G-DGFL2E9MJ5 Counselor Self-Care - Being the Work


Published on:

3rd Jul 2023

Bonus Interview with Danielle R

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Today Ben talks with an old friend, Danielle, who is a Clinical Professional Counselor. We get to know Danielle through her Strengths Finder, Enneagram, by ironing out an old conflict with Ben, having heartfelt conversations about personal and professional struggles, and what she needs for wellness.

Episode timestamps:

  • 2:28- Strengths Finder and Ennegram
  • 6:52- Helpers in Media
  • 8:59- Resolution of an old conflict
  • 18:37- What Brought Her
  • 43:21-What Keeps Her
  • 50:51- What She Needs to Stay in the Work

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Email us at: Beingthework@gmail.com

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 Hello and welcome to being the Work, a podcast all about the real lives and real struggles and real meaning of us as professional helpers out here helping people out with their lives and their problems, while also trying to take care of our own. I'm Ben. Thank you so much for choosing to spend some time with us today.

Today's episode is a conversation with a really good friend of mine, Danielle. We dive deep from pretty much the get go. We, uh, jump into topics like loneliness and taking care of ourselves and being better people for our experiences, despite them being very painful, despite, uh, the pain that we have gone through in this profession that we do not regret it.

And that. We are grateful for the people we have become. And that does not make it easy, but it does make it meaningful. I hope you can hear some of your stories and what we talk about today can get ahold of us being the work gmail.com. If you are listening and you, uh, have listened in the past, please uh, go to Apple Podcasts.

It's the biggest platform right now and we're just trying to get bigger and get our word out there to the people who may be struggling with some self-care or some compassion fatigue and things like that. So if you would do us that favor, go to Apple Podcast as it's the biggest platform right now.

Leave us a review, let us know what your favorite parts of the podcast has been. Just one sentence is wonderful. Also, if you want to reach out to us, if you wanna be on the podcast, if you have any questions for us. Please email us being the work gmail.com or you can find us on Instagram at being the Work.

Thank you so much for being here today. Let's get on with the conversation with Danielle.

Blakely wasn't able to be here mm-hmm. With us today, which is a shame, but she's on vacation with her family and, hi Blakely. Have fun, . Take care of you. The, okay. So a question that she loves to ask is to like orient everybody to who you are and to understand sort of the way you experience life is, have you had any, have you done any like personality tests or quizzes or assessments that.

Like the Myers-Briggs or, uh, Enneagram or . I have taken strengths finders, Ooh, like five times. Um, I love the strengths finder. The ones I can remember, responsibility is number one. That's not surprising. Um, I, I always hated taking them though, because none of them were markers of what a good therapist would be.

They're always really like responsibility and, um, maybe ideation was one, but they're sort of sort like very petty and you know, I would be jealous. Like strategic thinkings. Yeah. There would be like, there was like empathy and Woo and all these ones that were like, that's what makes a good therapist and you're none of them.

Oh. So those are examples of things that you don't have Was my, yeah. Was my interpretation. Um, but I am a Enneagram six. And I six Uhhuh. Okay. And I, with self-preservation, I am not a normal six. One of the like, sort of funny features that people talk with about, with sixes is they're so funny. Mm-hmm. And they're prepped for every emergency.

Mm-hmm. Then I don't have any, like, I, I don't have an emergency kit anywhere in my house, in my car. I am literally actually like, I'm gonna pare down and take as little resources as I have to mm-hmm. , so I don't have to manage things like I'm a, I'm eliminating, so I'm a very strange six, but my, my inner motivation is the motivation of a six, which is, uh, it's fear based.

Okay. Fear. Mm-hmm. and safety. Fear and safety. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. How does that show up in your life? Um, I think. I think I understand it through the spiritual lens of growing up, believing that I was mm-hmm. bad, that it was my responsibility to find the way to being good and mm-hmm. . Um, yeah. So I, I think those just covered me in fear.

Okay. Fear. Got it. So yeah, that's how that should, which is, uh, a motivation to grow. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . So when I'm, yeah. So I go to a nine and can chill and just ride the wave and Right, right. Don't care. Mm-hmm. , I'm a three when I get real stressed out. Oh, okay. Yeah. Sure, sure, sure. So when I'm not integrated, I go into a three.

Okay. So, um, that's interesting. I'm a nine mm-hmm. and I go to six when mm-hmm. , I'm not Well, and a three when I am. Well, yeah. We're, we are in our little child together. Yep. Yep. Yep. Um, Blakely is an eight. Mm-hmm. anger is her motivation. Yes. And as I've gotten older, I feel like I'm a wing eight. I'm an anger.

I'm, I'm like angry. I have an appreciation for all the numbers. I really appreciate eight. I do too. Like I, when I realized, um, intimacy through argument, like yes, there is something cool about them. Uh, I know a lot of eights Mm. But I'm not, I'm not super familiar with the E Enneagram. Mm. Okay. But so what are the other strengths that you have?

You have responsibility. Oh. Do you remember those? It's been a while. An activator. Okay. That was one. An ideation. I can remember those three. Okay. I don't remember the other two. Sure, sure. But yeah. Mm-hmm. and the, yeah. All the other personality things I don't take, because I think Adam Grant posted something the other day about how he like has broken up with.

