Ask a therapist

What can I do to overcome my fear of chasing my dream career?

That is an excellent question! Let's start by discussing what fear of meeting our dreams can entail. Fear of success often does not mean a fear of succeeding but instead suggests underlying worries or concerns that contribute to the overall sensation of fear. Unfortunately, as humans, we often avoid things that we are frightened of. In this case, it sounds like it is difficult for you to return to your dream because of the fears you are experiencing. The first question that might be helpful to ask yourself is, "What exactly am I afraid of?" Sometimes it can be beneficial to make a list and break down each factor contributing to the fear into smaller parts. It is often easier to face fear when we are focused on overcoming individual, measurable goals. In this case, focusing on the big picture may create a greater sense of fear and, in turn, avoidance.    If we break down identifying and facing fear into steps, learning to name, observe, and describe the anxiety and the factors, worries, and thoughts contributing to the fear helps to begin to set measurable goals. You can start by journaling with the intent to explore your fear. For example, you might ask yourself, when was the first time I remember feeling this way? What are the details of that memory? Do I notice any similarities between this situation and what I am feeling now? What are some of the worries I am experiencing when I think about achieving my goal of working in TV?   Next, you would want to begin to notice the thoughts and emotions you experience when thinking about moving forward with a return to school to complete your goals. Focusing on the behaviors and thoughts that you unintentionally utilize to maintain the fear and noticing what some of those strategies might be can assist you in identifying behavior patterns within yourself that you may subconsciously engage in. This helps to remove some of the power away from the thoughts and back to where it belongs, in the motivation for change category.    The next step in the process is to face those fears by hierarchically ordering the worries from most significant to most minor and then considering ways that you can begin to face a minor fear first. The steps involved in facing fear are more complicated and often person-specific. I would recommend that these steps be taken with the assistance of a professional. In this case, it sounds like you were experiencing difficulties that were outside of your control. Coping with abortion can be a separate issue that you may benefit from speaking with a therapist about. My encouragement is always to seek professional assistance as there are often many layers involved in the individual problems or difficulties a person can face. Having an outside, objective viewpoint can be one of the most beneficial things!
Answered on 10/18/2021

I had an affair, had trauma from my husband because of it and I don’t know how to be, how can I heal

Hi Pickle.  Thanks for your meaningful and heartfelt question.     Healing following any rupture of trust is a difficult task.  It seems that in this situation there are at least two areas of trust to consider, including the trust you have with and for yourself and the trust you have for your husband.  Trauma of any sort can intrinsically change the trust relationship we have in both of these areas.  In the time I have to write to you, I'll explain a little about this relationship, between trust and trauma, and also touch on the topic of healing.   Because you didn't specify in your question what kind of trauma you experienced, I'll try to talk generically about trauma that can be caused by emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual violence, and physical abuse.  Trauma can leave us with many lasting effects, including nightmares, flashbacks of the event(s), hypervigilance (being on edge and extremely aware of our surroundings), avoidance of things that remind us of the trauma, feelings of sadness, feelings of numbness or being out of reality, and problems establishing trust.  If you're experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of your trauma, remember that this is a normal reaction.  As the science of psychiatry and psychology progress, we're finding out that trauma can actually change us physiologically. People who respond to trauma in these ways are not crazy and are actually experiencing normal reactions to extremely scary situations.   If you were previously a very trusting and open person, this experience might be particularly stressful.  And because your affair was the triggering event in this reupture of trust, you might be blaming yourself.  You mention experiencing fear and anger as predominant emotions, which makes sense.  Trauma itself is scary, and on top of this you might be experiencing fear that things will never go back to normal, that you'll have another affair, or that you'll never feel comfortable in your relationship again.  You might be fearful that your husband will react in a similar way next time there's an upsetting situation.  And experiencing anger also makes sense in this situation.  You might be angry at yourself for having the affair, and angry at your husband for hurting you.     I think it's wonderful that you're able to identify these emotions, and I think it's a positive indicator of your ability to heal.  And there are different types of healing that need to happen.  You have healing to do as an individual, and perhaps this includes addressing your trauma symptoms and learning to use self-compassion wisely.  It sounds like there's also healing for you and your husband to pursue as a couple.  Perhaps this means learning to communicate in a healthy way, or learning how to support each other.  Either way, pursuing individual therapy or therapy as a couple would probably help you to address these issues and to start the healing journey.  But whether or not you seek therapy, it is possible to heal.     My best wishes.   Gabrielle  
Answered on 10/18/2021

How long till the counseling will make me better?

Hello! Thank you for your question. It sounds like you are really dealing with a lot right now and I'm glad you reached out. How long someone needs in order to benefit from therapy will vary based on factors such as their goals and the type of therapy they choose. Many people also want to consider their budget and how much time they can commit to therapy. Fortunately, counseling is flexible and can usually be adapted for each person's circumstances. I will outline a few points which may help with your next steps. Firstly, if you haven't already done so, I recommend making a list of what you want to address in therapy. This can be as specific or as broad as you like - there are no right or wrong answers. Some people want to focus on skills to manage a current situation or immediate problem. This type of issue might best be addressed with a solution-focused or brief therapy, which can target a specific issue in perhaps two to six sessions. If someone wants to address several problems or a single goal in more depth, they may be looking at three to six months to give themselves enough time to work through things. Other folks might be looking for more long-term support and may choose to continue in therapy for a year or more, depending on their needs and goals. When you are choosing a therapist, discussing your goals can help them to give you a realistic idea of what to expect. Secondly, I think it is helpful to consider your budget for therapy, including both time and money. This can help you to identify what format might work best for your needs. Many people are navigating busy schedules, which can make internet-based counseling like BetterHelp especially appealing. Others prefer to work with a therapist in person. Directories like those offered by Psychology Today (www.psychologytoday.com) can provide information on counselors and counseling agencies in your area. People who have medical insurance may wish to speak with their provider about coverage and in-network referrals. Community mental health organizations may also be an option in your area. Both private therapists and community mental health organizations may offer sliding scale or low-cost services. Speaking with a potential counselor about your scheduling and budgeting needs can help them collaborate with you on a plan which will work for you. Thirdly, it can be helpful to consider what you want to find in a counselor. There may be particular traits or demographics which appeal to you - for example, some people feel more comfortable working with someone who shares their gender or their spiritual beliefs. Some people prefer a more laid-back approach, and others like to have more structure. Everyone has different tastes. On BetterHelp, each therapist has a profile page that will provide information about their background, experience, and approach. You can browse profiles here (https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/) and request to work with a therapist who sounds like they might be a good fit for you. If you are choosing a counselor elsewhere, many offer consultations or phone calls before you schedule so that you can talk about what you are looking for and get a feel for their approach before you schedule. It is always okay to give a therapist feedback if something isn't working for you, and if you're not clicking with them after a few sessions, it's also okay to try working with someone new. Thank you again for your question. I hope that you continue to seek support and I wish you very good luck. Warmly, Kate
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Tell me why the guy chose her over me never said he liked me hurt me bad and now I’m scared

