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I Want You To Call Me Out on My Shit… Will You?

I Want You To Call Me Out on My Shit… Will You?

“It’s for you!”

Over the last ten years in my private practice, I occasionally hear this request from new clients.

“Are you the kind of therapist who will call me on my shit?”

“Yes, I am,” is the short answer. But how I do that may not be exactly what you have in mind. The longer answer includes a few variables that I’ve learned really matter in this endeavor, such as:

  • how long we’ve been working together
  • how strong our therapeutic alliance is
  • whether or not you are in a crisis or you’re in a more stable place in your life

As someone who has a semi-objective (I mean, who can really be fully objective, in these human bodies with all of these accumulated experiences, anyway?) point of view, I may be able to sense some of the patterns you’re perpetuating or some of the defenses you’re displaying more easily than you can. As your therapist, it’s my job to take note of these and to reflect them to you in a way that is empathic and understanding. It’s also my aim to provide you with some alternatives.

What Does Calling You on Your Shit Look Like?

For different people, the answer may look very different. If being “called out” is important to you, are you specifically looking for one or more of the following from me?

  • Tough questions
  • Specific coping skills
  • Help with identifying the problems (the pattern of thoughts or behaviors) 
  • Highlighting inconsistencies in your values and actions or reflecting “bad” choices
  • Challenging the excuses or justification you typically use
  • Help developing a plan of action

The Issue of Accountability

Sometimes, when we rely on others to keep us accountable there may be some challenges with our own responsibility-taking. Strengthening this personal challenge to step up to the plate and take accountability on your own is a perfectly worthwhile therapeutic goal.

Developing your own sense of insight, or an understanding of how or why you’ve chosen (often unconsciously) the actions or patterns in your life is an important aspect of any therapy.

I am here to support and guide you in this process, and until you are able to do that work on your own, yes, that may look like me, calling you out, on your shit.

The Gnarled Roots of Depression

The Gnarled Roots of Depression

Depression is an incredibly challenging state of being. It drains your energy, takes the pleasure out of everything you do, and convinces you that there is no point in anything.

While it sometimes seems that depression arises out of nowhere and slowly takes over our psyches, the true roots of depression can come from a number of places. Let’s look at these three common sources:

  • Unresolved Trauma
  • A harsh, demanding or punitive Inner Critic
  • Unexpressed anger that has been turned inward on the Self

Unresolved Trauma

I recently listened to an Attachment Theory in Action podcast in which Howard Steele Ph.D. provided some phenomenal definitions for trauma. He says:

Trauma is an experience that occurs when there is a gap between the demands of a situation and the resources available to handle that situation.


Traumatization is when children are overwhelmed with information or experiences they cannot understand. When this occurs, their self development suffers and they are traumatized.

Steele goes on to talk about how the most vulnerable years of life are the first 18 years. That children are really the most vulnerable population in need of advocacy and protection.

When we, as children, have experiences that are overwhelming and incapable of being fully understood, processed, and integrated, we are susceptible to traumatization. When this happens repeatedly, we are left alone to make sense of our experiences and, due to false attribution, we tend to misassign ourselves the blame. This alone can cause depression.

Trauma can be healed. It takes time to unpack and explore the many layers we’ve built over it, but it may be the most important thing you ever do.

A harsh, demanding or punitive Inner Critic

How you talk to yourself is everything.

Do you realize that you talk to yourself? Because we all do it, all day long and even (or, rather, especially) in the wee hours of the night. There are many people for whom that idea is foreign, but once we start to get quiet and bring our attention inward we can hear the stirrings of a voice that is always there, just below the surface.

This is why mindfulness is such a powerful practice. Because it gives us a structure and a way to gently “drop in” on our own self-talk and be curious about it.

Once we’re there what we sometimes find is a relentless authority figure whose mission is to keep us in line, prevent us from making a fool out of ourselves, or keep us small and unnoticeable. That voice is generally negative, demeaning, or cruel.