Myers-Briggs and all the things because yeah, they're just sorely lacking in nuance. . Right.

what is your favorite or the, the representation you love to hate of therapists in media? Oh, have you seen shrinking? Not yet. No. Oh, yeah. It's like, I, okay, you're gonna watch it. Then there's, there's the triad of the three therapists, Uhhuh, that it represents. Oh, there's, there's three of them. There's three.

Okay. And so there's the, there's the strong, um, female, the black character. Mm-hmm. And she is expressive. Mm-hmm. And warm and sharp and funny. Um, and has better boundaries, you know, than, than the ones. And then you have the one who's sort of like, life is falling apart. Mm-hmm. and he's. Doing all these unethical things.

Right? And you're like, that's literally like, do you need to literally stop doing that? Mm-hmm. , you know, the therapist in you and then there's the old curmudgeony white man. Mm-hmm. who's probably doing the better. Like, he's doing some pretty good therapy cuz he's in his like seventies. So he's been in the profession for a long time.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and, and the dynamic between the three of them, there's like a love hate in all three of them. Okay. That's a take. I didn't, I, I hadn't thought of. You need to, you need to watch it. I haven't wanted to watch it. Cause I, most of the entertainment I like is, well you said you like comedies silly.

Yeah, it's silly. Yeah. I like, oh yeah, this show's silly, but I don't wanna be activated to want to fix anything. Like Okay. Parks and Parks and rec. Yeah. Parks and Rec. Andy Dwyer is my favorite character because he is just silly. Yeah. And not let nothing makes sense. He doesn't pay attention to anything. He totally aloof.

Yes. What a blissful of, because that is the antithesis of therapy. He, he does not have to pay attention at all. And that is literally what we are doing all day long. Yes. So before I came over, I, I remembered we went down. Look, I want, I just wanna preface this by saying you are a very important person in my life.

You have to do that . I'm doing it. I like feedback. I'm doing it for myself and for people that might listen to this cuz I don't know if I'll keep this in , but, uh, you are, you are a very important person in my history. Even though we haven't talked in like a decade . So same, um, like I think it was, you had, you had graduated from your master's degree like a year before me, I think.


It was a, it was a yo wake up, take responsibility for your shit. The, and so here's the thing I, I want to just, I just wanna say this, that my memory of it is probably more of how I felt rather than what you intended. Uhhuh , . But what did you feel? Um, I felt like, oh shit. She's right. And ouch.

Oh. I mean, but that part of me is, I appreciate hearing that because I sometimes feel like I am making up parts of myself that I remember. Mm. And it's actually nice. I know that sounds strange, but it's nice to hear when someone can just confirm a little bit of like, yeah. I. There's a sharpness, uh, about me.

There's, um, you know, I grew up in a family that basically thinks that they know the right way for all of reality. Mm-hmm. and I, and I would bring that part forward really strong. And I'm, I'm very cautious about that part of myself. But the longer I'm in my own work and thinking about those parts, I can sometimes feel like, am I'm, am I making stuff up about the way that I perceive myself?

Mm, sure. Sure. And it's just nice when actually someone says like, no, that is, you can actually very much be that way because, well, and I, I, here's the thing is that I, like, I grew up as. A quiet sort of in my head, child, in a quiet family with a brother who was the loud one, who was the life of the party, and he was the alive one.

He had the essence right? Like, and I followed him. And so I was in the background and I liked it. I was in the background. I liked being in the background. Being in the foreground is scary. Being in the foreground is tough. And so when, when I, so like my Enneagram number is nine, which is very much like I'm overseeing all the numbers and I can, I can mimic all y'all.

Mm-hmm. , which means who am I? Mm-hmm. , you never know. Mm-hmm. . So, and I don't, and I don't like that for you. So the, when I do step out and say something opinionated mm-hmm. and like I did that day mm-hmm. in Starbucks and then I hear back, take responsibility for your shit. I like the, the part of me that is, I don't know, it reminds me of very much like seven, eight year old Ben who is like, yeah, you're wrong.

Mm-hmm. . Right. And as I say that, I'm like, ah, that's in my stomach. I feel that right now. But you were literally trying to do the thing that I was saying you weren't doing right? I mean, you coming for it? No, not really. No. No, I don't think so. I don't think so. That's not how I remember it. Okay. I don't remember taking, like, saying something.

I remember, I remember saying something that had something to do with church and complaining about stuff for church and it was, it was, I don't know, like I think looking back on it now, I think we would both agree that I was probably right. . Mm-hmm. . That's what I was just thinking. And that's what I mean, that's the part I feel cautious of.

Yeah. I, I hear that. Yeah. While also my, uh, antenna for what harsh is is very small or it's very, very sensitive. So I'm like, it sounds like, I just wanna say this is a two-way street of, you could have said something very clearly. I think you could have said something that was very just neutral. And I could have heard it not neutral.

So if it was even just one tick above neutral, I could have been like, uh uh oh, you hear me? So I, yeah, I don't think that's what happened. I'm just saying I'm taking responsibility for my end

which fine take responsibility for your end . But I also know that I, I need that part to not be minimized about myself because I feel like that's a part that I absorbed in my upbringing. And when people minimize it, when they see it in me, it makes, what it does is it distorts my own reality from childhood.

