This is a story I share with the women I work with in therapy, that I think perfectly exemplifies how gratitude can help when it feels like everything is falling apart. Between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving November is the perfect month to visit gratitude as a mental wellness skill for women. Last October, my partner and I set out for a 3 day backpacking trip in the White Mountains. The Pemi Loop is about 30 miles of mountain top bliss but also quite a strenuous trek. This turned out to be one of those adventures that proves Murphy’s Law to be true. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.
The women I work with have been talking more and more about how they feel isolated and alone. They want to meet people, to date, to make new friends, or find new jobs but they feel nervous. When we dig into this a bit they say they aren’t feeling too confident about putting themselves out there. This can be connected to a few different things. Sometimes it’s about fear of rejection, feeling that they don’t have enough to offer, or maybe that no one will reciprocate their efforts. It’s also important to examine if there are any ties to past experiences that are impacting your current reality. I provide therapy for women in my Portland, Maine based private practice for a variety of issues but I find a lack of confidence is a very common concern for women who are feeling alone or disconnected.
I’m often asked why I chose to focus my therapy practice on the unique needs of women. This is an easy decision for me. I’ve always been one to follow my passions. I spent 10 years working with high risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Working with at-risk youth was rewarding and challenging but more importantly I knew they were overlooked, often missed and that they needed understanding and compassionate support. After 10 years I was ready for a change and following the pursuit of passion, landed on focusing my work on the mental health needs of women.
“I wish they taught this stuff in school”.
Many of the clients I see in my therapy practice in Portland, Maine struggle with their emotional experiences. I frequently hear that no one ever taught them how to talk about their feelings, what the purpose of emotions are, or what do do with them.
Emotions can be difficult to navigate and many of us are not naturally good at it. Even with the most emotionally intelligent upbringing, you may experience challenges regulating and managing painful or overwhelming feelings. Many of the women I work with in my therapy practice in Portland Maine have some excellent skills and one or two areas where they get stuck. Knowing what works best for you in different situations can be the key to controlling your emotions versus being controlled by them.
Starting the search is overwhelming!
The decision to go to therapy is no small thing. Finding a therapist is hard enough, never mind finding a therapist that is the right fit for you. Maybe you’ve heard it’s important to find someone who is the right fit for you but you’re not sure what that looks like. You may have had negative experiences in the past and want to be sure things are different this time. And, odds are if you are taking the step to choose a therapist, you have some stress on your mind. This can be an overwhelming process. I often get calls at my Portland, Maine therapy practice from potential clients who feel like counseling is the next step for them but they don’t know what questions to ask or what to look for. Here are a few things to consider when searching for a therapist who is the right fit for you and some questions to ask when you get them on the phone.
Women come to therapy because something isn’t going right and they are ready to make a change. Counseling for women’s issues involves taking action to make that change. I help women in my counseling practice in Portland, Maine make changes to live their best lives possible by setting intentional goals. Set yourself up for success from the start by creating goals that will get you there.
In a recent session, I asked a client what her life would look like if she were happy. This is a question to get people thinking about how would they know if they were happy and what they need to get there. If you want to change, if you want to be happier, if you want to live your best life, you need to know what that looks like. So what do you want?
Therapy is often be shrouded in mystery. Names are followed by an alphabet soup of letters and clients are rarely educated about what the letters mean or how a professional was trained. I think it’s important for clients to understand the process of therapy and everything behind the scenes.
Do you struggle with emotions? Many of us do. They are messy, confusing, painful, and hard to pin down. You may lack the skills to effectively navigate intense emotional experiences. What was your upbringing related to feelings? Were you taught what they were or what to do with them? You may not have learned emotional intelligence in school or at home and maybe you were even taught to ignore feelings, push them away, or to not talk about them. Emotions don't have to be unmanageable.