Artwork

Innehåll tillhandahållet av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT. Allt poddinnehåll inklusive avsnitt, grafik och podcastbeskrivningar laddas upp och tillhandahålls direkt av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT eller deras podcastplattformspartner. Om du tror att någon använder ditt upphovsrättsskyddade verk utan din tillåtelse kan du följa processen som beskrivs här https://sv.player.fm/legal.
Player FM - Podcast-app
Gå offline med appen Player FM !

What it is REALLY like to be an Anxiety Therapist | Ep. 374

37:34
 
Dela
 

Manage episode 401261729 series 2477782
Innehåll tillhandahållet av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT. Allt poddinnehåll inklusive avsnitt, grafik och podcastbeskrivningar laddas upp och tillhandahålls direkt av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT eller deras podcastplattformspartner. Om du tror att någon använder ditt upphovsrättsskyddade verk utan din tillåtelse kan du följa processen som beskrivs här https://sv.player.fm/legal.

In the realm of mental health, the role of an anxiety therapist is often shrouded in mystery and misconceptions. To shed light on this crucial profession, Joshua Fletcher, also known as AnxietyJosh, shares insights from his latest book, "And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy," in a candid conversation with Kimberley Quinlan on her podcast.

Joshua's book aims to demystify the therapeutic process, offering readers an intimate look behind the therapy door. It's not just a guide for those struggling with anxiety but an engaging narrative that invites the general public into the world of therapy. The book's unique angle stems from a simple yet intriguing question: Have you ever wondered what your therapist is thinking?

One of the book's key revelations is the humanity of therapists. Joshua emphasizes that therapists, like their clients, are complex individuals with their own vices, flaws, and inner dialogues. The book begins with a scene where Joshua, amidst a breakthrough session with a client, battles an array of internal voices—from the biological urge to use the restroom to the critical voice questioning his decision to drink an Americano right before the session.

This honest portrayal extends to the array of voices that therapists and all humans contend with, including anxiety, criticism, and analytical thinking. Joshua's narrative skillfully normalizes the internal chatter that professionals experience, even as they maintain a composed exterior.

The conversation also touches upon the diverse modalities of therapy, highlighting the importance of finding the right approach for each individual's needs. Joshua jests about "The Yunger Games," a fictional annual event where therapists from various modalities compete, underscoring the passionate debates within the therapeutic community regarding the most effective treatment methods.

A significant portion of the book delves into the personal growth and challenges therapists face, including dealing with their triggers and the balance between professional detachment and personal empathy. Joshua shares an anecdote about experiencing a trigger related to grief during a session, illustrating how therapists navigate their emotional landscapes while maintaining focus on their clients' needs.

The awkwardness of encountering clients outside the therapy room is another aspect Joshua candidly discusses. He humorously describes the internal turmoil therapists experience when meeting clients in public, highlighting the delicate balance of maintaining confidentiality and acknowledging the shared human experience.

Joshua's book, and his conversation with Kimberley, paint a vivid picture of the life of an anxiety therapist. It's a role filled with challenges, personal growth, and the profound satisfaction of facilitating others' journeys toward mental wellness. By pulling back the curtain on the therapeutic process, Joshua hopes to demystify therapy, making it more accessible and less intimidating for those considering it.

In essence, being an anxiety therapist is about embracing one's humanity, continuously learning, and engaging in the most human conversations without judgment. It's a profession that requires not only a deep understanding of mental health but also a willingness to confront one's vulnerabilities and grow alongside their clients. Through his book and the insights shared in this conversation, Joshua Fletcher invites us all to appreciate the intricate dance of therapy—a dance that, at its best, can be life-changing for both the therapist and the client.

Transcript:

Kimberley: I’m very happy to have back on the show Joshua Fletcher, a dear friend of mine and quite a rock star. He has written a new book called And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy. Welcome back, Josh.

Joshua: It’s good to be back. Thanks, Kim. When was the last time we spoke together on a podcast? I think you were on The Disordered podcast not so long ago. That was lovely. But I remember my guest appearance on Your Anxiety Toolkit was lovely.

HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Kimberley: I know. I’m so happy to actually spend some time chatting with you together. I’m very excited about your new book. It’s all about therapy and anxiety and what it’s really like to be an anxiety therapist and the process of therapy and all the things. How did this book come about?

Joshua: I wanted to write a book about people who struggle with anxiety, but in the mainstream, because a lot of the literature out there is very self-help, and it’s in a certain niche. One of my biggest passions is to write something engaging with a nice plot where people are reading about something or a storyline that they’re interested in whilst inadvertently learning without realizing you’re learning. That’s my kind of entertainment—when I watch a show and I’ve learned a lot about something or when I’ve read a book and I’ve inadvertently learned loads of things because I’m taking in the plot.

With this book, I wanted to write a book about therapy. Now, that initially might not get people to pick it up, might not interest you, might not interest you about anxiety therapy, but I wanted to write something that anyone could pick up and enjoy and learn lots because I want to share our world that we work in with the general public. And so, the hook that I focused on here was, have you ever wanted to know what your therapist is thinking? And I thought, well, I’m going to tell people what I’m thinking, and I’m going to invite people behind the therapy door, and you’re going to see what I do and what’s going on in my head as I’m trying to work with people who struggle with mental health.

I wrote the pitch for it. People went bananas, and they loved it because it’s not been done before. Not necessarily a good thing if it’s not been done before. And here we are. I love it. I’m really proud of it. I want people to laugh, cry, be informed. If you go on a journey, learn more about therapy, learn more about anxiety. All in one book.

THERAPISTS ARE HUMANS TOO

Kimberley: Yeah. I think that one of the many cool things about it is, as a therapist, people seem to be always very curious or intrigued about therapists, about what it’s like and what it’s like to be in a room with someone who’s really struggling, or when you’re handling really difficult topics, and how to be just a normal human being and a therapist at the same time.

Joshua: Yeah. What I want to write about is to remind people that therapists are humans. We have our vices and flaws. I’m not talking on behalf of you, Kim. I’m sure you’re perfect.

Kimberley: No, no. No, no. Flawed as flawed could be.

Joshua: Yeah, but to a level that it’s like, even our brains have different voices in them all the time, different thought processes as part of our rationalization. And I want people to peer inside that and have a look. So, one of them is like the book opens with me and a client and it’s going really well, and this person’s talking, this character’s talking about where they’re up to, and celebrating on the brink of something great. And then there’s the voice of biology that just pops into the room, into my head. And it’s the biology of you need to go to the toilet. Why did it? And then the voice of critic comes in and says, “Why did you drink an Americano moments before this client?” Now you’re sat here, and you can leave if you want, but it would be distasteful. And you’re on this brink of this breakthrough.

And so, I’ve got this argument going on in my head, going, “You need the toilet.” “Yeah, but this person’s on a breakthrough.” And then I got empathy, like, “Yeah, but they feel so vulnerable. They want to share this.” And then you’ve got analytical and all the chaotic conversations that are happening as a therapist as I’m sat there nodding and really wanting the best for my client.

THE VOICES IN OUR HEAD

Kimberley: Exactly. That’s why I thought it was so brilliant. So, for those of you who haven’t read it, I encourage you to, but Josh really outlines at the beginning of the book all of these different voices that therapists and all humans have. There’s the anxiety’s voice and there’s biology, which you said, like, “I need to go to the restroom,” or there’s the critic that’s judging you, or there’s the analytical piece, which is the clinical piece that’s making sense of the client and what’s going on and the relationship and all the things. And I really resonated with that because I think that we think as clinicians, as we get better and more seasoned, that we only show up with this professional voice we’re on the whole time, but we’re so not. We’re so not on the whole time. This whole chatter is happening in the background. And I think you did a beautiful job of just normalizing that.