Hello, Thank you for reaching out to Betterhelp. I am so sorry that you are going through this and are going through so much pain. It sounds like he really meant a lot to you, and it is awful when they do not feel the same way. It also sounds like you were not able to fully express how much you cared about him.  So what now? You might expect me to say that there are plenty of fish in the sea, which is true. But we also have to work on your skills as a fisherman. ;) What I would first have you focus on is self-love, self-compassion, and confidence. The truth is you are enough. Always have been. Our mistake is letting other people they have that power over us. They do not. We can either look at as him choosing another person over you OR he made a choice, unfortunate for him, because he missed out on an incredible person, YOU.  Let us get started on self-love. Some of us look at that word and cringe. Like, what does that even mean? It sounds cheesy because others have defined as so. But self-love is important. It means treating ourselves like how we want others to treat us (duh), but you would be surprised at how much we can get used to. But as long as we remember how bright our own lights shine, we won't even focus on the shadows.  Self-love starts with being honest and real with ourselves. It is taking a mirror and looking at the reflection of our soul. We have to understand who we are and things that we can improve.  Physical Changes: A lot of us neglect our physical selves. This can include eating junk food, not drinking enough water, low physical exercise, postponing that haircut, even indulging in a new lipstick. All of these are important because they boost us up. We expect significant others to do nice things for us because we would do the same for them. If this is not true for you,  please continue reading. Let me ask you this, so how can we expect something from others that we are not even doing for ourselves?  Girl, buy yourself flowers and chocolates because YOU CAN. You will get it right every time because YOU KNOW YOU. It hits different, trust. You would be surprised how many of us are not meeting our basic needs. We treat our bodies like crap without a second thought. We passively mistreat ourselves. That is not okay.  We do not prioritize drinking water. That doesn't sound too harmful, right? Well, have you ever seen a plant that has not been watered? They look so sad, they slouch, 0/10 confidence that is for sure! When you drink water, your body will thank you. No one else can do this for you. The exact same thing with eating. Have you ever gone to the movies and ate a whole bucket of popcorn? Have you been able to eat that same bucket of popcorn at any other setting? Why do you think that is? Because we are distracted with the movie. We are not consciously eating. We are somewhere else, in a different galaxy. This can be detrimental because we end up consuming more than we need to. It is like overfilling your gas tank with crappy fuel. How do you expect it to run? Think about long term? We are misinformed to think that we can run like a Prius.  So next time you are consuming a bag of chips, ask yourself, "Why am I eating this? Does it make me happy? Or does it help me escape?". I am not saying eating a bag of chips is bad by any means. I am saying that I want you to be conscious and MINDFUL. Savor it, enjoy it, be intentional.  Now for physical activities. We are accustomed to overworking and sitting our desks for hours on end. Yes, this means you are a hard worker. But your body also needs to move because it is also a hard worker. Our bodies are meant to be used. PLEASE USE IT. Go for a walk, do yoga, stretch, etc. This helps release those feel-good hormones. Who doesn't like to feel a natural high? Emotional Changes: The way we talk to ourselves is indicative of how we let others talk to us. We have that inner voice that can often be an inner critic. Be aware of this. Our inner critic is also developed from people in our lives who have been overly critical, negative, naggy, and all those not-so-fun things. I have had clients identify them as their parents, bullies, siblings, and ex. It is amazing who we let overstay their welcome in our heads.  If this, is you, I want you to close your eyes and imagine that person who is overstaying their welcome in your welcome. Now, you are going to kick them out. Go ahead, open the door, and ask them to leave. Now SHUT THAT DOOR.  Now I want to imagine someone in your life who has inspired you, motivated you, encouraged you. Someone who would come and help you whenever you need it. Do you have that person in mind? Good, now imagine them knocking on your door. Now open the door and let them in.  Remember, you have control over that door. That door represents boundaries. The same door can be used to let someone in and kick someone out. It is powerful. It is your power. See, I told you that you have always been enough.  I am a firm believer in energy. You feel it when you walk into a room, haven't you? You feel it when someone is off, sad, happy, angry all of the above. Every day, you carry energy. It is always your choice on where you will allocate it. Sometimes we waste it on others. You might be commuting to work, and someone cuts you off. You flip them off or you mutter a few words under your breath. That took energy. You can use that same energy and say, "Well that was shitty, but they probably have somewhere to go." Same energy, but you carry it differently.  Your energy can also be used by other people. I am sure you have heard the term "energy vampires" before? We have a lot of those people in our lives. It can be difficult when it is family, friends, co-workers, or even part of your job. What I encourage all of my clients learn are "assertive boundaries".  These are the "I-Statements" that allow you to use your power. You can say, "I appreciate you considering me, but I am going to decline" or "I see that you are upset but I am going to walk away so this does not escalate", or "I would appreciate assistance with this large project."  These "I-Statements" will be applied in your relationships. This is where you express your needs and communicate your emotions.  So this is just a snap shot of what your trusted mental health professional can help you work on. These are the things that will build that strong foundation for future relationships. So I hope that you continue the self-love, self-compassion, and always know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.       
Answered on 10/18/2021

Am I justified in feeling upset or should I be more ok with "having different opinions"

