African American Therapist Murrieta

Anxiety: Is your worrying normal?

Let me just start by saying, it is not normal to be worried ALL THE TIME. Sure we all get concerned about different things throughout the day- traffic, getting the kids to school on time, completing your to do list and what you're going to eat for lunch. But when these worrisome thoughts become a lifestyle, then you might have crossed into the anxiety zone.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Previously, I've broken down the different types of anxiety disorders, and I've also written about panic attacks and Social Anxiety. You can click the links to read about them. Today I'm focusing on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

So what's GAD? To put it simply, it's the presence of constant, daily, excessive worry over a period of 6 months or more. The worry becomes so much that it actually disrupts your lifestyle. Perhaps you worry so much that your friends begin to be concerned about you. Or you worry so much that your performance at work begins to slip. Or you're so worried that you become a lot less social. 

In some cases, you know that your worry is excessive, however you feel like you have no power over it. This could cause a dip in your self confidence and leave you feeling demoralized. Your mind races from one topic to the other and sometimes it affects your sleep. You lay in bed, but your mind refuses to shut off. You think about all the possible things that could go wrong tomorrow and you just can't get a grip on your mind. Your thoughts constantly shift from one thing to the next. Because you're worried all the time, you lose concentration, you're excessively tired, irritable, you might get headaches or other pains in your neck, shoulders or back. So it isn't just a mental game, it's also physical. 

You see, your mind and your body are deeply connected, and usually, when your mind is not at peace, it sends a signal to your body, which will then stop being at peace. So I always say "Listen to your body. Know what it's telling you." If you're experiencing tension in your muscles, it could be a warning sign that you're anxious.

If you think you might be struggling with GAD, the first step (as I always advice) is to go to your primary care physician to ensure that it isn't being caused by a physical health condition. Once he or she rules that out, then step two is to contact a mental health professional such as a counselor or a therapist. There are lots and lots of therapists throughout the Murrieta and Temecula area. 

I happen to really love working with individuals who are struggling with anxiety disorders. I'll ask you a series of questions to determine if indeed you are struggling with anxiety. Then we will begin to dig in to figure out what triggers your anxiety, what's maintaining it and how to gain better control over it. GAD and other anxiety disorders (don't be scared by that word) are totally treatable. If you're ready for some relief, you can call me at 951-905-3181 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how we can work together to get you some relief. You can also email me here.

So are you ready to get help?

Questions to ask your therapist

So you've finally taken the plunge and decided to schedule an appointment with a therapist. Your heart is beating wildly, you're embarrassed and you're not sure how it's all going to go. You head into the office, you check your shirt to make sure you didn't stain it with your lunch. Your thoughts won't slow down. You ask yourself, "What am I supposed to say?" "What if she asks me something I don't want to answer or a question I don't know?"

 It's okay. Just breathe. Once you step into my office, I'll welcome you, ask you to have a seat and make sure the room temperature is all good. I'll also have tissue boxes for you, just in case things get a bit tearful. When you sit on my couch, here are some questions you can ask me.

 1) Will you be able to help me? And I'll probably tell you that I'll try my best, but I cannot give you a 100% guarantee that your life will be perfect after therapy. We will work together as a team to help you inch closer to your goals. But just like your doctor cannot promise you a sickness free life and Nordstrom cannot promise you that those pumps will change your life, I can't promise you that your life will be perfect.

 2) Did you diagnose me? Great question. If you plan to use your health insurance, then yes you'll be getting a mental health diagnosis. It's the only way insurance will pay. However, if you do not fit the criteria for a mental health diagnosis, I will not be diagnosing you. FYI it's illegal to just give someone a diagnosis just to make insurance pay. No bueno.

 3) What's my diagnosis? Another great question. I love to discuss this with my clients. I will tell you what diagnosis I gave you (if indeed I gave you one), why and what it means. This is similar to how doctors explain to you what they diagnose you with. If you're diabetic, they tell you what that means and if you pulled a muscle, they also explain to you what it means. Don't be afraid to ask me about this. I believe it could be great for your healing.

 4) How long will I be in therapy? This varies. Some people are in therapy for 6 short sessions, and others, for as long as 1 year or more. Still there are some people who show up once, decide it's not for them and they stop coming. It really all depends on your diagnosis, your commitment to do the work and what your goals are. If your diagnosis is severe, chances are you'll be in therapy longer. If you're not willing to do the hard work, you might also be in therapy longer. Either way, this is a great conversation to have.

