Text-a-Therapist: Psychotherapy in the Digital Age

By Sally McGregor, MC, NCC, LPCC

COPAGS Programming Chair

 

Online therapy is not just a fleeting fad, but rather a paradigm shift in our profession, and it should be treated as such. Life is increasingly automated, and numerous services and transactions exist entirely online. The same is true of psychotherapy. Some consumers are determining that it is more practical to utilize our services from the privacy and comfort of their living rooms. Rather than resist this change, perhaps we should embrace it.

Did I just call therapy patients “consumers”? Let me explain. I am extremely uncomfortable with regarding clients as consumers in the context of the actual therapy. Words are important, and we should watch how we use them. We stop doing our job the minute we begin to relate to our clients more as paying customers than as people seeking an overall more satisfying and meaningful life. However, as professionals seeking to provide a service, we also need to consider that our clients are demanding that we become more tech savvy, in some of the same ways that non-medical service providers are. On a macro level, considering our patients as consumers allows us to think about how to make psychotherapy accessible to as many people as possible. Truthfully, I also think resistance to change is futile. In any profession, if you do not adapt to the demands of a changing world, and modernize as the technology does, you are bound to be left behind. So, it is time to take this whole distance therapy phenomenon a lot more seriously.

Telepsychology is the umbrella term for any interaction with a psychologist through a website, phone, or mobile app. It can be attractive to people who otherwise may not interested or able to attend in-person appointments. For example, people who are housebound with mobility issues can find virtual therapy extremely useful. That being said, the use of technology places a pretty tangible barrier between the client and their psychologist. For relational therapies, which place an emphasis on the interpersonal, moment-to-moment process as a healing factor, I can understand the trepidation on the part of professionals. How much do we lose when the complexity of human connection is reduced to an exchange of text messages? Ideally, you would be able to use a HIPPA compliant video conferencing app to avoid sacrificing face-to-face contact, and a real-time conversation. But, even then, technology can still feel like a barrier.

On the other hand, it is interesting to consider whether treatment entirely via text message could be therapeutic. More than one of my clients (particularly my adolescent clients) spend a portion of their session with me reviewing text message exchanges they have had with their romantic interests and friends. This is clearly an opportunity for them to illuminate and process the interpersonal issues they are experiencing. I realized the amount of emotional investment they place in these forms of communication. Entire arguments are initiated and resolved via iMessages. If text messages are one of the most significant and meaningful ways in which they communicate with other people, who is to say text-therapy cannot be beneficial as well?

I do not want to end this blog post without acknowledging that there are important issues with online therapy, and that this post is a very small part of a much larger conversation. At this juncture, it can be difficult to secure insurance coverage for such services. Technology frequently fails to work correctly and concerns about confidentiality are an entirely new beast when your communication is over the internet. Most importantly, considering how you will respond to a crisis situation becomes very important when your client has never stepped foot into your office, in real life. However, for those clients who live in remote areas, or who otherwise experience barriers to attending therapy in person, we have an obligation as professionals to consider the options. When our clients have transformed how they communicate with others, why should we be so determined to sticking to our old forms of communication?

 

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COPAGS Board Elections

Are you interested in shaping the future of the Colorado Psychological Association of Graduate Students (COPAGS)? Several of our board seats are open and interested psychology doctoral students in the State of Colorado are invited to apply. Involvement in COPAGS is a great chance to gain leadership experience, network and collaborate with psychologists in our state who are members of the Colorado Psychological Association (CPA), and represent the interests of fellow graduate students in our field.

The open positions are Chair-Elect and Advocacy Chair. Position Descriptions:

  • Chair-Elect – organize and document meetings, act as contact for CPA student members, support activities of other board members and the Chair, act as back-up to attend bi-monthly CPA meetings. This role has a 3-year commitment (Chair-Elect in year 1, Chair in year 2, Past-Chair support resource in year 3). In the first year, responsibilities will include solely COPAGS tasks (i.e., planning board meetings, being the main contact person for student members) to allow time to understand what is needed to run the student executive board, as well as to familiarize themselves with the various roles and expectations for CPA. In the second year, this person will be the Chair and will be an active board member for the Colorado Psychological Association, including a vote on each initiative that the board will address when the CPA executive board meets (every other month). The last year you will serve as a mentor for the current Chair.

