1.14 A How-To Guide For Choosing A Therapist

Deciding to start working with a counselor or therapist can be one of the most important and life-changing decisions you'll make. But with some of the stigma around mental health and "shrinks", people are too afraid to ask questions.

Listen as Ameé speaks with therapist, Althea Brandis, and they talk about why therapy is important, how to find someone, what the differences are between mental health professionals, and what the whole process is really like.



Online Therapy Resources: Betterhelp.com/onebrokenmom


*May contain grammatical errors*

Ameé Quiriconi: 01:17 Today I have with me Althea Brandis. She has been a therapist for over 15 years and uses all types of counseling modalities, including art and psychotherapy to meet clients where they are on their journey of recovery and self improvement. She specializes in childhood and adult trauma and as the owner of cascade view counseling services right here in Snohomish, Washington. Hi Althea.

Althea Brandis: 01:38 Good morning.

Ameé Quiriconi: 01:40 So today on this particular episode we're going to talk about choosing a mental health partner and the reason why I wanted to bring this topic and create an episode around it is because in my own lifetime I've flirted with therapy a couple of times and usually obviously it really hard or low points in life. But in the two incidences that I attempted therapy as an adult, I never committed to the process. One time I did it, I ran it, managed to get two sessions in with a woman. And I mean I was sitting here thinking about her today. I don't remember her ever even getting a word in with me. I felt like I came into the sessions and just completely overwhelmed or two sessions later I was out and kind of trying to deal with my problems on my own. And then more recently I had talked with a couple of therapists because I was looking for somebody that could do couples counseling and in reality kind of like hindsight's 20 slash 20, I should have stayed in and taking care of my own therapeutic process.

Ameé Quiriconi: 02:35 But I, I really wasn't motivated at that time and I believe at both of those times in my life it was because I didn't know what I didn't know and didn't know that there was an importance to it. Now Althea knows this story, you know, last December, after spending several months reading, researching and soul searching, a light finally just kind of clicked on in my head. And I, I had that awareness that there was something that I to do and what I needed to do. And so in January I met Althea and two things happened. One I really liked per view, um, and that was important for me. Um, you know, coming into this I felt safe and I felt comfortable. Um, and that was really important. And the other thing that I think was important was that I gave in to the process I'm in, meaning that while I get to dictate my journey as I'm going through this with without Althea, there was this ability for me to finally be able to be willing to unpack everything, travel through the past and through the present and feel every pain cry every tier.

Ameé Quiriconi: 03:35 And not stop until it was done and I think that's a big mental step that you have to take and that comes with having this willingness to accept the fact that this isn't going to be easy, it's not going to be fast, and that there really isn't even a definitive destination that we're traveling towards. And so this episode is not going to be you listening to me have a counseling session with Lco. That's my own personal work. Um, and when I do have something to share with people, as you guys know that listen and read my blog, I do write about some of our sessions because I feel like sometimes I come out of them with something really powerful that I want other people to, to know about. Um, but today is actually about giving people the idea of what it's like to come to the decision to choose to have a therapist or counselor work with you and how to find that person and what permissions you have to decide if it's working for you or not.

Ameé Quiriconi: 04:26 And how to make those changes. Since I started this journey and started this, um, this movement of being more transparent with myself in order to get people to feel comfortable, I've heard from a lot of people who've had terrible experiences with therapy and usually it's because they felt like they went and found a therapist or a counselor and that person still didn't really understand them or they weren't really listening to them or they just didn't feel the connection that they needed to. And I think that's sad because, you know, because that one experience that person might have, they've abandoned it all together as a process, um, or they hear that from somebody else and never started it all. And so today, this is really a topic to me that I think is important, especially if you are wanting to handle some deep seated trauma in your life and because you hear from a lot of people that when you start pulling away those layers, you know, when we're coming with resolving and healing, um, traumatic experiences in childhood and whatever those might be, you really do need to have therapy to help you do that.

Ameé Quiriconi: 05:24 Because it's very emotional in I'm in, it can be painful and also kind of maybe dial you backwards a little bit if you're not doing it well. Um, and so our friends are great or family can be great, but when shit gets real, you know, they, they are just at the end of the day, they're just not qualified, you know, I mean, and not meaning that they're not loving and caring or anything like that. They just lack some of those techniques and skills that are important when it comes to, comes to this therapeutic process. And so that's why, to me, I think this is going to be one of the most important episodes I do, especially if you're coming into the podcast to listen to you right

Ameé Quiriconi: 05:58 away, is to leave this episode and have a better understanding of what it's like to find it. Go into it and what it looks like from behind the scenes a little bit. And so, um, so I'll Althea agreed to have these conversations with me and uh, and I appreciate that tremendously. Absolutely. Um, so first, when should a person seriously consider getting the extra help? And getting into like, uh, you know, looking at an exploring therapy.

Althea Brandis: 06:23 Yeah. A great question. You know, the funny thing is people don't walk through my door when things are still working for you never know. And if they're part of the thing, you know, what I would love for is when, you know, when the good outweighs the pain, we just keep doing it. It's when the pain starts to outweigh the good that we go, well, this doesn't feel good.

Althea Brandis: 06:40 And depending on how much trauma someone has, they can handle a lot of pain. And so they can go way down the elevator shaft until they're really in the depths before they walk in. And what I would love to offer is, you know, when, when someone is starting to feel that, you know, things aren't working and they're getting triggered a lot and trigger meaning they're getting hit with these feelings, they're not really sure why and why, why are they having these big feelings for no reasons or they think no reason. And instead of kind of waiting till you go way down and then stepping off the elevator, it's like, well, right now the pain is starting to outweigh the good of what's happening at that point. Um, you know, it's like, I'd like to check, check it out with someone and see what's going on with me.

