March is Social Media Awareness Month at MHCC and The Nest!

March is Social Media Awareness Challenge Month at MHCC and The Nest!

At MHCC/The Nest, we’re declaring March the first annual social media awareness month. This month, we will be addressing the harmful impacts of social media, ways to mitigate these impacts, healthy social media diet, and we will also be providing various recommendations for inspirational and informative social media accounts to follow.

            Social media has a deleterious impact on overall emotional well-being. Just scroll through the comments on any public image, video, or article circulating outside of your friend group, and I can guarantee it’s a parade of partially or ill-informed people bashing each other. Society seems to forget that human beings with actual feelings are reading this. Reacist, sexist, homo/transphobic comments about, making it difficult to speak up on issues that may be important to us or the ones we love.

            Social media, by-and-large, seems to squash individuality in favor of conformity to the status quo. People arguing in the comments sections appear hell-bent on conformity or trying to get other parties to think exactly as they do. There is no respectful discourse. Others try to set themselves apart as individuals, and when they go viral, the general public immediately sets to work at imitating or tearing down, rather than creating and being open to inspiration.

            People are less and less connected with each other, and I can’t tell you how many times I go out to restaurants and see entire families scrolling social media rather than connecting to and conversing with each other. It’s almost as if they don’t value each others’ time. We’re all a step removed from each other and use screens as an interface between ourselves and the world. This causes us to have increases in depression, due to unprecedented isolation, and anxiety if we can’t see exactly what others are doing all the time. Because we’re only exposed to the highlight reels in Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat stories, we assume the people behind those stories live those perfect lives 24/7. This creates an issue of comparing ourselves to others, especially celebrities, worse than ever before. Or, one of my favorites, the people with terrible boundaries who share every single moment of the day, when they would never share anything so ridiculous about themselves in the days before social media.

            My call to action for you this week is to take notice of the social media intake you have each day. How much time are you spending on social media apps and sites? How much time are you feeling like you’re really wasting on social media? What would you like to be doing instead? If you didn’t have social media for a whole year, what do you think you could accomplish? Is there a way to compromise? How do you feel about the main accounts you’re following- do they bring you closer to your goals? Journal on these questions, and try to find out exactly what you were looking to get out of following those accounts, and what you’re actually getting out of following them.

In Solidarity, 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday!

In last week’s Mindful Monday post, I shared a Time Magazine article about the benefits of yoga in regards to mental health. In keeping with that theme, I want to share another article this week about how to begin having a healthy relationship with your body again. This is especially important for clients who have a history of some sort of physical trauma, medical trauma, and chronic illness that can often create a disconnect from the body throughout the years. Enjoy, and hope this helps! If you, or someone you love, is trying to recover from trauma and heal your relationship with your body, contact us at MHCC! Email me directly for a referral at Rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com!

https://consciousreminder.com/2017/04/01/how-to-heal-yourself-by-talking-to-your-body-your-cells-are-listening/?fbclid=IwAR0I2cqeeXZNqEdQU8Y20moxQs4VQHHx_N5OefSF6ZeqpdxJRM0TJzCjo_A

In Solidarity,

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Are They The One For Me? Finding the Right Therapist

Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if Your Therapist is the Right Fit

 This is the third of a three-part blog installment designed to help you get started with the right therapist!

Entering into a therapy relationship can be tense and sometimes uncomfortable, even in the best situations. Here are some helpful tools to help you decide if your therapist is the one for you! Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and everyone’s experience is different, so please understand these are just guidelines and you must use your own judgment. If you’re having doubts, the best thing you can do is discuss them with your therapist! How they respond will definitely tell you what you need to know. Remember, my suggestion is to give it at least 3-5 sessions with your therapist to get past the initial housekeeping and goal setting and get into rapport building and deeper work- unless you’re feeling truly threatened, unsafe, gaslit, or invalidated during your sessions. Then you should leave immediately!

 

Are they empowering you with the questions they ask?

Are they inspiring you to continue working outside of sessions?