Joshua: Thanks, Kim. It’s a book that therapists will like, but do you know what? People will identify their own voices in this, particularly the anxiety. You and I talk about anxiety all day every day, always beginning with what if—that voice of worry that sits around a big table of thoughts and tries to shout the loudest and often gets our attention. And I tried to show that this happens to a lot of people as well. It’s just the what-if is different. So, for some people, it’s, “What if this intrusive thought is true?” For some people, it’s, “What if I have a panic attack?” For some people, it’s, “What if this catastrophe I’ve been ruminating on for so long happens?” For therapists, it’s, “What if the worst thing that happens here, even in the therapy room?”

I’m an anxiety therapist that has been through anxiety, and I still get anxiety because I’m human. So, I celebrate these voices as well. Also, because I’m human, I can be critical almost always of myself in the book. So, I’m not just criticizing the people I’m working with. Absolutely not. But that voice comes in, and it’s about balancing it and showing the work and what a lot of training to be a therapist is. It’s about choosing the voice. And I didn’t realize how much training to be a therapist actually helps me live day-to-day. Actually, I’m more rational when making more life decisions because I can choose to observe each voice, which was integral to me overcoming an anxiety disorder, as well as just facing life’s challenges every day.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A THERAPIST?

Kimberley: Right. Because we’re really today talking a lot about what it’s ACTUALLY like to be a therapist—and I emphasize the word ‘actually’—what is it actually like to be a therapist, if we were to be really honest?

Joshua: One thing I mentioned is that I talk about the therapeutic hour, which is how long, Kimberley?

Kimberley: Fifty minutes.

Joshua: Yeah. The therapy took out and I explained what we do in the 10 minutes that we have between clients on a busy day. And people imagine us doing meditation or grounding ourselves or reflecting or whatever. Sometimes I do do that. Sometimes I just scroll Reddit, look at memes, eat candy, and do nothing. And it’s different each time. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not some mystic sage in my office, sitting sinisterly under the lamplight waiting for you to come in. No, I’m usually faffing around, panicking, checking that I don’t look like a scruff, putting a brush through my hair, trying to hide the stains of food I’ve got on my shirt because I overzealously consume my lunch.

And there’s obviously some funny stories in there, but also there’s dark stuff in there as well. When I trained to be a therapist, I went through grief, and I made some quite unethical decisions back when I was training. Not the ones I’m proud of, but it actually shows the serious side of mental health and that a lot of therapists become therapists because of their own journeys. And I know that that applies to a lot of therapists I know.

Kimberley: For sure. I have to tell a story. A few months ago—I’m a member of lots of these therapist Facebook groups—one of the therapists asked a question and said, “Tell me a little bit what your hour looks like before you see a client. What’s your routine or your procedure pre-clients?” And all these people were saying, “I journal and I meditate and all of these things.” Some people were like, “I water the plants and I get my laptop open.” And I just posted a meme of someone who’s pushing all the crap off my table and screeching into the computer screen and being like sitting up straight. And all of these people responded like, “Thank God,” because all the therapists were beautifully saying, and I just came in here honestly, “Sometimes I literally sit down, open the laptop, and it is a mess. But I can in that moment be like, ‘Take a breath,’ and be like, ‘Tell me how you’re doing.’” Like you said, how does that end? We start the therapeutic hour. And I think that we have to normalize therapists being that kind of person.

Joshua: Definitely. I think one of the barriers to people seeking therapy is that power dynamic, that age-old trope that someone stood leaning against a mahogany bookcase. You’ve probably got a mahogany bookcase. Your practice is really nice. I certainly have. I’ve got an Ikea KALLAX unit full of books I’ve never read.

Kimberley: Exactly. Your books aren’t organized by color because mine are not.

Joshua: No, no. There’s just some filler books in there. Just like, why is Catcher in the Rye? Why is Catcher in the Rye? I don’t know, I just put it on there. I just want to look clever. Anyway, it’s like people are afraid of that power dynamic of some authority figure going in there about to judge them, mind-read them, shame them, or analyze them. And no, I think dispelling that myth by showing how human we are can challenge that power dynamic. It certainly did for me. I would much rather open up to someone who isn’t showing the pretense that they have all of life together. Don’t get me wrong, professionalism is essential, but someone who’s professional and human, because going to therapy is some of the most human experiences you’ll ever do. I don’t want someone who isn’t showing too scared to show that sign or certain elements of being human, but obviously professionally. And it’s a fine balance to get. But when you do find a therapist like that, for me personally, one who’s knowledgeable, compassionate, empathetic, has humility, I think beautiful things can happen.

Kimberley: Yeah. I think you use the word that I exactly was thinking of, which is, it’s such a balancing act to, as a therapist, honor your own humanity from a place of compassion. Like, yeah, we’re not going to have it all together and it’s not going to be perfect, and we won’t say the right thing all the time. But at the same time, be thoughtful and have the skills and the supervision to balance it so that you are showing up really professional and from that clinical perspective.

DO THERAPISTS GET CONSULTATION?

Tell me a little bit about consultation as a clinician. I know for me, I require a lot of consultation for cases, not because I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m always going to be honest with the fact that maybe I’m seeing it from a perspective that I hadn’t thought of yet. What are your thoughts on that kind of topic?

Joshua: Therapy’s got to work for both people as well, because the therapeutic connection, I believe, is one of the drivers that promotes therapeutic growth and change. It promotes trust. I will consult with clients and my supervisor and make sure it’s right. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but for people, particularly with anxiety disorders, I think they like to know and come to therapy. I think I’ve used self-disclosure on my public platforms tastefully in the sense that I know what it’s like to have gone through an anxiety disorder, whether it’s OCD or panic disorder or agoraphobia, and come out the other side.

But also, it’s balancing that with, “Actually, I’m your therapist here. I will help you in a therapeutic setting and use my training.” You know I’m not someone who’s got everything worked out, but you do know that someone who can relate that can step into your frame of reference, something I talk about a lot in the book frame of reference and empathy. If you feel like a therapist has done that and is in your frame of reference and it’s like, “Ah, yeah, they get it or they’re at least trying,” and we as therapists feel like there’s a connection there too on a professional and therapeutic level, I think magic can happen. And I love therapy for that. Not all therapy is great and beautiful and wonderful. Some of it is messy, and some of it just doesn’t work sometimes. And I do talk about that too, but it’s about when you get that intricate dance and match between therapist and client, I think it’s life-changing.

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON DO YOU NEED TO BE TO BECOME AN ANXIETY THERAPIST?

Kimberley: Yeah. What do you think about the type of person you would have to be to be an anxiety specialist, especially if you’re doing exposure and response prevention? The reason I ask that is I have a private practice in California. I have eight clinicians that work for me. Almost every time I have a position that’s open, and when I’m interviewing people to come on to my team, I would say 60% come in, and they’re good to go. They’re like, “I want to do this. I love the idea of exposure therapy.” But there is often 40% who say, “I’m not cut out for this work. This is not how I was trained. It’s not how I think about things.” After I’ve explained to them what we do and the success rate and the science behind it, they clearly say, “This isn’t for me.” What are your thoughts about what it takes or what kind of person it takes to be an anxiety specialist?