Althea Brandis: 07:25 It doesn't necessarily mean we're gonna you're gonna head it and have years and years of therapy. But at that point, you know, if you can get some support, it's kind of like when you go to the doctor, most people, this is just how we are. We wait until something really hurts before we kind of stagger into the doctor's office. But, um, a lot of times it's like, this is starting to affect me. And at that point I'm going to go see someone. And that's what I would offer up. If things are starting to affect the areas of your life. You notice you are getting up later and you don't want to get out of bed. You're noticing you're being short with the people around you. You're noticing the coping skills are getting higher. Meaning we're spending more. I'm drinking more, I'm doing those things more at that point.

Althea Brandis: 08:11 It'd be great to say, you know, I think I might want to talk to somebody just to see where I am.

Ameé Quiriconi: 08:16 Yeah. And that's actually a great first step because you, like you said, some people think that once I go down the path I have to jump into it. And I kind of felt like maybe that's where I was testing the waters myself a couple of times was, you know, I, I, my first sessions with this woman like a few years ago was when, um, and some people know this about me, you know, because I've said this, I've told my story here, you know, my husband, my kids' Dad and I were having our issues there and I was that strain of like I felt the need to run. Like I just needed to escape at that moment. I did try to go see a therapist, but I kinda came in, I told her everything that was going on, what I was going to do, what my plan was, and then I just like ran out. So, I mean, I

Ameé Quiriconi: 08:56 don't think I really cared about what her opinion was, but at that moment for me it was like I just need a blob it out to somebody and get it off my chest. It would have been different, I think life if I had stuck with it. But again, I didn't know what I didn't know at that point. Um, so, and I know a lot of people that I've also talked to, you know, when, when, you know, they're telling me about what's going on and I'm like, you should see a therapist. They don't feel like they're ready for it yet and they want to kind of continue down a self health path, you know, they're buying books or I'm going to training sessions and stuff like that. So, you know, that's okay too, right?

Althea Brandis: 09:28 Absolutely. Yeah. And that's the thing, there's this idea that when you go into a counselor's office, it's going to be this sort of bleeding out of, I'm going to have to go to all those dark places. I don't want to go or that I don't even know, but I know they're there and I don't want to go there. And um, and so, and that's, that can be the case, but it does not have to be the case. The thing I wanted to share is what is called client center therapy and that's what I do. And a lot of counselors do that. And what client centered counseling is, is that the client is in charge, meaning the client comes in and I don't have, I may have things I'd like to introduce to the client, but I don't have a plan. The client comes in, works as fast as that client or slow is that client needs to.

Althea Brandis: 10:18 I'm not ahead of the client. I'm standing next to the client, kind of like a little bit behind if you can picture of walking on a pathway and I'm, I'm walking with the client a little bit behind and I kind of have a flashlight and so while we walking and I'll shine the flashlight and say, what do you think this could that have something to do with it? What about this? But the client is always in charge and so there's this, I think thought of dragging through the muck and the pain and the agony and that, and there's maybe counselors that do that. I, you know, my hope is or isn't, but the piece of that is, is, is to be a client centered therapists. Let's the client feel that they have the power and they do. And so part of looking for a counselor, you could even use that word and I would offer that up is, you know, are you a client centered counselor? And they'll say, well, if they don't know, they'll say, well, this is what I need. I need to know I'm coming in and I'm going to be working at my speed because if, if the, if the therapist is in charge and pulling, there's a lot of retraumatizing that can happen.

Ameé Quiriconi: 11:19 Yeah. Well, and so part of my illuminating moment was, you know, everybody sits there and goes, yeah, our parents weren't perfect. Life wasn't perfect or a lot of people think life was exactly just amazing. I just still don't know why I feel fucked up. Most days, right, and I know for me it was coming to the really kind of saying, listen, the science is there and that's what I needed. I needed the science to say brain development happens in childhood. Your childhood experiences matter, what you feel today, why this, why something triggers you, why something is this to you, why

Ameé Quiriconi: 11:53 you're reacting, and it seems to be in conflict with what your brain is saying. Like I know I shouldn't feel this way, and we'd had a sidebar conversation about ptsd and we were talking about vets where it's like, I know that I'm not in danger. I know that this is not going on, but yet that emotional physical reaction just spontaneously comes up. It was you really do need to go back in time and you need to travel because a lot of people are like, I know what happened to me as a kid. Doesn't matter to me as an adult. So it's in the past is in the what's in the past is in the past, take responsibility for your actions today as an adult. Just move on, suck it up, buttercup and go. And it was kind of like a, that's not always the case. And I think that's also that one resistance factor of why people don't view, um, you know, trauma in childhood. It's different than an adult, right? I mean, how a child abuse trauma is not the same as what an adult views traumas.

Althea Brandis: 12:42 Absolutely. I think that's a really good point because, um, you know, people think trauma means I was molested or I was abandoned or I wa, you know, like literally abandoned or all of these things or I was beaten. A trauma looks very different. I mean in childhood trauma can be, you have both parents there and neither one of them really see you. They're there, but they're checked out. That is, that's traumatic. The child is needing, needing, holding and needing, nurturing and soothing and the parents. And let's just say every parent does the best they can. So to come into counseling, there's like this, I'm going to be disloyal if I talk about know every parent is amazing and do the best they can.

