No. I’m not secretly pregnant. Several months ago I got a call from a casting company asking if I’d be willing to do some pro bono therapy with a woman in Salt Lake for a women’s health documentary show about women who are hiding their pregnancies. I agreed and the next day a producer, crew, and new client “Jen” came to Wasatch Family Therapy to film the first of 2 sessions for the show. Would you let a camera crew sit in on your therapy session? Surprisingly, after a while I forgot they were even there and was really able to connect with and help “Jen”.
Here’s a little clip from behind the scenes.
Here’s more about the show:
Each episode of â€œSecretly Pregnantâ€ follows the experiences of two women who, for various reasons, have hidden their pregnancies from their family, friends, boyfriends and/or bosses, and follows them through the emotional reveal of their secret and the aftermath that includes the birth of the baby.
Local therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW and Salt Lake City resident “Jen” will be appearing on the November 3 episode of Discovery Fit & Healthâ€™s new series â€œSecretly Pregnant.â€ As part of the episode Hanks will be providing therapy, with the cameras rolling, for Jen who is hiding her pregnancy due to fears that stem from the traumatic stillbirth of a previous pregnancy.
I wanted to do the same thing for Facebook Business pages to help you connect to other like-mined therapists to share resources, ideas, practice building tools, and referrals. Only licensed mental health therapists will be listed.
Here’s what you need to do to join the Facebook List…
Post a comment below and include the following information:
Facebook page name &Â page link (Facebook business page, not personal profile)
your name & credential
your city & state
As the comments come in Iâ€™ll post comments and paste your info in the body of this post below to make it easy to click through and “like” the Facebook pages listed.Â I look forward to connecting with you. Feel free to forward to colleagues. Read more
KSL’s Brooke Walker asked me to weigh in on the recent proposal from the Institute for American Values suggesting to lawmakers a mandatory divorce waiting period. In my clinical work with couples I’ve found that couples often seriously consider or file for divorce because they have lost hope of reconnecting with their spouse and think that they’ve exhausted all resources. I frequently suggest slowing down the divorce process by reminding couples, “You can get divorced next month, in 3 months, or in a year. What’s the rush?”
Luckily, marriage counselors have more tools than ever before to help couples understand the root of their emotional disconnection and to repair relationships, if they are willing. Dr. Susan Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, the model we use here at Wasatch Family Therapy, has had tremendous success repairing severely distressed relationships.
Learn more about this proposed wait period and here a few of my thoughts on the topic…
In her book, Dr. Orloff identified these 5 signs that you’ve encountered an emotional vampire:
1) Your eyelids are heavy and you’re ready for a nap
2) Your mood takes a nosedive
3) You want to binge on carbs or comfort foods
4) You feel anxious, depressed, or negative
5) You feel put down, sniped at, or “slimed”
#1 The Narcissist
Has “Me first” attitude
Has limited capacity for empathy
Becomes cold, withholding, or punishing when they don’t get their way
Kurt Bestor: “I have a friend who I have given the secret name “The Consumer” because, while he is my friend, he consumes my time, my creative energy, and sometimes – patience. Everything always seems to slant his way and he’s usually asking for me to do something for him, which takes my time, my money, and my energy. The “give and take” necessary for a true friendship is lacking which is why I never seem to pick up the phone when he calls. The biggest problem – he has no clue that he acts this way.”
How to Protect Yourself
Keep your expectations realistic and don’t expect reciprocity
Don’t depend on their approval for your self-worth
Lead with how they will benefit from something
#2 The Victim
Has a “poor me” attitude
Blames everyone and everything else for misery
When you offer advice they respond “yes, butâ€¦”
Amanda: “I have someone in my life who is almost constantly complaining about something…but is too codependent to move on, accept what they can change and change it—they just try to convince you to feel sorry for them.”
How to Protect Yourself
Don’t take on their baggage
Set kind yet firm limits in conversation length and topic
Reinforce your limits with body language and action
#3 The Controller
Tells you how to feel and behave
Invalidates your feelings
Leaves you feeling “less than”
Anonymous: “I was given a church music assignment where I had someone over me that tried to control every detail even to the point of telling me where I should stand, what songs to teach, and what visual aids to use. It seemed like so many silly details, but it literally killed me & my spirit to be that controlled over something that initially inspired creativity.”