 

  • Advocacy Chair – responsible for leadership projects geared towards advocating for Colorado graduate students and/or disenfranchised groups. Activities of prior advocacy chairs have included: facilitating an event about refugee mental health, publicizing and participating in a social media town hall to connect graduate students with a senator supporting mental health reform, and connecting COPAGS members with CPA Psychologists to increase COPAGS’ presence within CPA. The scope of the Advocacy Chair position is in no way limited to the activities of previous Advocacy Chairs, and the new Advocacy Chair can make their responsibilities as narrow or broad as they wish. All that we ask is that the new Advocacy Chair be passionate about giving a voice to individuals who may not have the power to speak for themselves, and about building and nurturing an empowered community of Colorado graduate students.

The application deadline is Sunday, June 10. Please email your resume / CV and a brief cover letter in one PDF document to the incoming COPAGS Chair, Kait Ross, at kaitlin.ross@du.edu. Please describe your interest in the organization and position, as well as what you hope to accomplish as a board member. COPAGS board members must be a member of the Colorado Psychological Association to be on our board. The new term starts on July 1. Please contact Kait if you’d like to learn more about these roles!

CPA Website: https://www.coloradopsych.org/

What is Your Responsibility and What is Not?

By Christy Jersin Woods, Academic/Research Chair

 

In my program we get the privilege of supervising masters and doctoral students for a supervision practicum course. This semester, I was assigned to a couples and family practicum supervising masters-level therapists in their second practicum. My supervision is always triadic, as our couples and family practicum practices with cotherapy teams, meaning our clients see two counselors at once. In an effort to honor the systems at work, I have two supervisee teams that I meet with for triadic supervision on a weekly basis. Given that I am in my first supervision practicum, I also make an effort to meet with each of my supervisees individually to understand how their supervision experience has been and ways I can improve as a supervisor.

Recently, I met with a supervisee in which her burning question was, “How do I balance sticking with the emotion of the family while also giving the family advice on how to fix their problem?” I was struck by her question. Surely, I’ve had that question before, and surely, I’ve had a client who just begged me to fix it. I remember clearly a client who flat out asked me, “What do I do?” and in that moment I felt compelled to fix it. I wanted to fix my client.

And that’s not all I wanted to fix.

I wanted to fix my friend’s rocky relationship with her longtime partner. I wanted to fix the way my parents related to my brother who is on the autism spectrum. I wanted to fix my mentee’s home life. I wanted to fix my partner’s anxiety and depression. I wanted to fix everything. And then at some point, one by one, I realized I couldn’t fix anyone. I could be the best friend, the best daughter, the best mentor, and the best partner and no matter my efforts, I couldn’t fix anyone. I simply couldn’t do it.

So when my supervisee asked me how to balance between letting the family sit in their despair and giving them advice on how they could fix their “problem” I asked myself, is this my supervisee’s responsibility? What is her role as a therapist? Is it to manufacture a solution to whatever her client’s problem may be? So I turned it back on her and I asked, “What is your role as someone’s therapist?” and after some debate she came up with many roles none of which included being a client’s problem solver.

And then it hit me.

It is not our responsibility to fix our clients. Just like it is not our responsibility to fix our friends, or our parents, or our mentees, or our partners.

Our responsibility is to ourselves. To build our own awareness, to address our biases, to be reflective and responsive to our clients.

We may guide our clients to the mirror, but it is up to them to look.

So let them look.

 

Self-Compassion Continued…

by Kait Ross

 

This is a follow-up on the topic of Self-Compassion, which Elizabeth Shum addressed in a 2017 post. Really, it’s a rallying call for increased self-compassion in psychology graduate students.

Self-compassion is defined as self-kindness (rather than self-judgment), mindfulness (instead of rumination), and common humanity (instead of isolation; Neff, 2003). Self-compassion has been associated with improved well-being, including lower levels of anxiety, depression, rumination, shame, and stress and higher levels of happiness, curiosity, optimism, life satisfaction, gratitude, and social connectedness.

Like our clients, we are each on a journey with ourselves. Improvement in our relationship to ourselves can have an important impact of the quality of our current lives, our relationships, and our future well-being. You may find yourself talking with clients about self-compassion and helping them to increase this. How are you doing though? Are you finding ways to care for yourself as you endeavor to help others? One study reported that 25-41% of therapist trainees experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and work adjustment (Boellinghaus, Jones & Hutton, 2013). Clearly, many of us could use some support and new skills to help us manage the difficulties of life as a psychology graduate student.