Althea Brandis: 13:22 Even when they don't do much or do anything or even hurt a child. I mean, they're doing the best they can, but it is not enough. And that's the stepping into and when, so trauma can look very different. It can look like, you know, I'm in charge of taking care of my mom, my mom's emotions. I make sure she's okay, that, that can be traumatic. I, I'm taking care of my children, my siblings. I don't have, I have no childhood. That's traumatic. I, you know, I've been bullied. I mean, it doesn't, it can be all different things, so it doesn't have to be the high bars of trauma. But those, those, those pieces stay and then we grow up and they're wounds and if they're not taking care of and healed, they just kinda sit there and they like, we know what wounds do, they get worse and they kind of start bubbling up.

Althea Brandis: 14:09 So here's these adults that have these wounds, um, and it comes out as anger and rage or whatever. But um, they just need to be kind of worked with. And so I that word trauma. I think that's another thing is I never, I didn't have any trauma growing up. I had two parents, everybody was fine, we, you know, we were poor, but we had everything we needed. I had no trauma. Okay. And then you can look a little deeper and you know, dad's a narcissist and mom's a codependent and we, everybody was making sure dad was okay and mom made sure that, you know, you don't make any rock the boat and the girl's job is this and Oh, this is kind of reliving in life, you know, wait a minute. So, you know, kind of reframing whole piece of trauma, right?

Ameé Quiriconi: 14:53 And sometimes you can't assume that your personal experiences or how sometimes the self help path can be limiting again, the you don't know what you don't know, pieces of it and stuff.

Ameé Quiriconi: 15:05 Um, and like I said, for me that's when the light switched off and went, there was more here for me to uncover and discover and this is why I want to do this. I know that my first steps were, you know, get online and start looking at places, you know, people and stuff. And there's so many different types of mental health professionals out there. They're social workers. Counselors, therapists, psychiatrist, people call them, shrinks, whatever, you know, what does, what, why the landscape and what are the differences between everybody that's out there, you know, trying to do the same, same thing.

Althea Brandis: 15:34 Well, it kind of do it in a hierarchy. So you have the mds and you know, that's a doctor and so the psychiatrist is a and they also now have a registered nurse, practitioner, psych and those, those individuals, um, there are a number one goal is medication, right?

Althea Brandis: 15:50 So they're, they're there to prescribe medication, they'll get your history and they do do the psych evaluation. So the psycho, you know, getting a nice sort of evaluation of everything that's gone on, that's what their jobs are. So not, not a lot of psychotherapy, not a lot of healing work around the, the, the mental and emotional. They're there to kind of get the goods, get the history and see if there's any medication to regulate your emotions. Oh, you're being triggered. Well we'll just give you something to. And sometimes that's important. You know, there's, for many people, medication is medication and therapy together they have found is, is a really good mix if, if medication is necessary. Um, I also will put in natural paths in there because natural paths are a part of the finding natural remedies to help with depression, anxiety, that kind of thing.

Althea Brandis: 16:40 So that's the kind of the pyramid of the, if you think of the little triangle, you know, next year have a psychologists and psychologists are not mds they're phds. They tend to do more, you know, they're doing theory and they're doing, they also can do counseling. I'm a highly recommend child psychologist in the beginning when working with children. They have a deeper understanding of the mental health piece. Um, they've done a lot of education so they understand theory and they've done a lot of that kind of stuff. They've done, you know, experiential things. So that's a psychologist, a phd next you, have the myriad of your master level folks, right? You have your licensed social worker. Social workers are how people fit into the world around them. So if you, you know, most of them work in, they do have a lot of private practice people, but a lot of them work in hospitals, you know, things of that nature where they're dealing with, um, getting them the services and the, in the community.

Althea Brandis: 17:42 So it's very kind of community driven, lots of programs, things like that. Again, private practice works. They do practice counseling as well, but a lot of it is working to see how person fits into the world around them. Right. Um, so those are licensed social workers. Then you have, um, marriage and licensed marriage and family therapist there called LMFT's, licensed marriage and family therapists. Those are the people that specialize in, like it says, dealing with family system, family therapy. They do it there, can specialize in children because they have a lot of, they've done a lot of work with family and children. I'm also marriage, so they'll do a lot of couples work. Um, so that's their specialty. A little different in the state of Washington, a little different. I'm kind of hourly licensure stuff for that. And then you have the LMHC that's what I am, which is a licensed mental health counselor.

Althea Brandis: 18:38 Um, they're kind of the catchall. They do, um, individual family groups, couples and all that. And uh, in the state of Washington, just to give you an example, they have to have 3000 hours postgraduate. Um, so that's 1800 hours of face to face and then a hundred hours of supervision and 11, whatever's left, 1100 of paperwork and all that kind of stuff.

Ameé Quiriconi: 19:04 I'll throw this number in there. If you ever wanted to know how many working hours are in a year. It's 2080 and I know this from having to do man hours and stuff. So to put that in perspective, that was 40 hours a week for over, you know, for almost an entire year of hours time treating people and working with people before you can even get your license. That's pretty profound.

Althea Brandis: 19:22 Yeah. It usually takes three years to get licensure because you can't, you really, a counselor cannot do face to face 40 hours a week.

Althea Brandis: 19:30 It's very, you know. Yeah. And you should be able to show up and take care of. So it takes about three years. So that's when people are looking. Um, and then you have the coaches and you have the mentors and things like that, which is great. They just don't have the licensure piece. Um, so when you're looking, um, think about, um, if you're looking for a counselor, I would highly recommend counselor just counseling itself is looking for the LMHC. You'll see also LMHCA and an LMHCA is people are the people who are in that three year stint where they've already got their degree and they're called a licensed mental health counselor associate. So they're getting there, not quite licensed, but they're, they're on their way and they have to be supervised so that if you see LMHCA doesn't mean that they're not prepared.

