Plus, navigating the mental health system can be challenging: How do you find a therapist? How do you pay for it? How do you know if they’re a good fit? And what happens if you need to break up with them? We have so many questions.
To help us answer them, we called up none other than Katel’s own therapist, Dr. Allison Chabot. She’s a clinical psychologist working in Philadelphia, and talking with her gave us all the best feels.
> Ask your friends. Ask your family. Somebody else has gone to therapy that you know. So many people go to therapy. And you hear positive experiences from people: you hear how it unlocked something, it opened something, it helped them look at themselves in a different way. It is a leap of faith, it really does take courage, but I feel like, what do you have to lose?
> — Dr. Allison Chabot
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Also in this episode: Jenn goes to a meditation workshop and fucking hates it, Katel shouts her love for therapy from the rooftop, Sara plans her summer lipstick game, and we all get hyped for a #summerofselfies.Sponsors
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Sara Wachter-Boettcher [Ad spot] This episode of NYG is supported by our friends at Shopify, makers of great tools that help entrepreneurs around the world start and grow their business. And they’re growing! Shopify is hiring all kinds of folks, everything from customer support to engineering to design to sales. Personally, I want to run their partnership program in Paris. Mmmm. Join the more than 3,000 smart, passionate people around the world who make Shopify great. Visit shopify.com/careers to check them out [intro music fades in, plays alone for ten seconds, fades out].
Jenn Lukas Welcome to No, You Go, the show about being ambitious—and sticking together. I’m Jenn Lukas.
Katel LeDû I’m Katel LeDû.
SWB And I’m Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
JL On today’s show, we’re talking about taking care of ourselves. Not the kind of taking care of ourselves that involves eating better or sleeping more or hitting the gym, not even rigid skin care regimens. Nope. Today: it’s all about therapy. In fact, we even have a super special guest: Katel’s own therapist, Dr. Allison Chabot. Sara and Katel sit down to talk with her about being a therapist, finding a therapist, breaking up with your therapist, and all other burning questions about mental healthcare. Let’s get started!
SWB Ok. So, talking about mental health is still pretty taboo for a lot of people, and it’s hard for people. And I think it can be especially taboo in contexts where we’re also talking about work which is like something we always talk about on this show. But, Katel, you invited your therapist to be on the show and I would love to know how did you get comfortable talking about therapy and like being a person who goes to therapy?
KL Yeah, uhh [chuckles]. Honestly, I think that is has come partly with just being in therapy and doing therapy for a lot of my life, and realizing what an impact it has had on how I navigate relationships, how I am a good and better friend to people, and just how, I don’t know, like how I heal myself and make sure that I’m taking care of myself so I can take care of—of the people I love. And, honestly, you know, [sighs] not just because we had my therapist on the show but she has been really instrumental in showing me how my relationship with therapy is a part of my life in a way that I just never really realized it was. And finally like feel really proud to share. And I think that I’ve been paying more attention to other people’s journeys in therapy and realizing that it—it is a really important part of a lot of people’s lives in whatever capacity, even if it’s like group therapy, if it’s, you know, once a month, if it’s just like whatever works for you can just be really life changing. So, I don’t know, I think that there’s a lot of—I want to try to help destigmatize that and so I think that’s why you’ll find that every time—if you’re talking to me about therapy I’m just like very [chuckles] enthusiastic about it. So I guess that’s why I’m open about it too because I want to share that.
SWB Yeah, totally! I mean I think that’s one of the things like therapy is normal and tons of people go to therapy! And part of the problem is like if you can’t talk about it, then you feel like nobody’s going or it’s only people who are in sort of like worse case scenarios or they’re at crisis moments in their life and like obviously if you’re in a crisis moment in your life which, like, is also a normal thing to go through in the course of a life. But if you are in a crisis moment, yeah, therapy can be really helpful but it doesn’t have to be that, it can also just be a normal part of how you cope! Yeah. And figure out like how you feel about things, and how you feel about yourself, and like becoming more self aware or becoming better at like processing your feelings or like there’s all of these reasons that—that people go, and—and I’ve definitely gone for a few different reasons at different moments of my life.
KL I think when you can kind of learn how to be introspective when you need to be and kind of like take a beat and look at things with a different perspective because of tools you’ve learned. That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from it is that I’ve learned tools to kind of like take with me. It’s not just going to a therapy session and, you know, having that one on one time but it’s also the things that I take away from it where I’m like, “Ok. I feel a little bit more equipped,” and I think that’s a huge part of it. It’s been very important to me. I think I’ve, you know, I’ve said this on the show before but I’ve struggled with depression my entire life, and I take medication for it, and it took me a really long time to feel [sighs] not bad about that. And to feel like sometimes you are a person that takes medication for your entire life. I don’t know. I may be one of those people. I may not be. But supplementing that with tools and guidance has just been critical.
SWB I love that whole thing thing you’re saying about kind of checking in with yourself. And so I think—ok, so I want to ask about kind of another way people check in with themselves. Jenn, I heard you took a meditation workshop recently and I would love to have you tell us about it.
JL Oh I did.
KL I want to hear about that too [laughs]!
JL So I, you know, I love the idea of therapy. And, I think, we’re going to dig into this more today but one of the things I’ve always found is like I—like I don’t know how to find the time for a lot of these things and—and the commitment. So I often look for other things that would be like similar to therapy such as my addiction to self-help books and I feel like everywhere you read things like breathing and meditation or things that like help you get in touch with yourself, right? And less stress, and like just generally like people say meditation and they’re like, “Meditation changed my life!” And I’m like, “I want to be less stressed. I want like a new life changing view, and to like breathe.” So actually at work we had a meditation workshop offered during the day at work, and I was like, “Well this is perfect!” And so I was really excited and I go and it’s in this like big, happy, natural light room, and here’s this woman and she like—she obviously is like—she’s got the meditation thing down, right? Like she’s like [laughter]—
KL You’re like, “I can trust this person to guide me through.”