 5) Will you be sharing my information with anyone? Technically I will only share information if you are a danger to yourself or someone else, or if I'm having to make a child abuse, elder abuse or dependent abuse report. These reports are mandated by the state of California when the need arises. I'll also have to share your information if the Feds ask me to do this (because I do not want to be complicit or a partner in crime). This is called the Patriot Act. Read more about it here. Outside of any of these situations, your information stays in my brain like a steel trap.

 If you'd like me to share information with your doctor or lawyer or husband or childhood friend, you'd have to sign a document called a release of information. In the document you'll tell me which information specifically I'm allowed to share. If you change your mind in the future, you can choose for me not to share that information.

 6) How often will our sessions be? Every therapist works differently. I personally like to see my clients weekly. This seems to be the best option for people who really want to get the ball rolling. I'm all about, let's set a goal, let's work hard to reach a goal, and then let's get you graduated. Woohoo!!

 7) Do you charge cancelation fees? Not all therapists do this, but I absolutely do. If I don't get a 24 hour notice, I do charge you a portion of the fee. This is important to note so you know exactly what to expect. Remember this, therapists see clients hourly, so if you don't show up to your appointment, we're left twiddling our thumbs. Plus if you give me a 24 hour notice, I'm able to offer your appointment time to someone else who needs some therapy. So out of respect for other clients who might want an appointment, please give a 24 hour notice so that others who also need help may take your spot.

What other questions would you like to have answered before you see a therapist?

For a free 15 minute phone consultation call with me, call me at 951-905-3181 so you can begin a path to a happier, calmer life. During this 15 minute phone call, I'll ask you what you've been struggling with, what your goals are, if you've been in therapy before, and it's your time to ask me whatever you want. Look at it this way, you get to interview me before you work with me.

Why does therapy cost so much?

You have searched on every website out there hoping to find a good therapist but it just doesn't seem like the ones you like are affordable. Why on earth are these therapists and counselors in Temecula and Murrieta so mean? Why do they cost an arm and a leg? Don't they want to be helpful?

 Well I'll tell you why from my point of view:

 Therapist's background

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is a professional with at least a master's degree. Some have PhDs or Doctorate degrees. I even know one who has 2 PhDs! This means it took a minimum of 6 years of college for your therapist to actually learn her specialized skills. Some MFT masters programs take 3 years to complete, increasing the learning time. If the therapist has a Phd it probably took her (or him) anywhere from 3 to 6 additional years of school after the masters' degree. 

To become licensed in the state of California, in addition to spending all that time in school, a therapist must also become an intern while in school. So for 1 to 2 years, not only are we taking a large number of classes, learning about law and ethics, diagnosis, human relationships, child development, research and a wide array of other important topics to help you, we are also spending literally thousands of hours seeing clients to make sure we know what we are doing. We are honing our skills and getting shaped into the professionals that sit in front of you today. It is similar to how a surgeon goes through a residency to sharpen his or her skills.

 Once we graduate from university , we must get 3,000 hours of client experience while we are under the supervision of someone who is licensed. So even though we've studied for years, completed a supervised internship, we still need to continue learning. 3,000 hours of client experience doesn't mean we are just sitting in a room for 8 hours a day and racking up hours. It means the hours that count are those spent sitting in front of clients. It takes years to complete these hours. Anywhere from 2 to even 6 years, depending on the situation. We also meet with our supervisor every week for 1 to 2 hours while we are interns. Our supervisors check our paperwork, ask us questions about the clients and basically make sure we aren't ruining people's lives. So 4 years of undergrad, 2 to 3 years of masters', and possibly another 3 years of on the job work.

After our 3,000 hours are done, we then sit through 2 rigorous exams. It took me months to study for and pass the exams. So when you think of it, your therapist spends anywhere from 8 to 12 years training to get their license. We might not be physicians, but we sure do train like long and hard like them.


Therapist's attention to detail

Usually when a therapist charges higher fees, it typically means that he or she can be very picky about the clients he or she takes on. Why is this important? Because if I took on every client who called me, I would be doing them a huge disservice. I only take on clients whom I know will be a great fit for me. No one is a jack of all trades, so I choose wisely. I see very few clients, but I know that the few I have are getting the best of my attention. Before I even meet you, I am already trying to figure out the best way to serve you. And after you are out of the room, I create a treatment plan-a document that describes what goals and objectives we will be working on together. Let's be honest. No therapist is great at treating all types of clients, so have a conversation with your therapist about who they're great at working with. Don't just sign up with a therapist because they're cheap or they take your insurance. This is your life we're talking about here.

You might think you're paying for an hour-long session, but really your therapist is working on helping you before you sit in the couch and after you're gone.

Before each session, many therapists plan and prepare to make sure we will be of good service to you, and after you leave we do some documentation detailing how the session went and our plan for the next session. It's how we track progress. If your insurance is being billed, then the documentation is a lot longer. We would have to meet insurance standards as well.