Althea Brandis: 20:21 It just means that they're having someone working with them and uh, and they're, they're also really good option as well. Right?

Ameé Quiriconi: 20:30 Yeah. And then within a, you know, sometimes you see when you read through the profiles for, you know, maybe you've got like a short list of therapists that you're wanting to look into. There's all these they list like cognitive behavior therapy and other elements. I mean that's Greek to somebody who doesn't know what they're looking for.

Althea Brandis: 20:47 Yeah. Right. It's so interesting. And they do, they put all these different, you know, some of them are understanding like solution based therapy. Okay. So that means I've got one, I've got a problem and I need a solution. Kind of like, you know what you said, I'm ready to leave this marriage, I need someone, I'm just need to go kind of put it all out there and that's all I need.

Althea Brandis: 21:07 So that would be kind of a solution. Quick, quick solution based therapy. But when you see CBT, that's a cognitive behavioral therapist. So cognitive behavioral therapists are just like, they sound cognitive. Change the way you think. Cognitive behavior changes what you do. And so their job is to change the way you think, which will change what you, how you behave really great with addictions. Ocd, I like things where you're wanting to change your behavior and I do do some of that. A lot of, most counselors will do some of that because they'll, they'll, they'll tend to be charts than they do a lot of paper, they do a lot of kind of, you know, planning and things like that. I, most counselors do a piece of that, but psychotherapist, which is what I am, they tend to, you have your behaviors and what we tend to do is go underneath the behaviors and heal what's causing.

Althea Brandis: 22:00 So why do I do these things? Why do I explode every time somebody says something about my body or says something about, um, you know, my work or what, why do I explode when you know someone is late, why do I lose my mind? So it's, it's, it's so you can go to the behavior and say, I want to stop losing my mind, right? So then they'll work with a brain and start clicking that. But then it keeps happening because you haven't done the work kind of underneath. So a cognitive behavioral therapists are great, um, that they, they do do therapy too, but that's their goal. So, and then when you see psychotherapy, you're kind of healing or um, that kind of thing. That's more the why the underneath the wounding and it takes longer, you know, just that that's going to take, you know, we all want quick fixes in this culture we want to be done and so there's nothing wrong with that.

Althea Brandis: 22:54 But when things keep bubbling up at that point you go, I think I'm ready to sort of gently uncover what keeps causing these triggers.

Ameé Quiriconi: 23:02 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I think again, it goes back to you. A lot of people don't realize that there's, you know, I've said this to other folks like you aren't just the way that you are and you have to accept that. Like you don't have to just say, I just hate short people with red hair. It's just the way I am. You kind of, you know, you should probably figure out what's going on there, you know, because that's not something that you have to just live with, you know, and all that. Um, so if I'm sitting here again trying to explore and um, in looking for, um, you know, the right person, how do I, how am I deciding who I should make a phone call to and set up an appointment with? I mean, you know, I know everybody's got a different problem, but you know, what's the, what's my first step in deciding who gets phone call? They're located close to me,

Althea Brandis: 23:48 you know, so first of all, with the world, what kind of the world we live in is insurance first, which is, I mean, I guess you take premera. Okay. Now where are you located? Yeah. Um, so you know the logistics or will usually the first thing is where are you located and what insurances do take. So I want to share that. A lot of us take go out of network insurance. So when you, if someone doesn't take is not in network with Premera, it doesn't mean that it's not that it's going to cost you loads of money. It might mean that you pay an out of network fee. Often it's 40 percent. So if my rate's $120, you're going to be paying $48 a session as opposed to 30 if you're in network.

Althea Brandis: 24:30 So it's not a, I just want to open it up for people to realize just because someone's not in your network, check it out anyway. If you like the person's, you know, um, information. We're in the, we're in the age of getting online. So psychology today, if you write in counselor Snohomish, they'll have two kind of go down and they'll have psychology today. And when you go on there, it'll list it, have everybody's pictures, which we all love. We want to look at the person, we want to check them out. Do they look like anybody we don't like what we projected best friend. I hate my dad. I don't want to do that, you know, and so we look at the picture and then they have and they have a blurb about them. And so you get a feeling and everybody gets that feeling. And then um, if you get the feeling and you look down and they are, they see couples and you, okay, this might, I think this would be really good for my partner and I um, okay, bonus, they take premera but maybe they don't often.

Althea Brandis: 25:29 A lot of us do a consultation and for a lot of people that is helpful. Not everybody does it and you don't have to go with someone that does it, but that consultation is a time where you sit down with them and be able to talk with them, get a feel of the office, get a feel of the person and you know, they're usually only 30 minutes, but that's so that people can usually get a sense and also the, the, it's really good for the counselor because the counselor can get extensive, they can help you. Then when you leave you will also can get other, other referrals. So when, when you're getting ready to start, I would offer up. Think about what you want. First of all, how do you want a man or a woman? Does that matter? Do you want somebody that has a lot of history, do you feel more comfortable?

Althea Brandis: 26:18 They've been doing it for awhile, so think about what you want and sometimes I don't know what I want most of the time it's like I just want somebody to help me. So looking at that and looking at profiles are really helpful.