Hi Lili,    Thank you for reaching out to a BetterHelp therapist to question and explore feeling justified in being upset versus accepting having a differing of opinions with your partner.   This is a great question and one that I hope to approach both sides of the coin with you.    First, take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and opinions.  They are yours.  Because you are two different individuals with different thought processes and histories, it is likely that the two of you will not agree on everything, and that is healthy.  Where the problem can arise is how the difference in opinions is handled.    For the sake of avoiding conflict, you should not abandon your own thoughts and values and agree, but that will lead to sacrificing your own independent thoughts and values for the sake of "keeping the peace", and you will ultimately suffer.    Next, understand that having different opinions can be handled positively - if when you disagree.   You share getting very upset "because I have strong feelings."   As  I previously cautioned, you don't want to sacrifice your own thoughts and values to keep the peace, the same is true conversely.  It would not be healthy for your partner to abandon his own thoughts and opinions for fear that you will get upset.  Is there a harm in disagreeing, ie. having a difference of opinion and it not lead to being upset?    One thing may be helpful, and that is addressing the energy surrounding some of the words that are being used.  There are tools that can be used to work on the language and tone with your partner so that it does not come across as judgemental.   When a tone is harsh or the language used can feel attacked, it can shut down all communications which is not the goal either.  It may be worth a separate conversation to calmly address the instances that feel like character attacks.  Keeping an open line of communication with the reminder in mind that your partner is on your team, not against you, can help to keep this line of communication open.    Taking these steps to have open communication, without judgment, and mindfulness of tone can help to nurture your relationship and grow healthy conversations that don't have to end with each person standing their ground in their own corner.      
Answered on 10/18/2021

Don't know how to deal with the anxiety/guilt I have around my child with special needs

Hello Drea-   First, I want to say that I think you are not kind enough to self to begin with. It is not easy to be in the middle and feeling as if you have to pick between two loves (your husband or your son). I understand you feel guilty, but I truly believe this would be difficult for anyone to deal with. I'm sure you are doing the best you can right now! Supporting and engaging a child with special needs is not easy. There are a lot of complex emotions that come with that. Mourning the life you probably wanted for them. The fear of others treating them differently. There are times when you will have more patience, and others were you won't. Your husband may still be struggling on understanding (or accepting) your son's strengths and limitations. I would ask him, in public, is he concern with how others are viewing him or his family? He may also feel a level of neglect, as I am sure you view your son as defenseless and needing your help, often resulting in you tending to his needs.The best approach is to seek understanding between the two of you. Communicating our fears and desires to help you feel understood and supported. Allow yourself to open up about the difficulties it comes to managing your son's feelings, his feelings, and yours at the same time. I also think it is important to make time for your marriage. Marriage is hard work, period. Parenting is hard work, period. Parenting a child with special needs, is especially hard work, period! I think dedicating and making time for that relationship away from your son will help the two of you feel more connected. That's a lot to carry and feel responsible for. I can only imagine how exhausting that is emotionally for you. I think it may be beneficial for you to seek others who know what your going through. What are your emotional outlets? How do you get to express yourself when your husband may not understand or your friends don't fully understand? Would you feel comfortable joining a support group? This may help you realize what is going to be your new norm and how to accept it. There may also be wives to help you with suggestions on how they got their husband's to see things differently.  I have also attached an article I think that will help support you further.   https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/parents-support.html   Good luck to you and your family.   -Grace
Answered on 10/18/2021

How does therapy help a person if you basically talk about your problems most of the time?

Dear Isabella,   First of all, I am sorry for all your losses, as well as the spousal abuse. I like to explain how therapy can help you heal the past. I start with the grief and loss issues and proceed to spousal abuse and adoption. You say that you keep thinking about these issues all the time. The question is, “Are these repetitive thoughts healing you?”  If you don’t heal those wounds of loss, you will become drained of your love for life. Grief, if not promptly handled, can trigger depression. It is not advisable for you to self-isolate as a way to cope with pain. All grief is complicated. It involves the mourning of loved ones.  We are humans, and as such, we need each other to get through the things humans must get through.   Grief is a journey. It does not take place overnight. However, to grieve appropriately, a person must acknowledge that it is time to do the work. To get to the other side of grief, you will need to take a long journey through the various stages of grief: Shock and Denial Pain and Guilt Anger and Bargaining Depression Acceptance   If you take the initiative to find an avenue for grief counseling, there are guaranteed benefits you can gain, including: Getting immersed in feelings and emotions: Establishing continuing bonds with the lost persons through sharing memories and transforming pain to remembrance; Acceptance and making sense of grief experiences; Discovering the true meaning of a painful experience. When you face profound loss, a highly skilled and qualified practitioner can help navigate the way through overwhelming grief. It takes the pressure off family and friends having to listen to you. A good grief therapist gives you a safe outlet to share, vent, and process.  A therapist cannot bring your loved ones back or take away your pain, but he, or she, can guide you through the process, which is often murky, chaotic, and confusing. Having someone who is on your side and is clear-headed, as well as experienced at navigating these waters, is immensely beneficial. Your work is your willingness to begin the long journey, not think you can back out before reaching your goal of acceptance. If you stick it out, talk about your problems, and listen to what the therapist is saying, you should be able to reach the end of your journey. How long this takes is dependent on how you do the work. You mentioned that you were a victim of an abusive partner. Intimate partner violence may include emotional, sexual—physical, and financial abuse. Your partner possibly used any means to put you down or control you.   Warning Signs of abuse include a partner who: Attempts to cut you off from friends and family Is hugely jealous or upset if you spend time away from them Insults you, puts you down, says that you can never do anything right Tries to prevent you from attending work or school Tries to prevent you from making decisions for yourself Destroys your property, attempts to harm your pets or children. He tells you that you are worthless and that no one else could ever love you Controls your finances Maltreatment can cause you to feel isolated and distrusting other people. In addition, disturbing memories can have psychological consequences, such as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, trouble forming and maintaining relationships, drug dependency, addictions, anxiety, and the inability to see yourself as successful in any area. A therapist at Better Help can assist you with the areas of your life that are still impacted by your domestic abuse and create a safety plan.  The phone number of the national hotline for domestic violence is 1-800-749-safe(7233) And finally,  your preoccupation with the adoption. Was the adoption open or closed? Did Child Protective Services force the adoption, or was it voluntary? Whether by force or choice, giving a child up for adoption is a very traumatic experience, even if everything was well planned. You created and carried this child for nine months, and then potentially never seeing or hearing this baby that you devoted an entire nine months for as the sole protector and provider is very painful. You will always love this baby. Emotions will come, sometimes more than others; that is natural and normal. However, if these emotional moments are becoming more frequent and intense, it could be PTSD, The question is, what would you allow a therapist to do for you?  Being willing to receive help and act on it is critical.  I hope you have the courage to commit to treatment, healing, and thriving! Georgina Nunez, LCSW
Answered on 10/18/2021

Do you think its best to start therapy when certain things keep recurring?

