To make—or not make—a therapy appointment. That is the question.
by Shannon Stonebrook, Licensed Professional Counselor

I’ve been there. Debating over whether or not to see a therapist about an issue going on in my life.

Were things that bad that I needed to seek counseling support? Couldn’t I figure it out, or handle it on my own? Did I really need to talk with and pay a therapist to work through things I thought I should be able to figure out myself?

If you’ve had any of the above thoughts, trust me that you’re not alone.

As a therapist (and someone who has been in therapy), I strongly believe in the therapeutic benefits of counseling. Where else do you have an unbiased, nonjudgmental ear that is there solely to help you work through struggles and improve your life?

With that said, I can also wholeheartedly empathize with the anxiety and fear of the unknown that the idea of seeking therapy can bring on. I think it’s only natural to feel some level of anxiety meeting a complete stranger and sharing your deepest emotions and thoughts with them. And sometimes it’s about getting honest with ourselves after being dishonest for quite some time.

It takes courage to engage in therapy—no doubt. But it can also be life-changing. I know firsthand the benefits that I gained from working with a therapist, and I see people transform their lives every day in front of my eyes. It might sound cheesy, but something magical happens when someone experiences that ‘a-ha’ moment during therapy that may very well change their life forever.

If I can help with any questions you have about what therapy is really like or what type of therapeutic style I have, please feel free to email me at [email protected] . I really try to live by the motto of ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’, and have found that it has helped me to find the answers to difficult questions such as this one.

“It’s not me it’s you.”
by Shannon Stonebrook, Licensed Professional Counselor

While many of us may have taken the less-painful way out of a difficult romantic breakup by stating, “It’s not you—it’s me” (and sometimes actually meaning it), the reality is that we are often too quick to judge and blame others when it comes to ineffective communications within our relationships.

“You make me so angry!”…”You made me lie to you!”…”You are impossible to talk to!”….

Do any of these ring a bell? Whether you’ve heard these statements spewing from your own mouth—or if you’ve been on the receiving end—something’s gotta give.

We are in control of our own feelings, emotions, and actions, but we often give others the power to negatively influence us. One way to improve the way we communicate with those in all aspects of our lives (and to encourage others to do the same) is by using “I”-statements.

I-statements allow us to take ownership for our feelings while clearing communicating what we need from others. Sounds like a win-win, right? While I’ve heard that using I-statements feels a little awkward at first, I think the payoff far outweighs stepping a little outside of the comfort zone.

How do you use I-statements? It’s easy. You start by expressing how you feel (i.e. “I feel ____ (state your emotion.”), when a certain behavior or action is taken (i.e. “When you ______.”), and why you feel the emotion when the person engages in that behavior/action (i.e. “Because it makes me feel like _______.”). Once you’ve communicated your feelings clearly and in a non-attacking manner, you then state what you would like from the other (i.e. “I would like for you to ____________.”)

I encourage you to try I-statements out with those around you. And if it feels awkward initially, still go ahead and give it a try. I-statements are about being assertive while respecting the other in the relationship. You have nothing to lose, but much to gain.

If you’ve started to use I-statements and have noticed improved communication in your relationships, send an email to me at [email protected] . I’d love to hear some success stories!