Let's Learn and Grow

Overcoming a Bad Therapy Experience

On Screen Bad Therapy Experiences

Have you ever noticed that every mental health professional in movies is the weirdest, most messed up character in the entire thing? The kind gentle therapist who suddenly starts screaming at his clients. The seemingly “normal” therapist who soon reveals that she believes every problem to be related to sex. The therapist who crosses all boundaries and ends up being more of a help-seeking friend than a help-giving therapist. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been watching something and thought, “yikes, that is a messed up therapist, and that is a very bad therapy experience.” Of course, these portrayals are primarily to add to the dramatic nature of the shows and movies they are part of, but I can’t help but think this has given the whole profession sort of a bad rap. If I wasn’t a therapist, and I had seen any one of these movies/shows, you could count on me to never share anything vulnerable with a counselor, let alone go anywhere near a therapist’s office. Read more

How Music Connects Us to Others

It was the summer of 1984. My older sister and I were 12 and 11, respectively. We awoke one morning and started making preparations for the afternoon. We secured every bit of makeup, hairspray, hair accessories, and trendy clothes and shoes that we had at our disposal. Our three neighborhood friends arrived in the early afternoon and we got started. We teased our hair, referencing magazine articles as needed, and got our clothes and makeup just right. We lined up our instruments – plastic tennis rackets for guitar and bass, a hairbrush microphone, a portable keyboard, and upside-down bowls for drums, with chopsticks for drumsticks. Soon, the moment arrived. We were ready. We took our places. And we became The Go-Go’s. Read more

Infertility: You Don’t Have to Struggle Alone

I always knew I’d have children. From an early age, I loved kids. I was the neighborhood babysitter as a teenager and I gladly helped with the caretaking of my little sister when I was 18 and she came along. Growing up, I was always vocal about wanting kids. I knew it would happen.

In my 30s, I was with someone who I thought would be my life partner, but we decided we weren’t ready for kids just yet. We got married when I was 37 and we still weren’t in a hurry. There were other things we wanted to do first, including establish our careers. I knew that others had trouble with infertility past their mid-30s, but I knew that wouldn’t be me. Finally, we started “trying” when I was almost 39 years old. After about six months and no success, my husband at the time let me in on a little secret: He didn’t actually want to have kids. He wasn’t sabotaging our efforts, but he didn’t want to keep trying to conceive. I was devastated as I tried to come to terms with a life without kids. Read more

Reaching Out Could Save a Life

Note: If you are suicidal and need immediate support, please contact the Multnomah County Crisis Line at (503) 988-4888, the Lines for Life Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255, or call 911.

On February 13, 2015, I received a text message from a friend while I was at work that directed me to a Facebook post. I saw the title of the post and my heart sank. As I continued to read the details of the post, I went into my office and shut the door behind me. I slumped down against the door and wept – for someone I don’t even know.

Read more

Imposter Syndrome – A Different Approach

I hadn’t thought much about imposter syndrome until I was in grad school studying psychology and getting ready to start seeing clients in my internship. Grad school can only do so much to prepare a new therapist to sit with a client for the first time. As I walked into the room with my first client, I thought, “This poor person. They got me as a therapist. I don’t know what I’m doing! What if I cause some sort of irreparable damage!?! I shouldn’t be here.” While I made it through that session and many others after it, the feeling of being an imposter doesn’t go away easily. In fact, it may never go away completely.

Read more

Laughter can lead us to connection

I’m funny. At least, I think I am. I remember being funny when I was a kid. My older sister and I used to lie down in the hallway in our house when we were young (and bored) and I could make her laugh until she was crying without even tickling her. We were gifted a tape recorder once when we were young, which resulted in an entire afternoon of howling laughter. I remember that we recorded ourselves telling each other knock-knock jokes. One of the jokes went like this:

            Knock knock.
            Who’s there?


            Burton who?

            Burton up your overcoat!


Read more

When Loneliness Feels Overwhelming

Loneliness can feel so overwhelming. Even writing the word feels heavy and exhausting. It can feel heartbreaking when we need to reach out to others and find that there’s no one there. Or when we have something exciting happen and no one to share it with. When we feel this way, we often think that we’re the only one feeling this way. It may seem like everyone else has more friends or is better at romantic relationships. We may feel closed off and isolated from the rest of the world. And we may feel that our attempts to reach out to others will fail – so we don’t even try. Loneliness can feel debilitating.


Read more

Under 30 and feeling lost? You’re not alone.

Things were easier in some ways for older generations than they are for today’s young adults. It used to be that if you were a man, you’d find a job right out of high school that you’d stay in for the next 35 years, or maybe you’d be lucky enough to go to college, or you’d join the military (either voluntarily or not). If you were a woman, after high school you married whomever you happened to be dating. You might go to secretarial college so that you could work for a powerful man. Or if you went to a 4-year college, you went just to find a husband. (Are you cringing? Me too.) (Side note: This is of course from a very heteronormative perspective. Back then, if you were anything other than heteronormative, you had to be invisible or pretend to be something that you’re not. Things were not easier for these folks.) When I say that things were easier back then, I don’t mean that they were better. People had very limited options back then, but they knew what those options were. That made things easier for them.

< Read more

Things We All Need When Job Searching

Looking for a job? Maybe you’ve just left your last position because of budget cuts, or it wasn’t the right fit, or you’re just burnt out and want to do something more meaningful to you. Or maybe you haven’t left yet because you can’t afford to or because you’re not sure how to even start looking for a new job, or you just don’t know yet what it is you want to be doing instead. Maybe you’re trying to re-enter the workforce after an extended leave and you have no idea how to go about finding a job in this day and age. What does “networking” actually mean? Why do I have to do it? What is LinkedIn? Do I have to have a profile? Do I have to fill the whole thing out?

Read more

Vitamin D and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

I’ve been thinking about taking a vitamin D supplement. I’m not much for taking pills and supplements. I don’t even take a multivitamin and rarely take pain killers like Tylenol or Advil. Generally, I just think one should eat a relatively healthy diet and get good, moderate exercise and good sleep. However, if you’re like me and experience some seasonal depression, maybe a vitamin D supplement is in order.

Read more

What is an Existential-Humanist Therapist?

What is an Existential-Humanist Therapist?

Therapists have many orientations to the space of therapy. Some take a more medical-approach, like symptom-reduction, or …

On The Theme of Vulnerability in Counseling

On The Theme of Vulnerability in Counseling

I am a year and a half into practicing as a therapist, and just month’s into a Master’s degree, but I’m no stranger …

Working from home during a Pandemic

The last few months (feels like years) have been a series of constant changes in how we do pretty much everything. The biggest …