Ameé Quiriconi: 26:29 And so you talked about, because I know that um, I'd had a conversation in my head and with a friend of like, what am I trying to get out of the therapy experience? And I remember I told you this directly, like I want it, I want to fix what hurts, but at the same time I don't want to lose the parts of me that I love. Right. And um, and that was an okay thing to come in and go, you know, where are the upsides to life, you know, that's not meant to say that, you know, everything needs to change. Um, and, but you know, you bring in the, the gender piece of it, which, you know, is that a, is that a valid consideration for somebody? You know, I sit there and I think about when I'm, you know, to me healing childhood feels like that's done with the companionship of a, of a female and I'm not trying to be biased there, but there is something about that that feels good, but yet that's not always the case. Um, but when my, when might the gender of our therapist might be a factor that we should think about. I mean, is that, is that a valid question or concern?

Althea Brandis: 27:27 I think you'll know. I mean, the thing is, is it's like, do I want to talk if I have a mother who was neglectful or abusive or still to this day doesn't hear me. Does it feel like I want to have a woman here? Me, yeah, that feels really great or I'm not talking to a woman. There's no way that does not feel safe to me. And I think people kind of get a sense of that, you know, um, if there's wounding around, um, you know, brothers or fathers or you know, you've had a lot of really negative experiences with men. It can go either way. Right? You could say, I want to have a positive experience with a man. I want him out of what, what, what? That's kind of a weird thought. A man listening to me that's like a unicorn. I want that, that feels really good or the opposite.

Althea Brandis: 28:20 There's no way. So I think there's, there's a knowing inherently, and I would offer up if there's been a lot of trauma around one, one type of person and I'm not even going to save and gender. It could be age, it could be cultural, it could be economic, whatever. Think about that when you go in the sometimes the least amount of triggers with a therapist is helpful, but sometimes you go in and the projection of, oh my gosh, this person totally. I was like, my mom, um, I might be able to do some work around my mom with this person because they are like my mom. But you kind of have to be careful. Yeah. So I think people, I believe people have the knowing. Yeah, yeah.

Ameé Quiriconi: 29:07 Yeah. And that's, that's, that's good. And then it's also thinking ahead of time rather than just making this a random list of I'm going to pick the insurance coverage and within five miles. Um, and so you mentioned psychology, a psychologytoday.com is a place of resource and so there's online resources to be able to. Are there any other ones that somebody might use?

Althea Brandis: 29:28 Well, if you go into, um, there's good therapy. The therapy is really great. Good therapy. I think it's dot com has. So you just type in snohomish, you know, anything that you want with that and you can type that in. And then all of these people will pop up. I'll pop up, people will pop up and you can take a look. And if someone, something they say piques your interest, reach out to them. You know, it doesn't have to be the perfect fit, but if they're not the perfect fit, like we talked about, our number one goal as counselors is to find you the perfect fit. It's sacred work, right? So even our doctors, you know, somebody that's going to come in and poke us once a once a year and check us out if we don't, if we don't like them, we don't go.

Althea Brandis: 30:12 Right. Interesting. Right. This is somebody that's going to. You're going to see maybe weekly. Yeah. So the number one goal for all of us as healers is to ensure you have the right healer.

Ameé Quiriconi: 30:21 So if I'm, and that's one of the conversations that I've had with people is that they abandoned the process. Like I said in the introduction, they just go, this isn't working, so therapy doesn't work for me. I mean they just kind of throw it all out, like it's not even an option because they had an experience with a therapist. Um, but that's not true. But yet as we had talked off, you know, kind of offline here, which I apologize everyone, there's usually these awesome conversations that are not miked and so we have to revisit them while we were doing the episode. But during this, you know, this conversation, you know, it was the, the catch 22 of when you've got uncertainty and maybe some self esteem and confidence and issues, you also don't feel like you're in a place to be able to look at somebody in the eye and go, this isn't working for me.

Ameé Quiriconi: 31:04 I need to break this off. I need to go to, you just don't have the, you don't feel the power to be able to do that with your therapist. So you either just ghost them, to stop right away. Yeah. Fade away or you endure, you know, uh, an unproductive situation. Um, so how does somebody who's not feeling it with their therapist and, and I don't think the therapist always feels the lack of energy there. What do people need to be given permission to do if it's just, if it's not working for them in a therapy when they have a therapist?

Althea Brandis: 31:34 Yes. That's a great question. There's a couple of things. First of all, I'm part of the beginning of a therapy related therapeutic relationship is the opening of that. And I think I'm a therapist, you know, sort of offer that up, needs to offer that up and, and, and clients too, which looks kind of like.

Althea Brandis: 31:54 So I just want to let you know if at anytime you're feeling any discomfort or this is not going down a pathway. I am so excited and open to hearing that, that, that would be really helpful for me. It's kind of like going to a doctor, if this medication isn't working and you don't tell me we can't get to the right one. And so a lot of us don't have a problem with going, right? Yeah. I'm feeling whacked out on this medication doc. Right, right. Yeah. Like exactly. Like, so give me something different or it's not working or something's happening. That's the same in the therapeutic process. This is, this is I go home, I'm, I'm Jello, I can continue or I feel like this. I'm not getting anywhere. And so it's really important to be able to just say that just because it's not personal. That's the number one thing. If it's not working, it's not that the counselors know horrible, it's just the counselor doesn't work for me. This is not working for me. And so I often open up with. So just let me know if at anytime you're having thoughts of this isn't working because my goal is to find you someone that does.