Like, no, no, it wasn't that bad. Okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad from childhood. No, actually, There's a, there's a sharpness to me. Mm-hmm. and there's a dominant, dominant, opinionated, sort of dogmatic mm-hmm. thing that can come out in me. And I need people to not pretend like that isn't in me because it makes me actually feel crazy that I'm making up what happened to me.

So, Ooh. So don't, that's what I'm saying. Like, I, I like the feedback because it's not offensive to me. It's confirming and it helps me, it, it helps me find the place that I need to heal. Mm. And it, and it makes it so that I'm, um, oh, I think we're saying the same thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because I don't wanna, I don't want to be the person that is like, oh, you can't say anything about me.

I want to hear, like, and I think that's what, like, when I look back on that moment, I look at it with love and respect that no one ever talks to me that way. And I'm glad that you didn't like, or that you didn't just PPO it and, you know, do the Yeah, they suck. Mm-hmm. , you know? Mm-hmm. , it hurt, but it's like, but that's what I respected about you.

I get what you're saying. Like, it, it, it hurt me. Not because you were being hurtful. That's what I'm saying. Yeah. Anyway. I love you and I, I can't believe it's been this long. No. And I love that we're having this conversation. I know. me too. Like, who wants to sit down and talk about feelings? , we haven't seen each other in 10 years, but can we talk about our past relationship?


and just by the way, What the hell is this? Like I, I am a therapist. Mm-hmm. , I am trained as a therapist. I'm experienced as a therapist. Mm-hmm. , and I'm in your house with, with microphones,

What is this? I know. Yeah. Would you have said that 15 years ago that I, I don't know. I just wouldn't have said 15 years ago, this is where life would be. How did you get into this accidentally? I mean,

the truth is I was lost after undergrad and my dad, what did you graduate with? Sociology. And after spent maybe six months sort of just going, what in the world am I doing with this? Mm-hmm. and then, And then MidAmerica, the co the school that I graduated from with my counseling degree came up with a school counseling

And my dad was like, I love that you say that to everyone else who doesn't know. Yes. That's what this, um, she graduated from , mid-American Nazarene University. Yes. And so did I , so did I, so did so many. We graduated the same year, uh, from our, with our bachelor's. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , sociology and Ministry.

Mm-hmm. . And then, yeah. And then you got into Yes. It was very like, Hey, you wanna be a mom one day? Right. You wanna be a wife? And that was literally like, this is you talking to you? No, this is my dad. Oh. Like, how did I get into this accidentally? Yeah. I, my dad is just ushering me into like being a really good housewife mother, like Right.

This pre this, um, This predetermined role, right. That he had in his mind for me. Wow. You can do, you can do school counseling, so then you can have your family. Yeah. You'll have your days off with your kids. You could coach volleyball when you want. You know, it was all just sort of like That's right. What would support the ideal.

Right. Yeah. Feminine role. And so in the interview process, I was hyper spiritual and as I was, and they kind of ushered me towards a pastoral role and like pastoral counseling. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . So I ended up doing that track, which then led Oh really? Mm-hmm. . Okay. Yep. It was, which they didn't have any real internships for.

Nope. So I, so I had, so all the no actual supportive training mm-hmm. to sit in a room with a couple, or really, with just an individual. Wow. Oh, Ben, I swear you did the couples and family. No. Okay. So I, how I really found my passion for couples was by doing my own couples work. Wow. I, I, I did some training.

It just did not click with me. Mm-hmm. , um, right after school. Right after grad graduated. Mm-hmm. for couples. Okay. My husband and I did about two and a half years of our own couples work. Wow. And something then when I went back and was doing trainings, I understood it. Yeah. I understood how it felt on the, on the couch.

I understood the dynamics that were at play. And then I just kind of have, it's the place that I love to be, I love to be with individuals, but I love working with couples. Yeah. So that's how I've gotten here in this place, and I just, I can't really imagine. I mean, yes, I'm, my second half of life, I'm gonna go into horticulture and like, I'm, I'm gonna go work at a, a landscape place and do flowers and mm-hmm.

I, I know that that is going to happen. Mm. I'm putting that out into the universe right now. But right now you're right. It is so tiring. It is so exhausting. It is emotionally draining. Mm-hmm. , it is lonely. And yet, I, I don't, I like going to work. Right. I hated mm-hmm. my workplace.

Um, I hated the culture at my workplace. Mm-hmm. , I loved the people I worked with. Mm-hmm. and I loved my clients. Mm-hmm. , because I have a loving responsibility that is a, an affection mm-hmm. and respect and like, it, it, it pulls together both my humanity and my professionalism. Hmm. If I just love someone, I will not have boundaries.

Mm-hmm. . If I have responsibility for that person, I will check my fucking self . Yeah. But there is a sense of affection. Yeah. I, I feel care and respect. Yeah. Yeah. The word care fits for me. What's behind that word? What does that word mean for you?

It allows, it allows the part of me to exist with them. That can be with their pain, their suffering, the stuckness. Mm-hmm. their inabilities, the, the traumas. It lets me be with them, but not be responsible for them. Mm-hmm. Cause that's the place I can get caught into. Um, which I and I, which I'm learning is mm-hmm.

so much a part of actually, when it does actually become more and more lonely for me, is when the boundaries are blurred. Sure. And then I am, I have become responsible for your wellbeing. Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. So care lets me mm-hmm. be with mm-hmm. and check at the door. Right. Um, it really, like, at the end of this day, this is your work.