How to Protect Yourself
Confidently assert yourself
Focus on important issues
Don’t try to tell them what to do
#4 The Splitter
Views you as either “all good” or “all bad”
Feeds off of anger
Pits people against each other
Anonymous: “I have a family member who suffers from many, many problems. Unfortunately, most people in the family have had to cut her off because she is so caustic. I came to a point in which I felt I had to make a decision between my family member and my sanity – I needed to have enough energy for my own husband and children. Is it ever ok to cut off a family member?”
How to Protect Yourself
Remain emotionally neutral
Set limits and stick to them
Avoid taking sides
TV interviews are a great way to educate about relationship and mental health topics and to raise visibility for your private practice. Over the past few years, I’ve actively sought out interview opportunities and have found that over time, they have bolstered my credibility, fostered trust in my knowledge and clinical skills, and raised visibility of my private practice.
Thanks to social media, TV interviews can reach beyond the viewership of the live broadcast to a larger audience. One example is this short, live interview for a local Utah TV lifestyle program.Â “How To Handle A Narcissistic Mother” has had over 9000 views on YouTube (and yes, I’m still working on not saying ,”um”). Read more
Many therapists have ugly offices. Does your therapy office reflect your personality, practice specialty, and appeal to your ideal client? Here’s one creative solution.
During a private practice consultation meeting a few weeks ago psychologist Kimberly Sieber, PhD expressed excitement about securing a large office space at an amazingly low rent for her private practice Good Medicine Healing Community. New to private practice she was concerned about the costs of furnishing such a big space. We estimated a budget and listed the basic furnishings she’d need to start seeing clients: a couch, chair and desk for one office, and a few chairs for the large waiting room.
She turned to me with a worried look and asked, “But what about the walls? They’re blank and white and ugly!”
Q: No matter what Iâ€™m doing, or which role Iâ€™m fulfilling, I feel like a fake.
This includes my low-stress job, friendships, even parenting.Â I feel that I donâ€™t belong and itâ€™s only a matter of time before others find out, which scares me. I believe that this has been going on for several years, but I only recently became aware of it. I know that I felt this way the entire time I was in college, but I thought that it was because I hated my major. I donâ€™t feel like my child is really mine, even though I remember giving birth to her. Iâ€™m afraid that if I talk to anyone about this that they will take her away.Â Iâ€™m currently being treated for depression, but I feel like Iâ€™m going to explode trying to bottle everything up. What is going on?
A: Thanks for writing in for help. I imagine itâ€™s incredibly painful, confusing, and frightening to wonder ifÂ youâ€™ll be exposed as a fake.
There is a name for the experience youâ€™re describing â€” â€œimposter syndromeâ€ or â€œimposter phenomenon.â€ While imposter syndrome isnâ€™t an official mental health diagnosis it has been studied and written about by many psychologists. Itâ€™s the inability to â€œdigestâ€ and internalize your own life and accomplishments. Several famous individuals, like Jodie Foster, have expressed similar experiences of feeling like they donâ€™t belong,Â they donâ€™t deserve the life they have, and that they will be exposed as a fraud. The imposter syndrome is also commonly experienced by many graduate students. It is a stressful way of feeling about your life and may be connected to or contributing to your depression.
You mentioned that youâ€™re currently being treated for depression. Iâ€™m unclear as to whether that means youâ€™re taking medication or youâ€™re in therapy. If youâ€™re not in therapy, please look into individual and group therapy, in particular. I think it would be very helpful to hear that other people experience similar feelings. You may enjoy reading this PsychCentral article Feeling like a fraud, and the book â€œHow To Feel As Bright And Capable As Everyone Else Thinks You Areâ€ by Dr. Valerie Young available at her website ImposterSyndrome.com. Thanks again for writing in and best to you on the road to accepting that this is your life, youâ€™ve created it, and you deserve it.