Thank you for reaching out with this question. I know it can be very hard to take that first step to getting help and did you did a great job of being open in your question. There are several different factors that I would like to give you some feedback on here. I hope that you will be able to move from asking this question to reaching out for some therapy. Having someone to help you sort through these issues will make it much easier to over come them. I am going to try and go through the things you asked about and touch on each of them, though there may be connections in them that you unravel as you work with a therapist.  In regards to finishing your masters my first question would be are you sure what comes next? Sometimes if we are worried about the next steps it is tempting to stall finishing the current goals we are working on. My other thought here is that finishing a dissertation is hard work and may feel overwhelmed with everything else going on. Sometimes the key is being very gentle with ourselves and setting very small manageable goals to help us feel a sense of achievement. Completing a Masters is something very big and something to be very proud of.     I think there may be a link in all of this but is hard to tell without being  able to talk further. However, it sounds like your family has put a lot of pressure on you and asked you to really step into an exhausting care taking role. Childhood trauma is something that is hard to sort through but one you work with someone to process through what happened it can provide enormous relief and no longer have to dominate your life. While it is possible that you have OCD it is also possible that this is just the result of a lot of outside pressure and responsibility that was not fair of your family to put on you. Having some good conversations about healthy boundaries and how to set them with a difficult family would be a really healthy therapy session to engage in.    I would highly recommend that you talk to your GP about the nightly bladder control issues. While it is possible that this is linked to anxiety or mental health there is also a high likelihood that it is a physical issue that neeeds medical attention. I know conversations like that can feel very embarrassing but it is probably not as uncommon as you think so your doctor should be well equipped to have that discussion.    Lastly I will say that it sounds Iike you have a good relationship with your partner and that is wonderful. This is another place where I feel like there is a link between the issues with your family and the issues arising for you. It is possible that your brain is so used to high pressure relationships that it is distrustful of a healthy relationship even when the other parts of you know that it is healthy and something you want in your life.  I know there is a lot of information here and it may feel like there wasn't any completely clear answer, but I hope that it will give you some good starting points for working with a therapist to unpack some of these feelings. From reading your question it seems as if you are very aware and that is a huge benefit to being able to work through these feelings and achieve your therapy goals. Best of luck to you in the future. 
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I control my frustration and anger when I'm so tired and overwhelmed?

Little birds Mama, Please know that my heart goes out to you at this time. It is amazing that in the midst of this you even had the energy to ask this question, however, I believe in this action you took... lies in part both your strength and a message from your inner guide.  The Beatles once famously said... "we get by with a little help from our friends".  Many cultures and the pace of life often lead us to believe we "should" be able to handle all things ...all the time... all on our own.  It is amazing that you are still standing and even able to reach out for this help via the question with all that has happen and is happening. Finding pockets of community wherever they may be, that can provide a little hlep, support, validation.  Community resources that may include a therapist either through a platform such as this, BetterHelp, or through local resources. A case manager that could provide a helping hand for gathering home-based resources for you and your little one for child care support, meal prep, house cleaning, conversation, and connection to break the isolation and feeling of aloneness you are probably having to endure. .  It is a strength in you also that you have an awareness ...that you are mindful of some of the behaviors occurring in which you are clear to yourself that they do not move you toward the sort of person you want to evolve toward for example the yelling, etc as a result of the stress directed at your little one.  You are also having to deal with anticipatory grief related to your father and his terminal cancer diagnosis as well as the grief and loss over your husband leaving. Finding a way to cultivate self-compassion for yourself during extraordinary times will be very important. Developing an inner part of yourself that can help cultivate kindness toward yourself rather than self-judgment. The same kind of care you would give to a close friend or loved one , we must cultivate that same caring for ourselves. All this along with the stress and anxiety related to your childbirth that you indicated.   In the midst of this my hope for you is that you can see that you may be "stuck" with all this but nit "broken" and that there is more right with you than wrong with you and no matter what your situation is... no matter how painful and or overwhelming it may seem... they are workable. Developing self-caring, self-compassion and self-kindness for yourself are very critical at this time.  It is also my hope and encouragement for you to seek help from a mental health professional to provide support. My door is open to you if I can be of help.  May you find stability and balance in your life May you have peace and happiness May you have ease during this extraordinary time Warm regards Dave
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I remind myself to pause and calm down in the mid of an argument?

Hi Annie, and thank you for reaching out about your anger. I am sorry to hear its causing you so much distress and impacting your relationship with your loved ones as well. I can see that you want to work on your anger and are searching for some useful anger management skills. What can be helpful is to  understand why you feel angry. They say that anger is a secondary emotion, meaning often times, there are some feelings underneath the anger that we are not able to express because it can be uncomfortable...but anger is easier to express because we mostly know what anger looks like. Some examples of those feelings that can be harder to express are sadness, disappointment , jealousy,  fear, anxiety, etc. So, it may be helpful when you start to to notice yourself feeing angry, to try and step away if you can and really think about why you feel angry. You mentioned wishing you had a bell to remind you to stop and be calm, that shows that you are aware of how stepping away from the situation can help you to calm your feelings so that you don't act on anger. It can be hard to remove yourself from a situation in which you are angry, so maybe developing an anger management plan ahead of time with your anger triggers ( thinks that set off your anger), warning signs of your anger ( they can be physical- like sweaty palms, fast heart rate, clenching fists, or even emotional ) and ways you can cope like journaling, talking with a supportive person or even going for a cool down walk. There are a lot of great phone apps that have some templates for coping plans and also have general techniques like mindfulness and meditation that can help yu cope with your negative feelings, maybe instead of a bell, you could use an app when you are feeling those first signs of anger and utilizing the exercises as a way to deal with the anger. I think its a positive thing that you reach out with this concern about your anger and I hope I was able to provide you with helpful information. 
Answered on 10/18/2021

Why is it so hard to communicate my feelings to my significant other?