This is how I am participating in this mm-hmm. . But at the end of the day, you will leave my office. Right. And take whatever's going on and do with it what you will. Sure. Sure. And I just get to be a, I get to be in the, in the car with you, you know, for that one hour every week or whatever. It's Mm. Like traveling along the journey Yeah.

With you. Yeah. But I get out of the car. Mm-hmm. , when you first had care, I thought, well, yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about. But care to me is split into two pieces. Mm-hmm. love. Mm-hmm. , which is a. That I will be with you. Mm-hmm. , that is what's keeping me here, and responsibility is what's checking me.

Mm-hmm. , because like, I, because, but that can easily get into taking on people's, like taking on responsibility to fix Yeah. Rather than just guide and be with Yeah. This is too complicated of a, of an existence. Mm-hmm. to just pull it back to here's what you need to do to fix you so that you can keep doing this work because the work is personal.

You can't go into these tunnels of existence with people that are painful and terrible and wonderful and joyous without your heart being a part of it. Yes. And. Being told to go to use the employee assistance program to fix your burnout, being told, um, well, I think you need to eat healthier or get a hobby.

Mm-hmm. , um, or this fake idea of work-life balance, like, is not my life. A part of work. Like my, I work in my life is not separate. I get what you're trying to say. Mm-hmm. , and let's be real. It's, life is a work is a part of life. Mm-hmm. and in our entire society, it's like we ramp up to a career that is like the whole meaning of childhood, it seems.

Hmm. Yeah. So let's please just back off of this mm-hmm. , this is, I'm talking to society here, , and I'm seconding. Um, but what I was, it was kind of getting around to this long-winded way to say, um, when you get out of the car and you say, okay, there's, there's boundaries here. I'm not taking this. How does it exist outside of session where these, these people and the, the problems and the people that you care for mm-hmm.

they exist outside of the room. Sure they do. And I think, I think I'm constantly working to move it back into the care. Mm-hmm. , um,

the, you know, just like earlier this week, there was a client that I, I said something that I don't. I don't normally get into a place where I just say, this is not working for you anymore. We have been around this mountain mm-hmm. and around this mountain, and it, it, and it was just a, a strange moment that I don't normally come to mm-hmm.

saying this isn't working anymore. And it stuck with me because it was a sort of an intervention that is not typical that I would use. But in this particular case, there's some similarities that are happening with my own self. Mm-hmm. , my own marriage and this marriage. Sure. And I had to check in with my husband, like, if you heard this, and it was, it pushed on some of our stuff mm-hmm.

and we kind of got into like a, the little thing that we do, and then at the end, My husband came to this conclusion and was like, yeah, I get what you're saying. I get why you did what you did. It doesn't solve anything. You know, but that, that thing like was lingering in me mm-hmm. and I was a little disrupted by it.

Mm-hmm. . And when I noticed that, that's, that's just to me it's, number one is important clinical information. And then number two, I am trying to keep awareness to say, Hey, what's going on in me? That this is still lingering in me. Right. And, which is why I brought it to my husband, because I think that part was in me, and then I bring that to my own therapy, you know?

Well, and I think the, even the way that you're talking about it is, is, um, all in metaphor. And it, it's with metaphors. Mm-hmm. , it's trying to make sense of energy. Mm-hmm. . Right. And there's this something that is, there's this energy that is sitting in you Yes. That you are trying to make sense of, and you need personal feedback mm-hmm.

from someone who knows you very well. Yeah. Who has also like, like you got into couples therapy because, because of, for yourself mm-hmm. and then found a passion to be in that room helping guide people mm-hmm. to Yeah. Better relationships. And so the, that's the exactly the piece where it's like, this is personal.

Yes. And we have an abundant amount of respect and responsibility to be professional. Yes. Right. And so on, on the surface, it's really easy to go, Uhuh Danielle, that's unethical. You took that to your husband, how dare you? And it's like, what the fuck, man? Come on. Yeah, because, because, well the ethics around that, around how we talk about our clients to anyone, to anyone mm-hmm.

to talk about our clinical experience in public, um, going home day after day after day with five, six. Inappropriately, seven, eight stories, , we are all, we are all guilty. Mm-hmm. , um, and holding all of those in my body Yeah. And having 10 minutes to turn around 15 minutes if I have that lunch break to turn that energy mm-hmm.

around in my body and metabolize it in some kind of way mm-hmm. . Right. And to be responsible with that. Mm-hmm. and I do that very regularly. Mm-hmm. . And I also have to see myself as a person in this story, which is why in that moment I chose to say, I need, I need something right now. Right. And I am as important in this story as you.

Right. You know, and I, and we don't have the luxury Right. Of proclaiming that, that you're a human uhhuh.

this work since, I wanna say:

like I've been licensed since:

Mm-hmm. when it's really just like, Hey, how about a kale smoothie? And how about you go exercise. Mm-hmm. and make sure you have time to go pee. And make sure that you maintain your boundaries. Mm-hmm. . Oh yeah. And another thing on the list, need to make sure that you're, uh, having work life balance mm-hmm. . Um, and to do that, why don't you have an extra shirt to change into so that you have this symbolic transition mm-hmm.

and all of those I, I, I wanna say with humanity first, those are helpful. Mm-hmm. , yes. If you're just telling me what to do, and this maybe goes all the way back to what you, what you said to me in Starbucks. Yeah. Okay. You can be harsh. There's a part of you that it happened to you, and you can replay that.