A leading researcher in self-compassion, Kristin Neff, has a website full of useful resources and meditations that are free for you to access. Please find it here: http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/. You can also brainstorm your own strategies for increasing self-compassion in the realms of physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual well-being. What are you already doing in these areas? What might you add to your life to enhance self-care in one of these areas? Even 10 minutes of practicing self-compassion each day can help.

As we work toward our future careers, I hope that we can prioritize our own well-being and set an example for our clients by practicing these skills and modeling the importance of self-compassion.

 

 

 

 

Boellinghaus, I., Jones, F. W., & Hutton, J. (2013). Cultivating self-care and compassion in psychological therapists in training: The experience of practicing loving-kindness meditation. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 7(4), 267-277.

Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion:  An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself.  Self and Identity, 2(2), 85-102.

Neff, K. D. (2018). Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises. Retrieved from http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/.

Funny Therapy

by Leigh Kunkle- Communications Chair

At the risk of losing you right off the bat, I’m going to start this post off with a cliché and say I am a huge believer that laughter is the best medicine. I know some of you might be rolling your eyes, but in all seriousness, I think there is a place for humor in nearly all of our most difficult moments. The situation itself may not be funny but being able to laugh about something when things are hard can be extremely powerful. And I don’t know about you, but nothing cheers me up faster than a good laugh.

I believe I have a pretty healthy sense of humor and it has in many ways shaped my relationship with friends and family and how I cope. While humor is not the sole way I connect with others or manage my stress, I’d be lying if I said it was not towards the top of the list. However, when I started grad school, I was not sure how it was supposed to fit into my clinical work. I spent most of my first year treading too lightly when it came to letting my sense of humor show in session. Part of the reason is that doing so actually felt pretty vulnerable, like a self-disclosure of sorts. Now none of us want to feel like therapy robots to our clients, but one’s sense of humor can be a very personal thing and sometimes it is much easier to hide it away than figure out an appropriate way to share it with them. No surprise, this muffling of a big part of myself got in the way of connecting with my clients. When I finally started to learn how to bring my sense of humor into the room is when I felt like I was really showing up.

Now I’m sure there are people on both sides of this coin; they either always or never use humor with a client. In my experience; like the answer to nearly every other question I’ve ever asked in this program; it depends. There are clients who are not inclined to make a joke during session, with whom I have connected in ways unrelated to my sense of humor. Others tend more easily towards laughter, even in difficult times.  So, for me the real task of incorporating humor into the therapy session is sorting out if either of us are using it as a defense or something more productive. That is sometimes easier said that done but I will say that my clients who acknowledge the full weight of their problems and find humor in them tend to be more resilient. And I see that in my personal life too; my strongest moments are not when I laugh off my pain as nothing but when I can fully sit with it and also have a laugh.

In a field where we ask a great deal of our clients in terms of vulnerability, opening up the part of ourselves designed to find lightness and comedy in every day situations feels like the least we can do. And I’ve found there are few things more humbling and meaningful than when a client invites you into their heaviest moment and cracks a joke.

January Blog Post

By: Klarissa Garcia Orellana- Diversity Chair

Throughout my training in the United States (U.S.) to become a psychologist, I have often viewed the U.S. as a role model when it comes to mental health training and services. We constantly hear that the U.S. has the best hospitals, universities, professionals, researchers and programs. In fact, I decided to move to the U.S. to receive my education because I believed it was where I was going to receive the best training. As part of the Latino Specialty Program that the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) offers, I went to an immersion trip to Chile (Santiago and Concepcion) in December of 2017. As a Latina, I was excited to learn the role of psychologists and how mental health services work in a country, and a culture, more similar to mine. However, due to my belief that the U.S. is more advanced than Latin America, I found myself automatically assuming that the mental health services in Chile were going to be less than – less efficient, less advanced, less organized – than services in the U.S. However, it only took a couple of days in Chile to realize I was wrong.

Chile provides amazing mental health services from which the U.S. has plenty to learn. Some of the things that caught my attention were the benefits of a warm and more expressive culture, the systemic approach of mental health programs and the interdisciplinary contribution of a variety of professionals to the delivery of patient care.