Ameé Quiriconi: 33:03 Yeah. Well I think the confusion though is sitting there in that spot over there on that couch or to the right of me is I don't know if this isn't working. I've never done this before. Right. So how am I supposed to give this a month a day, you know, two years like when do I know that this is like, it's this virgin territory, right. You know, I mean you go to the physical therapists because your knee is hurt and you know, when it's working in your knowing like, Oh I, I, you know, I've been told there's an expectation that will take six weeks or whatever, but when it comes to mental health that we, it's just this wide open. So how do, how, how should I know that?

Althea Brandis: 33:39 That's a great question. Well, part of this is, is that oftentimes, and I say this to clients, oftentimes when you open up wounds, it hurts more in the beginning because you've kind of taken the bandaid off in your. You're working with this wound, Kinda like you've taken the bandaid off and putting.

Althea Brandis: 34:02 You remember even antibiotic cream like, Oh God, I don't want to miss it. Let's put the ace bandage on and forget it. Right? So

Althea Brandis: 34:08 part of this is, is in the beginning, you're right. It might feel even worse in the beginning are harder or like, oh my gosh. And sometimes it's a relief coming. Just making the phone call. But in the beginning can be really hard. So I say to people, remember how if you go to college, it takes four years to get a degree and have this huge transformation. When you come into therapy and you are working on some deeper wounds, give it some time to allow for there to be some healing. I'm what I'm more talking about is if you go in and you just don't feel like this is working and by working meaning of fit like you're at, how often I know is people start missing appointments or they're late, which is a subconscious way of going and a passive aggressive way at times or it's just like they don't even know why they're late or they don't want to come. They just don't want to come and so as a, as counselors, we, we, we gear into that.

Althea Brandis: 35:15 You can't pull a therapist or a behavior. They know it all, so I will check in when I see

Althea Brandis: 35:24 sort of getting more passive about it. Often it's when you're right up against something that you're going to cross and make a transformation that, that, that sort of neutrality and ambivalence kicks in and I'll say, are you doing. How are you feeling about this? How are you feeling about counseling? How are you feeling about this work with? Oh, it's fine. Well, let me share what kind of I'm experiencing. So often that's, that's what I'll do is I'll notice it and counselors will notice it if they're in tune and they'll, they'll, they'll catch it. Um, but if, if a, if a client, I'm more thinking, if a client knows like this, this doesn't feel right, um, I would offer it really to think about it as a medication. Hey Doc, this, this medication isn't working. It doesn't feel right. Hey Althea, I don't know what's going on.

Althea Brandis: 36:15 It just doesn't feel right. That's, that's enough. Or I don't even know if it's right or wrong. Something just feels off even. That is so exciting for counselors because then we go, okay, great. Because if you know something isn't working, then you know, you can get on the path that is. Yeah. Yeah. But it's, it is very hard because a lot of people come in because they can't have truth telling statements there wasn't allowed in their homes growing up. It was not allowed in their home now. So it's very terrifying. So to just go away is easier.

Ameé Quiriconi: 36:48 Yeah. And maybe just leading in, if you know, you're, you're coming in with that, that one thing written on a piece of paper so you can read it off to your therapist that you meet for the first time to say, I need to read you the statement that at some point I need to know that I can move on or find something else and you'll help me with that. And I mean, and that kind of takes it out. And that's a little bit of why this episode is about what it is. It's like, what are the tools that you need to go into this because it's, it may feel confusing, you know, if you've never gone into therapy before or you're uncertain of what the protocol is because we don't do it as often as we do all the other doctori medical things that we do. Um, so that, that kind of goes into when you're preparing. So we've got a consultation. Um, what are some questions somebody could ask during a consultation to help? Because in 30 minutes it's, you know, you're deciding are we going to go on date number two or are we my swiping right to the next person. Um, so how do you make maximize that 30 minutes that you have to meet somebody for the first time. I mean, what's your suggestions?

Althea Brandis: 37:45 Well, as much as you know about what brings you in is helpful. So what's bringing me in is this, this and this. So why? What brought me, what made, and I'll ask that question and kind of what made you, what was the point that. How'd you make the call or the email or what have you. So coming in, it's, it's, you don't necessarily have to have a goal. It's you can and sometimes I just want to feel better. Great, that's a good goal. But coming in with what was that turning point for you? What was the, what got you to make the call and then a little bit of history of remembering what counselors you've had and if you've had counselors, what worked and what didn't. That really is helpful for us because if you had a counselor that really did well and they did something that is not an expertise of mine that I'm going to find you.

Althea Brandis: 38:36 Somebody that maybe has that expertise. If it's like I, I, I worked with a cognitive behavioral therapist, or I don't even know what it means. I just worked with somebody that did lots of charts and gave me lots of homework in it. I worked out of a workbook and I'll be like, you know, that's amazing. And it worked for you. Yes. Well, let's get you something like that. That's not me. Let me tell you, but I do. But let's get you somebody. So first of all, kind of what brings you in with what was the catalyst. Second of all is what has worked or not worked in the past. Um, another one is my biggest fear. That's always helpful. Like, my biggest fear about coming in is this because then we can talk, we can address it right then. And then the other thing is the things I have, I see being my blocks and counseling or things that I think would be struggling to be, I'm telling you if I don't want to be here or uh, if you to give me something to do, I struggle with doing stuff at home or just so, so any blocks that.

Althea Brandis: 39:40 So being able to identify that, that those pieces coming in will help the counselor make sure it's a match for both of you. And then you also get your answers in and then any questions bringing questions we don't even have to know, like just I have a question, I don't know what to ask. Okay. So that's kind of. Sometimes it's like I have questions, I just don't even know how to ask this. Right. So then explore that. But anything that you can come in there that is from your past or that has worked is helpful.