Joshua: That’s a great question. First of all, you’ve got to trust and believe in the modality that you’re trained in. You and I use the principles a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention. I’ve got first-hand experience of that. You’ve got to trust the science and what we know about human biology, which is really important. It’s about what you’re trading in that modality. What I talk about -- again, see how I’m segueing it back to the book. Brilliant. I’ve done my media training, Kim. It’s like, “Always go back to the book. Come on, Josh.” One of my favorite chapters in the book is explaining about modalities because a lot of people just think therapy is one big world where you see a therapist, they wave a magic wand, you feel better, and suddenly our parents love us again. No, that’s not how it works.

Kimberley: It’s not?

DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY THERAPISTS

Joshua: No, it’s not. Mental health has different presentations, and a modality is a school of thought that approaches difficulties in mental health. So, the first modality I go to is person-centered, which is counseling skills, listening, empathy, unconditional positive regard.

The Carl Rogers way of thinking—I think I love that. Is that good for OCD, intrusive thoughts, exposure therapy, and phobias? Not really. It’s nice to have a base of that because there’s more chance of a therapist being understanding, stepping in your frame of reference, and supporting you through that modality. But I wouldn’t say it’s equipped for that.

Whereas in CBT, a lot of it is psychoeducation, which I love. And that’s a different modality. Cognitive behavioral sciences, whether it’s third wave, when you’re looking at acceptance commitment, where are you looking at exposure response prevention. There’s lots of song and dance about I-CBT at the moment and things like that. They’re all different modalities and skills of thought.

Then you’ve got psychodynamic, which is the mahogany bookcase, lie on the sofa, let’s play word association. Oh yeah, you want to sleep with your mom, Josh? No, I don’t. That’s nothing to do with why I keep having panic attacks in the supermarket. Stop judging me. But that’s a different type of approach. Jungian approach can be quite insightful, but it’s got to match what the presentation is for you.

I think CBT is my favorite, but it sucks for stuff like grief. When I was grieving, I did not want CBT. I did not want my grief formulated. I did not want to see that my behaviors were perpetuating discomfort. I was like, “Yeah, that’s just part of my grieving process.” And in this chapter, I just talk about the different modalities.

Therapists are very passionate about the modality of the school that they train in because you have to give part of yourself to it. You have to go through it yourself. And I’m very passionate about the modalities I’m trained in. And so, I play on this in the book. There’s a chapter called The Younger Games or The Yunger Games, a play on words. And basically, it’s once-a-year therapists from every modality, whether it’s hypnotherapy, transactional analysis, CBT, person-centered, the trauma-informed. All of these, they all meet up in a field, and we all fight to the death. And the last remaining person is crowned the one true modality. Now last year, it was hypnotherapy. And what I also say is that a betting tip for next year is the trauma-informed. So, every year, I’ll keep you updated on The Yunger Games. And basically, it’s a narrative device to explain that.

Within the world of therapy, there are different types of therapists. You and I, we love CBT. We’ll bang the drum for that. We feel that there’s not enough ERP out there that certainly isn’t, particularly with the evidence and the points towards it and mountains of evidence. But other therapists may not feel the same. So, when people come to work at CBT School and they realize that Dumbledore, aka Kim Quinlan, is like, “No, we do ERP here; we’ve got to get down and dirty and do the horrible work,” they’re like, “That’s not conducive to the softer step-back approach that I’ve trained in, in my modality.”

Kimberley: Yeah. I’m always so happy that they just are honest with me. I remember as an intern at OCD Center in Los Angeles very clearly saying, “Are you okay talking about really very sexual, very, very graphic topics?” He listed off. Like, “Here is what you’re going to need to be able to talk about very clearly with a very straight face. You can’t have a wincing look on your face when you talk about intrusive, violent sexual thoughts. You’re going to have to be up for the game.” And I think that was a big thing for me. But what I think is really cool about your book, and you see now I’m bringing it back to your book, is it doesn’t mean the voice isn’t in your head sometimes questioning you. As I was reading it, I’m like, there is an imposter in therapists all the time saying, like you said, the critic that’s like, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re a failure. You’re a flake. You’re a complete fraud. You haven’t got it together. Maybe you haven’t even worked on the thing yourself yet.” That’s going to be there.

Joshua: Yeah, and I still get that. I can’t speak for you. But I think what makes a good therapist is a therapist who self-doubts. You don’t want to go and see a therapist who thinks that they’ve got it all worked out. That’s a red flag in itself. A good therapist is one that always wants to improve and uses that doubt and anxiety to make themselves a better therapist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty confident in my ability to be a therapist now, but there are challenges.

In the book, the voices that come up, there’s 13 of them. One of them is escapist, which is, “I just want to get the hell out of you,” or “Maybe I want to get rid of this client. I’m not equipped for it.” And then the other voices come in and they’re like, “But maybe this is just you being critical,” or “The evidence suggests that actually you are trained for this,” and navigating that doubt, the anxiety that your therapist has. And I think it’s a beautiful thing.

A lot of therapists are very harsh on themselves, but I think it’s a gift to have that inner critic. Because if you stand there like one of these therapists, and these therapists do exist, unfortunately, I have completed all my training. I know everything inside out. My word is gospel. I worked out what the problem was with this person within 10 minutes. You don’t want to talk to that person. What a close-minded moron. And there’s a judgmental voice from a therapist.

Kimberley: No, but I think that’s informed.

Joshua: So, it celebrates the vulnerability. You want a therapist who’s not got everything worked out. Absolutely. I do anyway.

Kimberley: Yeah, for sure. I’m wondering, how often have you had to work through your own shit in the room with a client? Meaning—I’ll give you a personal example—the very first time I ever experienced derealization for myself was with a client, and I was sitting across from them. They were just talking, and all of a sudden, I had this shift, like everything wasn’t real. Their head looked enormous and their body looked tiny. Like they were this tiny little bobbly head thing on the couch. And I knew what was happening. Thankfully, I knew what it was like. I knew what it was. Otherwise, I probably would have panicked, but I had to spend the rest of the session being as level and mindful as I could as I watched their head just bubble around in this disproportionate way. I got through it. I can say confidently I think I pulled it off really well, but it was hard. And I left the session being like, “What the heck just happened?” Has there been any experiences for you like that?

Joshua: Yeah, all the time. I mean, first of all, I’d question if you did have derealization. I was your client with a giant head and a tiny body. I was like, “What’s going on here?” There wasn’t derealization. That’s my body, Kim.

Kimberley: No, that’s just how I look, Kimberley.

Joshua: It’s just how I look.

Kimberley: “Stop judging.”

Joshua: But in general, no, it’s true. And again, one of the voices in my book, And How Does That Make You Feel?, it’s called trigger because therapists, they have to give a lot of themselves and they’re living a life and have had stuff in their past. One of the voices is trigger. One of the things I get asked a lot is, I don’t know about you, Kim, “If you’ve had anxiety, how can you work with it all day?” I’m like, “Because I’m all right with it. It’s okay now.” Sometimes it creeps in, though, if I’m tired or have not slept well. There’s stress in my personal life that you can’t avoid. Maybe I’ve not eaten too well. Maybe it’s just ongoing things. Sometimes trigger can happen, and it can be a stress-induced trigger or it could be a literal trigger from a traumatic event.

So, in the book, I explain when people bring grief and death, that sometimes makes me feel vulnerable because of my own experiences with grief and death. No spoilers, but the book throughout, one of the themes is why I became a therapist. Not only because of my passion for anxiety disorders and to be self-righteous around other therapists, train different modalities, but also because it’s a very grief-informed decision to want to help people.

