7 mindful steps to finding the right therapist for you

7 mindful steps to finding the right therapist for you

Deciding to work with a therapist is often a big decision ... 

And then once the decision has made to seek help, it can be a daunting task to find a therapist that is right for you.

In this article, we identify seven steps to help you find the therapist that is more likely to meet your needs.

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Memories ... the last dance...

Memories ... the last dance...

I have a distinct memory from when I was quite little…dancing with my Dad after dinner.  I was probably 3 or 4 years old, and after dinner each night, my father would put on the record player and teach me to dance.  My Dad was an older father, so the music was not of the time, but of his youth and he taught me how to waltz, to foxtrot and later how to jive. 

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The morning coffee ritual ...& life

The morning coffee ritual ...& life

This morning when ordering a take-away coffee, I ask the barista how he is doing?  With a big beaming smile, he shares that last night he proposed to his girlfriend.

Touched by the beauty of his delight, instantly my eyes fill with tears.  We laugh at my response and unperturbed he goes on to tell me the details of the proposal, as well as his desire to marry with all of his family present, including his elderly grandfather.

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Allowing a place for Grief...

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This morning amongst the morning rush at the local café, I sit down at a table next to an elderly gentleman.  Perhaps it is the twinkle in his eye or maybe his gentle presence that invites the engagement….whatever it is, within moments, we find ourselves holding hands and through his faltering voice, I learn that this gentleman is at the cafe celebrating his 97th birthday.

His adult granddaughter attending to paying the bill and organizing a taxi to accompany her grandfather home, the gentleman and I stay together for a couple of minutes sharing each other’s presence.

The joy and sweetness of the moment pronounced, I become aware of the grief and sadness gripping at my heart within. 

I work hard to stay present to our shared experience.

After a while the gentleman is helped to standing by other members of the public, and as he leaves, we hold hands one last time.

Watching him as he shuffles towards the door, outside, I see the yellow taxi that will take him away.  I feel big full tears rolling down my cheeks.

My father died over a year ago, yet the grief still overcomes me when I least expect it.

Through my tears, I notice a group of older women nearby, who had witnessed this moment.  One of them reaches out to comfort me, and in response I ask in her experience does grief ever pass?  She shares the question with her friends…

One recounts how just yesterday, 29 years on, she found herself filled with tears of loss of her mother.  Another talks about the transformation of grief to sweet memories of joy.  And a further lady speaks to the passage of time being a part of the process of healing, yet acknowledges how she is still triggered to grief in unexpected moments, such as this scene today.  All agree on the need to express their grief and allow it to have its place.

Knowing there is truth in all, I thank them for their wise counsel and for sharing this moment with me.

Sitting in the café, I cry at the beauty of humanity. 

I allow my grief to flow.

I remember my father.

And I invite you, to allow a place, for the grief in your life….

If however, you find you are struggling to make sense of your grief, or loss is affecting your life beyond a way that you live with, seeking the support of a professional can help. 

(Trained as a whole-body focussing oriented therapist, Sarah Sacks is an experienced counsellor, who specialises in working in supporting people through periods of transition, especially around issues of grief and loss.)

If this content interests you and you would like to receive regular updates of developments at The Grove, please leave your details in the "Subscribe" box to your right.

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Sarah Sacks

Sarah is a qualified and experienced counsellor, meditation teacher and group facilitator. Sarah's years of body based based practices, in meditation and yoga, have led Sarah to believe in the inherent wisdom of the body. In line with this belief, Sarah has trained and qualified as a Whole Body Focusing Orientated Therapist, Transpersonal Counsellor, Holistic Counsellor, Meditation Teacher and Group Psychotherapy Facilitation. Over the last 5 years Sarah has worked in the not-for-profit sector, the community health sector and privately, as a generalist counsellor and group facilitator. Sarah has experience working with children, families and adults around issues of; isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, anger, separation, addiction and general mental health. Sarah's warm and intuitive counselling style, along with her extensive life experience, enables Sarah to gently support her clients towards their own path of change. Qualifications - Bachelor of Holistic Counselling, Diploma of Transpersonal Counselling, Bachelor of Business (International Marketing & Trade), Diploma of Arts (Japanese), ACA (level 2), qualifying member for CAPAV

Navigating the anxiety of growing up....

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Long after the children had gone to bed, I came home last night to learn that our youngest had asked the question “Dad…is the Tooth Fairy real?” 

Three kids on, between us we’ve been asked this question many times and dodged it, in so many ways.  But this time, my husband confessed he couldn’t turn away from her direct and insistent gaze.

In his recounting of the story, I learn there were tears from her around the relief in finally knowing the truth, especially as she was being teased at school for still “believing”.  Combined with tears of confusion as it dawned another enormous step toward leaving her childhood behind.

Our youngest is 10 very soon.  We live in a first world country, where everyone is busy.  I was busy that night.  For the children and the parents alike, there are places to be, classes to attend, meetings to be had.  But at what cost? 

Taking the time to slow things down and acknowledge for both ourselves and our children that transition is occurring is critical to everyone’s wellbeing. 

For everyone change is hard.  It is a time of moving from the known to the unknown.  And with that comes fear.  Fear of will I be enough to cope?  Who will I become?  Will be alone in this new world?  Will someone be there to help me when I struggle in this new place?  These fears, often exhibited as anxiety, are as true for a child as they are for an adult.