Hospital Padre Urtado’s cardiology rehabilitation program incorporates the patient’s family and community in the care by providing workshops including cooking classes, lessons about how to support the patient, family therapy, and other opportunities. Moreover, the collaborative contribution of providers across various specialties (i.e., psychologist, psychiatrist, kinesiologist, nurse, cardiologist and social worker) to the treatment was incredible. They all worked as an integrated team and were well aware that none of their expertise was enough to provide the best care possible to the patient. The appreciation shown of mental health from non-mental health professionals was refreshing. In the U.S., I have interacted with multiple non-mental health providers that undermine the importance of mental health and the effect it has on patients. However, in Chile I saw the complete opposite. My professor and I shadowed a medical intake conducted by a nurse at the cardiology rehabilitation center, and by the end of the intake my professor told the nurse, “you are a psychologist without even realizing it.” The sensitivity of the nurse to the patient’s emotional state and situation was incredible, even though she was the one in charge of conducting “only” the medical intake and not the mental health one.

At the dementia center in Concepcion, this multidisciplinary and systemic approach was also seen. I shadowed a patient’s appointment with a neurologist, and even though the purpose of the appointment was neurological, the psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, and geriatrician were also present. When the patient left the room, all professionals discussed the patient’s situation as a group. The contribution of their area of expertise to the conversation was incredible, exchanging points of views and appreciating the contribution of each other’s expertise. This interdisciplinary approach was also beneficial for the patient since she was able to see all of her providers in one appointment instead of going to separate appointments that, in the U.S., may have been many month apart and much more costly.

The warm nature of Latin American culture made patients feel at home and cared for. Interactions that would be considered unethical in the U.S., such as hugging and kissing were crucial in building rapport between professionals and patients as well as critical to the patients’ feelings of belonging. From my perspective, this warm and extrovert nature of the culture also contributed to a more kind and caring delivery of services not only from mental health professionals but also from professionals of other areas.

This caring, systemic and interdisciplinary care that was seen at the hospital and the dementia center was also seen in the prison, university clinics, forensic evaluation settings and all other centers we visited.

Upon arriving back to the U.S. after this trip, it has become clear to me that the U.S. provision of care has much to learn from this systemic, multidisciplinary, and warm approach. Moving away from, and ultimately beyond, the individualistic provision of care, health care providers would be able to more holistically provide a higher standard of care for their patients. We, in both Latin America and the U.S., are so used to thinking that the U.S. is more advanced than other countries, especially Latin American and other non-developed countries, that we forget that there is so much to learn from them. When anyone believes they are the best of the best they stop listening, learning, and being critical of their actions. The realizations that I had while traveling and studying in Chile do not have implications for just every patient professionals treat, but I believe these ideas are particularly important when considering the provision of culturally appropriate services to immigrants and individuals with different backgrounds in the U.S.

Hey “Good” Looking

By Sally McGregor, MC, NCC, LPCC

COPAGS Programming Chair

 

“Do you want to look good, or do you want to be good?” This is a question one of my supervisors asks regularly. I often find myself reflecting on this idea in the context of being a doctoral student in our field.

We spend a significant amount of time trying to look good. We want to look good to clinical supervisors, academic supervisors, and university faculty. Heck, our careers live and die by these people’s evaluations and letters of reference. We spend tremendous amounts of time tweaking our CVs to cater to the needs of a particular externship or internship site. I have attended so many grad school and field placement interviews at this point, I could practically write a book – How to Convince an Interviewer that You Have Leadership Skills but Aren’t Too Bossy to Work Collaboratively. Or, my FAVORITE – How to Dodge Declaring a Theoretical Orientation in an Interview, while also Avoiding Using the word “Eclectic”.

We also spend time trying to look good in front of our peers and early career psychologists. One day, the people sitting next to you in Rorschach class complaining about how difficult it is to score determinants, will be called “doctor” and could refer their next client to your private practice. Next, there are our non-school peers and family. They often expect us to function like on-duty psychologists at all times, rather than humans who wear multiple hats.  If you haven’t heard, “Are you psychoanalyzing me right now?” from a non-clinician before, you need to get out more. My knee jerk response: “No, Susan, I am actually eating a sandwich, and thinking about taping the Real Housewives Reunion when I get home.”

My purpose for focusing on the topic of looking good versus being good is that I think we all enter this profession with the intention to be good. A required entrance essay for applicants to my current doctoral program includes the instructions, “Avoid writing about the wish to help others or about how you want to contribute to society.” Otherwise, all personal statements would read as plagiarized statements about helping people. Then, we enter this pressure cooker of a doctoral program where looking good ostensibly takes a front seat. My personal aim is to never forget why I entered this field in the first place. It is a career priority for me to sit alongside people who are in a lot of pain. In pursuing this end goal, I want to be intentional about leaning in to being good. So, I created my own TODO list.

