, depending on the program. After graduating, you have to take a Social Work Master’s Exam, which has 170 questions (including 20 unscored pretest questions). After you pass that exam, you can practice as a clinical social worker. You’re not licensed yet, however, so you have to be supervised for a minimum of two years (in Kentucky and Indiana). Supervision is one hour per week (or two hours every two weeks), and is sometimes provided (read: paid for) by the social worker’s employer, but if it’s not, they have to pay out of pocket.

After accruing two years (or 150 hours) of supervision and 1,000 hours of client contact, the social worker is then eligible to take the Social Work Clinical Exam, which is another 170 questions (same deal with the 20 unscored pretest questions). At a minimum, by that point, your clinical social worker has spent 4 years training to serve you.

Fun fact! In Kentucky, “social worker” has title protection, which means that you can’t call yourself a social worker unless you have the required training and license.

Marriage and Family Therapy

To become a marriage and family therapist, the path is similar. You have to get a master’s degree, either in family sciences or couples & family therapy or in social work with specialized training in couples & family therapy. The path verges a bit after that. After graduation, marriage and family therapists in Kentucky and Indiana can apply for an associate’s permit, which means that they are practicing under the supervision of a fully-licensed marriage and family therapist. Like social workers, they have to be supervised for a minimum of two years (in Kentucky and Indiana). Supervision is one hour per week (or two hours every two weeks) and is sometimes provided (read: paid for) by the marriage & family therapist’s employer, but if it’s not, they have to pay out of pocket. (In Kentucky, there aren’t as many supervisors, so people often have to pay out of pocket for supervision.)

Fun fact two! Marriage and family therapists don’t just see people who are married! We see family constellations of all kinds—married, engaged, coupled, co-parenting, you name it!

Both clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists are therapists, which means that regardless of the letters after our names, we are here to help you address your mental health, relationships, and all of life’s seasons.

(Bonus fun fact! “Marriage and family therapist” also has title protection!)

find a therapist

How To Find a Therapist

The good news is that people are (finally!) realizing the importance of mental health. The bad news for many people is that the prospect of finding a therapist is overwhelming to think about on the best of days and may feel insurmountable on the worst days.

But finding a therapist doesn’t have to be hard! Here are some tips:

Think about what your goals are.

Do you want individual therapy? Couple? Family? Group support? Medication management? All of the above? What you need may shape the best fit for you. (Only psychiatrists and nurse practitioners with a specialization in psychiatry can prescribe medication in most states, and most prescribers in our area want you to have ongoing therapy with someone.)

Insurance?

If you have health insurance, start with your insurance company. They can tell you not only who is in-network for you, but what your copay will be. This can take the headache out of knowing whether or not someone is covered by your insurance company.

Who do you know?

If you have a good relationship with your physician/general practitioner, ask them who they recommend.

Friends and family can be a good resource, but be careful about going to the same therapist as your friend. It may be more helpful to ask them what they like about their therapist. Maybe they like a very direct approach, and you know that you need someone a bit gentler! Also, be aware of conflicts of interest. All therapists’ codes of ethics, whether they’re social workers, psychologists, counselors, or marriage & family therapists, prohibit dual relationships. Your therapist’s job is to be objective, and if they can’t be objective between you and your friend who also sees them, it’s time to find a new therapist.

Remember, therapists are people, and, as such, what works for one person may not work for another. If you haven’t found the right therapist yet, don’t give up! There’s a Zen Koan (teaching story) about a man who goes to a master teacher at the top of the mountain. After a long, arduous journey, he reaches the top of the mountain, and he says, “Master, all my life I have looked for meaning, and I still have not found it!”

The master smiles and says, “Wonderful!”

The man becomes angry. “What do you mean, my unfulfilled quest is ‘wonderful’?!”

The master says, “It’s wonderful because you still have something to search for.”

what we owe

What We Owe Each Other

There are no “perfect” victims.