JL It’s definitely like, you’re just like, “Wow your vibe is like, I’ve figured life out,” you know like when you meet those people and you’re like, “Wow! You have—you are like so comfortable in your skin and just like—
JL Yes! “You look relaxed!” And, you know, she even says in like her intro, she asks, “How many people have like tried meditation but like been discouraged by it?” And like me and a couple of other people raised their hands, right? Because I’ve tried. I’ve done like some of those apps and like I just like I turned them on and I’m like, “Nope.” And I turned them off. And she was like, “Don’t worry if that’s you, we’re like going to get through it together,” and I was like, “Ok! Yeah!” And so like eventually like we get to the like meditation part and she has us all like close our eyes and she starts sort of leading us through this breathing thing and she’s talking about visualizing the breath going in. But like [laughs] the thing is: I close my eyes, and I’m trying to do this, but instead of like seeing my breath around me, I just start getting like really tight and anxious. And I don’t know if it’s just like the slow breathing, or my allergies, and my nasal passages, or just like this kind of breathing is not for you but as I’m breathing in I’m just like, “I—I hate this.” I do not use the word [chuckles] hate lightly. Like it’s beyond—[laughs]
KL That’s exactly how you want to feel [laughter] during meditation.
SWB That’s like a different kind of self awareness, right? Like it’s none of the self awareness of like, “Oh wow I’ve reached this higher plane.” It’s the self awareness like, “Oh I’m a person who fucking hates meditation.” [Laughter]
JL I’m like, “I definitely do not care for this. Like this is definitely not—” and like so like at some point like I, you know, I cheat and I open my eyes of course to be like, “Are there still people here? Are people—” But people look like they’re into it and I’m just like, “Ok. Alright.” And so I stop doing the breathing thing because I can’t. It’s like making me light headed and like, again, maybe it’s just because I have a really stuffy nose but I cannot do it. Anyway, so eventually it ends and I’m like, “Ok good.” I’m like, “I’m going to get outta here.” But! [Laughs] She has this thing where at the end she likes to go around the room and have each person say one word to describe what you’re currently feeling at that moment.
JL My word is like, “Anxious as fuck!” [Laughing and laughter] Like, terrible. Awful. I hate this. Like, right? But she starts on the other side of the room, thankfully, and everyone’s like “Relaxed” . . . “Rejuvenated” . . . “Free.” So I start like thinking, I’m like, “Oh my god what am I going to do when—what am I going to do when they get to me? Because I don’t want to ruin all of these good vibes of everyone who like can get down with meditation.” Like, it’s one of those things, I’m like, “It’s not them, it’s me.” [Laughs] Right? And so, so finally it gets to me [chuckles]—
KL Oh gosh! What did you say?!?
JL And I just said, [laughs] . . . “Hungry!” [Boisterous laughter]. Well it’s not rude!
KL You’re like, “It’s not untrue!”
JL Yeah, it’s not untrue.
KL It’s the least rude thing I can say right now.
JL Um I did manage to sneak out after one person or another did. I did hear though that I missed a uh giant group hug.
KL Wow. Ok. So you—you mean you escaped a giant group hug. [laughs]
SWB Do you think some of it was like context like trying to do it in the middle of the work day with your co-workers around being not a good vibe? Or?
JL You know what? It may be a time thing for me. So like I do have there’s like one app I downloaded and one of the things I really love about it is you can choose like you don’t have to get into a 60-minute. They have a three-minute one. And the three-minute one does like the thing where like I even modify it a little bit where I just like—it’s like, you just sit and then basically like you think about the different body parts and I just try to relax those body parts, and that I can do because it’s like a really specific instruction, for a very short amount of time. And so I don’t feel like I’m on my own, I guess, when I do that.
KL I totally agree. Is it Headspace?
KL Yeah. I use that too and I have—I found the exact same thing. I thought, breaking it down so that you can actually do like just chilling out and going outside for two minutes. Like sometimes that’s actually what you need and also I like being guided. I like being guided in a way that’s not like obnoxious and just like—they’ve done that really well. Like the person who does it has like got a great voice, they do like a lot of great narration, et cetera, et cetera.
SWB So I know we—we have a really awesome interview to get to and I want to hear Katel like, we invited your therapist on the show because we wanted to talk about therapy but also because you really like your therapist. I am super jealous of that. Like how does that feel?
KL It’s—it’s amazing and she’s been a big part of my life the last year and I think just like getting through a lot of—of hard stuff, and I think sort of knowing that I’ve made a connection with a therapist has come with a lot of trial and error, and working with different therapists. And like, in all honesty: I’ve gone to therapists where I’ve seen them for a year or more and it’s been a terrible relationship. Like I go and I sit there and they look at me like I’m taking up their time and their space and that’s the worst feeling in the world and it’s so—I feel like counterproductive. And I think if you talk to people who have sort of, you know, made any attempt at finding a good therapist like that—that is going to happen. And I think the, you know, the bummer about that is that it happens but the good side is that what we learn from Dr. Chabot is that there are ways to kind of figure out why it didn’t work, and how you can find someone that is a good fit. So I feel extremely lucky. It’s, you know, I think a bunch of things, I’ve put in work but she’s also amazing, and because I’ve had—I’ve had a history of knowing what that looks like, I was able to know it right away.
SWB Well, she’s not my therapist. So it was the first time I ever talked with her and I really loved it. So I think our listeners are going to love it too. Should we get to the interview?
JL Definitely [music fades in, plays alone for four seconds, fades out].
