Tag Archives: psychotherapy for women

A Review of Therapy

A Review of TherapyRelational Psychotherapy for Therapists

One of the values of the internet is that it not only provides opportunities to easily find the services we are looking for, it also gives us a chance to see what others are thinking about those services. While we probably don’t know the people who have written these reviews, we trust that they are mostly honest and fair and, at a minimum, are offering some useful information on which to base our decision as to whether or not to use a given service.

To the extent this might work for some services, many services do not fit this model at all or, at least, only fit with some major caveats. Psychotherapy is an example of a service that fits awkwardly, at best.

For example, something most people do not know, including many therapists, is that a therapist is ethically prohibited from asking someone they have worked with to write a review for them. Some therapists who are aware of this ethical requirement try to get around it by having signatures on their email that include language such as “Like me on Yelp,” which delivers a strong hint that the therapist would appreciate an online review. Arguably, this is not keeping with the spirit of the ethics of the profession.

If you think about this, it is easy to see how being asked to write a review for your therapist can be a conflict. If my therapist asks me to write a review, I might do it to please her or because I want her to like me (or not dislike me!). It might cause me stress when I start to worry about whether I wrote the “right” thing. If I refuse, will my therapist be angry? What if I say something negative? Will it get in the way of the work we are doing? You can see how this can quickly turn into a conflict and potentially take the therapy off course. This is a big reason why our code of ethics prohibits the solicitation of reviews.

In addition, therapy is supposed to be about you, not about your therapist. When a therapist asks (or even hints) that you should write a review, the needs of your therapist are getting in the way of your needs. This is not what therapy is supposed to be about and, in fact, is a violation of ethical standards.

Despite this, some therapists have dozens and dozens of reviews on sites such as Yelp. How does this happen? In some cases, the therapist may not be aware that asking clients to post to social media on their behalf is ethically prohibited and s/he may be unwittingly asking clients to do this. Or the therapist may know that what they are asking is inappropriate but might be assuming that the client doesn’t know the ethical standards of the psychotherapy world so it isn’t a problem. Many businesses routinely ask their customers to review them, so they assume clients will not think anything of the request. In other cases, the therapist may offer classes and workshops and groups and the reviews may be a result of many enthusiastic attendees who have not actually been in therapy with the therapist.

The theoretical orientation of the therapist may play a role, as well. A therapist who primarily works with people for short periods of time on specific issues will have many more people passing through his or her door than someone who primarily works with people who are looking for a longer and more depth-oriented experience in therapy.

Often, the population with which the therapist works may be a factor. For example, a therapist who works with young children may have few reviews because young children are (usually!) not writing reviews and busy parents (usually!) don’t have the time. A therapist who works with older adults may not have any reviews because the people he or she works with are not active on social media.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a therapist who focuses on services for people in the tech industry may have many reviews because tech people are usually more comfortable with social media. But for most people, psychotherapy is a uniquely private matter, which means that they are not likely to be writing online reviews about their therapist.

In the end, however, the number of social media reviews for a given psychotherapist is dependent on many factors and may or may not be a reliable source of information.

If you can’t rely solely on reviews, what should you do? Read the online profile(s) for therapists and see who resonates with you. Try to be specific when you search on google or look at sites that have profiles set up by therapists in your area, such as Psychology Today or Good Therapy. Consider whether you are you looking for help with a specific issue or whether you want to focus on looking at yourself at a deeper level. Is there a particular approach to therapy that interests you? Has a trusted friend worked with someone who might be a good fit for you? (This can present additional complications, so make sure to check with your friend and with the therapist to make sure everyone is ok with this.) Gather information, contact the therapists who sound like they are interesting and could be helpful, and then talk with them and meet with them in person.

Online reviews can be helpful, but they are just one data point to consider. Don’t let a lack of social media visibility deter you from contacting a therapist who might be just the person you are looking for.

Questions about psychotherapy or about my approach to psychotherapy? Please see my website at www.marlacass.com and contact me at my San Francisco psychotherapy office: 415-218-2442 (phone link works from smartphones only) or at info@marlacass.com.