Dear Minnie,   Before I go on to talk about emotions – identifying, understanding, and expressing them – I would like to ask you to reflect a bit on your current relationship with your significant other. Since you are focusing specifically on the challenge you have expressing your feelings to them, I wonder if could be because, 1. This is the most significant relationship in your life right now and so resolving this issue is essential, and therefore a top priority; 2. Sometimes a partner in a romantic relationship will ask for/demand emotional transparency in a way that other people in your life do not; or 3. If you identify this as a pervasive problem in your life in other relationships besides this one.   The reason I am asking that is to get an idea of the context of your struggle. A brief review of how human beings develop emotionally:  We are all born essentially screaming. Newborns have one language, and that is crying. They have basic needs – to be fed, held, and comfortable. At that point, communication is super simple – the baby cries, the caregiver tries to figure out what the need is and fulfill it, and then the baby relaxes until the cycle starts all over again. As the months (and then the years) go by, communication becomes more complex. Small children learn the feelings that come with certain facial expressions. They learn that their own expressions elicit different reactions in other people. Then they learn words and are often told to “use their words” when they regress and express their needs like a baby or younger child.   How does emotion factor into this? Well, children start to learn about emotions by mirroring the emotions of their caregivers. Take the typical tantruming toddler, for example. That child is all emotion – maybe they are overtired, hungry, physically uncomfortable in some other way, or anxious; maybe they want something they can’t have. For a young toddler all of these emotions can blend together into a general feeling of “bad,” or “not right,” or “upset.” Starting off with only that vague idea, that child can learn a lot from how their caregiver responds. Of course, the concrete response should be to meet the need, if it is clear and reasonable – feed, comfort, soothe. If the child is asking for something that they desire but that is not good for them, then it is the emotion itself that the caregiver is responding to. The healthiest response communicates to the child that it is okay to have “big” feelings, to cry, to protest (but not to hit or kick, etc.)   If a caregiver does not understand that this is typical toddler behavior, they might get mad, and think, “This child is a brat; how dare they cause so much trouble!” Then they might scold the child. This response tells the child that feeling and expressing sadness and anger is not acceptable. What if the caregiver yells and “tantrums” back? That heightens the overall level of emotion. The adult has risen to the child’s level of agitation and intensity.   The most ideal response is to stay calm and be comforting. The child might still scream, but they see that it is possible to react to the intensity with calm. Eventually, the level of emotion will soften and fall to the level of a calmer person. The child learns something every time this happens. They feel wild, messy, unpredictable emotions, and are met with calm and compassion and eventually calm down themselves. The caregiver is teaching the child, by example, how to manage or regulate their emotions. The way that child handles strong emotions when they grow up will likely correlate closely with the most common way they have seen their caregivers respond in such situations.   As the child continues to grow, the adults in their life help them to develop an emotional vocabulary. For example, when a playmate abruptly grabs a toy away from them, they will likely feel some combination of sad, angry, startled, and afraid. They will likely experience this mixture of feelings as simply “bad,” or “upset.” It is their parent or caregiver’s job to observe the emotion and reflect, “I can tell you were sad when your friend took the toy away…” Or, “Are you feeling angry about that?” As interactions like this happen over and over again, children learn to interpret their own emotions more clearly.   Returning to your question, I’m curious if you have identified this as a problem for you before, and also about how emotions were handled in your family of origin. Every family has its own way of communicating, and that can range from extremely healthy to moderately healthy, to “we just don’t talk about things,” to indifferent, all the way to angry and toxic. I have worked with people who never saw themselves as having a problem with understanding or voicing their emotions. For the family, they grew up in and the friends they spent time with, their level of emotional insight and expressiveness always seemed just fine. Then they might partner with someone who highly values sharing feelings and talking everything out. The person can be kind of blindsided, feeling like a huge amount of detail is being demanded of them. Detail about a topic that had previously seemed simple to them.   We see this scenario often when couples come to therapy: One partner (often the woman in a heterosexual relationship, but not always) complains: “He (or she) never talks about feelings!” or “They don’t open up to me,” or “How are we supposed to have any emotional intimacy when they won’t talk?” The first partner might respond with confusion. They might say, “But we do talk. We talk all the time!” or ask, “What if I’m not feeling anything in particular, just okay? I don’t always have a good answer for that question.”   If this is the case with you and your significant other, if you feel bombarded by questions that demand more emotional detail than you find yourself actually feeling, it’s possible that a gentler approach from your partner could work better. You could agree to explore and discover more about your emotions through journaling, therapy, or reading. And they could agree to be patient. When the pressure is off, and small gains are respected, that extra space might allow you to you gradually get in touch with the subtle variations of what you are feeling.   Whether this condition is longstanding or more recent, I highly recommend that you pursue individual therapy, as the symptoms you describe could also be indicative of depression. Assessment and treatment are vital for your well-being if this is the case.   If however, you identify this as an issue that you have struggled with for most of your life, in other relationships and friendships, and if it really is a mystery to you how you are feeling and how other people are able to talk about it so easily, there is a condition called alexithymia. It is characterized by difficulty identifying and expressing emotions. If you think this might apply to you, therapy could help you explore this possibility. It can help you better understand and cope with your way of processing things. Including your significant other in some sessions could help increase their capacity to see the world through your eyes. If they can recognize that you are not hiding your feelings from them, not unwilling to share your deepest self in your relationship, that in itself can build mutual understanding and closeness.   Alexithymia is not an official mental health diagnosis, and there is no specific treatment recommended for it. However, therapy can help you increase your ability to tune into your emotions, even though they may be hard to access. One step toward this could be developing a greater awareness of your physical states, such as your heart rate and breathing. Every emotion has a physical feeling associated with it, but sometimes they are very subtle.   Thank you for reaching out to ask about this. I hope it has been helpful. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your individual makeup, the better equipped you will be to face life with positivity and intention.   I wish you the best,   Julie  
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How much is each therapy session and would these sessions take place virtually?

