Q: Hey Mark, what kind of therapy do you do?
A: Hi! I help men who are struggling with their identity, who feel like they’re being pulled in a million different directions at once, find themselves. I help them connect with themselves, so they can be more connected with others and the world.
Q: What does that mean?
A: I’m glad you asked. I imagine you want to know if working with me will help you get to feeling better and lead to some positive, lasting changes in your life.
Q: Well, yea. So how are you going to do it?
A: Technically speaking, I am trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
Q: Okay. I think I’ve heard of CBT. Isn’t it really old school. How can it help me now?
A: While CBT has been around a long time, there continues to be extensive research into its benefits, and new techniques emerge all the time. In fact, it’s the most extensively researched modality for providing effective therapy.
Q: I’ve been to a counselor before who used CBT. All we did was talk about my negative thoughts and how to turn them around. It didn’t really work for me.
A: You wouldn’t be the first (or the last) to make that claim. CBT, when applied properly, goes so much deeper than that and can be used to make changes deep at someone’s core. It’s not just about turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Unfortunately, many counselors who claim to use CBT aren’t actually trained to do it.
Q: That’s not good.
A: No. It isn’t. That is why I have studied CBT and taken the time to really learn it, so I can use it effectively.
Q: So if CBT is so great, what’s with this mindfulness stuff?
A: While CBT can be used to change negative thoughts patterns and address unhelpful negative core beliefs, it can take a while. Not only that, some people aren’t in a place where it can be effective.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: I mean that if people are in a really dark place, where their negative thoughts and emotions are making it hard to think clearly or make decisions, talking about these thoughts and trying to address them may not be very helpful. Mindfulness helps to fill in that gap. It gives a person the means to alleviate their emotional distress in the moment.
Q: That sounds interesting.
A: It is. I first discovered mindfulness during my internship, when I was working at a local mental health hospital. While I was there, I worked with the most intense clients on the equivalent of an ICU. I can honestly say that I would not have been able to do my job without it.
Q: Well, that’s good. But how is that going to help me?
A: Well, MBCT is sort of the evolution of MBSR, or mindfulness based stress reduction.
Q: Oh, I like where this is going…
A: MBSR was developed to help people to reduce, you guessed it, STRESS. And who couldn’t benefit from that? It has also been shown to be effective in helping people who struggle with chronic pain and other issues that are otherwise difficult to treat as well as being an effective means of preventing relapse in those that have wrestled with chronic, recurrent depression or anxiety.
Q: That sounds good and all, but how does it work?
A: Well, mindfulness is about training our minds to purposefully pay attention to what’s going on in the present moment without making judgments.
Q: You lost me.
A: Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies, our being in the here and now. We notice how things are without giving them additional meaning or assigning them value. Our experience in the present moment is just that, our experience. It is neither good or bad, positive or negative. It just IS.
Q: So how is that helpful?
A: Learning to experience the world without judging it allows us to detach from negative thoughts. As taught in CBT, negative thoughts lead to negative emotions which, more often than not, lead to negative behaviors.
Q: Okay. I think I’m getting it. So why both? From what you’re saying it sounds like either one would be pretty good.
A: Well, like I said before, sometimes people can’t benefit from one or the other or may be unwilling to try. I once heard that CBT is like finding people out in the ocean who were drowning and trying to teach them how to swim. Mindfulness is like handing them a life vest. Some people might only be interested in mindfulness to help them alleviate stress. Others may only want CBT and think meditating is weird. I find that some combination of the two actually yields the best results.
Q: So what does therapy with you actually look like?
A: Though the process can vary based on the person and the issues they are hoping to address, it always starts out the same. I have to get to know you.
And you have to get to know me too.
Only once we have built a relationship founded on mutual trust can the real therapy begin. So we’ll spend the first few sessions doing exactly that.
Before we meet for the first time, I’ll send you a brief questionnare to fill out. This will be our jumping off point. We’ll then meet and talk about your goals, and I’ll help you identify the types of things that might be holding you back.
If you find yourself interested in what I do or simply have more questions, I encourage you to schedule a free consultation or give me a call directly at 972-533-1788.