SWB [Ad spot] Hey, everyone! Sara here and I’d like to tell you a little bit about the folks who help make No, You Go possible. First up is CodePen. CodePen is like a big, virtual sandbox for designers and developers. You can use it to write code directly in a browser and see the results right as you build. And right now CodePen is also doing this awesome giveaway that is just for No, You Go listeners. They’re giving away three free pro developers accounts. All you have to do to win is go to codepen.io/nyg and answer one question which is what do you love about CodePen? If you haven’t used CodePen yet, no problem. Just tell them what you’re excited to make first. So check out CodePen today, and enter to win one of those three free pro accounts. Go to codepen.io/nyg. That’s C-O-D-E-P-E-N dot I-O slash N-Y-G. And another rad company that helps make our show possible is WordPress, the company behind 30 percent of all websites including ours. In fact, I’ve also used WordPress for my personal site, sarawb.com, for years now. I love WordPress because I can make updates and tweak the design pretty much whenever I want, however I want. And I know that if I break something. Whoops! I’m not alone. Because they have great customer support 24/7. WordPress plans start at just four dollars a month and you can do everything from create a simple one page site to publishing a blog to hosting an entire online store. WordPress is the easiest way to make your site your own. So start building your website today. Go to wordpress.com/noyougo for 15 percent off any new plan purchase. That’s 15 percent off your brand new website at wordpress.com/noyougo [music fades in, plays alone for five seconds, fades out].
KL I’ve known Dr. Allison Chabot for just about nine months. She’s a clinical psychologist working in Philadelphia and, well, she’s my therapist. From the moment I met her I knew I’d found not just a guide but someone I trusted completely to help me on my journey of healing and growth, and I’m so thrilled Dr. Chabot is joining us today. Allison, welcome to No, You Go.
Dr. Allison Chabot Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you already and I appreciate the invitation to share a little bit of my world.
KL So, you are a clinical psychologist. What does that mean in terms of your day to day?
DAC Ah my day to day. I’m a clinical psychologist in private practice. So I work five or sometimes six days a week, seeing patients in my office, one at a time. I do individual work. I’ve been in private practice for about 15 years now. I’ve been doing it full-time for about 12 years, um but my first mental health gig was about 25 years ago when I had just finished my bachelor’s degree.
KL What does the education and sort of training look like to become a clinical psychologist?
DAC Well the path that I took was to get a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s, and I did that in Missouri. And then came out to Philadelphia to Temple University and then about six or seven years of training there. So that’s several years of taking courses, and and, you know, various things like a pathology diagnosis, therapy, research. And then a few years before graduating of seeing patients and getting to know how to do therapy, how to do testing and assessment, like intelligence assessment, things like that. And then writing a dissertation, and then after that point there’s a postdoctoral fellowship. So I did a couple of years at Pennsylvania Hospital working there and, again, just getting more experience under my belt with lots of different populations and therapeutic modalities. So it’s a long road but it’s worth it.
KL Yeah that seems to important to kind of have, you know, a varied sort of picture of what, you know, kind of people you’re going to deal with and, you know, different issues you might encounter. What type of therapy do you specialize in today? And how does that compare to like other types?
DAC Most of my practice, the way I think about things, actually comes from Freud. It actually comes from psychoanalytic therapy, thinking deeply about how our personalities develop, how our early life experiences shape that, how our subconscious or unconscious mind actually steers the ship, you know, from below the surface, and I don’t know that my patients would know that I practice from that foundation because my style of talking is actually fairly interactional, day to day, basing it in problem solving, but the way that I conceptualize with going on with somebody is from that deeper framework. Other types of therapy that you may have heard of are cognitive behavioural therapy which is, you know, it has some deep components but it’s really more of a practical guide about how understanding that your thoughts and feelings affect each other—and helps you reframe your thinking, and tends to be homework focused. It tends to be short-term therapy and, just my personal belief is that it’s harder to get deep personality change or deep healing from that type of therapy but that was the first therapy that I was trained in. There’s also dialectical behaviour therapy which is a group format plus—plus individual therapy and that’s really helpful for people who have a hard time modulating their emotions or find themselves overwhelmed by stress quite a bit. So that’s just a, you know, a little bit of an example.
KL That’s so great to—to hear all of those different types because I think this leads to another question that I think, you know, I have certainly had along my way and I know other people have is that there are so many options and it can feel a little overwhelming. How can someone new to therapy figure out, you know, what type might be a good fit for them or, you know, what they might even start with?
DAC My suggestion is actually not to overthink it because we often think we know what we need when we go into a healing experience, and because we feel vulnerable, we’re getting ready to ask somebody for help, and—and you know, share some things that are difficult to talk about. Lots of times we engage our intellect and we think, “Ok. I’m going to figure this out first.” Or “I’m going to—I’m going to beat my therapist to the punch. I’m going to figure out who they need to be and then I’m going to go find them.” And while that makes some sense to some extent because we’re adults and we want to—we’re, you know, we’re informed about ourselves and we want to make good decisions. Just going by instinct and knowing what fits is an even better indicator of finding the right therapist. And we can talk about, you know, how to go about finding a therapist but when it comes to knowing is this the right person, I think that’s more about a click or an instinctual thing. Does that make sense?
KL Yeah, absolutely, and I’ve [chuckles] just been nodding along because I’m like, “Oh gosh I wish I had—I wish I had heard that before I ever started,” you know? And I’ve been doing it—doing therapy for a long time now and I think just kind of doing that gut check with yourself is so important. So, yeah, touching a little bit on kind of starting therapy is there anything that you, you know, might advise folks to do when they are starting therapy? Or what’s the best way to find a doctor?
DAC There are a few websites that are helpful, I think Psychology Today is the best one I’ve seen, where you can actually, it reminds me of dating websites. You can look at therapist’s profiles. They usually have a picture, they describe their work, you can see a little bit about their educational background and who they prefer to work with: what age groups, individuals, couples, and what their specialties are, what type of therapy they provide. And then, you know, you can search by zip code. It’s really a nice way to get a feel for a person and I found—although I don’t have a profile on Psychology Today because if I did I think I would be overwhelmed. My practice is full and so I just—I’ve never needed to do that. I think it’s a great way of helping people find a therapist. If someone calls me and my practice is full, I’ll send them to that website and it’s kind of a matchmaking exercise. It works really well.