Hi Shez Thank you for reaching out. Each session typically lasts 45 mins. We meet virtually, video, phone, and or chat sessions these are in real-time. We can also communicate in messages, daily if you would wish. I like to start therapy sessions slow, I like to develop a therapeutic relationship, by getting to know and learning about what you have been through in your own time. That way you can feel that therapy is a safe place for you to talk about those bad experiences that have changed your life. I use the example that therapy is like your car. I am not going to drive this car for you, I am not going to stop, or start for you. What I am going to do is sit in the front seat with you. I am going to hold the road map, which is your goals and the things you want to accomplish, and support you through that. If you go off course, I am going to ask why and do you want to change things and we would adjust as you need to do so. I would want to talk about trust, how you feel trust should work. How trust is bulit for you and what you need in order to feel secure in trusting anyone.  We would talk about building your confidence and what that would look like. Its important to you to feel like you can be comfortable. Is the sensitivity related to everyone or family or? I think we start determining where these feelings have started? Then learn how to stay present in the moment and not be drawn back into the pain you feel on a regular basis. We start with something called  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, that we work to stop the feelings that beings these unhappy thoughts and then change the action.   The action of turning negative feelings into positive feelings.   Once we can change the negative feelings we can work on increasing that trust and building that confidence you need to feel love, feel happiness and not feel like you have to pretend to be happy when you are not.
(LCMHCS, CCS, MAC, ;, LCAS, CCMC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Do you work with an adult daughter and mother who are going through lots of trouble together?

Hello, Mother-Daughter relationships are so unique among each pairing and always carry a deep connection. There are many reasons why mothers and daughters can have anger so the first step of knowing how to heal this relationship is to know how it got to a state of anger and when. I believe the age of your daughter is also a key piece of information missing to know exactly how we could address the issue so I am going to list a few things here of whys and how to work with them to create healing and positive relationships. The number one reason I see struggles with mothers and daughters has to do with independence and autonomy. Depending on the age of your daughter or when the anger started it could have been in a time where she was looking for independence and autonomy and felt stunted by your relationship or role. It can be a challenging place for a mother as it is your goal and inherent form to want to protect her, guide her and ensure she makes healthy positive decisions. This is where a lot of conflict starts and if not healed can lead to long term confusion. Open lines of communication are key. Leaving a space for open, safe and non-judgmental conversation can help bring understanding how perhaps parent techniques didn't align with her needs of growth and seeing if understanding and maybe even apologies for the misconceptions can start towards a positive relationship  Values are another big reason. Do your values align? Is there something that makes it so you can't see eye to eye? Is there anyway to work around that? These would be a few questions to check in on and see if values align and if not how can they at the very least be respected so that it creates an environment of safety and understanding. I deeply believe that through further exploration of some of the missing information and what is currently causing stress among the relationship that we could find a way to create healing for the both of you. I would always advice that, if possible, you each have an individual counselor/therapist to work on things and then trying to come together to work on it as team. 
(LCSW, ACHP-SW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What do I do with bad days?

Thank you for your question. I am sorry that you're feeling sad and depressed sometimes. Feelings of sadness and depression are hard in general but with everything happening in the world today makes it seem especially hard. It’s important to first understand why we are feeling sad, depressed? Is it situational or is it chronic? If it's situational; a job loss, a relationship ending, struggles with finances. Whatever the situation is first we need to identify what thoughts we have about the situation. Are we seeing the situation correctly? Is what we're thinking about the situation true or could there be other possibilities? Are there other things happening in our lives that could be affecting the way we are thinking about the situation or that could be influencing the way were judging the situation? Our brains are powerful, learning how to think differently can help us overcome challenging situations in life.  Another choice we have is to connect with supportive friends or family. Isolation will only increase feelings of sadness and depression. Having time alone is good, but spending too much time alone can cause us to lose perspective and can become so overwhelmed when faced with a difficult situation we fall into depression. Lastly, we need to discover what things bring us joy. Sometimes just listening to uplifting music throughout the day, watching our favorite series on Netflix, or baking a pie help can help lift our spirits. We all have activities we enjoy and we need to know what those activities are and make sure to include them in our lives…especially on the bad days. When bad days are chronic and not situational we may need to consider scheduling an appointment with an experienced therapist who can help. Working with an experienced therapist, even for a short period of time, can produce amazing results. Life is too short to continually be trying to push through the bad days. There are many nonprofit centers that provide counseling services for free or at a discounted rate. Often times college students finishing a degree to become a therapist need to do internship hours and they will provide counseling for free.   
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to repair my relationship with my mum?

Hello A. Thank you for reaching out with your question. I find anyone willing to ask for help to be courageous, and I hope the feedback I provide is useful to you. I am sorry that you are experiencing this turmoil in your relationship with your mother and for the trauma you have gone through. I want to validate for you the fact that it must be extremely hard to deal with this pressure and the feeling of being unappreciated. I like to offer the perspective of you can only control yourself and how you respond to others. You cannot change your mom so there may have to be a decision you are faced with regarding what is the best way to respond to her while also taking care of you. I would like you to feel empowered to make the decisions you feel are in your best interest and remind yourself of your truth that you are not doing anything to hurt your family. It is never selfish to take care of yourself. So implementing boundaries may be necessary and having boundaries is a healthy way to live. You can always show your mom empathy with what she is dealing with and where she is financially. You could also support her by helping her figure out a way to better manage her money with a budget. However, it is ok for you to clarify that you are entitled to spend the money that you earn how you need and want to. When you speak to your mom try to use "I" statements about how you feel. Using "I" statements decrease the defensive feelings that arise during difficult conversations. Whereas "you" statements cause defensiveness and make a person feel attacked. In order to quiet the guilt you may be feeling, find other ways that can make you feel helpful to the family and your mother. Doing acts of service can be very fulfilling and rewarding. Remember, you cannot change your mother, you cannot control her, so she may still say things to guilt-trip you so find ways to create a limit when that happens. An example of how you could respond to her is, "I love you mom, I want and try to be helpful in my own ways but I also need to take care of myself and I cannot continue to be made to feel guilty for doing that." In addition, you may want to talk to someone regularly to help you through some of that trauma you referred to in your question. I hope you are able to find and use your voice in an empowered way with your family. I hope that your mom is able to see your love and care beyond financial support with some of these strategies. I wish you the best!  
(MSW, LICSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I deal with sexual guilt?