And there’s several traumatic stories. One traumatic story around grief, that trigger, the voice of trigger will come up. So, a client could be talking about their life, like, “I’ve lost this person; I’m going to talk about it.” And of all these 13 voices around the table, what your therapist is thinking, trigger then shouts loudest. It goes, “Ah, trigger.” There’s some pain that you’ve not felt for a while and I’ve got to navigate it. You navigated the derealization, the dissociation. You’ve got to navigate it somehow by pulling on the other voices. And not only do therapists do this, but people do this as well sometimes, whether you’ve got to be professional or you don’t want to turn up to your friend’s birthday and just listen to trigger and anxiety and start crying all over your friend’s birthday cake. You might do. It’s quite funny, but not funny.

Kimberley: I was going to say, what’s wrong with that?

Joshua: Have you done it again? I thought you stopped that.

Kimberley: Yeah. You haven’t done that?

Joshua: It’s part of the interview at CBT School. You need to do really hard, tricky things. Go to your best friend’s birthday and make it all about you.

Kimberley: Exactly.

Joshua: But yeah, it’s one of those. It crops up. The book’s funny a lot, but it’s good. It takes some really serious turns, and it shows you a lot of stuff can creep in and how I deal with it as a therapist. And I’m sure you related to it as well, Kim, because we do the same job, but you just do it in a sunnier climate.

SEEING CLIENTS IN PUBLIC

Kimberley: Right. What I can say, and this will be the last thing that I point out, is you also address the awkwardness of being a therapist, seeing your clients in public and the awkwardness of that, or the, “Oh crap, I know this person from somewhere.” Again, no trigger. I don’t want to give the fun parts of the book, but as a therapist, particularly as someone who does exposure therapy, I might go across the road and take a client to have coffee because they’ve got to do exposures. We very often do see people, our clients, our friends in our work. How much does that impact the work that you do?

Joshua: If you ever bump into your therapist, just know that you have all the power there. Your therapist is squirming inside, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know. Do I completely blank this person?” But then I look like a dick. “Do I give a subtle nod? Oh, you’re breaking confidentiality. They’re out with loved ones.” It’s up to you. You can put your therapist out of their misery by just saying, “Hey, Kim.” “Hey, Josh.” And then I will say hi back because that shows that you’re okay with that.

There is a very extreme shocking version of this story, of this incident in the book where, when I’m at my lowest, I do bump into a previous client. On a night out, when I’m off my face on alcohol. Oh, if you want to find out more about that... Media training’s really paid off. Get him on the hip.

Kimberley: I didn’t want to give it all away, and you just did.

Joshua: No, no, not giving any more away. A media training woman said, “Entice them, then leave it, because then they’re more likely to read it.” So, I have listened to that media woman because my previous tactic of just begging and screaming into a camera doesn’t work. It’s like...

Kimberley: But going back exactly—going back, we are squirming. I think that is true that there is a squirm factor there when you see clients, and it happens quite regularly for me. But I think I’ve come to overcome that by really disclosing ahead of time. Like if I see you outside, you’re in the place of power, you decide what to do, and I’ll just follow your suit. It’s a squirm factor, though.

Joshua: See, that’s clever, good therapy stuff because you do it all part of the contracting and stuff. Actually, I told all my clients this is okay. But also, when you’re a new therapist or sometimes you forget, you’re like, “Oh no.” I used to run a music night in Manchester as part thing I did on the side. Enjoy it, love music, I was the host. One week I was on holiday, so a friend organized all the lineup of people to come down. Headline Act was a band name. Went along, and when I’m there, I’m having fun. I’ve got whiskey in my hand. I’m walking around telling irreverent, horrible jokes. No one in there would guess I was a therapist because I’m having fun and I’m entitled to a life outside the therapy room.

What I didn’t know was that the Headline Act was a current client, and they’d just arrived dead late. They didn’t know, and they walked on stage, and I looked. It’s something that they’ve gone on publicly to talk about, so this is why I’m saying it now. I got permission to use it because they said it publicly on the radio and stuff like that. And we just looked at each other. It was like, “Oh my God.” And I stood there with this. I was like, “Oh my God.” And I’ve said all this bad language and cracking jokes, roasting people in the audience, my friends usually. And it’s like, yeah, I was squirming.

So, at this point, I did just pretend I didn’t know them because it was the best I could do. And they got me out of trouble. They were obviously confident in performance mode. And they got onto mic and was like, “Can you believe that guy is my therapist?” And I was like, “What?” I was like, “Wow.” And then he said some really lovely things. And it wasn’t really awkward in therapy. If anything, it was quite something we laughed about in therapy afterwards, and it contributed to it. But yeah, the horror I felt. Oh, I felt sick, and oh. I don’t want to think about it.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

Kimberley: I want to be respectful of time. Of course, before you share this all about you and where people can get a hold of you and learn about your book, is there anything you want to say final point about what it’s like to actually be an anxiety therapist?

Joshua: It’s the best job in the world for me. It’s the best job in the world. All my friends and family go, “I don’t care how you can do that.” I love it. I get to have the most human conversations with people without judgment. You mentioned before about intrusive thoughts. I’ve got the magic guitar in this room, and we make songs about horrible intrusive thoughts. There was one the other day about kicking babies down the stairs. You can’t say that out loud. Yes, we do in here, to the three chords of the guitar I only know, particularly postpartum mothers.

Kimberley: You told me we couldn’t sing today.

Joshua: No, I’m not singing.

Kimberley: I wanted to sing today, and now you’re telling me we can’t sing.

Joshua: I don’t think it’s going to be Christmas number one—a three-chord banger about harming loved ones or sexual intrusive thoughts—but you never know. Yeah, it’s the most beautiful job.

Kimberley: I am known to sing intrusive thoughts to happy birthday songs.

Joshua: That’s a good one. I have to close my window though in my office because I do get scared that people walk past and like, “Wow, that’s a very disturbed man.” No, he’s not. I’m confident in the powers of ERP and how it can help.

Kimberley: You are. I love it. Josh, tell us where we can hear more about your book and learn more about you.

Joshua: I’m Joshua Fletcher, also known as AnxietyJosh on social media and stuff. The book is called And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy. It follows the stories of the four client case studies, obviously highly scrambled and anonymized, and gone through a rigorous ethical process there. So, don’t be like, “He’s talking about his clients.” No, that’s not what the book’s about. It’s about appearing in behind the therapy room door. It’s out in the US before the UK, which is here. I don’t know if anyone’s watching or whatever, but there it is. And it’s also been commissioned to be a television show for major streaming services. We don’t know which one yet, but it’s exciting.

Go get yourself a copy. It should be in your bookstore. Get it at Barnes & Noble and all the other US ones. And I think you’ll really enjoy it. So, it’s a really lovely endorsement. Kim has also said it’s really good, and Kim is harsh. So, if Kim says it’s good, then it’s going to be good. And I hope you really enjoy it and pass it on to a loved one who doesn’t have anxiety, and you’ll find that, “Oh, I actually learned quite a lot there whilst laughing and being captivated by the absolute bananas behind-the-scenes life of being a therapist.”

Kimberley: Yeah, I love it. Josh, the way that you present it, if I was scared to go to therapy, I think it would make me less scared. I think it would make me feel like this is something I could do.

Joshua: And that’s the best compliment I can receive, because that’s why I wrote the book. So, thank you so much.

Kimberley: Yeah. So fun to have you. Thanks for being here.