Every post I’ve seen about Breonna Taylor and other BIPOC victims of institutional violence has included a “wait, but what about the time that…?” comment (or multiple comments). Ask yourselves if you’ve ever been involved, or even adjacent to, something or someone that would fill in that blank. Did you ever go on a date with someone who had a criminal record? Even if you didn’t know about it, would it be something that would be used against you as evidence in the court of public opinion if you, too, were murdered in your home by the police?

Those of us in the mental health field are all too familiar with the mental acrobatics that people who have NOT experienced tragedy use to cognitively distance themselves from something that, in reality, could happen to anyone.* If we tell ourselves that it was because of the rape victim’s drinking, or because the children who were molested had a parent who wasn’t present, or because the domestic violence victim had dropped out of high school, it allows us some comfort that these terrible things won’t happen to us.

The reality is, terrible things happen at a much higher frequency than most people are aware of. And the only people that are to blame are the perpetrators.

Scratch that. Also to blame is the culture that prioritizes some lives over others, treats sexist and violent “jokes” as “locker room talk,” and appoints officials with a documented history of crimes against women.

This is not one of those “it gets better” posts. This is a post that ends with: It gets better when we realize that we’re all in this together, and sometimes, the only thing that separates you from immense tragedy and trauma is a stroke of luck or fate. We are all in the same ocean, but we’re not in the same boat. Some are in rowboats, some are in yachts, and still others are clinging to debris tossed aside by the bigger boats’ occupants.

Philosopher Tim Scanlon wrote What We Owe to Each Other, a complex overview of utilitarian ethics made famous more recently by the excellent television show The Good Place. The answer that I came up with for myself is: Love. We just owe each other love. The principle that has guided this view is influenced by Cornel West, PhD:

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

—-

* Though, in reality, are significantly more likely to occur if you are already a member of a marginalized group.

burnout

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking The Stress Cycle

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

“The problem is not that we aren’t trying. The problem isn’t even that we don’t know how. The problem is the world has turned “wellness” into yet another goal everyone “should” strive for, but only people with time and money and nannies and yachts and Oprah’s phone number can actually achieve.”

Sometimes a book comes along at the exact right time in your life. Sometimes, that’s a book you probably should have read three degrees ago. This book is exactly that for me. It provided a brand-new way of looking at stress in my life by separating stress from stressors. They write:

Dealing with your stress is a separate process from dealing with the things that cause your stress. To deal with your stress, you have to complete the cycle…Stressors are what activate the stress response in your body. They can be anything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or imagine could do you harm. There are external stressors: work, money, family, time, cultural norms and expectations, experiences of discrimination, and so on. And there are less tangible, internal stressors: self-criticism, body image, identity, memories, and The Future. In different ways and to different degrees, all of these things may be interpreted by your body as potential threats.”

A failure to go through and resolve the stress cycle can result in burnout, which was “first coined as a technical term by Herbert Freudenberger in 1975. ‘Burnout’ was defined by three components: 1. emotional exhaustion—the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long; 2. depersonalization—the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion; and 3. decreased sense of accomplishment—an unconquerable sense of futility: feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.”

If we’ve known about burnout for so long, how is it that we’re just now figuring out how to fix it?

This is not quite a rhetorical question. The answer is: Because it’s hard. If everyone knew how to combat burnout, we would all be doing it! (And the monetized “experience of self-care” that’s sold by the capitalist machine will go away, but that’s for another time…) Part of the problem is that we’ve been looking at stress the wrong way. “The good news is that stress is not the problem. The problem is that the strategies that deal with stressors have almost no relationship to the strategies that deal with the physiological reactions our bodies have to those stressors. To be “well” is not to live in a state of perpetual safety and calm, but to move fluidly from a state of adversity, risk, adventure, or excitement, back to safety and calm, and out again. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.”

To get un-stuck, the Nagoskis’ write, we must move. Run, dance, kickbox, tense and release muscles, and, most importantly, breathe. The book has other great tips, as well as a way to plan out all of the options you have for completing the stress cycle.

So the real question is: How are you completing the stress cycle today?