I’m a big fan of using mindfulness as a supplement to psychotherapy. It weaves effortlessly into the natural process of therapy turning insights into lasting changes. Mindfulness is a skill set and a new orientation to being with ourselves and the world around us. It’s useful for most concerns that people bring into therapy. Mindfulness offers us a new way to be with life’s struggles, a path to living more open-heartedly and a way to create real change.
Change requires a practice. Clients can learn to use the present moment to create new ways of being. There is opportunity in every day micro moments to experiment with new behaviors, thoughts or feelings. Mindfulness breaks us out of auto-mated reactions so that we can feel or become what we want.
A great example of the benefits of mindfulness is improving our social skills or social anxiety. Many of our client’s report feeling lonely, disconnected and unworthy—and they hardly want to reach out in that state. Therapy is excellent for helping people to see their defense mechanisms that block connection and a good therapist would highlight those defenses as they happen in session.
Mindfulness slows us down and tunes us into our immediate experience so we can see our obstacles to connection more clearly; the moment your mind goes blank at a dinner party, the moment your heart races as you approach someone you’re attracted to, the way your body closes in or your mind becomes dismissive of others. Therapy can create a clear diagram of how you relate and how you became that way and mindfulness helps to disrupt the old pattern with a new way of thinking and feeling. The therapy room gives us a safe place to rehearse this new way of feeling and thinking.
We can learn to hone in on the moment we would normally shut down and instead learn to keep our nervous system regulated and to choose to reach out and stay open.
Mindfulness is also great with sexual anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and addiction.
"As a couples therapist, I wish everybody did pre-marital counseling," says Brandy Engler, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based couples therapist. "Learning the skills to get what you want out of your marriage is super important for the quality of your life. This experience should be normalized and not a threat to the marriage at all."
- Do You Really Need To Go To Pre-Marriage Counseling Before Tying The Knot?, Women's Health Magazine
We get tons of questions about the advantages of choosing an out-of-network provider when you have a PPO plan. Here are some of the reasons a person might choose and to go outside the network for care:
*Quality: Many highly trained, seasoned therapists choose to remain out of network.
*Choice: With PPO plans, you have the right to see out-of-network providers.
*Specialization: You can choose the best therapist for your needs—couples therapy, sexual concerns or modern technology-based therapies like EMDR, neurofeedback and sensorimotor therapy are offered by out-of-network therapists.
*Access: No wait lists. Get seen quickly.
*No gatekeepers: No referrals needed from your primary care doctor—simply book an appointment and our staff will take care of the paperwork needed to process your insurance claims.
Silver Lake Psychology is a collective of therapists with a wide variety of specialties. Here are some tips for choosing the right therapist:
Therapy is not a uniform experience. It’s the intersection of science, art and relationship. A variety of therapy methodologies exist—in fact, you are essentially choosing amongst different services. Here is some guidance for making a smart decision on which therapist to choose.
An important question to ask yourself is: what kind of experience are you looking for?
Are you looking for relief from specific mental health symptoms such as anxiety, trauma or depression?
If so, you would want to choose a therapist who uses research supported, specific methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Mindfulness-Basedinterventions for anxiety or OCD.
For trauma, choose a therapist who practices EMDR, Sensorimotor Therapy or Cognitive Therapy. These methodologies are effective. Therapy is more structured and follows a plan and measures results. This kind of therapy is generally short term.
Exploratory therapy digs deeper into emotions, thoughts and memories. This work is gradual and the effect may be a sturdier sense of self, a more sustainable sense of self -acceptance and awareness. Many people choose this form of therapy to unpack life decisions about relationships or career. Some people use it as a talking meditation.
Exploratory therapy may be less structured and more creative. Therapists use a range of tools such as art, drama therapy, gestalt therapy (empty chair work) to help clients access the authentic desires that get locked away while distracted by daily life.
Jungian, gestalt, art therapy or drama therapy have the power to surprise us with powerful insights, and new ways of helping stuck feelings to lift away. Many people use this form of therapy as part of a wellness program—we believe that successful people benefit from ongoing self-development and support through all of life’s challenges.