SWB Allison, you mentioned a minute ago something about kind of clicking with a therapist and kind of almost that, you know, you—you’ll know you’re with somebody who’s a good fit because you’ll feel it. And my experience in therapy I think has been that I’ve never had that kind of relationship. Like I’ve seen a therapist a few times intermittently over the years and was never particularly feeling it with them but kind of kept going for a little while and then stopped. What I would love to know is, I found it overwhelming and a lot of work to get to the point where I could even figure out who to go to and make an initial appointment. I’m curious if you have any recommendations for like how to kind of get through some of that early stage stuff or how to make it easier or something to [laughs]—to find that person you can click with?
DAC I think that a lot of people have had that experience. I’ve certainly have had that experience and starting a therapy at a time of crisis. And finding somebody who was convenient, and I could pay the copay. And I found myself going home after the first few sessions, asking myself things like, “Is that person crazy?” Or, “Do they really understand me?” “Do I trust that person?” “Will I be able to trust that person?” And, you know, the fact that I was asking myself those questions should’ve been a red flag for me but I stayed in that therapy for three years. It took me three years to break up with her [chuckles] as a therapist. So my recommendation, as hard as it is, is to keep searching. And what I tell people if they call me and if for some reason we’re not the right fit. Either I’m not—I don’t think that I can help with exactly what they’re looking for or our logistics don’t match up, I recommend that they call and talk on the phone to three people. And I always say, “If you have courage, it is hard to do.” To talk on the phone to three people, and then if you can, meet with two people and interview them and figure out: is this going to work for me? If you think about it like dating, you don’t, you know, when you you go on a date, you’re like, “Eh, he was ok.” Right? “Nice guy, decent conversation, I guess I’ll just keep going out with him.” How fulfilling is that relationship going to be? Is it going to move you forward personally? Is it going to make you feel fulfilled and alive? Your therapy relationship is so important! That it deserves the same diligence but it’s hard to do because we look for a therapist when we’re not feeling our best selves. When we’re maybe even in crisis. And so it’s hard to have the courage and—and maybe even the appropriate level of entitlement to say, “I’m going to keep looking.”
SWB I feel a little better knowing that you went to a therapist for three years who wasn’t [chuckles] a great fit. Not because [Katel laughs] I mean I—I wouldn’t wish that on anybody but I feel a little reassured that it’s normal to, you know, not necessarily know how to find the right fit or to shut it down when [laughing] it’s not the right fit. When you talked about sort of like how important the therapy relationship is I’m also wondering, for our listeners who’ve like never tried therapy and are curious about and—but like aren’t really sure what to expect, how would you describe like a good therapy relationship?
DAC I would say someone that you can talk about anything with. You can talk about the things that make you afraid, the things that make you excited. The things that you feel happy about, as well as the things you worry about. And then eventually, ideally, you can talk about the therapy relationship itself. So, I try to listen for if something seems to be going on. Let’s say I asked a question or made a comment in a session and it just seemed to be that, you know, ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly something shifted or something happened. I put a bookmark in it in the back of my brain, and I listen for it in subsequent sessions. Did I say something that hurt? Did I say something that helped? And ideally, eventually the patient or the client feels comfortable enough to say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said.” And if they can’t but I hear indications of it, then I’ll bring it up myself. And that’s something that’s specific to a psychoanalytic type of therapy is that you actually use the therapy relationship to help the person understand themselves more and to help the person hear where their resistances might be in relationships, you know, where they might feel hesitant or unsafe and actually heal some of that.
SWB That so like hit me when you said that—that a good relationship in therapy is one where you can actually even talk about the therapy, and you can talk about anything because I’m like, “Oh gosh! I’ve never—I’ve never been there.” That’s really helpful to think about it in that way.
KL I love hearing that too because—and this is so funny because I’m having like a—a total realization right here in this conversation because, you know, and I love working [chuckles] with you, Allison, but this is the—this is the first relationship with a therapist I’ve had where I feel like I’ve been not just comfortable enough to assess the relationship and to like figure out how it can actually help on the journey, but empowered to do that. So I, you know, I thank you for that and I think this is just so amazing to hear that, and I hope it, you know, it resonates with—with folks who are—are thinking about it. And I will also just say that I totally agree with that, you know, thinking about finding someone to work with when you’re in a moment of crisis and I’ve—I’ve done that so many times in my life where, you know, I think thinking about it in your regular life and thinking about how therapy can, you know, add to [chuckles] the moments when it’s not crisis can really help when you do get to that crisis point.
DAC Yeah that’s the beautiful part of therapy is that once the storm has passed then you still have this relationship with this person who sees you and knows you. And then you get to healing. Sometimes we think of therapy as being only for mental illness—someone with bipolar disorder or someone with panic disorder, someone who has panic attacks. Certainly psychotherapy helps with that but there’s also just, you know, the worried well [chuckles]. There’s just the rest of us who struggle with life because life throws curveballs and we each have personalities where we throw curveballs at ourselves and it takes—well it helps to have somebody outside of you who knows you over some different contexts, and different situations over a period of time, who can say, for example, “Ah! You tend to go to guilt easily. I think we’re there again, right?” And it fine tunes your own hearing for yourself. And so the goal of therapy actually is to internalize the things that your therapist says. And people will say this sometimes, “I’ve been hearing your voice in my head all week and I’ve been telling myself,” and whatever it is that I usually tell that—that particular person. And that’s when you know also that therapy is moving along, and going well and the ultimate thing is that I eventually put myself out of a job, right? I mean I have—I have patients who’ve been with me for ten years but there’s people who graduate from therapy because you get past the pain and suffering and into the healing and into the rest of life.
KL Wow. Yeah. And speaking of, you know, sort of being in a relationship with a therapist for a long time or a short amount of time if it’s not the right fit. How—is there a good way to break up with a therapist and—and sort of vice versa. I mean, you know, do therapists ever break up with patients?