Hearing how you speak to yourself is sometimes a shock, and often a revelation. If you had an actual nay-sayer following you around 24/7, it’d make sense that you generally felt down.

Since this part of you never leaves (and often exists beyond your conscious mind) it can be incredibly challenging to change what is causing your pain. The good news is that Inner Critics are capable of being tamed and transformed from masters to servants with clear intentions, guidance, and practice.

Unexpressed anger that has been turned inward on the Self

We all get angry. It is part of our evolutionary design. When we feel that an injustice has occurred, or that we have been violated in some way, our adrenaline starts pumping to mobile us so we can take action. We are supposed to take action.

However, for those of us who have been conditioned to not take action, for example, those of us with a Subjugation or Self-Sacrifice schema, we do not express our anger. We pretend that everything is fine, and our anger gets swallowed down deep inside of us. It lives there, inside our bodies and festers. It often changes form from anger into resentment and sometimes, it becomes depression.

The good news here is that it is never too late to express what has been unexpressed. The rage from the injustices you saw or experienced as a child, or at any point in your life is still there. Expressing it can be an important part of your healing journey. As you release the pent-up energy and make space for something new, you may find that there is a world of sadness, grief, or creativity that awaits.

Got another gnarly root cause of depression to share? Leave it in the comments!

How Often Should I See My Therapist?

How Often Should I See My Therapist?

How often should I see my Therapist?

“How often should I plan to come see you?” This is a question I often get from prospective clients early on in our work together. My answer: every week.

Therapy is a unique relationship, and has the potential to be one of your most powerful relationships. A psychotherapeutic relationship holds the possibility for transforming lifelong patterns of relating to others in ways that ultimate don’t serve you. Do you:

  • Tend to get into conflicts with the people closest to you and later regret how you handled the situation?
  • Ghost your friends or intimate partners when things get tough?
  • Feel emotional overwhelm when stresses are high?
  • Choose not to share your needs with others out of the fear of being a burden?
  • Feel abandoned when others don’t respond to your efforts to connect immediately?

These are all ways of relating that can be hard to recognize in ourselves and even harder to change. Often, exploring these dynamics, or ways of relating, is a part of the work of therapy.

The key word when it comes to therapy is relationship.

There is a saying among therapists “it’s the relationship that heals.” The saying was coined by Irvin Yalom, a therapist and author, and it speaks truth to how therapy actually works.

The wounding that causes individuals to reach out for help in the first place was caused in a relationship. And the healing for that wound takes place within the context of a relationship.

And relationships take time to build, effort to maintain, and must be valued as a priority if they are going to be effective at upending long-standing patterns. 

But what if I can only afford to visit my Therapist every-other week? 

First, I would encourage you, if you are in this position, to really soul-search on this one. Can you truly not afford to go to therapy weekly, or does the idea of having to meet your therapist every week inspire anxiety or dread? Does it feel too intense or overwhelming? 

If this is the case, consider sharing this information with your therapist so they can help. Perhaps making weekly meetings something you can work toward could be beneficial while also allowing you to go at a pace you can feel comfortable with to start. 

If you can afford it, I strongly encourage you to commit to it. You will feel more progress, sooner. Psychotherapy is not necessarily something that one is meant to enter into forever more. It is intended to be a healing, supportive, or skills-based training experience for a period (or many periods) in your life. Make it a priority in your budget if and when you are feeling that you need it, and when that piece of work is complete (that issue has resolved, that pattern is upended, or that goal has been attained), suspend your therapy for as long as you like. 


Reading the Headlines

One analogy I often use involves coming to therapy twice a month is like reading the news headlines. You come in, “read me the highlights” and we get caught up just in time for our session to be complete. Then you’re off for another two weeks. There isn’t enough time to read through the entire story of what’s happening, nor is there time to really explore how what is happening is affecting you and how we might work to manage or mitigate those impacts. 