You raise a great question. What is guilt in your mind? What is your experience of it? Questions to ask...Are my decisions to have sex consistent with my values and life priorities? Is sex a choice or a need? What is the function of sex in your life? When you answer these questions with curiosity, not judgment, you will have a better grasp of the issue as it relates to you. As you process, this question remember you are a woman of value!  What is guilt? Wikipedia says it is feeling responsible or regretful for a perceived offense, real or imaginary. Can be part of the grief reaction. Usually is experienced if your actions are not consistent with your personal values. COMMON CAUSES Guilt can be normal and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living. Otherwise, it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Once you grasp the meaning of guilt you can answer the other questions and determine is sex as you experience it,  a choice or a need. Let's explore the need as a form of avoidance of other issues or of control. Many men and women who suffer from sexual trauma commit to never being in a situation they they are not in control. Is this you? Does the belief you need to be in control feel true to you?  Is your sexual expression a need? An obsession with sexual thoughts, urges, or behaviors that may cause distress or that negatively affects health, job, or relationships. This is a form of dependence and is a function of something else and a form of bondage.  What is the function of your sexual expression? Adventure....... anxiety reduction........control?  Each of your answers indicates of different course of action. I encourage you to talk to a counselor to address your responses unless the function of your sexal expression is adventure........ then as long as you are taking precautions enjoy and realize you are not doing anything wrong. You can work on changing your beliefs that create the feelinbgs of guilt.  You matter and how you value yourself and the live you live,  is the greatest priority in maximizing your potential.  In each action you take and decision you make, once you make a decision the decision makes you. This is why you have to follow the values you desire to live by. Sex can be an integral part of a meaningful relationship or more for fun or sport. What does it mean to you? What is it's function? Adventure? Avoidance? 
(LISW, LCSW, LICDC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I be a good wife to my husband who struggles with OCD?

Dear Suzanne, I am sorry to hear of your family's struggles. OCD can be a very challenging disorder to navigate without ongoing counseling and medical support. I think there are a lot of ways you can help your husband get help but trying to diffuse his anxiety will only create more codependency in the relationship dynamic. I would suggest working with a couple's therapist and getting your own therapeutic support so you can begin to work on NOT giving him the assurances he is asking for. This creates an unhealthy dynamic in the relationship where you are managing his anxiety for him instead of him taking responsibility for his own healing and rehabilitation process. If your husband is struggling with anger management issues this is also not surprising given that is one way that individuals work through anxiety and depression as this can manifest in their relationships in the form of anger. It is important that you are not a target of his anger and that you do not engage when and if he has explosions. A lot of ways you can help your husband manage his OCD is by not engaging with him in ways in which you are feeling responsibility towards making him feel better. When the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same, we change. It typically has to get worse, before it gets better. I would encourage you to get your own therapeutic support and work specifically on setting healthy boundaries and self-care during this time. However, helping your husband diffuse his anxiety is not your job, to begin with: It is his job and the more you try to help him, the more it can backfire AND the less likely he will be to get outside medical and therapeutic help which is what a person with OCD needs. I realize this might be very difficult to read but reaching out for help is the first step towards living your best life. The best thing you can do for your husband is put your mask on first and get help for yourself. I wish you the very best in working towards these goals! Take good care. 
(MA, LCMFT, #855)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Hello, I am waiting to get matched with a counselor. I was originally matched with one, but he was l

Hello, Thank you for reaching out.  I am sorry to hear you have been waiting for a while to get matched to a therapist and just when you thought you were about to connect, you were advised otherwise.  I can imagine how frustrating that was for you, especially when it seems that you are highly motivated to get started working on a better you.  Unfortunately, you have reached out to the wrong place.  Please try contacting member services at this email address: contact@betterhelp.com.  Someone should be able to assist you promptly. Hopefully you will connect with a therapist soon.  In the meantime, I have provided you with some information below regarding what psychotherapy is.  Psychotherapy is a process that many believe is shrouded in mystery, but it doesn't have to be that way. Therapists are normal people who usually chose their profession because they care about other people, they're good listeners, and they want to help. What does a therapist actually do, and how can they help me? · Therapists act as a neutral party who can listen and try to understand without judgment. · Therapists help you learn about yourself by pointing out patterns and giving honest feedback. · Therapists teach specific techniques and strategies to deal with problems. · Therapists can refer you to additional resources in the community that might be helpful. · Therapists provide a safe place to learn and practice social skills. Types of Psychotherapy There are many approaches to psychotherapy, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some situations call for a specific type of treatment, but sometimes it's just about preference. Here are a few of the most common approaches to psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and well-supported treatment for many types of mental illness. The theory is based on the idea that a person's thoughts influence their feelings, which the individual can learn to control. Psychoanalysis The traditional image of a bushy-bearded psychotherapist with a couch and a notebook is based on early psychoanalysis. Although this form of treatment has become less popular, it can still be found. Psychoanalysis focuses on childhood experiences and unconscious drives. Motivational Interviewing Although typically used for the treatment of addictions, motivational interviewing is an intervention that can be used to help any person who wants to make changes in their life. When it comes to addiction, motivational interviewing has some of the best support. Person-Centered Therapy A person-centered therapist will focus on building a strong positive relationship with their client while providing an empathetic ear. The therapist will help their client find areas where their ideal self and actual self differ, and then encouraging change or acceptance. Individual Therapy: One client meets with one therapist for traditional talk therapy. Group Therapy: Clients meet in a group with a therapist leader. Clients usually share a similar problem. Family and Couples Therapy: Clients will meet as a couple or a family with a therapist. These therapists may have special training, but it is not always required.Who can provide psychotherapy? The answer to this question varies by region, but in most places psychotherapists must have at least a master's degree from an approved program. After receiving a degree, the therapist must practice for several years under the guidance of a supervisor before becoming licensed. Mental Health Counselors The label "mental health counselor" is usually applied to a person who has received a master's degree from an approved university and is licensed to provide psychotherapy. Titles vary by region, but they are usually denoted by acronyms such as LMHC or LPC. Psychologists The term "psychologist" typically refers to a person who has completed a doctoral degree in the field of psychology. They may or may not also be licensed as a psychotherapist. Psychologists often perform additional services such as psychological testing. Psychiatrists Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication for the treatment of mental illness. In some cases, psychiatrists also perform psychotherapy, but they generally refer their patients to other providers for these needs. Social Workers In most regions, licensed social workers possess a master's degree and training to provide psychotherapy and other services. Social workers have additional training in areas such as case management (linking clients with other agencies and programs). What are the limitations of psychotherapy? · Therapists should not tell you what to do or try to direct your life. Think of the proverb: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life." Therapists will help you learn to solve your own problems, rather than solving them for you. · Some mental illness cannot be managed by psychotherapy alone. If medication is recommended, it's probably important. · Benefiting from psychotherapy does require work on your part. Speaking to a therapist for an hour a week, and then pushing it out of your mind, probably won't do you any good. Complete homework, practice your skills, and legitimately try the recommendations you are given. · Therapists cannot be your friend after starting a therapeutic relationship. Therapists generally like their clients, and would love to get to know them better, but ethical rules prevent the formation of relationships outside of treatment. It isn't you, it's just that the therapist could lose their license! · Therapists cannot read your mind. If you hide information, or are dishonest, you're wasting your own time and money. Best wishes to you.
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I tell my husband what I’ve done and how do I deal with my overwhelming emotions?