DAC Yes. Both happen, and what’s really interesting is a therapy can go really well and then still it might be time for—for those two people not to work together anymore and for the next therapist to take over. And that may sound really strange but there are times that I can help a person through a particular season of—of their life. And I, you know, it’s something that I can do well and we work well together, and then I hear perhaps they’re really curious about working with a person of colour, or they really need a dialectical behavior therapy group, they really need that group experience plus individual therapy plus crisis management, you know phone calls in between sessions. And I’m not trained in that type of therapy. And I’m not set up for lots of crisis phone calls because I have young children at home. So that’s—that’s one way that either the client can choose to relocate themselves or I can help them realize that that’s now in their best interest. Other times people just kind of peter out and stop coming. I reached out recently and talked with a man who is retired and I said, “Just thinking about you, wondering how you’re doing”, because he just kind of faded from therapy and he said, “Well, you know? I was thinking you told me one day people just stop coming and that’s how it ends.” And, you know, he’s somebody’s who’s [KL: awww] maybe a little more concrete, right? A little um, you know, he wasn’t ready to tell me that he feeling better and just never returned after a vacation [laughs]. So it was nice we had the phone call to get some closure on that for him to hear me confirm and give him permission that he could move on in his healthy life, you know? I think you’re also asking about what if you, as a patient or a client, you know or you have a growing that the therapy’s no longer helping you, and it’s time for you to leave the therapist. And I’ve actually done that not just once but twice, as a patient myself.
DAC [Continued] It’s—it’s not the easiest thing to do and in both instances I got—although I had complete clarity about that it was time to go and the therapy was actually hurting at that point, rather than helping, I got resistance from the therapist in both cases. And at that point you realize that you’re kind of on your own, in terms of knowing yourself. And that the therapy for me had reached me to this gross point that I could have clarity about what was best for me. So it’s a series of conversations usually, if it’s been a long therapy about, you know, what’s helped, what hasn’t, and why you’re going. It does—you know, if it’s a short therapy, if it’s three months or three sessions, you can just say that you’re going in a different direction. You don’t owe the person a lot of explanation. You truly don’t. What you owe is you yourself knowing that you’re making the right decision.
SWB I totally feel like I should probably talk to somebody a little bit more about like, things like avoidance because I have never had that conversation. I’ve just always been like, “Uh I’ll just not go. I’ll just not schedule another appointment.” [Katel laughs] “I’ll—I’ll call you to schedule that appointment. I need to look at my calendar.” And then fade into the night.
DAC Yes! That’s the most common way that people leave therapy. It truly is. That’s because, you know, it’s hard to know why it is you’re feeling avoidant. “Is it me? Is it the therapist? Is it the way we’re talking together? Could we adjust that?” And, again, it’s such a vulnerable relationship that if it’s not helping you—it’s kind of like you can’t really choose a different mother, [chuckles] you know? You can choose a different therapist. You can say, “This person doesn’t make me feel safe or heard.” Or, “This person’s not pushing me enough.” “This person isn’t growing me enough. They’re making me feel too safe.” You know? You get to do that.
SWB That feels really empowering just to be reminded that you get to do that. I mean I think that the last time I stopped seeing a therapist I was just like, “She just seems really bored and disinterested in me and I feel like [chuckles] that’s not a good feeling for me.” [Laughs] Like, “Why am I—why am I spending money on this person being bored for an hour?”
KL [Laughs] Woah! [Sara laughs]
DAC Absolutely. I honestly had somebody—I’ve had somebody fall asleep on me one time and that should’ve been when [Katel gasps] I started for the exit [laughter].
KL Ok that—I think you win there [laughing].
SWB Oh my gosh! Ok! So you know what I’m getting from this is also I think like a little less of that guilty feeling of just being like, “You know what? Nope!” And moving on. And even if I don’t confront them directly, but kind of being like, “Ok, I gotta advocate for me here.”
DAC That’s right and I think this requires a lot of self compassion because this—except for maybe your closest, I don’t know closest friendships or romantic relationships—this become the most vulnerable relationship in your life.
DAC No one else meets this person. No one else can give you feedback. Like, “No, no, they seem interested!” Even though their eyes are rolling back in their head, you know? No one else can give you feedback so you have to have a lot of self compassion that it’s hard—it’s hard to leave. Or it’s hard to move on, it’s hard to have the conversation. There’s no need for guilt though. Guilt, I find, is such an unnecessary emotion and it just I don’t know it just brings you down. It brings your energy down. Yes, this is a vulnerable relationship but imagine yourself in all of your other contexts of life. Do you have a hard time being—being assertive elsewhere? Do you have a hard time getting clarity about your leadership in your work? Or in your other relationships? If not, then just, if you can, plug that in to your observations of the therapy relationship and then decide for yourself.
KL What do you think are some misconceptions people have about—about starting therapy and just about that whole process? Is there—you know, is there anything you wish people knew more about?
DAC That’s interesting. I don’t hear much from people about what they were expecting versus what they’re getting. So I’m curious about that myself. I used to encounter this more that people would come to me expecting that I would give them specific advice or specific guidance. And, so, for some people it’s a learning curve to realize that it’s—it’s a listening relationship that I do more listening than maybe what they’re accustomed to and I’m not telling them what I think they should do very often. I am more listening to inconsistencies maybe in what they’re saying like, “You say you want to do this on the one hand but you’re doing that on the other hand. Can you help me understand what’s happening there?” And so I really just help them listen to themselves more deeply. Usually people like that. Usually they’re like, “Oh! Ok that’s how this is going to work. Now I get it.” But that’s the main thing I think I’ve seen happen is if they think they’re going to come for advice.
SWB I mean it sounds good to—when you think about, you know, the idea of going in and having somebody tell you how to fix your life but [Katel and Sara laugh] I suppose the literature shows it doesn’t really work that way. I’m curious, Allison, as you’re talking a little bit amount sort of like misconceptions people have do you also feel like there is still a level of like cultural stigma about therapy? And do you think that that’s changing?