Do you get a sense that they want to help you heal, or do you feel as if they want you to be dependent on them for emotional validation? Is it because of something they’re doing, or because of where you need to work?

Are they challenging and pushing you, or are they smiling and nodding?

Are they supportively challenging, or are they hostile and blaming?

Are you just venting? Or is actual work getting done?While venting occasionally has therapeutic value, therapy should be more goal-directed. A good therapist should be empowering you to handle the situations that are stressing you out, so that you won’t need to vent because you’ll feel capable of handling it (probably not going to be evident in the first 3-5 sessions). Your therapist should be respectful of your investment of time, energy, and finances to help you keep your goals in mind and start working towards them.

 

Body Language Awareness

Are they engaged with you? How is their eye contact?

Are they leaning in, legs pointed towards you, open arms?

Are they leaning back, legs open, taking up space?

How do you find yourself reacting to their body language?

What is your body language communicating in sessions? Does this apply to other areas of your life?

What does your energy want to do in sessions? Does it feel comfortable and relaxed, like you can actually be calm enough to do work? Or does it feel bottled up and tense? Does your body want to do something?

Do you feel they are physically close to you? Do you feel they are too close to you?

Will they be receptive to feedback if you communicate what you need or do what your body feels like it needs to do?

How is their tone of voice? How do you find yourself reacting to it?

 

Again, this is a short list just meant to generate thought and honest self-assessment as well as awareness of the therapist and what they are or are not communicating during sessions. Please use your own discretion and judgment, journal on these questions and challenge yourself to come up with more. And I cannot stress this enough- if you’re having doubts or concerns, have the courage to bring them up to your therapist. They will be receptive and it is TOTALLY OKAY for a therapist to not always be the best fit for you! They are ethically bound to help you, and sometimes that may mean helping you find the therapist with the “right stuff” for you. Maybe if it doesn’t work after the first several sessions, they may have a good enough idea about what you’re struggling with, your needs, and your communication style to be able to refer you to a trusted friend or colleague! You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so challenge yourself to discuss it with them!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Preparing For Your First Therapy Session: Part 2

This is the second in a three-part blog series geared to help you prepare for your first session in therapy ever, or just with a new therapist for the first time in a while. This article will cover what to expect from your first session (also called an intake), as well as some things the therapist is assessing for during an intake.

(Bet you didn’t think there was so much to consider before you even walk in the door for your first session! But, you’ve made it this far. So, let’s say you’ve followed some of the advice laid out in the first edition of this topic, you’ve found one or more therapists who seem like they might be the right fit, and maybe you’ve even reached out and scheduled an intake or two. What’s next?

What to Expect in an Intake:

Your therapist is going to have a LOT to get through within the first session. They have to cover intake documents, informed consent, limitations of privacy laws, and tell you all about how they tend to operate and what the attendance expectations are. Then there’s the fact that they have to get an idea of what you’d like to achieve in therapy, and assess your supports, strengths, coping skills, safety, connection to community resources, your day-to-day life, and establish rapport while simultaneously being as genuine as possible and starting to formulate rough ideas for goals and treatment plans if you choose to continue beyond the intake. They also have to make sure they get releases to talk to doctors/lawyers/agencies/other providers if necessary, and assess whether they are the best fit for you and your needs. That’s a TON to get through! Needless to say, it often takes two or three sessions to get a basic idea of what therapy with the clinician would actually be like. To help with some of the time management, many practices are starting to require electronic signatures of paperwork prior to the first session, then quickly covering the necessary points during the intake. My practice does this, and requires the paperwork to be completed with insurance and credit card information submitted electronically a minimum of 24 hours prior to the scheduled appointment, or the appointment will be cancelled. 

            For the rest of the rapport building, treatment planning, clinical assessment, and collaboration on goals- the process can be several sessions long. I have many clients on my caseload for several months where we focus on establishing trust, rapport, and safety- often because there is significant attachment trauma and they need to experience me as consistent and nurturing for a length of time before they’ll truly feel safe exploring further and doing some of the deeper work. Be patient, trust the process, and don’t expect to be cured or even given an idea of how many sessions need to happen before you feel relief from your symptoms. You get out of therapy what you put into it. Don’t give up on the potential right fit therapist before you have a chance to actually start doing the real work to meet your goals. 