Mm-hmm. . And I had had years of experience with you to trust you and to be, to feel safe with you. And that is why it turned to respect. Mm-hmm. , I just, I wanna make sure that you understand that. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. you freshman year, bachelor's degree, freshman year. Summer after our, our freshman year, um, we were hanging out with my future wife and this weird mix of all these different people.

Mm-hmm. and, and you addressed the room of boys who were trying to act like men, . And you said, you all are crazy. You need to be going after Ashley. Yeah. And she is beautiful. Yeah. And I am like, you're so right. , don't tell them you are blowing up my spot . And, um, yes. So that, that crystallized a lot of very important things in my life.

Yeah. And I think , uh, I wanna say in three months we were engaged. Oh, it was, yeah. You, I was like, you got the assignment and you executed, you got an a . Yes, yes. I, yeah, yeah. I knew. Yeah. I, I was 19 years old. I was 19 years old. I, I can't even. Babies. Babies, babies, babies. Not to discount what 19 year olds go through.

Not to do that, but yeah. No, I mean, uh, I knew. Yeah. And, um, something that Blakely always talks about is, uh, what brought you here won't keep you here. Mm-hmm. , that, that energy that I had to pursue, Ashley did not keep me in this marriage. Mm-hmm. , no, no, no, no. And, and it's of evolution, it's growth, it's, yeah.

Maturity. It's lots of things. Well, I think that's the path of all things. Mm-hmm. , like that's the path of getting into, um, a long-term relationship. That's the path of becoming a therapist and staying a therapist. Mm-hmm. , that's. That's the path of, um, I think of a lot of religions, right? The, it, there's a, there's the, the initial energy, excitement, newfound mm-hmm.

things that feel crystal clear, and then, and then the natural process muddies all of that, right? Yeah. Reality, grief, suffering, difficulty. Mm-hmm. , um mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. our own, um, our own inadequacies. The places where, where we don't have enough mm-hmm. , you know, and I think, yeah. What brought, what brought me into therapy, I think so much early on, it's that it's just that same energy of like, I'm gonna be good at this.

Mm-hmm. , I think for me, it, and I've always been terrified of this. It's a work in progress in my own mind. But it's the thing that you're talking about that I'm just gonna come into the therapy room and I'm just gonna be another version of a pastor. Mm. Who's really just in it for their own ego. Mm. It's just a tiny little congregation secretly, Ooh.

And a little. Right. And so that, that thing that you're saying, like that I sort of have, um, an ingrained rightness in me. The thing is Right, that muddied water. Mm-hmm. you find out that doesn't work very well in therapy with your clients or with yourself to just tell people what to do and what to believe and or just Yeah.

To that, that you, you're the expert. Yeah. Leading, leading them back to the trough of Danielle.

Right. Ah, and it doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't work. There's no healing in that. Mm-hmm. , because there's the othering and, and that's othering. It's to, to me, um, I think a lot about things that become othered, and that's the, that's the sort of, I vow, um, thing that's Martin Buber. Mm-hmm. , you know, that the i it, yes.

The, i it like things, the it, it versus I things tur being turned into objects. Mm-hmm. and I, and I think that's what the, that's the, that's the, the muddied water. Mm-hmm. in all things that starts when things, they cannot stay in the i it mm-hmm. and my objectification of myself as a therapist. Mm. It doesn't, it doesn't hold as in to, um, Objectifying yourself into an expert.

Mm-hmm. , objectifying yourself into, um, the charismatic leader mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. of, of your ego. Yeah. Yeah. And the objectification of like, like the objectification that you've experienced as a congregation member mm-hmm.


And that being a hu huge fear of yours mm-hmm. to turn clients into that thing. And, and what I, what muddied the water was how lonely, how lonely that is. Say more because it is inherently separating. Mm-hmm. , it doesn't let me be a person in the room. That can, that can be. And, and when. I feel like I'm constantly learning this in every area of my life.

Mm-hmm. I keep, mm-hmm. , this was, this is just like a thing I'm gonna tumble through for my lifetime, I think of not objectifying myself and allowing myself to exist in this space. Tired. Mm-hmm. without answers, stuck. Mm. Whate, whatever it is. Mm-hmm. . And, and when I do that thing, it frees up the space and then I don't have to sit in a room with two people and be lonely with them.

Mm. Right. This is the heart. This is at the heart. Mm-hmm. . This is, um, and I, I hate the work when I'm objectified. When I objectify myself, and I love the work when I subjectify myself. It feels a little too trite and easy, simplified, but it's, yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. . Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. So just sort of transition into what keeps you here.

Mm-hmm. , I feel like we're getting to this place of when you honor your own experience mm-hmm. , honor your own feelings mm-hmm. , um, and have boundaries around them that's like the, the flow state that feels best. Mm-hmm. when you're helping people. Mm-hmm. . But I feel like it is just a continuous iteration process.

So for when you're, when you're talking about humanizing and ob and objectifying, I feel like this, uh, that's so wise and I think that it's something that people are scared of. Like, did you ever get taught how to be a person and a therapist in your master's degree? No. Or in any training that you've ever been to?