Ameé Quiriconi: 40:09 Yeah. And they don't have to be. I, you know, people come in for a variety of reasons. Some of them were like, I'm going through a divorce and I've decided that I'm tired of going through divorces. You know, and that's it. And then some people I think just have that weird, vague, empty and so you're, you don't have to have solved your own problem when you walk into the door at all. There's not this expectation that you really well thought out your issues and you have all that, but just knowing and being able to express if you can, you know, what that feeling might be. Um, so that's actually. And that's really good. And I, you know, what would you say to somebody that's on the fence right now, you know, between, you know, uh, deciding to start researching and finding a therapist and I'm not, you know. Yeah,

Althea Brandis: 40:53 I see the word yet. So someone says, well, it's not that bad yet. I. So if you're on the fence, remember that nothing stays the same. Things either get better or they get worse, but when we're, there's a struggle, it doesn't stay the same. So the hope is if you, if you can go down a path of self help or finding rereading about things and that works for you and you have the discipline to do that, do that. You know, uh, but I would say you, you, when the good, like I said, starts when the, when the pain starts outweighing the good work to not have to go down any further. Just notice, you know, I'm at this tipping point where things are starting, I'm starting to notice it. That's when I would say go in because then what, you're able to go in and do the work much more effectively at that point because you're not putting out the fires. Did that make sense? Like the more, the farther down you go, the, there's kind of this wake of wreckage behind you and the work then we kind of are going to put together the, get that wreckage work together and kind of clear it out and then we get to do the deeper work. Yeah. But if you come in and you just are like, I am noticing these things and they're kind of bothering me, that would be a beautiful time to just get started.

Ameé Quiriconi: 42:17 Yeah. And I, you know, I listened to Pam Leo over the weekend. She, she actually sent me this link of, you know, a workshop that she had, did, had, did, had done is that my English chaos. Sean's given me the okay here. Um, but, you know, pieces of it, you know, she talked about discharge, you know, and one thing that resonated with me is that, uh, you know, to me, I love my friends and sometimes I just feel like going to therapy means I'm saving them because we all have emotions to discharge and we, we find when we sit down and we talk with our friends, it works a little bit and it was like a near term fix. But um, you know, you can't have all these conversations all the time with your friends because for one you're overwhelming them with your own baggage. And at some point they're like, I've got my own shit to deal with right there.

Ameé Quiriconi: 43:05 But then the other part that happens is if they have their own emotional stuff, they discharged back to you and you're not really helping each other as much as your. And she had talked about creating these safe sounding boards where you sit for 30 minutes, you say nothing and I get to say everything I want and you're not, you're not doing anything. And then I returned that back to you and we just kind of like blow off steam every once in a while. But I think one of the biggest values for me out of the therapeutic process has been is that I can, I, I can say and speak and work through things and I don't feel this additional weight of having to listen to somebody else when I'm just like, I'm too overwhelmed to hear about what's going on or getting cut off because they're excited to tell you about all their drama and stuff that's going on. And I like to now go out and hang out with my friends and have drinks and have fun conversations rather than feeling like I need to sit down with them and have them just be the sounding board and stuff.

Althea Brandis: 43:53 Yes. And that's the thing with a therapist. It's not mutual. It's not a conversation when you come into a therapist office, it is not a conversation. The therapist is there to hear you, to walk with you, to shine light on what could be happening, what they're, the connections that they're seeing through their training and through their ability to connect with you. Um, but it's, it's not at all a conversation. There's a lot of talking and it's not being done by the counselor unless you're sort of investigating something, you know, but, but it's very much sacred space of being heard. And I think there's a lot of trauma that is involved with not being seen, not being heard, not being witnessed. No one ever really. I'm having eye contact where it's all you. And it's really like kind of this juicy, luscious moment of, Oh, this person is here sitting with me. Um, and I think that that sacred space and, and friendships are great and I've got mine and everybody's got them and we have those that are even kind of are more mutual that they can hear. And you can hear 'em. But again, the transference and countertransference, right? Sometimes you can even see your friend biting. They're chomping at the bit. Okay, hurry up, stop talking so I can tell you the best thing to do!

Ameé Quiriconi: 45:21 Guilty. I mean I'm that person too. I've already got this figured out. Go ahead and go.

Althea Brandis: 45:26 We don't want to. We don't want our friends to suffer and struggle. It comes from this place of love and caring and our discomfort with their discomfort and part of a therapist is is they actually are trained and and as healers to sit with your discomfort without feeling uncomfortable and so they sit there and they hold it with you and they. They're not at all uncomfortable because they're. They're doing their own work to hold that space with you and I think that's a parent job in been growing up in a lot of us didn't have parents that could hold our fears and our, our emotions because they could barely hold theirs if at all. And so there's, as we grow up, the need is still there for a lot of us and it's not that I'm not comparing a therapist to a parent.

Althea Brandis: 46:17 I'm just holding that have they can have that space with you and in that space and the containment of that space healing can happen.

Ameé Quiriconi: 46:27 And I think that that's one of the biggest values that I know that I've gotten out of this. Um, and so the last thing, you know, if somebody decides that they're going to get down into this pathway, you know, how often are they expected that therapy is going to last for them once a week, once a month, you know, I mean, what's kind of like. So if I'm sitting here going, I'm going to, I'm going to plan this out in this, make this a part of it, what should I be looking at in terms of that time commitment to doing this?