 

What Your Therapist is Assessing for:

This is going to vary depending on the type of therapist you’re seeing and the type of therapy you’re looking to do. But some general topics I usually assess for include:

Safety:Is this person going to be able to tolerate deep work? Are they likely to continue their work through daily practices outside of treatment appointments? Do they have the distress tolerance to handle it, or should we first focus on resourcing and rapport building through various interventions before we do the trauma work? What community and natural resources are needed outside of therapy, and how accessible are these things? Does the person need a higher level of care than I’m able to offer? What are their needs, and do they have healthy insight into some ways to get those needs met, or are they too traumatized and invested in more comfortable/maladaptive ways of meeting those needs? Who are supportive people they can turn to? Can we make a plan for when they’re feeling close to a crisis, so that they can call on those people? Are they familiar/in contact with local crisis services?

 

Goodness of Fit:

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, my licensing board and the American Counseling Association, as well as the EMDR International Association all have various versions of the same ethical requirement that states I need to refer clients elsewhere if they’re not a good fit for what I feel able to provide. Most behavioral health governing bodies have some version of this same guideline. If I feel as though my relational style or specialty is very different from what I perceive the client’s needs to be, it’s my duty to best serve the client by referring them to someone much more suited to handling that specific issue than I am. For example, while my license allows me to work with children and I have done so as a pre-licensed therapist, this is not my passion and I have not had continuing education in working with children. I know that I can probably do decent work with children, and that I have before, but I also know that there are some excellent colleagues of mine whom I would feel much more comfortable referring minor clients to (and for the record, I’m more than OK with this- I know I excel at the work I do with my adult clients and I am highly specialized in something I am passionate about). So, rather than taking on minor clients anyway, I refer them to the colleagues whose work I am familiar with, whom I trust and who specialize in working with populations I don’t. The client’s needs are thus met by a provider more equipped to give them what they need. If your new therapist is making it seem like they’re a jack of all trades but a master of none, they may be skilled and intelligent but may not be the best fit for what you specifically need. 

 

From here, the therapist’s assessment will really start to depend on the therapist you’re meeting with. For example, I am a strengths-based, person-centered trauma therapist specializing in attachment trauma and dissociation. So, I’m assessing for trauma, especially hidden or repressed trauma, certain buzzwords and telling phrases, trauma narratives, symptoms and how they are presenting in daily life, what those symptoms are interfering with that caused the client to want to meet with me in the first place, what about me stood out for them in selecting me as their therapist, feelings of being “checked out” or not being able to remember significant periods of time, and ego strength/distress tolerance. If there needs to be some ego strengthening, I’m getting an idea of how we can collaborate on that together in order to set a strong foundation for the deeper trauma work. I’m also assessing for strengths and skills because I believe those are going to provide the foundation to build up some of the things that are in need of improvement to facilitate healing. 

            Other therapists, however, will have different approaches and specialties and will be assessing along those lines. A substance abuse counselor, for example, will want to know about length of use, substances of choice, any periods of sobriety, positives that would help the client maintain sobriety, etc. Those who specialize in working with children will be looking for some indication of boundaries and expectations in the home and at school, social engagement, and possible reasons behind behavioral disturbances (depending on age). 

 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of what each therapist assesses for or how they operate during intake sessions, but I hope it has provided some useful information that will help you prepare for your first intake. It’s also totally fine to write down some thoughts/lists of things you want to work on, and maybe make some mention of the work you’ve done to start trying to address this stuff on your own. It’s helpful for the therapist to get an idea of what’s realistically going to translate from therapy into your daily life, so this would definitely be a great tool!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Preparing for Your First Therapy Session: The Search (Part 1)

This is the first in a three-part series to help you in the process of beginning therapy, maybe for the first time, or maybe you’re looking for a different approach to freshen or build on therapy you’ve already been involved in. So, you may be toying with the idea of “talking to someone” in a professional capacity to handle some stressors, life adjustments, or struggles that can be going on in your life. Or, you may be feeling checked out, disconnected, or have some traumas that might need to be addressed. Either way, maybe you’re wondering now how you should go about finding a therapist. There’s a ton of information out there, and so many different kinds of therapists who do amazing work. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. So here’s your go-to guide for some of the main things you should consider in finding a therapist for yourself!