No. No. No. Actually, that's, you've, you've actually been en encouraged to not be you.

Yes. , you're like, let me make sure I, if I agree with that, that that's true. No, no. That's like, so true that it's disturbing, but there's, there's like, um, that ideal therapist, that blank slate. Mm-hmm. wise reserved. Mm-hmm. only says, you know, drops that line. Mm-hmm. , but that is in service of the ego. All of that is, and I, I inherently don't believe in it because as I've watched it play out, It inherently restricts the therapist from giving the appropriate intervention.

Mm-hmm. If, if we're just coming down to brass tacks, is it therapeutic or not? No. Being unhuman? Yes. Being unsealing. Mm-hmm. being late. Blank slate. Yes. It, it restricts if I can't be angry and I can't be tired and I can't be bored mm-hmm. and I can't be sad and I can't be mm-hmm. , um, if, if I am not allowed to feel that mm-hmm.

therapeutically, I will not be able to pick that up in my clients. Ooh. So it is absolutely, it is not therapeutic. Mm-hmm. , it is clinically unethical to me. Ooh. That's a opposite take, right? Yeah, that was, that's my next point, yeah. Is how self-disclosure and. Often I think that the discussion around self-disclosure is that you're gonna bring too much personal shit into the room.

Mm-hmm. and Ben, I literally, okay, this is, you're exactly right. Okay. I had, I did it yesterday and then I leave and I'm like, Ooh, Danielle, you crossed some sort of line. Yeah. But in the moment I knew I needed to say to this person mm-hmm. what I said. Right. And I would do it again. Even with that part of me that's like mm-hmm.

did you just put yourself on her? Did you just take up too much space? Did you just, I mean all of those like mm-hmm. , it's so fear-based, right? We were taught to be afraid of being ourselves in the room, . And I would say, yeah. Right. Again, you are restricting them therapeutic, um, intervention and what is clinically like, what clinically supports health.

Right. Right. I'm reading a book called Compass Genomics. Oh. And it's, uh, basically how the studies and the science around healthcare professionals being compassionate helps that there's an actual effect in outcomes from whether or not the, like, studies of anesthesiologists who went to compassionately talk with the person the night before surgery just inherently needed less, less, um, anesthesia and recovered faster.

Right? Yeah, it's incredible. Yeah. And the studies that talk about how relationship working, relationship, good rapport, trust, and like shared goals. That's what's the most helpful in therapy. Mm-hmm. , we wanna argue often between, uh, professional helpers and, and therapists. We wanna argue which intervention is best.

Mm-hmm. and which philosophical approach is best? Uhhuh. . But really what I think is, is lost on us too often is that we all kind of come from the same spot. Well, we wanna help. Yes. Don't you remember in school constantly? This part though, being it's always touted, like therapeutic alliance is literally mm-hmm.

the, the primary if you want an indicator of success in treatment is that mm-hmm. are, do we have Right. Therapeutic alliance. Right. Are we listening to that? Right. How do you have a good therapeutic alliance if you are not present in the room? Right. And I'm, and I am. I'm not advocating for inappropriate. I think this is the piece is why, and this all is the golden thread for me of why this podcast is, is necessary, is that this is a both and yes.

Discussion. This is not an either or thing. And I don't care how many times you tell me that I need to get things in order in my life, so I'm healthier. They're not gonna resonate with me unless I trust you. Yeah. The pieces of of it too are like, it's always the help for us is always behind a paywall. A paywall that's, Pretty expensive.

Mm-hmm. , whether it's supervision or therapy or mm-hmm. , a conference or a getaway like meditation retreat or something. Mm-hmm. , like it's, and I, and that's a complicated thing too, but that's why this has gotta happen. Like, we've gotta have these conversations. Yeah. It's, I was gonna speak to this a minute ago because it's that part, whatever that is, it's, I think it's really, really complicated.

Mm-hmm. , I, I am in a better place in, in my career and with that self that I'm bringing to my office and to my clients. But you're right. You know, it's, I charge higher fees. I have very strong policies. Mm-hmm. , and there's a lot of feelings that come back at me about those things in different ways. Sure. But literally to, to keep doing this, I really do have to be, I personally, it's beneficial for me to be in my own therapy mm-hmm.

and then it's like I'm leaving on Sunday to go away for a few days, and I have had to find ways to build in every about 12 to 13 weeks. I need a week, not in my office. Right. I can only go 12 to 13 weeks. Yeah. Before I need to be away, man. That's, that is a lot. Mm-hmm. , like, I, I, I don't know how to say it in any differently to the, to the public, you know, like, We are carrying so much, and we are asked a lot of times to be the first people to, like you and Blakely have talked, I've heard other conversations, but we are asked, would, would you please suffer alongside me?

let's just all suffer together. Mm-hmm. . And I'm like, uh, yes, but not in that manner. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, and so to be able to, to hold the work. To do the work, you're right. There is this, it costs me a lot to keep doing this work. Mm-hmm. and that part is another part that's lonely because nobody, it, it just sort of feels like the conversation around therapy is just, it's so expensive.

