Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


Tracing It Back to the Roots

I registered to be on the Psychology Today directory yesterday, wanting to solicit more clients for my practice, which has seemed to be dwindling (for all the office’s therapists) over the past few months.  In my profile, I was asked to provide a “personal statement”, which I found to be somewhat challenging.  How does a therapist encapsulate what kind of work they do, and with which type of clientele, with which kind of specialties?  It made me reflect on the clients I’ve had over the past year — most of them struggling with relationship issues, then stress and anxiety issues, then the lack of awareness of their problems and coping skills with which to deal with these obstacles.  
For a while, I was wondering if I should just specialize in marriage therapy and helping people get through the option of divorce, if it ends up being the best answer.  I worked with a couple to try and mediate conflicting opinions on parenting their difficult child.  This ended up unearthing more fundamental differences in their wants and needs, and they mutually decided to divorce, making them happier and more effective parents.  I worked with a man individually, who was also in marriage counseling with another therapist, giving him the space to vent his “real” thoughts and frustrations about the marriage, and to confront his own deep-rooted intimacy barriers that were leading to much of the marital discord.  That marriage ultimately led to divorce.  Then later, I worked with a woman who’s boyfriend had cheated on her, then they broke up, then they got back together under “new rules”, which then led to them impulsively getting married two months later.  They actually ended up developing a fairly healthy relationship with good communication skills, as she brought much of what she learned in therapy home to him to discuss.
And now I’m working with a woman, whom I’ve been seeing for over three years, who’s been married to an alcoholic, porn addict, reckless spender who is 15 years her senior, who finally came to the realization that the relationship was unfixable, that the costs far outweighed the benefits, and that they both needed to let each other go and get on with their lives.  But this took over three years of basically going over the same struggles, the same expectations that fell flat, and the same hopes that her husband would eventually “see the light” and get help for his problems.  
All of these clients had relationship problems because of underlying conflicts that sat at the core of their being.  I always use the analogy of a tree, saying that the presenting issues — be they relationship conflicts, job stress, compulsive behaviors, social anxiety, or whatever! — are just a branch on a trunk that has deep roots that we need to dig up and explore.  We can cut off the branches, but the tree will eventually grow new ones!  So, instead of specializing in just marriage therapy or relationship issues, I feel like I need to pan out to include several other “branches”, because whatever they are, it all comes back to “what is this thing that’s been bothering me and debilitating my life?”, then “where did it come from?”, then “how do I work through it in a healthier way?”.
So what I ended up saying were my top 3 specialties were:  Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, and Life Coaching.  You can see my full profile on www.psychologytoday.com when you search in the Cincinnati area (zip 45249).  My hope is that it attracts clients who want to work for a better life and are willing to excavate the roots, fertilize the soil better, then grow healthier branches and leaves.  🙂

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