Joshua: Thanks, Kim.

  continue reading

336 episoder

Artwork
iconDela
 
Manage episode 401261729 series 2477782
Innehåll tillhandahållet av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT. Allt poddinnehåll inklusive avsnitt, grafik och podcastbeskrivningar laddas upp och tillhandahålls direkt av Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT, Kimberley Quinlan, and LMFT eller deras podcastplattformspartner. Om du tror att någon använder ditt upphovsrättsskyddade verk utan din tillåtelse kan du följa processen som beskrivs här https://sv.player.fm/legal.

In the realm of mental health, the role of an anxiety therapist is often shrouded in mystery and misconceptions. To shed light on this crucial profession, Joshua Fletcher, also known as AnxietyJosh, shares insights from his latest book, "And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy," in a candid conversation with Kimberley Quinlan on her podcast.

Joshua's book aims to demystify the therapeutic process, offering readers an intimate look behind the therapy door. It's not just a guide for those struggling with anxiety but an engaging narrative that invites the general public into the world of therapy. The book's unique angle stems from a simple yet intriguing question: Have you ever wondered what your therapist is thinking?

One of the book's key revelations is the humanity of therapists. Joshua emphasizes that therapists, like their clients, are complex individuals with their own vices, flaws, and inner dialogues. The book begins with a scene where Joshua, amidst a breakthrough session with a client, battles an array of internal voices—from the biological urge to use the restroom to the critical voice questioning his decision to drink an Americano right before the session.

This honest portrayal extends to the array of voices that therapists and all humans contend with, including anxiety, criticism, and analytical thinking. Joshua's narrative skillfully normalizes the internal chatter that professionals experience, even as they maintain a composed exterior.

The conversation also touches upon the diverse modalities of therapy, highlighting the importance of finding the right approach for each individual's needs. Joshua jests about "The Yunger Games," a fictional annual event where therapists from various modalities compete, underscoring the passionate debates within the therapeutic community regarding the most effective treatment methods.

A significant portion of the book delves into the personal growth and challenges therapists face, including dealing with their triggers and the balance between professional detachment and personal empathy. Joshua shares an anecdote about experiencing a trigger related to grief during a session, illustrating how therapists navigate their emotional landscapes while maintaining focus on their clients' needs.

The awkwardness of encountering clients outside the therapy room is another aspect Joshua candidly discusses. He humorously describes the internal turmoil therapists experience when meeting clients in public, highlighting the delicate balance of maintaining confidentiality and acknowledging the shared human experience.

Joshua's book, and his conversation with Kimberley, paint a vivid picture of the life of an anxiety therapist. It's a role filled with challenges, personal growth, and the profound satisfaction of facilitating others' journeys toward mental wellness. By pulling back the curtain on the therapeutic process, Joshua hopes to demystify therapy, making it more accessible and less intimidating for those considering it.

In essence, being an anxiety therapist is about embracing one's humanity, continuously learning, and engaging in the most human conversations without judgment. It's a profession that requires not only a deep understanding of mental health but also a willingness to confront one's vulnerabilities and grow alongside their clients. Through his book and the insights shared in this conversation, Joshua Fletcher invites us all to appreciate the intricate dance of therapy—a dance that, at its best, can be life-changing for both the therapist and the client.

Transcript:

Kimberley: I’m very happy to have back on the show Joshua Fletcher, a dear friend of mine and quite a rock star. He has written a new book called And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy. Welcome back, Josh.

Joshua: It’s good to be back. Thanks, Kim. When was the last time we spoke together on a podcast? I think you were on The Disordered podcast not so long ago. That was lovely. But I remember my guest appearance on Your Anxiety Toolkit was lovely.

HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Kimberley: I know. I’m so happy to actually spend some time chatting with you together. I’m very excited about your new book. It’s all about therapy and anxiety and what it’s really like to be an anxiety therapist and the process of therapy and all the things. How did this book come about?

Joshua: I wanted to write a book about people who struggle with anxiety, but in the mainstream, because a lot of the literature out there is very self-help, and it’s in a certain niche. One of my biggest passions is to write something engaging with a nice plot where people are reading about something or a storyline that they’re interested in whilst inadvertently learning without realizing you’re learning. That’s my kind of entertainment—when I watch a show and I’ve learned a lot about something or when I’ve read a book and I’ve inadvertently learned loads of things because I’m taking in the plot.

With this book, I wanted to write a book about therapy. Now, that initially might not get people to pick it up, might not interest you, might not interest you about anxiety therapy, but I wanted to write something that anyone could pick up and enjoy and learn lots because I want to share our world that we work in with the general public. And so, the hook that I focused on here was, have you ever wanted to know what your therapist is thinking? And I thought, well, I’m going to tell people what I’m thinking, and I’m going to invite people behind the therapy door, and you’re going to see what I do and what’s going on in my head as I’m trying to work with people who struggle with mental health.

I wrote the pitch for it. People went bananas, and they loved it because it’s not been done before. Not necessarily a good thing if it’s not been done before. And here we are. I love it. I’m really proud of it. I want people to laugh, cry, be informed. If you go on a journey, learn more about therapy, learn more about anxiety. All in one book.

THERAPISTS ARE HUMANS TOO

Kimberley: Yeah. I think that one of the many cool things about it is, as a therapist, people seem to be always very curious or intrigued about therapists, about what it’s like and what it’s like to be in a room with someone who’s really struggling, or when you’re handling really difficult topics, and how to be just a normal human being and a therapist at the same time.

Joshua: Yeah. What I want to write about is to remind people that therapists are humans. We have our vices and flaws. I’m not talking on behalf of you, Kim. I’m sure you’re perfect.

Kimberley: No, no. No, no. Flawed as flawed could be.

Joshua: Yeah, but to a level that it’s like, even our brains have different voices in them all the time, different thought processes as part of our rationalization. And I want people to peer inside that and have a look. So, one of them is like the book opens with me and a client and it’s going really well, and this person’s talking, this character’s talking about where they’re up to, and celebrating on the brink of something great. And then there’s the voice of biology that just pops into the room, into my head. And it’s the biology of you need to go to the toilet. Why did it? And then the voice of critic comes in and says, “Why did you drink an Americano moments before this client?” Now you’re sat here, and you can leave if you want, but it would be distasteful. And you’re on this brink of this breakthrough.

And so, I’ve got this argument going on in my head, going, “You need the toilet.” “Yeah, but this person’s on a breakthrough.” And then I got empathy, like, “Yeah, but they feel so vulnerable. They want to share this.” And then you’ve got analytical and all the chaotic conversations that are happening as a therapist as I’m sat there nodding and really wanting the best for my client.

THE VOICES IN OUR HEAD

Kimberley: Exactly. That’s why I thought it was so brilliant. So, for those of you who haven’t read it, I encourage you to, but Josh really outlines at the beginning of the book all of these different voices that therapists and all humans have. There’s the anxiety’s voice and there’s biology, which you said, like, “I need to go to the restroom,” or there’s the critic that’s judging you, or there’s the analytical piece, which is the clinical piece that’s making sense of the client and what’s going on and the relationship and all the things. And I really resonated with that because I think that we think as clinicians, as we get better and more seasoned, that we only show up with this professional voice we’re on the whole time, but we’re so not. We’re so not on the whole time. This whole chatter is happening in the background. And I think you did a beautiful job of just normalizing that.

