Topic 4: Professional Identity and Practicing CBT on Yourself {by 6/20}

Based on the readings due this week consider the following three discussion points: (1) Who/what has most influenced your professional identity development (have you even ever thought about this yet?)?  (2) As a therapist in training, what are your general thoughts about practicing CBT skills/techniques on yourself?  (3) What technique/exercise provided you the most insight about yourself as a person or therapist (please only share information within your range of comfort; if it helps, focus on process rather than content)?  Explain.  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 6/20.  Post your two replies no later than 6/22.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa DiTommaso
    Jun 19, 2019 @ 21:40:06

    1. It is so hard to put into words “what” has shaped my professional identity, so instead I am going to be focusing on the “who” that shaped my professional identity at this early point in my career. Due to the fact that I did not have any clinical mental health experience before doing my practicum and internship, my professional identity did not yet exist in a clinical setting, only in theory and in the classroom. Therefore, I think the more influential people who have shaped by personal identity are the individuals who I have worked beside for over a year now, especially my direct clinical supervisor.
    My direct supervisor for internship and practicum, who is now my boss, has by far been the most influential person who has shaped my professional identity so far. My supervisor is a past graduate of the program and we are very alike in our Type A personalities when it comes to work. He taught me how to structure notes and write them clearly and concisely, but also to always make the note as long as it needs to be depending on the session. Additionally, he was the first person I saw do therapy and group therapy from a pure observation standpoint. Although my style is not exactly like his, because all therapeutic styles are different, his examples provided the foundation in which I began. From that foundation, I was able to start to mold my own professional identity inside and outside the therapy session.
    One of the major benefits of working in a hospital setting is the multi-disciplinary team I work with every day. From social workers, to nurses, psychiatrists, and aids, I truly get an entire picture of a patient through different lens of this mental health field. That experience has been invaluable because I have been able to integrate multiple perspectives into the way I approach therapy and how I present myself across disciplines.
    2. In terms of practicing CBT techniques on myself, my general belief is that in order to better understand what our clients are feeling and thinking as they go through these exercises, we must have gone through the exercises ourselves. However, some of the exercises may not be applicable to everyone, if a therapist in training does not experience panic attacks on a regular basis, then he or she probably does not regularly practice exposure techniques. However, doing the exercises, like we have done in this program, has offered new insight that I would not have been able to gain without the self-practice. It is also important for new therapists to practice the CBT techniques because we need to be able to model the techniques in session for our clients. I’m not sure how everyone else feels, but sometimes I feel as if I do not know how to adequately express a technique outside of the educational or academic realm, so I break it down to the basics and just do the exercise with my client. I have witnessed the effects this has had on clients, more specifically clients who are having panic attacks or entering dissociation, and I feel as if it has a positive effect for the client to just observe it first, reducing their fear or fear of judgment.
    3. Throughout this program and the more educated and practiced I became with the CBT techniques, I have found myself doing some techniques more automatically than I used to prior to entering graduate school. Even if I do not engage in the technique, I am definitely more aware of how my thoughts affect my emotions and behaviors. There are two main techniques that really encompass the theme of reflection that was discussed in the beginning chapters of Bennett-Levy et al. (2015). Reflection as a whole became a very important tool for me throughout my undergraduate career, and I feel as if the CBT techniques have solidified those acts of reflection into more concrete steps. The CBT technique that provides me with the post insight on a regular basis is challenging my negative core belief, particularly those about my self-worth and what that self-worth is connected to in terms of school, work, money, and independence. Although those thoughts still occur, I attempt to “put them on trial” in my mind and come up with a more realistic view on my self-worth. Although there are of course negative automatic thoughts that feed this core belief about self-worth, I almost always immediately jump to my negative core belief. It is really difficult work and I never realized how much of my self-worth I define to aspects outside of myself, and this insight has aided me in not quite fixing those thoughts about self-wroth, but moving forward to re-define how I look at myself and my actions.