HOW TO BE GOOD:

  • Show your supervisors the worst parts of your tape. Select that five-minute clip where you rambled incoherently about some concept you thought was profoundly life changing, and the client stared at you as if you had three heads. Show the clip where you practiced affectively attuning to your client and completely missed the mark. Don’t you always cue up the parts where you feel like you shined. Show them where you are struggling with your client, and get the help you need in order to develop your skills and to help your client. A good supervisor will appreciate this rather than chastise you.
  • Help with case management. Often students avoid this work because it cannot be counted as direct client hours (looking good). Also, some psychologists consider themselves superior to tasks traditionally delegated to social workers. Frankly, I find that incredibly pretentious. Social workers who primarily conduct case management have one of the most taxing professions in the field. I know you are busy, but roll up your sleeves and do some research into outside resources for your client if it is reasonable for you to do so. If you don’t have time, at the very least, consult with a case manager about your client’s particular needs. If you are the client’s regular therapist, you likely know them better than anyone else at your agency.
  • Advocate for your clients outside of work. It is easy to engage in social justice advocacy in order to appear attractive on a resume. Be very intentional about what you choose. Does this cause pull on your heart strings? If so, the experience will be more meaningful. Is your client struggling because they are homeless? The next time you decide to volunteer, perhaps it will be with a shelter.
  • Above all – Be… Your… Self. Your clients will benefit from this, and you will benefit from this. There are two people in that therapy room, and your client should experience you as another human. Be someone who focuses on being authentic, rather than being right.

 

 

 

One Psychology Grad Student’s Thoughts about Self-Compassion (Care)

Elizabeth Shum

University of Denver

 

I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t care too much about self-care. I feel like that term gets thrown around so often that it loses meaning and becomes one of those ironic sayings that you use pseudo-intellectually but that in the back of your mind you know has some merit. For the sake of writing this sincerely, I will substitute for self-care the term: identity wardship. Kidding, I cheated and thesaurus-ed dat. Let’s call it, self-compassion. Actually, I’ve been feeling like I don’t necessarily need to prioritize self-compassion. As I recently had a close friend point out to me, I am admirable in my ability to take care of myself (and modest too.) I usually have little trouble compartmentalizing life’s responsibilities from activities related to my own personal relaxation and enjoyment, and that ability (or trait) has served me well.

I haven’t always been good at practicing self-compassion; in college I almost felt like the pressure I put myself under could have been considered self-injurious behavior. I remember crying from stress and feeling alone. It was awful, and I was resolute in my desire to avoid feeling that way again. I think this is where my capacity for self-compassion originated, and it has served me well.

I am applying for internship this year. I am starting to feel things slipping out of my grasp while I desperately claw at the air to catch hold. Activities related to self-compassion are beginning to fade away and I feel powerless to stop them. The only difference between me and my hapless adolescent self is my increased capacity for self-reflection. (Yeah, I’m in grad school.)

Truthfully, I do credit my graduate training for my increased self-awareness. It’s changed me because it’s encouraged me to critically yet kindly examine the logistics of my behavior. I have confronted difficult self-criticism and rewarding self-realization. I have literally expanded my range and depth of thought. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this except that I think to write it was one attempt at self-compassion. And to entertain the ambivalence about graduate school that I often feel. I don’t know, maybe it was just to see how many times I could use the prefix “self-” in a single blog post.

Election Announcement

Hi All,

We’re very excited to announce that COPAGS elections are right around the corner! We have several positions on our board that will be opening up, so this is a great chance to get more involved with our organization. Positions include Chair-Elect, Diversity Chair, Research Chair, Programming Chair, and Communications Chair. The deadlines for applications is May 15th, so be quick! All that you need to include in your application is your CV and a one-page cover letter. You do need to be a member of CPA to be on our board. You can apply for membership when you apply for the board position, so don’t let that hold you back if you haven’t joined us yet! For more details, check this out: Election announcement

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Anger – Use It

By Shane Saenz

Disclaimer: Opinions and some humor below

My whole life, I have been known as “the nice guy.” There’s nothing more pitiful than being called “the nice guy.” Society taught me at a young age that girls don’t date the nice guy- they settle for the nice guy. For starters, there is the saying that never seems to die: “Nice guys finish last.” Although it has been debunked time and time again, it also seems to arise at the sign of any danger- real or imagined. The current political climate seems to suggest that a person who bullies others and creates an image of himself as someone who does not take flak from anyone is suited to be our President. Although I do not support this abusive platform, it got my wheels turning nonetheless. Is anger always such a bad thing?