Joshua: Thanks, Kim. It’s a book that therapists will like, but do you know what? People will identify their own voices in this, particularly the anxiety. You and I talk about anxiety all day every day, always beginning with what if—that voice of worry that sits around a big table of thoughts and tries to shout the loudest and often gets our attention. And I tried to show that this happens to a lot of people as well. It’s just the what-if is different. So, for some people, it’s, “What if this intrusive thought is true?” For some people, it’s, “What if I have a panic attack?” For some people, it’s, “What if this catastrophe I’ve been ruminating on for so long happens?” For therapists, it’s, “What if the worst thing that happens here, even in the therapy room?”

I’m an anxiety therapist that has been through anxiety, and I still get anxiety because I’m human. So, I celebrate these voices as well. Also, because I’m human, I can be critical almost always of myself in the book. So, I’m not just criticizing the people I’m working with. Absolutely not. But that voice comes in, and it’s about balancing it and showing the work and what a lot of training to be a therapist is. It’s about choosing the voice. And I didn’t realize how much training to be a therapist actually helps me live day-to-day. Actually, I’m more rational when making more life decisions because I can choose to observe each voice, which was integral to me overcoming an anxiety disorder, as well as just facing life’s challenges every day.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A THERAPIST?

Kimberley: Right. Because we’re really today talking a lot about what it’s ACTUALLY like to be a therapist—and I emphasize the word ‘actually’—what is it actually like to be a therapist, if we were to be really honest?

Joshua: One thing I mentioned is that I talk about the therapeutic hour, which is how long, Kimberley?

Kimberley: Fifty minutes.

Joshua: Yeah. The therapy took out and I explained what we do in the 10 minutes that we have between clients on a busy day. And people imagine us doing meditation or grounding ourselves or reflecting or whatever. Sometimes I do do that. Sometimes I just scroll Reddit, look at memes, eat candy, and do nothing. And it’s different each time. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not some mystic sage in my office, sitting sinisterly under the lamplight waiting for you to come in. No, I’m usually faffing around, panicking, checking that I don’t look like a scruff, putting a brush through my hair, trying to hide the stains of food I’ve got on my shirt because I overzealously consume my lunch.

And there’s obviously some funny stories in there, but also there’s dark stuff in there as well. When I trained to be a therapist, I went through grief, and I made some quite unethical decisions back when I was training. Not the ones I’m proud of, but it actually shows the serious side of mental health and that a lot of therapists become therapists because of their own journeys. And I know that that applies to a lot of therapists I know.

Kimberley: For sure. I have to tell a story. A few months ago—I’m a member of lots of these therapist Facebook groups—one of the therapists asked a question and said, “Tell me a little bit what your hour looks like before you see a client. What’s your routine or your procedure pre-clients?” And all these people were saying, “I journal and I meditate and all of these things.” Some people were like, “I water the plants and I get my laptop open.” And I just posted a meme of someone who’s pushing all the crap off my table and screeching into the computer screen and being like sitting up straight. And all of these people responded like, “Thank God,” because all the therapists were beautifully saying, and I just came in here honestly, “Sometimes I literally sit down, open the laptop, and it is a mess. But I can in that moment be like, ‘Take a breath,’ and be like, ‘Tell me how you’re doing.’” Like you said, how does that end? We start the therapeutic hour. And I think that we have to normalize therapists being that kind of person.

Joshua: Definitely. I think one of the barriers to people seeking therapy is that power dynamic, that age-old trope that someone stood leaning against a mahogany bookcase. You’ve probably got a mahogany bookcase. Your practice is really nice. I certainly have. I’ve got an Ikea KALLAX unit full of books I’ve never read.

Kimberley: Exactly. Your books aren’t organized by color because mine are not.

Joshua: No, no. There’s just some filler books in there. Just like, why is Catcher in the Rye? Why is Catcher in the Rye? I don’t know, I just put it on there. I just want to look clever. Anyway, it’s like people are afraid of that power dynamic of some authority figure going in there about to judge them, mind-read them, shame them, or analyze them. And no, I think dispelling that myth by showing how human we are can challenge that power dynamic. It certainly did for me. I would much rather open up to someone who isn’t showing the pretense that they have all of life together. Don’t get me wrong, professionalism is essential, but someone who’s professional and human, because going to therapy is some of the most human experiences you’ll ever do. I don’t want someone who isn’t showing too scared to show that sign or certain elements of being human, but obviously professionally. And it’s a fine balance to get. But when you do find a therapist like that, for me personally, one who’s knowledgeable, compassionate, empathetic, has humility, I think beautiful things can happen.

Kimberley: Yeah. I think you use the word that I exactly was thinking of, which is, it’s such a balancing act to, as a therapist, honor your own humanity from a place of compassion. Like, yeah, we’re not going to have it all together and it’s not going to be perfect, and we won’t say the right thing all the time. But at the same time, be thoughtful and have the skills and the supervision to balance it so that you are showing up really professional and from that clinical perspective.

DO THERAPISTS GET CONSULTATION?

Tell me a little bit about consultation as a clinician. I know for me, I require a lot of consultation for cases, not because I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m always going to be honest with the fact that maybe I’m seeing it from a perspective that I hadn’t thought of yet. What are your thoughts on that kind of topic?

Joshua: Therapy’s got to work for both people as well, because the therapeutic connection, I believe, is one of the drivers that promotes therapeutic growth and change. It promotes trust. I will consult with clients and my supervisor and make sure it’s right. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but for people, particularly with anxiety disorders, I think they like to know and come to therapy. I think I’ve used self-disclosure on my public platforms tastefully in the sense that I know what it’s like to have gone through an anxiety disorder, whether it’s OCD or panic disorder or agoraphobia, and come out the other side.

But also, it’s balancing that with, “Actually, I’m your therapist here. I will help you in a therapeutic setting and use my training.” You know I’m not someone who’s got everything worked out, but you do know that someone who can relate that can step into your frame of reference, something I talk about a lot in the book frame of reference and empathy. If you feel like a therapist has done that and is in your frame of reference and it’s like, “Ah, yeah, they get it or they’re at least trying,” and we as therapists feel like there’s a connection there too on a professional and therapeutic level, I think magic can happen. And I love therapy for that. Not all therapy is great and beautiful and wonderful. Some of it is messy, and some of it just doesn’t work sometimes. And I do talk about that too, but it’s about when you get that intricate dance and match between therapist and client, I think it’s life-changing.

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON DO YOU NEED TO BE TO BECOME AN ANXIETY THERAPIST?

Kimberley: Yeah. What do you think about the type of person you would have to be to be an anxiety specialist, especially if you’re doing exposure and response prevention? The reason I ask that is I have a private practice in California. I have eight clinicians that work for me. Almost every time I have a position that’s open, and when I’m interviewing people to come on to my team, I would say 60% come in, and they’re good to go. They’re like, “I want to do this. I love the idea of exposure therapy.” But there is often 40% who say, “I’m not cut out for this work. This is not how I was trained. It’s not how I think about things.” After I’ve explained to them what we do and the success rate and the science behind it, they clearly say, “This isn’t for me.” What are your thoughts about what it takes or what kind of person it takes to be an anxiety specialist?

Joshua: That’s a great question. First of all, you’ve got to trust and believe in the modality that you’re trained in. You and I use the principles a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention. I’ve got first-hand experience of that. You’ve got to trust the science and what we know about human biology, which is really important. It’s about what you’re trading in that modality. What I talk about -- again, see how I’m segueing it back to the book. Brilliant. I’ve done my media training, Kim. It’s like, “Always go back to the book. Come on, Josh.” One of my favorite chapters in the book is explaining about modalities because a lot of people just think therapy is one big world where you see a therapist, they wave a magic wand, you feel better, and suddenly our parents love us again. No, that’s not how it works.