DAC I honestly I think that I live in a little bit of a bubble just with the people that I see. Most of the people I see have friends who are in therapy or they’ve been therapy before and haven’t felt like it worked and so they’re returning. On the larger stage, I do think there’s still quite a bit of stigma about therapy and about mental illness. I think it’s because we fear dark places in ourselves and so we fear dark places in other people. We fear being out of control and so we don’t like it when we see, you know, somebody on the street talking to themselves because they’re out of control. I think in general it’s just—we’re so stressed [laughs]. We’re so stressed, as people, in general, that we like to keep things buttoned up and we like to have the appearance that we’ve got it all together. We might say, “Oh I’m so stressed.” Or, “Oh I’m so busy.” But we don’t tend to quiet down and say, “I feel scared.” Or, “Sometimes I feel sad and it comes over me and I’m not fully sure why. I wish I could think about that with somebody and figure that out once and for all.” Or, “I don’t know if I’m parenting my children any better than I was parented and I promised myself I would do better.” These are difficult issues and so I think because we fear looking at those things in ourselves, it’s hard for us to see other people actually experiencing them and expressing them and getting help for them.
SWB Something that really makes me think about is the way that multiple things can be true at the same time. Like I can both be really together and competent and also scared and hurt and need somebody to talk to. Like those are not mutually exclusive states. Like there’s no on/off switch for those things, right? Like I feel like sometimes it’s really easy to get into a mindset or you’re encouraged to be in this mindset where if you’re together and organized and successful, then you must not have like these kinds of problems to deal with. And it’s like, well that’s just not true. Like people aren’t like that. I think we talk about this on the show a lot that like you can be awesome, successful, badass and also like, struggling to get through the day, and like [laughs] that can be the same person and that’s fine.
DAC Yes. I—that is the most profound statement. Yes! A hundred times yes. I agree with that. And it’s something that I’m still learning constantly. I’m in a supervision group with um women who are all ten, twenty years older than me and I’m, you know, at forty-six years old I’m the—the young kid on the block but that’s what we’re learning about ourselves and from each other. We’re all therapists in supervision and in therapy together—that you can both be a mess and successful and just fine. And that’s so profound.
KL Ugh! I love all of this so much and I—like I had myself on mute but I was just going, “Mmm, mmm hmm, mm hmm” [laughs], so [laughing] just throwing that out there.
DAC I have the hugest smile on my face!
SWB Yayyyyy! [Allison laughs]
KL This is so great.
SWB Now I want to be like, “What does it say about me that I get this like, level of satisfaction that I like got the right answer?” On a test [Katel laughs] with a therapist—which is like super unhelpful [laughs].
KL I love it. It’s great.
DAC Well, I was thinking earlier that I learn so much from my patients, right? I learn so much when people talk about their relationships or they talk about the things they discover and so that, my friend, is an instance where a therapist learns from you because basically and—and this happens a lot in therapy that’s really working is that you resonate back and forth, back and forth. I literally just learned that lesson and put it in those words, less than two weeks ago. That I can both be a hot mess and successful and sturdy. So it’s—that’s just—it’s exciting when that happens. When you reverberate back and forth like that.
SWB Yeah! I love that. Gosh. This is making me all like revved up to—to get back into some kind of therapy relationship.
KL So now that we’re sort of, you know, getting excited about uh the idea of therapy, I think one thing that has come up, you know, I think in—in some conversations I’ve had with folks is what can people expect in terms of, you know, making time for therapy and sort of just like making the actual act of therapy happen? I know that you have sometimes offered to do some sessions by phone which is so cool and I had never even thought about that. So I think just in general, you know, what are sort of the criteria around what folks should expect in terms of like how often they should and, you know, making time for it?
DAC Yeah. I think that therapy works best when you can meet with somebody once a week. At least at the beginning when you’re first getting to know somebody. I find sometimes that after a few months of doing that that people, because of their schedules, want to meet every other week. And people still get to know each other and still move forward. It’s just, you know, the progress—it’s like going to the gym, right? If you go three times a week you get fit faster than if you go every other week. But it’s—it’s a big commitment. It does kind of take over your world sometimes, just in terms of how much you process about things outside the sessions and what’s going on. But my recommendation—and it’s typical for most people—is that you go once a week at least for awhile. In my training because I was training to become an analyst which means, you know, on the couch kind of Freudian style [chuckles]. There was a time that I was going to analysis three times a week and then four times a week and then, believe it or not, five times a week. That is, you know, a level of training that’s not necessary for most people but it was important for therapists themselves to really have explored themselves. So that’s, you know, at the high end of things.
SWB You likened this to going to the gym and, obviously you’re right, if you only go to the gym every other week it’s not going to do as much for you as if you go more often but I’m also wondering, you know, for people who do find it challenging to make time if they can only get in every other week. I mean, I would say if you can only get to the gym every other week, you should still go every other week. I mean how do you—you know like would you still recommend to a patient that, “Ok. If that’s all you can do right now, let’s do that.” Or, you know, like how do you like work through those kinds of hurdles?
DAC Absolutely! I do think that if every other week is what fits with your schedule that—that it’s still very useful and I find that people who are motivated and still thinking about things between sessions or journaling about things. Or sometimes people will have thoughts and they’ll say, “I want to put a bookmark in this,” and they’ll email it to me and they’ll say, “You know, read this when we—when we meet but I want to get this off my chest.” That’s really helpful to keep the continuity. And people who come back, you know, to a subsequent session, not saying that this isn’t necessary but when people come back to subsequent sessions saying, “I thought about what you said and here’s what I’ve been doing with that.” Or, “I talked to my sister about that and she said the same thing.” You can tell when people are actively working with their material in between session, then, definitely meeting less frequently is still really helpful.
SWB Like taking the stairs all the time during those weeks when you’re not at the gym. Ok.
DAC Oh!! Yes!! Great analogy! [Sara laughs]
KL That’s perfect!