Right. I know. It's, I, I know it costs a lot of money. Right. But to be able to sit hour after hour, day after day with people mm-hmm. . I require. Mm-hmm. , like, you don't wanna sit with me on week 16. Mm. You don't want me personally, you don't want me as your therapist on week 16, 17, 18, 19 without break. Mm-hmm.

you know, there's just this trying to, trying to figure that part out of, right. Well, and I think the piece that you're talking about, I think you were just saying this before we got started, was that folks in high stress therapy, jobs, hospitals, and mental health centers, and Yeah. They get paid terribly.

Yep. And in the hierarchy of, Of the profession. Mm-hmm. , they've got clout because they're the firefighters. Mm-hmm. , they're the, they're the ones that are the heroes. Mm-hmm. and we're all in the same boat in terms of we have passion to care for the people who are in pain. Mm-hmm. , that's the thing that links us all.

Mm-hmm. , the, that is why we are here. Mm-hmm. , the how is different mm-hmm. . But I think a part of what you're talking about is when you have humanized yourself, when you have honored yourself, when you've set back and gone, how can I sustain this? Yeah. You say, I need a break. Mm-hmm. , I need therapy. Mm-hmm. , that is a ton of investment.

Because like we talk, like you talk about the, the argument of it being expensive, but that's what people are paying for. They're paying for your, be the best version of you. They're paying for the, the ability for you to be present. Mm-hmm. for them. Yes. And for you. Yes, Ben. Ugh. Right. So can we just, can we just acknowledge that please.

That is actually what is being asked of us. , please bring your best self to me every week now that in the course of good therapy, that should crumble. And the, the client should be disappointed when they find out that's not real. And we work through all those feelings. Right. And we move the therapist out of the ideal mm-hmm.

into reality. That's good therapy. Right. But there's an overarching unconscious demand mm-hmm. that we show up. Never tired, always alert, catching everything, knowing the research. Best interventions resourced and do it for a hundred dollars. Are you kidding me? Don't even get, don't even get just the, the, the ask doesn't meet then what they ask and what they, then what?

Then we complain about the demands. They do not, ma cannot match up and the resources don't match. Yes. And I recognize that I have the privilege in private practice that, but I believe that what I am able to. Now have with privilege, with, with my own figuring stuff out. Mm-hmm. , this is what every therapist needs.

And more, I would maybe say more so. Mm-hmm. , I don't know, but more so those in working with populations that are at higher risk. So like, here's, this is sort of where I was going with all of this was if we don't unite around the things that are similar mm-hmm. , we can't change anything. Yeah. Like we have, we do, we are passionate people who love to care for others, who love to see justice occur, who love to see healing occur, who hate suffering, who de decide to suffer along with people.

Mm-hmm. , um, for the hope. That they will feel better, be better, be better equipped, have more resources, be more empowered, have more autonomy. Mm-hmm. and no, they're not alone. Mm-hmm. , we're fucking awesome. Mm-hmm. , all of us. Mm-hmm. . And if we can't unite around that mm-hmm. , we're not gonna advocate for any positive change around this.

Like, what I see is like the, the problem around this is, uh, the money you take, you, you have set up something for yourself that has utilized the area you're in. Mm-hmm. , the people you have access to the privileges of all of that and been able to set up a life where you can have balance. Mm-hmm. . Now I could easily look at that and attack that.

Mm-hmm. , right? Yep. Or I could go, that's what we all need. Yeah. How do we get that from the system? Yes. Because the system is the thing. Yes. That, I mean, have, has anybody seen a, like mental health therapist parking spot in the front of grocery stores?

Uh, have we, were we even like, acknowledged during the pandemic as first responders? Were we still expected to help people with their mental health as we're going fucking crazy too? Yeah. And all honestly, I mean, I heard people say like, oh, I know you guys have been, you know, inundated. But then it's just sort of like n I mean, in the last year, All I hear is constant complaints about how long it takes to get into a, into, um, your therapist.

Mm-hmm. , I have so many thoughts about that. But wait, the demand is really high and the resources are really low. What, what, and is that then a systemic problem? We're like, what? Wait, why are we all burnt out? ? Uh, well, like, and so yes, I don't, I don't want this to sound in really any way of comparative suffering.

Like, it doesn't have to be comparative, right. It's just, it just is reality. It's this part of suffering in this part of humanity, like taking on the emotional toll and the emo and doing the emotional labor of therapy is way different than being exposed to covid every day as a nurse in a hospital. Yes.

Yep. That's completely different. Yep. And as nurses know as. Occupational therapists know, as mental health therapists know, we're all getting paid crap money. Mm-hmm. , what we do for society is not valued. Mm-hmm. , right? Because we don't make money. No. Because we're in this to serve. Right. We're in, but then there's also like , anyway, whatever, , sorry.

No, no, no, no, no. Tangent. But it is like the moral expectation. Yes. Right. And I don't, I don't know, like, um, having to pay attention for just even an hour is very difficult. I'm just gonna throw that out there. Okay. Yes. The mental exhaustion. Okay. The, the older I get mm-hmm. , um, my family has expanded, so I have more people that I care for in my own family.

Mm-hmm. , I have, there are ways that things that used to bring me pleasure. I literally do not have brain. I love cooking. Mm-hmm. in the last six months, cooking has just kind of disappeared because I'm, because my brain fatigue at the end of the day can't handle even following a recipe. Right. Right. Like, that's a tiny little thing that I'm losing because I gave mm-hmm.

no one sees that. No, I do. You do. Therapists know what it, the toll that it, that mm-hmm. is taken by focusing for that hour. Yeah. And it takes something from you. Yep. It does. And sometimes there's a feedback loop. Where we receive and we feel fulfilled and we have meaning and we feel connected mm-hmm. to these people.