Psychotherapy for Successful Women

A Note to Successful Women

Therapy for Professional Women in San Francisco…You’re great at your job

Does this describe you? You are an intelligent woman, and you are fortunate to be in a career that you love–or, at least, like well enough. You are successful in your work, which, if you are living in the Bay Area, might be in one of the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business. You enjoy status and respect and you are well rewarded financially. At work, you feel comfortable and confident. People seek you out for your knowledge and experience, and you are often called upon to share your wisdom and to mentor colleagues. From the outside, it all looks great. When you are at work, it looks great to you, too. Work is a rewarding and comfortable place. When it comes to work, you are feeling pretty lucky.

…But maybe not so great at your relationships

But when you leave work, something else happens. You might be in a relationship, but it isn’t working very well. You are often in conflict with your spouse or partner, but you aren’t always sure why. You just don’t seem to understand each other. Maybe you are dating and finding it hard to connect with others. Or maybe you have given up on the whole relationship thing because it never seems to work out for you and it feels a lot easier to be single. You are frequently accused of being emotionally distant and, not so deep down, you wonder if this might be true.

You’re a problem solver

One of the ways you have been successful in your work has been to be a great problem solver. So when your partner is having a problem, you naturally want to help by brainstorming and finding a way to fix the problem. After all, people are always interested in solving problems, right?

…But you haven’t been able to figure out this one

The trouble is that we are all wired differently. For you, the path from problem to solution is a straight line. No point in wasting time going in circles. But for your partner, the path from problem to solution may not be so obvious. It is even possible that finding a solution is not the goal for your partner. To you, that may seem like a waste of time, but to your partner, it feels as organic as breathing. Just as solving problems feels natural and intuitive to you, feeling heard and processing feelings feels natural and intuitive to your partner.

Tips for dealing with your relationships

Relationships are complicated things that can have lives of their own. One of the keys to making your relationship successful is to spend some time learning to understand your partner, even if it might sometimes seem like he or she is speaking a foreign language. If you decided to live in France, you are definitely the kind of person who would not only learn French, but seek to be fluent. You would reason that you might be able to get by speaking English if you were a tourist, but you would never be comfortable with the limitations that would place on you. You would want to learn as much as you could about the language, even if it felt awkward to you and even if you sometimes failed at it. You would take pride in your successes and resolve to do better when you were unsuccessful. Even when things were frustrating, you would stick with it. That is just who you are. This is what you do at work and why you are so successful. Why would dealing with your relationship be any different?

In my work as a psychotherapist, I have found that what makes women successful in their careers can often lead to frustration and feeling unsuccessful in their personal relationships.

When we seek a mate, we are often driven by unconscious motivations, as unromantic as this may sound. One of those unconscious motivations can be qualities in the other person that you wish you had more of yourself. This is the well-known maxim “opposites attract.” So if you are an introvert, you will likely end up with an extrovert. If you are driven by your intellect, your partner is probably driven by her emotions. In some secret way, usually unknown even to ourselves, we do this because we think we will land somewhere in the middle—she will be influenced by our introversion and you will be influenced by her extroversion and the two of you will live happily ever after somewhere in the middle—but the more likely outcome is that what drew you to this person to begin with, often becomes what repels you and leads to difficulties when the honeymoon stage is over.

Learn to listen

This often results in frustration, anger, and disappointment, but it doesn’t have to. Couples can learn to listen to each other, to understand each other, and to find that elusive middle ground. One place to start is to listen—really listen—to what your partner is telling you both in her words and in her actions. Try to stay as present as you can, make eye contact, and imagine what she might be experiencing. What may feel like an attempt to push you away may actually be a bid for more connection. If you listen hard enough, you might be able to hear something you have never heard before.

Questions about psychotherapy or about my approach to psychotherapy? Please view my website at www.marlacass.com or contact me at 415-218-2442 (phone link works from smartphones only) or at info@marlacass.com/