When change is occurring for a child and you recognize how scary and unfamiliar it is for them, how it is hard it is to say goodbye to what they have known, that there will be times that they will wish they could go back to the past, and that through all of it, you will be there for them – is one of the best gifts we can give our children. 

The key here is time.  It takes time to offer someone who is fearful or in pain the space to slow down, feel safe and experience.

Sometimes as parents our child’s pain is more than we can bear, at others we may feel some guidance may be necessary.  In these instances, professionals experienced in working with children can help.

Finally take a moment and think about how you navigate change and what you do to address your fears and anxieties during transitions.  As parents it is these moments of modeling, combined with the times of being with our children as they try to navigate their own struggles, that will largely define our children’s capacity to tolerate change.  For you and your children, slow down and take time to be with both your and their experiences.  You are giving your child a gift.

I wasn’t there yesterday when the big question was asked and the truth revealed, but today I met our daughter at the school bus, so that we could spend the afternoon together.  On our walk home, she tells me about her chapped lips and that the best lip balm is “the one Santa gave me…I mean you gave me”.  We talk about how it makes her cry to think of Santa and the Tooth Fairy not being real.  And I am quietly thinking how it makes me cry, seeing our littlest growing up.  It is a transition for all of us, that we all have to navigate.  Holding each other along the way.

(Sarah Sacks is a counsellor and an advocate for enabling growth through transitions.  She practices at The Grove Counselling & Therapy, St Kilda East.)

If this content interests you and you would like to receive regular updates of developments at The Grove, please leave your details in the "Subscribe" box to your right.

Comment

Sarah Sacks

Sarah is a qualified and experienced counsellor, meditation teacher and group facilitator. Sarah's years of body based based practices, in meditation and yoga, have led Sarah to believe in the inherent wisdom of the body. In line with this belief, Sarah has trained and qualified as a Whole Body Focusing Orientated Therapist, Transpersonal Counsellor, Holistic Counsellor, Meditation Teacher and Group Psychotherapy Facilitation. Over the last 5 years Sarah has worked in the not-for-profit sector, the community health sector and privately, as a generalist counsellor and group facilitator. Sarah has experience working with children, families and adults around issues of; isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, anger, separation, addiction and general mental health. Sarah's warm and intuitive counselling style, along with her extensive life experience, enables Sarah to gently support her clients towards their own path of change. Qualifications - Bachelor of Holistic Counselling, Diploma of Transpersonal Counselling, Bachelor of Business (International Marketing & Trade), Diploma of Arts (Japanese), ACA (level 2), qualifying member for CAPAV

Who will hold me as I die?

Last week I drove 400klms to sit with a very dear friend’s father.   I sensed the end of his life was possibly close and I wanted to be with him, one last time. 

I entered the room and there he lay, propped up on the bed amongst lovingly knitted bed covers and carefully placed pillows.  His breath rattling, his eyes drooping, he was a shadow of the wiry farmer I had known.  Despite having not seen him for over a year, there was no hesitation in me, as I made myself comfortable sitting on his bed and reaching for his hand.

As we held hands I felt the power of life in his faltering yet strong grip.  Words could not be formed, nor did it feel they would find meaning.  Instead skin-to-skin contact offered all we needed…an affirmation of our existence.

A week later, the community gathers, the sun shines, the birds sing, as he is buried in a country cemetery. 

Men shake hands, women hug and children clasp to their parent’s legs. 

Many cups of tea and stories told the wake comes to an end. 

I hold his daughter, my dear friend tight, our cheeks pressed firmly up against one another, as we say goodbye.  We live far apart.  We may not see each other for another 6 months, but hold each other as if our bodies will remember one another, long beyond this moment of embrace.

As I drive home along a country road in the golden glow of the late afternoon light, I ponder the role my body plays in making sense of my own and other’s existence.   

Like a watermark, the imprint of the other stays in us long after they are gone.

I walk into the kitchen, and hug my husband and my children deeply. 

Reflection - I invite you to consider the power of presence in physical touch...how it moulds us, how it enriches us, and without it, how it depletes us.  Ponder what imprint you are leaving on the world, and how others have left an imprint on you?

(Trained as a whole-body focussing oriented therapist, Sarah is an experienced counsellor, who invites her clients to find healing and transformation, through the wisdom of the body.)

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Sarah Sacks

Sarah is a qualified and experienced counsellor, meditation teacher and group facilitator. Sarah's years of body based based practices, in meditation and yoga, have led Sarah to believe in the inherent wisdom of the body. In line with this belief, Sarah has trained and qualified as a Whole Body Focusing Orientated Therapist, Transpersonal Counsellor, Holistic Counsellor, Meditation Teacher and Group Psychotherapy Facilitation. Over the last 5 years Sarah has worked in the not-for-profit sector, the community health sector and privately, as a generalist counsellor and group facilitator. Sarah has experience working with children, families and adults around issues of; isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, anger, separation, addiction and general mental health. Sarah's warm and intuitive counselling style, along with her extensive life experience, enables Sarah to gently support her clients towards their own path of change. Qualifications - Bachelor of Holistic Counselling, Diploma of Transpersonal Counselling, Bachelor of Business (International Marketing & Trade), Diploma of Arts (Japanese), ACA (level 2), qualifying member for CAPAV