 My small client load allows me to give my best work and to be as attentive to you as possible. Have you ever sat in front of a doctor and felt that he was trying to rush you out of the room? Or that he didn't know you? That's a feeling I never want you to have. I pride myself in giving each client 5 star service. But honestly, if I charged lower fees and saw each client for only 30 minutes, I'll start to forget your name and you become inconsequential. But when I charge slightly higher, I only see a few people at a time and I give you the best of my energy. I know what direction your life is going, I know exactly how close you are in meeting your goals-I actually remember you.

Charging very low fees could potentially lead to resentment of the client as the therapist might not be making ends meet-which will be sad considering the years spent on honing one's skills. This will be a waste of my time and yours.

It's similar to the service you get when you go to a discount store, compared to the service you get at a small upscale boutique. Now this doesn't mean that therapists who charge higher are better, it just means that they typically see fewer clients and they have more time to do the back end work.

 So, what do you think of therapists' fees in the Inland Empire or Murrieta area?

If you're tired of carrying around, anxiety, resentment and stress, schedule a free 15 minute consultation call.  It's time to find your calm and get back to the real you. Call me at 951-905-3181 at my counseling office in Murrieta so we can help you ditch the anxiety.

How do you know when you're drowning in overwhelm?

So often I hear people say, "I'm overwhelmed." In the moment it might feel like a quick avalanche that just sneaked up on you. But in reality, overwhelm is more like slow moving lava. It inches closer and closer and closer until you are knee deep in hot, fiery flames and you have nowhere to run. You get stuck and you have no clue how this happened.

 To avoid the hot trap, it's important to realize the warning signs that point to the fact that you are indeed overwhelmed. Take a closer look at your life. How does your appearance change when it starts to creep in? Maybe you stop wearing lipstick or mascara. Maybe you start to pull your hair in a bun instead of combing it out.

How does overwhelm creep in at work? Does your desk get messy? Do you stop socializing with coworkers? Do you yawn more or do you slack off? Or maybe you cram in every single task possible without taking lunch breaks.

How does overwhelm show up in your relationships? Do you pick fights with your partner or do you isolate yourself? Are you snapping at your kids for pouring milk on the floor or chewing too loudly?

 Are your relationships changing? Are you isolating yourself? Are you yelling more or are you becoming more cranky? Do you not feel like going to dinners? Ask your spouse or partner what he notices when things are getting difficult for you.

It's important to notice how overwhelm sneaks in-the gentle warning signs. Once you notice your hair going up in a bun, its time to start letting go of the things that might lead you to overwhelm. Take a break, do some yoga, talk to a friend- or a therapist. Pause so you can take a detour before the lava sucks you in. If you don't slow down, the lava it will sneakily creep its way into your life until you're burned into ashes. 

How will you stop overwhelm in its tracks today? To schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with me, call 951-905-3181. During this consultation, we will talk about what's going on with you, what my therapy style is and how I may be able to help you find your calm and avoid the lava.

Can a therapist help you?

You've felt lost and confused for years. Even though you put on a brave face for the people around you, your life feels miserable. You've lost your voice snd you're not sure how to find it again. You pour all the energy you have into your family, but at the end of the night, you feel like you're left with nothing.

 This is where therapy comes in. The first step is to find a therapist you trust. Finding a therapist is very much like learning to ride a bike. You fall a few times until you finally get it right. Don't be afraid to ask the therapist a million questions. "Do you take my insurance?" "How many years have you practiced for?" "What's your specialty?" "Tell me how you work." "What's your cancellation policy?""Can you help me with my goal?" "How long will our sessions be?"

 A therapist will help you sort through your thoughts and feelings and get you to your goal. I always encourage people to have a specific goal when they start therapy. This goal will ensure that both you and the therapist are clear on what exactly you're trying to accomplish. That way you can decide if you are on the right track and you can measure your progress.

Therapy can be uncomfortable as you might end up remembering painful memories or uncomfortable feelings, however a flower cannot grow without being buried in dirt. Sometimes it takes some discomfort to get you to your desired place. Also realize that during your first few sessions, you're only trying to see if you're a good fit with this therapist. Don't be afraid to let the therapist know if something isn't working for you-openness leads to great results. Also don't feel bad if you don't click with the therapist. Keep searching until you find your person. 

 So could therapy be right for you? Call today at 951-905-3181 or email me for a complimentary phone consultation and let's talk about achieving your goals. In this free 15 minute phone call, we will talk about what issues are bothering you, when they started, and you can also ask me whatever questions you need to know me better. It's your time to interview me as see if I'm a good fit for you.