When you want to figure out why relationships haven’t worked out, or how to love more openly and passionately, when you have social anxiety or unfinished business with your parents or past lovers, this is the focus to ask for. Your therapist may use therapeutic relationship as a mirror to provide social feedback and to help you see your blind spots. This kind of therapy involves learning about your relationship style (attachment style) and blocks in an affirming yet challenging environment.
Good therapy does not involve advice giving. Rather, therapists will provide the right questions and processes for self-discovery and self-definition.
A good therapist is active rather than passive.
A good therapist is curious rather than aggressive—but will confront as needed to assist in new learning.
In general, skill trumps gender.
MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) vs Psychologist?
In the context of a private practice setting, there is not a difference in qualifications to be a personal our couple’s therapist.
"Jealousy tends to be caused by one of two things," says Brandy Engler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Silver Lake Psychology. "It could be you're afraid of losing someone, which could point to some abandonment issues you need to work through. But usually, it's ego-related. There's this assumption that if your partner loves you and is happy with you, then they'd never notice other men or women," she says. "That is, of course, unrealistic. The world is full of attractive and interesting people that you yourself have likely noticed, too. So it's natural your partner will."
"As people get older, they usually realize that there are amazing people in the world, and that doesn't take away from who they are," Engler says. "Over time, you learn to be less threatened by focusing on what's unique about your connection with your partner and why that's special, because that's why you're together. You're not together because you yourself are unique and special."
Feeling Jealous? Here's What It Might Mean, Refinery29 Media
"So many people want to run away from the anxiety," Dr. Engler says. "But, in fact, it's important to lean into it and meditate on it to understand why you're feeling the way you do." It's Okay To Pause Your Dating Life During The Holidays, Refinery29 Media
"It's a particular kind of suspense anxiety," says Brandy Engler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. "And I have watched it drive my clients crazy. The ego is what gets you saying things like, 'Oh, they didn't text back because they didn't like me.' In reality, the reason they're not texting back could have nothing to do with you. If you take anxiety down a few notches, you tend to have excitement. Ideally, that's what you want out of the dating experience, for it to be exciting and fun. There is uncertainty, and there is suspense. If you embrace that in a way, you can embrace the enjoyment of the not knowing." "Text Back" Anxiety Is Real — Here's How To Fix It, Refinery29 Media
Differences. How to love each other. How often to have sex. How to fry an egg.
Differences between any two people are inevitable. Before getting married, most of us rule out the big ones, like political and religious differences. Most of us talk through our desires on having children or where to live. But once two lives are woven together, it’s the small differences, those typically overlooked in the vetting process, that can have the biggest impact on our quality of life together.
Marriages bring out the many little differences in how we walk through the world: how we make daily micro-decisions, how we think (impulsive vs. methodical), how we relate to time (punctual vs. chronically late), and how we organize our environment (disordered vs. compartmentalized).
All of these idiosyncrasies can create a constant chafing, making a marriage feel like an ongoing battle for “how to do” everything. I can learn a lot from a couple by asking who does the dishes. Early on, power struggles show up in the kitchen and negative narratives about the other begin---‘she’s obsessed with the house and doesn’t want to have fun’ or ‘he’s lazy.’
However, differences can be managed in a way that creates harmony. They don’t need to become a threat to your coexistence, in fact, they can be naturally absorbed into your daily life together if you have a process for working with them. Each difference, no matter how large or small, can be brought to the table for a negotiation. Here’s are the 7 steps to easing marital discord:
Installing a negotiation ritual into your marriage is empowering; it takes you out of the blaming, complaining victim position into a creative role that ensures your voice is heard. Further, the radical honesty involved in this process will ultimately create a sense of authenticity and freedom. Successful couples bring an attitude of respect, openness to difference and even humor.
Dr. Engler's Articles on the Huffington Post:
Should You Get Pre-marital Counseling?
Women's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler on the factors to consider.
Why Moving in Together Kills Your Sex Life, and What to Do About It.
Men's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler about how to improve your sex life, and reviews her book, "The Men on My Couch."
11 Things That Actually Surprised This Sex Therapist.
BuzzFeed reviews Dr. Engler's new book, "The Women on My Couch."