And, and sometimes they share their appreciation. Right. And those moments are really beautiful. But on the, on the day in, day out mm-hmm. , there's not a lot of, there's, there's not as much of that as I think what people think there is No. Or how, I don't know. It, it su it has, it surprised me how little there was.

Mm-hmm. and appreciation or feedback, feedback loop. Mm-hmm. . And also, so

the idealism that I came into this work with mm-hmm. , uh, hasn't sustained itself No. And so I can't keep, like I keep. Wanting to feel like you're, you're such a, you're doing such a good job, . Like this is such a, um, this is such a amazing decision that you've made to do this. Yeah. And then I'm like, there's another part of me that goes, you're full of shit, man.

Oh yeah. That part's with me on the regular. So what has kept you here has been investing in yourself to get through the suffering and the pain, the emotional toll, the emotional need. What, what keeps me there is the meaning and what supports my ability to stay. Is, is all of this care that I have created over here.

I love being with my clients. I love humans. I love humans. Mm-hmm. I like just driving in traffic and looking at people in their car. I just like people. Yeah. So weird. . That is so weird. I was taught to be afraid of people, Ben, growing up. I was taught that people are bad and I was taught to be afraid of them.

And sitting in the chair undid that for me. Ooh. Because people were good and people were loving and people were hurting, and people were just doing their best. And all of my fear had dissolved. I'm not afraid of people anymore. I love people, and that is that thing that keeps me in this work, you know?

This all over here that I've created supports because that takes a lot from me to to be in that place, to just be human. Hmm. Damn. Like something I go back to often is the book, the Places That Scare You, my Pima Children. There's this chapter, chapter seven on loving kindness, just reading it on the way over here to calm myself down, to be like, just chill out.

This isn't about you. It is about you. Chill out. This isn't about, this is about you. This isn't about my ego, and it's not about who I want people to see me as. This is about me just being me. Yes. Yeah. Uh, she says, another image for loving kindness is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young.

Until they're strong enough to fly away. Sometimes people ask, who am I in this image? The mother or the chicks? The answer is that we're both, it's easy to identify with the baby's blind, raw, and desperate for attention. We are a poignant mixture of something that isn't all that beautiful and yet is dearly love.

That's, yeah, I feel like the thing that's lost in this discussion of self-care is I'm caring for something that has a lot of ugliness to it because I'm not perfect. Mm-hmm. and I objectify me and criticize and cut apart and shame away. I'm not. Immune to that, particularly when I know I've, I've been in the presence of pain all day.

Mm-hmm. and in a mindset of problem solving, str strategizing, how can I be of service here? Just the orientation of that makes me want to control my own feelings. Mm-hmm. , control my own thoughts and not be present with me. Yeah, I agree. I feel that. And when, so like over the summer, uh, last summer I did like three months of like hard, not hard, um, committed, um, meditation.

I did not realize how much just natural tension I was holding

even when I thought I was calm. I was holding lots of tension. Mm-hmm. , I need to get back into a ritual of that cuz it was, it was cause it was that caring space. Fantastic space. Yeah. I didn't have to problem solve anything. I had to do less to be more mm-hmm. . It was incredible. I like that a lot. It wasn't a kale smoothie,

X . Yeah. I wanna say:

And it was all around this existential crisis of who am I? Where did I go? Hmm. I've lost me. Mm-hmm. . Um, I thought I knew who I was and then I thought I knew what I was doing. And then this big realization that it's like, Hey, you have a whole room in your house you haven't even noticed. It's full of mess. I was meeting the most often when my father-in-law was just in and out of the hospital, and it was like death on the doorstep and it was all this unknown.

Yeah. Everything brought to your doorstep. Mm-hmm. , you can't open the door without smoking. I think as, as all of that's sort of coming back to me right now and I feel the tension and the sadness and the loneliness and. The desperation, having a hard time putting words to it. I don't want any of us to feel that way, to feel so alone and not know where to turn.

Yeah. I don't either. I, I don't, I know I can't stop people's suffering. And I, and I know that now as a therapist and as a, as a friend, I mean as a partner, but it's the being alone. Right. You want people to be alone in that place. I think that's my what I need to keep going. What's gonna keep me in this work?

I need community. Mm-hmm. , I am here in your wonderful living room. That makes me happy, , having this hours long, deep conversation.

After 12 years, , 10 years of not seeing you , that tells you Yeah. You're like a person for me. That there's just, there's like a clique and there's still, I mean, you and I have, we have really different lives. Mm-hmm. , um, and yeah, there's still so much to me, commonality in our inner lived experience. Right.

Yeah. I appreciate that. Well, thank you so much. Thank you so, so, so, so much for being on the podcast. It's, um, I'm glad to be part of it. It's wonderful to reconnect. Mm-hmm. , it has been. Okay. Take care. Bye. Bye.

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About the Podcast

Being the Work
Getting real about the lives of mental health professionals
Conversations with therapists, for therapists courageously cracking into our unspoken experiences. We seek to put voice to taboo topics in the helping professions, deepen our connections to each other, and ask the difficult questions of what it is to be fully human and a helper at the same time.
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