Kimberley: It’s not?

DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY THERAPISTS

Joshua: No, it’s not. Mental health has different presentations, and a modality is a school of thought that approaches difficulties in mental health. So, the first modality I go to is person-centered, which is counseling skills, listening, empathy, unconditional positive regard.

The Carl Rogers way of thinking—I think I love that. Is that good for OCD, intrusive thoughts, exposure therapy, and phobias? Not really. It’s nice to have a base of that because there’s more chance of a therapist being understanding, stepping in your frame of reference, and supporting you through that modality. But I wouldn’t say it’s equipped for that.

Whereas in CBT, a lot of it is psychoeducation, which I love. And that’s a different modality. Cognitive behavioral sciences, whether it’s third wave, when you’re looking at acceptance commitment, where are you looking at exposure response prevention. There’s lots of song and dance about I-CBT at the moment and things like that. They’re all different modalities and skills of thought.

Then you’ve got psychodynamic, which is the mahogany bookcase, lie on the sofa, let’s play word association. Oh yeah, you want to sleep with your mom, Josh? No, I don’t. That’s nothing to do with why I keep having panic attacks in the supermarket. Stop judging me. But that’s a different type of approach. Jungian approach can be quite insightful, but it’s got to match what the presentation is for you.

I think CBT is my favorite, but it sucks for stuff like grief. When I was grieving, I did not want CBT. I did not want my grief formulated. I did not want to see that my behaviors were perpetuating discomfort. I was like, “Yeah, that’s just part of my grieving process.” And in this chapter, I just talk about the different modalities.

Therapists are very passionate about the modality of the school that they train in because you have to give part of yourself to it. You have to go through it yourself. And I’m very passionate about the modalities I’m trained in. And so, I play on this in the book. There’s a chapter called The Younger Games or The Yunger Games, a play on words. And basically, it’s once-a-year therapists from every modality, whether it’s hypnotherapy, transactional analysis, CBT, person-centered, the trauma-informed. All of these, they all meet up in a field, and we all fight to the death. And the last remaining person is crowned the one true modality. Now last year, it was hypnotherapy. And what I also say is that a betting tip for next year is the trauma-informed. So, every year, I’ll keep you updated on The Yunger Games. And basically, it’s a narrative device to explain that.

Within the world of therapy, there are different types of therapists. You and I, we love CBT. We’ll bang the drum for that. We feel that there’s not enough ERP out there that certainly isn’t, particularly with the evidence and the points towards it and mountains of evidence. But other therapists may not feel the same. So, when people come to work at CBT School and they realize that Dumbledore, aka Kim Quinlan, is like, “No, we do ERP here; we’ve got to get down and dirty and do the horrible work,” they’re like, “That’s not conducive to the softer step-back approach that I’ve trained in, in my modality.”

Kimberley: Yeah. I’m always so happy that they just are honest with me. I remember as an intern at OCD Center in Los Angeles very clearly saying, “Are you okay talking about really very sexual, very, very graphic topics?” He listed off. Like, “Here is what you’re going to need to be able to talk about very clearly with a very straight face. You can’t have a wincing look on your face when you talk about intrusive, violent sexual thoughts. You’re going to have to be up for the game.” And I think that was a big thing for me. But what I think is really cool about your book, and you see now I’m bringing it back to your book, is it doesn’t mean the voice isn’t in your head sometimes questioning you. As I was reading it, I’m like, there is an imposter in therapists all the time saying, like you said, the critic that’s like, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re a failure. You’re a flake. You’re a complete fraud. You haven’t got it together. Maybe you haven’t even worked on the thing yourself yet.” That’s going to be there.

Joshua: Yeah, and I still get that. I can’t speak for you. But I think what makes a good therapist is a therapist who self-doubts. You don’t want to go and see a therapist who thinks that they’ve got it all worked out. That’s a red flag in itself. A good therapist is one that always wants to improve and uses that doubt and anxiety to make themselves a better therapist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty confident in my ability to be a therapist now, but there are challenges.

In the book, the voices that come up, there’s 13 of them. One of them is escapist, which is, “I just want to get the hell out of you,” or “Maybe I want to get rid of this client. I’m not equipped for it.” And then the other voices come in and they’re like, “But maybe this is just you being critical,” or “The evidence suggests that actually you are trained for this,” and navigating that doubt, the anxiety that your therapist has. And I think it’s a beautiful thing.

A lot of therapists are very harsh on themselves, but I think it’s a gift to have that inner critic. Because if you stand there like one of these therapists, and these therapists do exist, unfortunately, I have completed all my training. I know everything inside out. My word is gospel. I worked out what the problem was with this person within 10 minutes. You don’t want to talk to that person. What a close-minded moron. And there’s a judgmental voice from a therapist.

Kimberley: No, but I think that’s informed.

Joshua: So, it celebrates the vulnerability. You want a therapist who’s not got everything worked out. Absolutely. I do anyway.

Kimberley: Yeah, for sure. I’m wondering, how often have you had to work through your own shit in the room with a client? Meaning—I’ll give you a personal example—the very first time I ever experienced derealization for myself was with a client, and I was sitting across from them. They were just talking, and all of a sudden, I had this shift, like everything wasn’t real. Their head looked enormous and their body looked tiny. Like they were this tiny little bobbly head thing on the couch. And I knew what was happening. Thankfully, I knew what it was like. I knew what it was. Otherwise, I probably would have panicked, but I had to spend the rest of the session being as level and mindful as I could as I watched their head just bubble around in this disproportionate way. I got through it. I can say confidently I think I pulled it off really well, but it was hard. And I left the session being like, “What the heck just happened?” Has there been any experiences for you like that?

Joshua: Yeah, all the time. I mean, first of all, I’d question if you did have derealization. I was your client with a giant head and a tiny body. I was like, “What’s going on here?” There wasn’t derealization. That’s my body, Kim.

Kimberley: No, that’s just how I look, Kimberley.

Joshua: It’s just how I look.

Kimberley: “Stop judging.”

Joshua: But in general, no, it’s true. And again, one of the voices in my book, And How Does That Make You Feel?, it’s called trigger because therapists, they have to give a lot of themselves and they’re living a life and have had stuff in their past. One of the voices is trigger. One of the things I get asked a lot is, I don’t know about you, Kim, “If you’ve had anxiety, how can you work with it all day?” I’m like, “Because I’m all right with it. It’s okay now.” Sometimes it creeps in, though, if I’m tired or have not slept well. There’s stress in my personal life that you can’t avoid. Maybe I’ve not eaten too well. Maybe it’s just ongoing things. Sometimes trigger can happen, and it can be a stress-induced trigger or it could be a literal trigger from a traumatic event.

So, in the book, I explain when people bring grief and death, that sometimes makes me feel vulnerable because of my own experiences with grief and death. No spoilers, but the book throughout, one of the themes is why I became a therapist. Not only because of my passion for anxiety disorders and to be self-righteous around other therapists, train different modalities, but also because it’s a very grief-informed decision to want to help people.