I often say to my clients “I would rather see you for six-months doing weekly sessions than for a year of every-other week.” Why? Because we can go deeper, accomplish more, and you’ll get more out of it. 

I know this from my decade of working in private practice and experiencing both weekly and bi-weekly schedules with my clients. 


But what if I can only come to therapy monthly? 

Monthly visits are not in-depth psychotherapy. They are check-ins. And check-ins are fine under certain circumstances: 


  • If you have been doing weekly therapy for months or years and want to continue your meetings with your therapist to feel the benefit of continued support after making significant strides on your goals. 
  • When you have a very specific issue that you want to consult about with your therapist. 

 If you are just starting out in therapy, monthly meetings are likely going to prove frustrating and the odds that you’ll stay the course long enough to see the benefits are slim. 



What if I want to come to counseling more frequently? 

Occasionally I meet with people more than once a week. If you find yourself in a situation that is deeply distressful and you feel that you’d benefit from multiple sessions a week, let me know. 


Are there resources for low-fee therapy so that I can work weekly with a therapist whose rate is within my budget? 

Yes! Check out Open Path Psychotherapy Collective to find therapists offering sliding scale spots for therapy in the range of $30-$60. 


Questions for me about my practice? Contact me today!  

What is Complex Trauma?

What is Complex Trauma?

Most of us have heard about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and many of us associate PTSD with the military and experiences of being in combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder indicates a psychological response to an acutely traumatic situation. It was coined and popularized in the 1970s after veterans were returning home from their deployments in Vietnam exhibiting the effects of the extreme stress that they’d been under. This stress was often the result of a moral injury. I’ll be diving into moral injury in an upcoming blogpost, so stay tuned for that! For now, let’s dive into CPTSD.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is also known as slow trauma, complex trauma, or developmental trauma, is trauma that occurs over a longer period of time, and happens during our childhood. It is a more recent development in the psychology world and in 2015, Pete Walker released his seminal book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. 

In his book, Walker takes us into the world of this all-too-common phenomenon and clarifies what it is, where, when and how it happens, and what we can do to heal.

CPTSD is a more severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder. – Pete Walker

CPTSD is often caused by growing up in a severely abusive and/or neglectful family system. This includes abandonment and abuse on a physical, emotional, verbal, and/or spiritual level. While many adults who have CPTSD were physically hit/beaten in childhood, that is not a mandatory factor.

The core wound in CPTSD is emotional neglect. This occurs when there is no safe adult to turn to for comfort or protection in times of real or perceived danger.

Five pernicious qualities of CPTSD are:

  • social anxiety
  • triggers that create intense emotional overwhelm/emotional flashbacks
  • a vicious inner critic
  • toxic shame
  • self-abandonment


Here’s a list of factors that, if present during your childhood years, may indicate your possible exposure to that Complex PTSD:

  • extended periods of physical or sexual abuse
  • ongoing verbal or emotional abuse (this includes being intimidated, threatened, shamed, or name-called)
  • being treated with contempt by a caregiver (with denigration, rage and/or disgust)
  • emotional neglect (not providing support, safety, education or advocacy during intense emotional experiences)
  • feeling that you didn’t have a voice, or that your voice/values/desires were not honored by your caregivers
  • your attempts at healthy self-assertion were met with resistance or retaliation/being called “selfish,” ignored, or punished by a parent

The good news, as Walker states, is that:

CPTSD is a learned set of responses, and a failure to complete numerous important developmental tasks.

In other words, CPTSD is something we can heal from.

If these words resonate for you, and you are ready to heal, reach out. Let’s get it going.

The Engaging Therapist

The Engaging Therapist

Lately I have had a lot of talks with brave souls, reaching out for support as they endeavor to get clarity and work on themselves. During my free consultation by phone these individuals have expressed some desire about the type of therapist they want.

“Are you the type of therapist that is… interactive?” they ask.

“I want someone who will talk with me, not just sit quietly the whole time.”