Hi!  Thank you for reaching out and giving a detailed account of what's currently going on for you.  It sounds like you have been going through a lot and need an outlet to process all of your complex emotions you're experiencing.   I think the first place to focus on is starting to unpack those emotions you're feeling around shame, guilt, self-loathing, loneliness, anger and emptiness.  And what I mean by that is how can you separate the best you can, the feelings around the loss of friendship from that around navigating your feelings as it pertains to your husband.  A question to ask yourself is - how are you coping with all of this?  Do you find that the ways you cope are more positive or negative?  Your statement around having no clue in how to come to terms with what a horrible person you are is a heavy thing to say.  It appears that your actions are a cumulation of many factors, ultimately leading you in trying to get your needs met.  As much as our brain wants to label our actions as either all good or all bad, there is so much grey area for us to sift through.  I know it's hard to hear right now, but you were not in this alone and by putting all the blame on yourself for causing your friend and her family pain will just continue to eat away at you.  We are all human and we sometimes make ill-advised decisions, but that also doesn't soley define who we are.  That doesn't make us less worthy of feeling loved or getting our needs met.   I do understand that having the conversation with your husband is top of mind and can be very scary since there is no way of knowing how he will react or what the outcome will be, especially since it does sound like your husband has issues with expressing his anger.  In knowing this, one of the things to think about is how you want to deliver your message.  I know it will be one of the most challenging conversations to have, but I also hear how much this is eating at you.  Some things to think about - How can you set the stage for the most optimal response?  Would he be open to couples counseling and having an impartial ear guide the conversation?  In knowing that he sometimes breaks things in anger, maybe also having a safety plan of calling 911 if things get out of hand and you feel in danger.  I know you don't want to think about that, but we want to make sure that you remain safe (while this is the worst case scenario, I do think it's important to discuss).  Ultimately, you are grieving the loss of your friends as well as the potential loss of your marriage and I think the question to keep going back to is this - how can you forgive yourself?  Finding forgiveness within yourself will be the first step in this healing journey for you. 
(LMHC, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I stop constantly feeling guilty as a parent?

Hello Norah,   Thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear that you have been feeling guilt, depression, and anxiety. Feeling this way can lead to feeling like a failure when it comes to parenting. Moms especially experience a lot of guilt because they constantly believe they should be doing more or working harder. The fact that you are here asking for help tells me that you are a good mom that cares.   It’s important to acknowledge that you have things that get in the way of you doing more with your child, like not having the space and also that you are depressed and anxious. Lack of space can make things tough for you since you don’t have the room to be more physical with him limiting you to being indoors only. Maybe going out right now is also hard because of safety and wanting to stay healthy, so this adds to the feeling of not being able to get out. I encourage you to find activities and things you can do with your child indoors. There are some activities that require planning, but others can be easy create and do. It will take time to look through the various activities so that you can see which ones are easy for you to set up and that your child will enjoy.   This step can be hard if you are depressed and anxious because motivation typically goes down when you feel this way. It will be important for you to work with a professional that can help you develop skills to help you cope with depression and anxiety. In addition, a professional can help you understand why depression and anxiety affect you so that you can start taking steps that will help you feel better and decrease problematic symptoms.   You may create the feeling of failure by talking to yourself in a negative way and putting yourself down for not doing more with your son. This will lead to feeling guilt which does not feel good and keeps from doing things that will be helpful. You stated that he is being taken care of and gets his needs met, so it is important to remind yourself of this and to tell yourself that you are doing your best. When you start to think negatively and you feel bad, interrupt those thoughts by saying to yourself, “I am doing my best in spite of how I am feeling/doing.” Avoid giving to much attention to the negative thoughts that create guilt and other negative feelings. Take time to consider what you need to help you with your son. Do you need support with him? Can he attend a day care? Can others help with his care? Parenting is hard, so don’t shy away from identifying the things that can help you parent your child and that are within your reach.   Below are a couple of sites I want to share with you that give you ideas of activities you can do indoors. The first one has a long list of various activities that are easy to set up. The second link is more about physical activities that can be done indoors. You can find more ideas by going online and searching for indoor toddler activities.   https://www.rookiemoms.com/things-to-do-with-toddlers-before-they-turn-two/   https://www.verywellfamily.com/toddler-activities-4013770
Answered on 10/18/2021