And there’s several traumatic stories. One traumatic story around grief, that trigger, the voice of trigger will come up. So, a client could be talking about their life, like, “I’ve lost this person; I’m going to talk about it.” And of all these 13 voices around the table, what your therapist is thinking, trigger then shouts loudest. It goes, “Ah, trigger.” There’s some pain that you’ve not felt for a while and I’ve got to navigate it. You navigated the derealization, the dissociation. You’ve got to navigate it somehow by pulling on the other voices. And not only do therapists do this, but people do this as well sometimes, whether you’ve got to be professional or you don’t want to turn up to your friend’s birthday and just listen to trigger and anxiety and start crying all over your friend’s birthday cake. You might do. It’s quite funny, but not funny.

Kimberley: I was going to say, what’s wrong with that?

Joshua: Have you done it again? I thought you stopped that.

Kimberley: Yeah. You haven’t done that?

Joshua: It’s part of the interview at CBT School. You need to do really hard, tricky things. Go to your best friend’s birthday and make it all about you.

Kimberley: Exactly.

Joshua: But yeah, it’s one of those. It crops up. The book’s funny a lot, but it’s good. It takes some really serious turns, and it shows you a lot of stuff can creep in and how I deal with it as a therapist. And I’m sure you related to it as well, Kim, because we do the same job, but you just do it in a sunnier climate.

SEEING CLIENTS IN PUBLIC

Kimberley: Right. What I can say, and this will be the last thing that I point out, is you also address the awkwardness of being a therapist, seeing your clients in public and the awkwardness of that, or the, “Oh crap, I know this person from somewhere.” Again, no trigger. I don’t want to give the fun parts of the book, but as a therapist, particularly as someone who does exposure therapy, I might go across the road and take a client to have coffee because they’ve got to do exposures. We very often do see people, our clients, our friends in our work. How much does that impact the work that you do?

Joshua: If you ever bump into your therapist, just know that you have all the power there. Your therapist is squirming inside, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know. Do I completely blank this person?” But then I look like a dick. “Do I give a subtle nod? Oh, you’re breaking confidentiality. They’re out with loved ones.” It’s up to you. You can put your therapist out of their misery by just saying, “Hey, Kim.” “Hey, Josh.” And then I will say hi back because that shows that you’re okay with that.

There is a very extreme shocking version of this story, of this incident in the book where, when I’m at my lowest, I do bump into a previous client. On a night out, when I’m off my face on alcohol. Oh, if you want to find out more about that... Media training’s really paid off. Get him on the hip.

Kimberley: I didn’t want to give it all away, and you just did.

Joshua: No, no, not giving any more away. A media training woman said, “Entice them, then leave it, because then they’re more likely to read it.” So, I have listened to that media woman because my previous tactic of just begging and screaming into a camera doesn’t work. It’s like...

Kimberley: But going back exactly—going back, we are squirming. I think that is true that there is a squirm factor there when you see clients, and it happens quite regularly for me. But I think I’ve come to overcome that by really disclosing ahead of time. Like if I see you outside, you’re in the place of power, you decide what to do, and I’ll just follow your suit. It’s a squirm factor, though.

Joshua: See, that’s clever, good therapy stuff because you do it all part of the contracting and stuff. Actually, I told all my clients this is okay. But also, when you’re a new therapist or sometimes you forget, you’re like, “Oh no.” I used to run a music night in Manchester as part thing I did on the side. Enjoy it, love music, I was the host. One week I was on holiday, so a friend organized all the lineup of people to come down. Headline Act was a band name. Went along, and when I’m there, I’m having fun. I’ve got whiskey in my hand. I’m walking around telling irreverent, horrible jokes. No one in there would guess I was a therapist because I’m having fun and I’m entitled to a life outside the therapy room.

What I didn’t know was that the Headline Act was a current client, and they’d just arrived dead late. They didn’t know, and they walked on stage, and I looked. It’s something that they’ve gone on publicly to talk about, so this is why I’m saying it now. I got permission to use it because they said it publicly on the radio and stuff like that. And we just looked at each other. It was like, “Oh my God.” And I stood there with this. I was like, “Oh my God.” And I’ve said all this bad language and cracking jokes, roasting people in the audience, my friends usually. And it’s like, yeah, I was squirming.

So, at this point, I did just pretend I didn’t know them because it was the best I could do. And they got me out of trouble. They were obviously confident in performance mode. And they got onto mic and was like, “Can you believe that guy is my therapist?” And I was like, “What?” I was like, “Wow.” And then he said some really lovely things. And it wasn’t really awkward in therapy. If anything, it was quite something we laughed about in therapy afterwards, and it contributed to it. But yeah, the horror I felt. Oh, I felt sick, and oh. I don’t want to think about it.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

Kimberley: I want to be respectful of time. Of course, before you share this all about you and where people can get a hold of you and learn about your book, is there anything you want to say final point about what it’s like to actually be an anxiety therapist?

Joshua: It’s the best job in the world for me. It’s the best job in the world. All my friends and family go, “I don’t care how you can do that.” I love it. I get to have the most human conversations with people without judgment. You mentioned before about intrusive thoughts. I’ve got the magic guitar in this room, and we make songs about horrible intrusive thoughts. There was one the other day about kicking babies down the stairs. You can’t say that out loud. Yes, we do in here, to the three chords of the guitar I only know, particularly postpartum mothers.

Kimberley: You told me we couldn’t sing today.

Joshua: No, I’m not singing.

Kimberley: I wanted to sing today, and now you’re telling me we can’t sing.

Joshua: I don’t think it’s going to be Christmas number one—a three-chord banger about harming loved ones or sexual intrusive thoughts—but you never know. Yeah, it’s the most beautiful job.

Kimberley: I am known to sing intrusive thoughts to happy birthday songs.

Joshua: That’s a good one. I have to close my window though in my office because I do get scared that people walk past and like, “Wow, that’s a very disturbed man.” No, he’s not. I’m confident in the powers of ERP and how it can help.

Kimberley: You are. I love it. Josh, tell us where we can hear more about your book and learn more about you.

Joshua: I’m Joshua Fletcher, also known as AnxietyJosh on social media and stuff. The book is called And How Does That Make You Feel?: Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Therapy. It follows the stories of the four client case studies, obviously highly scrambled and anonymized, and gone through a rigorous ethical process there. So, don’t be like, “He’s talking about his clients.” No, that’s not what the book’s about. It’s about appearing in behind the therapy room door. It’s out in the US before the UK, which is here. I don’t know if anyone’s watching or whatever, but there it is. And it’s also been commissioned to be a television show for major streaming services. We don’t know which one yet, but it’s exciting.

Go get yourself a copy. It should be in your bookstore. Get it at Barnes & Noble and all the other US ones. And I think you’ll really enjoy it. So, it’s a really lovely endorsement. Kim has also said it’s really good, and Kim is harsh. So, if Kim says it’s good, then it’s going to be good. And I hope you really enjoy it and pass it on to a loved one who doesn’t have anxiety, and you’ll find that, “Oh, I actually learned quite a lot there whilst laughing and being captivated by the absolute bananas behind-the-scenes life of being a therapist.”

Kimberley: Yeah, I love it. Josh, the way that you present it, if I was scared to go to therapy, I think it would make me less scared. I think it would make me feel like this is something I could do.

Joshua: And that’s the best compliment I can receive, because that’s why I wrote the book. So, thank you so much.

Kimberley: Yeah. So fun to have you. Thanks for being here.

Joshua: Thanks, Kim.

  continue reading

336 episoder

Alla avsnitt

×
 
Loading …

Välkommen till Player FM

Player FM scannar webben för högkvalitativa podcasts för dig att njuta av nu direkt. Den är den bästa podcast-appen och den fungerar med Android, Iphone och webben. Bli medlem för att synka prenumerationer mellan enheter.

 

Snabbguide