I pride myself on only ever getting into one fist fight as a child. There were many opportunities to fight, but I consider myself a pacifist. I do not feel as though I missed an opportunity to get my ass kicked, but I do feel as though I suppressed my anger because I was too nice to fight. I thought to myself, if I was not nice, I clearly had to be angry. Funny enough, I found a job as a bouncer my last couple years of college. (I’m secretly hoping Larry David reads this post and makes a sitcom about me being the world’s first pacifist bouncer.) It was a cool job to say the least. It helped pay the bills, it was a fun place to work, and it served as a great pick-up line. When I tell people now that I used to bounce, I often get chuckles because they “could never see that happen;” I am “too NICE.” Well, it did happen. It was a great job for what it was and I learned a hell of a lot about therapy by working at a college-town dive bar. Although I came close to many altercations, some of which could have been life-threatening, I learned that there is a level of respect (and sometimes anger) that comes with positions of authority. I never really enjoyed monitoring the inside of the bar. It was muggy and loud, and I often felt uncomfortable with so many people surrounding me while they were inebriated. I enjoyed working the door because I could schmooze people as they came in, they often tipped me for being nice, as I was the gatekeeper to the place they all wanted to enter. I “controlled” the entrance to the $2 PBR’s and $3 Margarita slushies. In our position as therapists, we are also perceived as the gatekeepers to what clients want – insight into whatever brought them to therapy. We don’t actually have the answers that they are looking for, but we have the tools to help explore what it is they are seeking.

Anger is always such a touchy emotion to discuss in therapy because it is commonly referred to as a mask for other emotions. As the kids in my socialization group would say, it is the “Anger Iceberg” where you only see a bit on the surface, but there is so much more below. What is wrong with solely being angry? Do we need another justification besides that emotion or are we too subconsciously fearful of being  thought of as being insensitive or malicious? Anger can be relieving. It can be the catalyst to accomplish the thing we said we would never do, and it can also be the spark to change what we need. Anger can be a good thing. The most important question that must be addressed is: where we should draw the line with anger?

Of course, many people take anger too far. We see this as professionals in the field. People are unjustly abused (e.g. physically, emotionally, and sexually), they will use a variety of substances to try and suppress their anger, and others will solely deny any emotions at all. The list goes on and on. In my opinion, there is never an excuse for violently attacking another person. Anger cannot and should not be the excuse to be used for abusing other people. There are too many in-person and online resources that can assist with the control of such blinding temper. However, beyond being psychological professionals, we are also unfortunately human and have the ability to succumb to such debilitating temper.

What can we, as therapists, do about our own anger? I mean, I mentioned that there are countless resources. I personally love Mindful meditation to release anger that is unwanted and it becomes a nice tool for any type of emotion that is sitting with you uneasily. But even after a while, I still have that anger that arises both emotionally and physically. Thankfully, I have a classmate who reached out to me after a particularly anger-inducing day and asked, “Do you want to go hit something?” The answer, of course, was yes. I have collected and held onto so much aggression that it began to impact my work negatively. He showed me some techniques and spent about the next 30 minutes punching and kicking a bag as hard as we could and I do not think I have felt better since becoming a graduate student therapist. All the long hours, the sitting, the emotions, the annoyance. I punched away all the rejections, the “nice guy” comments, and made peace with my anger. I channeled it and released it like Mindfulness teachings expect. So, there you have it; the sage-like advice from this lowly graduate student: go hit something. Or do something within your limits that is physically different than sitting in a chair with one leg crossed over the other, nodding your head, making your face appear inquisitive, and saying “mmhmm” repeatedly. You know, everything you learned in your intro to Counseling Skills course.

Thus, when it comes to anger, use it toward something productive. For my Behavioral folks, consider this an activity more aligned with one’s values. For my Psychodynamic folks, consider this another example of Sublimation. However, in all seriousness, it will be beneficial for you and the clients you work with. After all, we are only human. We are integrated wholes and should not avoid thoughts and feelings that may arise in us as if we are anything more. If you take only one lesson away from this blog post, remember this: temper blocks insight.