 

The Search:

Google and Psychology Today are probably some of the best guaranteed places to find a listing of local therapists who specialize in certain areas and take your insurance (if you’re choosing to use an insurance). It’s a quick way to generate a list of therapists to get into contact with, but please understand that what’s in someone’s Psychology Today profile is limited through character counts, so there’s not always the chance to capture exactly who they are as a therapist and how they work. It’s wise to continue your research into a possible therapist candidate through their websites, blogs, YouTube channels, business social media posts, etc. The whole point of therapists working so hard to create that content is so that you have a chance to connect with them and their communication style before actually reaching out to them, so use the content to your advantage! Do you feel like they’re speaking directly to you through this content? Therapists who are well-niched in private practice have worked hard to identify and market to their ideal clients. Feeling like they’ve connected with you before you’ve even spoken to them is a vital part of how they run their business and will let you know how invested and passionate the therapist would be in working with you. Somewhere there is a therapist who specializes in exactly what you need (even if you’re not fully clear on what that is yet yourself)!

Don’t: It’s poor boundaries to try to find out personal information about your therapist. Don’t try to comb through their personal social media profiles, don’t try to connect with them on LinkedIn, don’t show up at the office without an appointment (we don’t appreciate drop-ins and many therapists view this behavior as aggressive. This is the fastest way to guarantee you’ll be referred out to a clinic with security staff on hand). Don’t get too bogged down in client reviews (or lack thereof) online. Many governing bodies and licensing boards forbid solicitation of testimonials (even anonymous ones), and often clients (or former clients) leave negative reviews on social media despite warnings about their protected health information being compromised, as a passive-aggressive attack for the therapist setting a necessary boundary (such as not allowing the client to schedule with a significant balance that they haven’t made any effort to pay on, nonadherence to the attendance policy, refusal to accept clients due to inappropriate or threatening behavior on behalf of the client, etc.). Each client’s experience is their own! Be open to the possibility that someone can help you, which brings me to my next point…

Remember…

You are the consumer. You’re free to “shop around” to find the right fit for you. The first therapist(s) you meet with might not be “the one.” Or, you may meet with one for years and just find that they no longer meet your needs because you’ve grown and your needs have changed. Just keep in mind that if you’re using insurance, you may only be allotted a certain number of intakes within a discrete period of time, and additional intakes might not be approved (resulting in out-of-pocket balances that you’re required to pay). That said, I encourage a minimum of 3-5 sessions with the therapist to really determine together if you’re ready for therapy, if it seems likely this therapist can support you in reaching your goals, and if their therapeutic style matches up with your needs and your communication style. A worthwhile therapist is likely to be forthcoming with you regarding your diagnosis (at least in the field of trauma work), and they should be keen to collaborate with you on treatment goals and formulating a clear treatment plan with measurable outcomes and actionable steps, alongside their clients. 

 

Also, don’t forget to keep in mind basic therapist attributes. It’s perfectly acceptable to only want to meet with therapists of a certain gender, age, race, religion, etc. You may know, for example, that you relate to females better than males, or vice versa. Just know that this may limit your search, and sometimes being open-minded to something different can yield amazing results. So have a general idea of who your ideal therapist would be, but be open to some variations within those ideas. 

 

These are just some of the guidelines to consider when searching for a therapist, and certainly is not an all-encompassing checklist of things to consider. Any of these factors can be influenced by location, insurance, schedule, etc. and these are also valid concerns. The goal of this blog post is to discuss some of the points which many clients who are reaching out for the first time may be unaware of!

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.