“Of course!” is my typical response. Of course you want to have a therapist who is active in the room, who is curious and present and wants to know more. Someone who is eager to understand things in the hopes of shining a light into the unknown parts of your psyche so that both of us can get clear about where things are stuck.

“I’ve only had experiences with counselors who say very little, and that’s really not what I’m looking for. I want feedback and direction. I actually swore off therapy for a long time because of these experiences, but I’m finally willing to give it another shot.”

Hearing stories like these makes me incredibly sad. I know the courage it takes to pick up the phone and say “hey, I am struggling here and I need help.” The courage it takes to go into a stranger’s office and spill the beans about the ways you’ve been doing things you don’t want to keep doing, the ways you are suffering or are clueless about how to remedy things in your own life takes guts. To go through all of that and find yourself feeling alone and without engagement can be deeply disappointing, at best. For individuals that are struggling with feeling isolated or have a long history of not feeling seen or heard, it can be re-traumatizing.

All therapists have their own unique style of relating. Some therapists use modalities that are very directive, such as in the case of cognitive behavioral therapists and dialectical behavioral therapists. Analysts typically say less and listen more. While I do not identify as a “directive” therapist per se, I would say that my style is engaging.

I want to know what’s happening in your life and what you make of it. I want to hear your reasoning and your motivations. I am curious about your thought processes and your belief systems. I am listening for the places your feel well and strong and clear and the places that you harbor fears, uncertainly and self doubt.

I have tools and skills to share when you are ready to begin to make changes and try something new.

As an engaging therapist, I very much want to connect with you and, together, do the important work of exploration and growth.

Asheville Holistic Therapy

Asheville Holistic Therapy

The word holistic has become ubiquitous over the past ten years. But what does holistic therapy really mean?

According to Dictonary.com, here’s the definition of holistic:

Holistic – (adjective)

  • Incorporating the concept of holism, or the idea that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts, in theory or practice:holistic psychology.
  • Medicine/Medical. identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures: holistic medicine.

The Whole Is More Than The Sum of Its Parts

As it applies to my counseling practice in Asheville, holistic therapy takes three forms:

1. The fundamental viewpoint that sees all individuals as whole, complete, unbroken and innately capable of healing. the knowledge that all people are more than the sum of their parts. Everyone contains an essence that is uniquely their own; everyone has a soul. Regardless of the anxiety, depression, confusion, stuck-ness, overwhlem or neurosis that you are dealing with right now, I know that you also have the capability to feel calm, clear, confident, at peace and joyful. 

2. The process and methods used in the psychotherapeutic process by the therapist. For me, this is exemplified by my taking an eclectic approach to the therapeutic relationship. In my fifteen years experience working with individuals, I have come to know that not everyone responds well to the same modality. Nor should they. People have different interests and experiences that lead them to develop preferences. For some, an evidence-based methodology that has been tested via research studies and is scientifically proven to help heal is what works best. 

For others, it is the relationship they have with their therapist that makes the greatest impact. 

The methods I use with my clients vary, and are informed by what my clients are open to, interested in, and willing to try. I often will use highly experiential techniques including dialogues, imagery exercises, dreamwork, and mindfulness meditation. I will also incorporate more traditional modalities including cognitive-behavioral techniques depending on what my client needs and my assessment of their needs. 

3. Not pushing meds. While I am not a medication manager and my license does not allow for me to prescribe medications, I also do not tend to express a strong preference for my clients to get on meds as the solution to all ails. To be clear: there are certain circumstances in which I feel medication can help. When that is the case, I bring it up, and we talk about that possibility. But that is not my first suggestion.

My aim is to support the amazing people I get to work with to find balance and well-being in their lives. If that includes medication for a period of time, fine. If it doesn’t, that is also absolutely fine. I always stress the importance of still doing the work of healing, which is not the same thing as taking a pill. You can do both.



If it sounds like we could be a good fit and you’d like to explore working with me in my Asheville, holistic therapy office, reach out today.