DAC There’s another part of—I mean journaling and talking to other people is helpful but really one of the things that I find most useful is some kind of spiritual growth in between therapy sessions, some kind of yoga or meditation or guided meditations. That also gets into the deep healing and some of the subconscious stuff that weighs people down. So I find that very useful as well. If you dare I would recommend either yin yoga. Do you know yin? Y-I-N?
KL Mm hmm.
DAC That’s very therapeutic and I’ve recently discovered what’s called kundalini yoga which is not as common but you go through a series of poses and they’re called kriyas, and breath exercises, and mantras that are also deeply healing. Definitely not something you’d see at the gym. But if you dare [laughs].
KL That’s a good idea. I also like hatha yoga just because it’s a sort of a slowed down version and it’s—just focuses a lot more on stretching and holding the stretches which I feel is sort of is like a nice bridge between like, “Ok. I’m—I’m doing general, you know, sort of stretching for like better flexibility and taking that into a yoga practice and saying, ‘Ok, like this is—I can do this.’”
DAC Yes! Absolutely. And the thing about yoga is you have to take your practice off the mat. So whatever you struggle with in the class, whatever chatter is going on through your mind when you’re lying in savasana at the end that is your yoga practice. And you take that off the mat, into your life, and that’s therapy.
KL Absolutely! It’s so true. Well just like going to yoga and going to the gym, you know, does like you usually have to pay for that. What—what does therapy even cost? You know? I mean I think there’s all sorts of ways you can pay for it and depending on whether you find someone that’s in your network or your, you know, covered by your insurance. Like is there a general idea of what folks can—can think about when they’re budgeting for it?
DAC Yes, there’s really a range. There are I believe the going rate in Philadelphia is somewhere between 150 and 200 dollars an hour, which is a lot if you’re going weekly. Fortunately, unlike yoga and things like that, insurance covers therapy. And it used to be that insurance companies would limit the number of sessions you could go for a lifetime or for a year and your therapist was constantly having to call them and ask for more sessions. That has—that has ended. So if you have something like Aetna Insurance or Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare, it’s pretty easy to find—well, there are lots of therapist that are in network with those therapists. I hesitate to say it’s easy to find somebody because a lot of the therapists their practices are full. That’s a problem that I see people running into quite a bit. There’s a place in Philadelphia, I believe it’s called The Philadelphia Society for Clinical Psychologists. They have a huge network of therapists that either do pro bono work meaning that the therapy is free or that they have a sliding scale and there are other great organizations. There’s one called Insight for All which is providing psychoanalytic therapy to the homeless in Philadelphia. So there there is a push to make therapy available to everybody.
SWB Yeah, you know, we—we have a lot of listeners all over the place and so I think something that—that they may want to do is just kind of like Google around for sliding scale therapy options wherever they’re located and kind of look into some of those resources.
KL Ok. So we have just one last question for you: what would you tell someone who’s listening to this episode and curious about therapy but, you know, still a little scared or a little unsure?
DAC I would ask your friends, ask your family. Somebody else has gone to therapy that you know. So many people go to therapy and you hear positive experiences from people, you hear how it unlocked something, it opened something. It helped them look at themselves in a different way. It is a leap of faith. It really does take courage but I feel like what do you have to lose? Getting to know a little bit more about yourself? Getting to meet somebody who has talked with and listened to lots and lots of people? What have you got to lose? Especially if you know how to break up with them if it doesn’t work [laughter].
SWB Thank you so much, Allison! This has been so wonderful to chat with you.
DAC Me as well. Thank you so much, guys. It’s my pleasure [music fades in, plays alone for six seconds].
JL Hey! It’s time for the Fuck Yeah of the Week!
SWB Fuck yeaaaah!
JL Hey, Katel, what’s the Fuck Yeah this week?
KL Ok. So I’ve been noticing that a bunch of really badass, amazing women, and just like everyone I follow in varying degrees has been like posting more selfies and just kind of documenting themselves and their lives, and I love it so much and it’s made me think about how I want to post more selfies. And how I’ve literally in the last week probably taken you know, five or six and then just like gone as far as posting them and making a comment or like a caption and then deleting it. Because I’m—I get like too nervous or scared or whatever.
SWB What’s worrying you about posting a selfie?
KL I think it’s this like the—the whole Instagram thing of like it has to be this perfect moment in time or this like perfect, you know, life thing or lighting or whatever and I—it’s totally not true. That’s bullshit.
SWB I think like, for me there’s also a piece of it where I often feel like, “Well, I don’t want to be the kind of person who posts all these selfies or who is like obsessively doing selfies,” and I—and then I’m like, first off: who gives a shit? Like if you want to do like elaborate selfie photo shoots, you should do that and that’s great [Katel says, “Definitely”]. I think you should definitely do that. Let me know your—your name on Instagram so I can follow you [Katel chuckles]. But I also—I don’t necessarily want to go to that level but I also I think like it’s like—it’s like anything where it’s like if I put this out there, what are people going to think about it? Are they going to—are they going to think that I think I’m pretty? Or are they going to think that like I think I’m like special in some way? And then it’s like, “Oh god I can’t have people think bad about me?” And it’s like the reality is people have been making selfies forever. Like since photography there have been selfies and before photography people got like fucking paintings of themselves made [Katel says, “Yes!”] with like the most expensive shit they owned. It’s fine. And like—like wanting to sort of document yourself and what you’re up to is really—it’s normal and it’s human and, you know, I mean I don’t know. I don’t want to necessarily have my phone out at all times while I’m like doing stuff [Katel says, “Yeah”] because I like to also just do the thing I’m doing and talk to people I’m with at the time. But I’m tired of like culture that hates on selfies as sort of like this thing that stupid girls do which always the implication that it’s like immature and it’s almost feminized and it’s—that’s like not historically accurate. You know the first selfie was uh taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839?
KL That’s dope [Sara laughs].