Allowing another person to “step in your shoes” means letting them know what is really going on in your life. Studio 5 Contributor and Therapist, Julie Hanks, says that’s a risk many of us are simply not willing to take. Find out how to break through false fronts and let people in.
Level 1 – Doing (hands)
Talking about action and external facts and events, like “What did you do today?” “I went to the store.”
Level 2 – Thinking (head)
Conversations focused on thoughts and opinions, such as “I think that you’re a great mother” or “In my opinion, the only solution to the economy is…”
Level 3 – Feeling (heart)
Sharing emotional experiences, like “I feel scared that I might lose my job” or “I felt so loved when you brought me dinner last week.”
Level 4 – Being (core/gut)
Sharing a deep, emotional connection with another person at the same time. This is when you feel “felt” – you know that the other person “gets” you. This type of communication is honest and genuine, deep, meaningful, and rare.
What prevents us from letting others walk in our shoes?
1) Fear of being hurt
“What if I open up my heart and they don’t care, they leave me, they don’t “get it”, or they don’t comfort me?” After being hurt in the past, we learn to protect from being hurt again, but that also keeps us from being close to others.
Solution: Decide to risk anyway
If it’s hard for you to let others “walk in your shoes” you have to make a conscious decision to take a risk to let others into on a deeper level. Honest self-disclosure is associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction. When you share deeper experiences and emotions it invites others to share their heart with you. This invites intimacy. We all want to be known and loved. Intimacy = into me see
2) Worry what others will think
“I don’t want to appear weak. If I share vulnerability with someone, they may think I don’t have it all together.” We live in a culture that values strength and sharing emotional vulnerability may be perceived as weakness. But is it? I truly believe that the developing the ability and willingness to share emotional vulnerability is one of the most important relationship strengths we can develop. It is the key to fulfilling relationships.
Solution: Accept that you don’t have it all together
Everyone is weak AND strong. We need to lean on each other. When I get caught in the trap of wondering what others will think I rehearse this quote in my mind, “It’s none of my business what others think of me.”
3) Don’t want to burden others
“People have their own struggles. Why would they want to hear about mine? Do they really care anyway?” You may be aware of the burdens of your loved ones and want to protect them from additional stress.
Solution: Share, don’t dump
Sharing is opening up your heavy backpack and letting someone else see and feel the contents. Dumping is sharing the contents of your backpack and then trying to get the other person to carry your backpack for you.
4) I don’t know how
“That’s just not what I do. I wouldn’t know where to start to let some one really know me.” From birth we are born to emotionally connect with each other, so you do know how to be emotionally vulnerable on some level. As you developed you may have had experiences that taught you to guard your tender feelings. Some families are better at fostering deeper sharing of emotions than others. If you’ve never been in a relationship where you’ve been able to be yourself, it may be time to open up, just a little bit at a time.
Solution: Start small
Ask yourself, “What level am I sharing from?” and then see if you can move one level down. This is the crux of what I help clients with in therapy — to identify their internal experience and to share it in a meaningful way with loved ones.
I recently blogged about ways to use Twitter to build your private practice, and encouraged you to tweet your elevator speech/basic practice message in 140 characters or less. Those posts got me wondering, “How many therapists in private practice are actively using Twitter?”
So, I’m taking a roll call to help you use Twitter to connect with other like-minded therapists around the world to share ideas, resources, and referrals. Only licensed mental health therapists will be listed.
Here’s what I’d like you to do…
Post a comment below and include:
twitter handle & link
your city and state
As the comments come in I’ll post comments and paste your info in the body of this post below.
Pregnancy is a time of change, and living in a culture obsessed with appearance and thinness, many women struggle with fears surrounding body changes that accompany pregnancy. I recently interviewed with Parents.com to share my thoughts on this topic…
“Women need to develop a willingness to view bodily changes as part of the journey of motherhood, instead of something to be feared,” says Julie Hanks, a psychotherapist, and owner and director of Wasatch Family Therapy in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. “It’s crucial to have a healthy view of your body during and after pregnancy.”