Althea Brandis: 46:51 Well, to heal and do the work. It's, it's, it's weekly, um, in the beginning, um, every other week is usually kind of putting out fires.

Althea Brandis: 47:00 So you're able to come in and go, oh my gosh, you know, I'm ready to lose my mind at work. And then you work on that. So you're not actually getting into what's being triggered, you're putting out the fires. And then once a month is maintenance, um, and then beyond, so to get started, you're going to want to come weekly because your counselor doesn't know you and you don't know that comes there at camp. It's mental boot camp there for a bit. Yeah, it's, it's getting to know them. It's sharing. It's kind of unwrapping gently what, where you come from, who you are. I'm not that you're not putting out fires to. I mean we don't come in saying, okay, everything's great in my life, but I want to do some wounding, wound healing. No, that's not how that works because everything's great. I'm not going to see you.

Althea Brandis: 47:41 It's got to kind of be bubbling surface. So you are putting out some fires of course too. But, but weekly in the beginning is, is an important piece and it is a commitment. Um, you know, people come in and in and out of counseling, you know, counselors go to counseling so you know, they to clean their house. So it's, it, it doesn't mean you come and you never come back. Our goal as counselors is to have you be done with us. We want you to go to, would you do the healing and go forth and then know that we're here. If there's stuff that comes out, tune up oil change or something are you go, oh my God, it's something was unveiled. Yeah. But our goal is to have you not need us, you know? Um, it's not a lifelong thing. It's, it's a kind of a know there if you need it.

Althea Brandis: 48:29 So, you know, sometimes it's two years, sometimes a year, sometimes brief solution works. Some people are in for four and five years just working on trauma. Trauma's a is it, is it, it's a slow process because it has to be. So if you're having, if there's trauma, first of all, you have to trust somebody that takes time and you have to create a safe person in a safe space that happens first before you even start working on what's underneath. You have to establish like, okay, are you going to be my person? I'm going to do some testing. And everybody tests their counselor. Okay, I'm gonna. Throw this out there. Do I likely read their face? Yeah. Okay. Well, when they said that, when I say that this horrible thing, I think I did, did they wince and they just, you know, and then, oh no, there she just sat there. Okay, I'm, I'm good. You know, so it takes time to establish that. And then the work is the work. Yeah.

Ameé Quiriconi: 49:28 And I, you know, that, that right there, what you said, I've heard other people say it's like, you know, when I tell them my problem, you know, other people's experience with a therapist and, you know, they're telling me, I've had people tell me, yeah, my therapist said that it really wasn't that big of a deal, you know, and it was just like, oh my God, that's probably just totally late bringing up childhood experiences all over again, you know, and so it goes back to knowing you don't have to tolerate it if it's not feeling good for you, but don't dismiss the whole process altogether and give up on it that it's a, it's a valuable piece of, of self improvement and healing and stuff like that. Um, so you have a cascade view counseling services here. It's may give you a chance to tell everybody about it. Now I'm, I'm lucky that I get to see you, but you're really full, but you have other therapists that work with you and, and, you know, so. Yes.

Althea Brandis: 50:16 And I have a waiting list list of, you know, someone when people, people tend to move and actually people tend to be done right. It's beautiful, right? So, um, I have a waiting list for myself and I have another counselor here working with me who is available to take clients on and, and she's a lot like I am in terms of the, the client centered psychotherapist healing piece. So yes, we're here in snohomish. Um, my right in downtown snohomish. I also do groups and workshops, which, you know, I'm a, I'm also a psycho dramatist and what that simply means. Another word. Oh my God. Here we go. I'm a psycho dramatists, you know, believes and does work with movement. So we sit and talk. That's fine. But the subconscious is, it works in a way that if you have someone in a group role play your father and you get to have this conversation with your father that you never had and the person gets to role reverse and you play your father and you get to actually have that, the subconscious doesn't know it's not real.

Althea Brandis: 51:16 And so then it becomes a resource for you. So as a psychodrama test and healing groups, you know, we're born into groups and we can heal so much more quickly in groups. So I do, do group work here and do workshops too. So I currently have a group going and so that's also an option and I work with couples and individuals. Um, and a family's cool.

Ameé Quiriconi: 51:38 Cool. Well thank you so much for your time today and this is one of, you know, a few episodes that we'll be doing together and stuff and I totally appreciate this. I think this was value. Did we hit things like knowing that we're trying to help people understand this, do you feel like we've covered what we wanted to do with this?

Althea Brandis: 51:56 Yes. I just want to share that, um, when you're looking for a counselor, um, sometimes it takes three or four or five or six times to find the right one.

Ameé Quiriconi: 52:08 Okay. That's good to know.

Althea Brandis: 52:09 And so, uh, you know, for me when I'm was looking for a counselor, um, I tried them on, you know, I'm going, okay, let's try this person on. And I, and I, you know, checked it out, try it on. Yeah, I'm not, I don't think I want to talk about this with this person. Went and tried another one on. Um, so really try, try people on. It's like I said, it's deep, it's sacred work and you know, and even if you get in and it's not your person, you know, you'll find your person. And the most important thing too is if it's, if, um, if you try someone on and you don't like that person, we will help you find a person that's the, that's the. So use. Use the therapist to help find your person, you know, don't, don't think you have to leave and never come back.

Althea Brandis: 52:54 Like I said, it's like hairdressers, right? Oh my God, I got a horrible haircut. I'm never going to see her or him again, right? No, no. Actually we want to find you a good therapist. So, so just know it takes a little bit.

Ameé Quiriconi: 53:05 Yeah. Awesome. So again, thank you so much for your time

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