JL I think about, you know, I [sighs] I just feel like it’s social media. Everyone should be using it to what they want to use it for like it’s not—this is like how I feel about like the NFL when they banned like touchdown dances. I’m like, “It’s NFL! Let the people dance in the end zone.” Anyway, it’s like social media, let the people take selfies. You know, Sara, you mentioned that like, “Oh what if people think like I think I’m beautiful? Or I think I’m great?” You should think you’re beautiful!
SWB Oh don’t get me wrong that is like some weird, internalized bullshit but I like I don’t think I’m alone in having those feelings or kind of like having 10,000 conflicting feelings in that moment of like, “Oh I’m kind of feeling this look today but also I don’t people to think that like I tried really hard for this and I took like 7,000 shots for this even though if you want to take a good selfie you kind of do [laughter] have to take a bunch of them a lot, you know?
JL Yeah but like it’s digital. You can take 7,000 shots. You’re not paying for this. Like it’s that, I don’t know, I just—I’m all for like celebrating just like ourselves and like the like—and people around us. I mean that’s like the Fuck Yeah is about celebration and like I really like social media and the idea that like, “Let’s take a look and embrace these like moments that like are important to us.” So um, you know, I get the whole thing like a lot of people are like, “Well, people post these perfect selfies and they act like that’s the only like thing that’s great about their life.” They never had bad days. And for me it’s not really that on social media. I like to really use social media as a way to say like, “What am I excited about in life?” And so there’s an app I really like One Second Everyday and you basically take one second of video every day and then you can mash them together into like a six minute snippet at the end of the year or however long you like. But what I really like about this app is like it reminds me that everyday is awesome and to like find one thing I’m really excited about. So like even if I’m having a really shitty day, I can be like, “Oh, you know what? Cooper just smushed blueberries on his face. That’s awesome.” Or like, “Hey, I’m having like—I’m recording a podcast with friends,” and so like it gives you that time to be like, “Here’s why I’m still thankful for life.”
SWB I think what’s hard about it sometimes is—I mean just because like anything with social media where there’s an audience involved, there’s a level of it that is a—kind of like performative, right? It’s like, “What am I putting out for other people to consume?” And then you have to think like, “What do they going to think about it?” And I totally support people who don’t overthink any of that but I also recognize like that’s a natural thing to kind of think about because, you know, like sometimes you do get crappy comments or—or worse. And like, you have to just kind of make sense of like what’s going to give you some joy from it. But I really think like if selfies give you any ounce of joy then fucking post as many selfies as you feel like. If selfies give you no joy, like feel no obligation to [laughing] post selfies.
JL I mean it’s the whole like, I don’t know, everything is so formulaic, right? Like, if I post too many pictures of my cat, then I’m posting too many pictures of my cat. If I’m posting too many selfies, then I’m posting too many selfies. If I’m posting too much of my baby, I’m too many of the baby. It’s like, you know what? Why don’t I just do what I want to do.
SWB But like what if it’s pictures of me with my cat? There’s no limit on those, right?
JL Definitely not. But that’s the thing these like quote/unquote “rules”, right? That we have to follow are like, such a bummer. Like let’s just like, rock it.
SWB I also feel like, you know, weed out people who don’t make you feel good about yourself, which is easier said than done. For sure. Like it’s totally easier said than done. But if you post a selfie and people are shitty about it? Mmm mmm hmm. You deserve better friends than that. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever’s going on in your life, you deserve better friends than that! You want people who are going to say nice stuff about your selfie or at least, at least tap a like. Come on! Come! On! [Laughter]
JL If you’re going through the streams and you’re like, “Ugh! This person posts so much selfies.” Like why—like maybe ask yourself like why does that bother you? Does it bother you because you want to post more selfies? Does it bother you because I don’t know I’m trying to think of why that would cause—like because you don’t want to see that much? Then unfollow them.
SWB Well plus people post all kinds of stuff that I’m not super interested in.
SWB Or that it’s—it feels like, “Oh. Ok. I get it. They’re in this like certain place right now on vacation. Like I’ve seen a bunch of photos and like I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole right now.” [Inhales deeply] I just keep scrolling.
KL I know. Yeah.
SWB And it’s fine. Right? And I can still love them and I don’t have to like, it doesn’t’ have to be any sort of reflection on like them as a human, right? Like it’s like they’re—they’re just doing their thing.
KL I think that’s the thing like I—like the people that I follow and that I like following and that I haven’t decided I’m going to unfollow or block or whatever. I’m like, “I like seeing you and so when I see your face and a thing that you’re doing that is like, clearly making you say, ‘I’m going to document this,’” I’m just like, “Fuck yeah. That’s awesome!”
SWB We’re going to take a selfie together and—and post it on the No, You Go Instagram.
KL I think that’s a good idea.
SWB I’m going to try to work on my selfie game too. I took a real quick selfie today and it was the first one in awhile but I think I’m going to try to up it a little bit because it’s going to be summer, I’m going to get my summer lipstick game on real strong, and like you gotta document that.
JL I was really bummed that I didn’t like selfie it up during like my pregnancy because I was like, I felt like I was really rocking it.
SWB Uh I can confirm: you were rocking it.
KL Yes! Absolutely!
SWB So, I’m super hyped by this talk about selfies, I am going to, like I said, focus my selfie game, get it real on point for summer 2018.
JL 2018! Summer of Selfies.
SWB Fuck yeah!
KL Fuck yeah!
SWB Well, that is it for this week’s episode of No, You Go, the show about being ambitious—and sticking together. NYG is recorded in our home city of Philadelphia and it is produced by Steph Colbourn. Our theme music is The Diaphone. Thank you to Dr. Allison Chabot for telling us all about therapy today. And if you like what you’ve been hearing, don’t miss our newsletter, I Love That. It comes every other Friday and, well, you’re going to love it. Check out noyougoshow.com/ilovethat to subscribe. And we’ll see you here next week [music fades in, ramps up, plays alone for 34 seconds, fades out to end].
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