    Reply

    • Cassie McGrath
      Jun 20, 2019 @ 15:01:05

      Teresa,

      I think your discussion on your professional identity is a really interesting one. I do think that our professional identity can begin to form prior to work in the clinical field, it is amazing how much overlap there is in the work that we do and the real world experiences that we have. I really like what you said about the benefits of working in a hospital and the variation of services that exist there. I also like what you mentioned about the way in which our practice of clinical exercises has primarily been in the academic realm and less in reality practice. I do think that we are so trained in an academic way that it can be difficult to work with real people. It is so incredibly different working with an actual client, especially in the variety of settings that exist and the way in which our clients respond to the work we suggest.

      Reply

    • Matt Collin
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 19:21:33

      Teresa,
      I also think that working in a hospital setting brings someone much experience. For instance, health insurance is huge. It’s one of the most beneficial experiences I have ever gotten from my internship. I also believe that hospitals provide much more than the average community health clinic. It provides housing services, transportation, and even heavily medicated assistance. It is an important experience all of us should have. Our client’s problems are all very complicated. All of these factors are important in making their lives better.

      Reply

  2. Louis D’Angelo
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 13:11:24

    1. Two major aspects of my life has been the biggest influencers in my professional identify. The first is having the opportunity to study in a graduate program that focuses much of evidence based CBT practice. This well known school is highly regarded for this program and I meet and interview with prior Assumption graduates very frequently being in Worcester. I have a lot of pride in being part of this program and moving forward with well known and recognized CBT practice. I feel like when people hear Assumption College, they think CBT. The second aspect of my professional liability has been my internship and practicum. This full year experience in an incredibly fast paced and intense program working with stabilizing substance use of adolescent and duel diagnosis have given me amazing unique experience I couldn’t get from another program due to its acute care and specificity. One program very concerning that I have encountered is a CHL policy where I can not use my CHL supervisors as references. They can only confirm working dates. I find this incredibly confusing and have yet to be told a good reason for this policy. I would think that, as an intern in my first clinical experience, obtaining references is crucial and goes without saying. Without these references, I’m hitting road bumps in my application process. I would love to hear feed back, similar experiences, explanations, or advise from anyone on this.

    2. Learning the evidence based CBT skills, (specifically on psycho education, identifying negative automatic thoughts, and challenging them using cognitive restructuring) it is both practical and empathedic to “practice what you preach” to learn more about how the techniques work and what the client is being asked to do. This may help learn better expectations, alternatives, or approaches that may work with when the skills not being followed through. I’m practicing on my own, I have noticed that the idea of thinking logically and rationally in challenging a negative automatic thought is much easier and effective after the event. However accomplishing challenging NATs in the moment is very difficult and takes LOTS of practice. I’ve noticed it’s like a muscle that one strengthens. The ability to reconstruct negative thinking will become easier and more reflexive as the cognitive restructuring skills are practiced. One cannot expect to reconstruct these thoughts in the moment when that is very difficult on the first time. If they attempt this they could get frustrated and loose hope in CBT approaches . It is more effective to practice the cognitive re-structuring task over time using thought records session by session with the clinician before being asked to challenge thoughts in real time.
    3. One technique that I had studied much about and inclusions in a research project was a DBT techniques called the “wise mind”. This technique helps Emotionally disturbed clients identify both logical and emotional aspects about themselves and understand that both are valid and both are excepted and that a mind using both emotion and logic (the wise mind) and balancing the two is an exceptional skill. I had used this approach in the form of a 2 chair technique (logic and emotions) where the client was asked to talk with each of these aspects of herself and how they play in her substance use. Using this method that incorporated both the wise mind (emotion and logic), 2 chair technique, and some free associations, the client was able to challenge emotional negative automatic thoughts she would tell her logical self when she was in the logical chair. She would say when she was emotional that she felt “no one cared” and then would sit in the logical mind seat and challenge those thoughts by telling their logical chair that that wasn’t true and support it with evidence from her natural supports like her friends and mother. This was an extremely productive and one of the first break through sessions I would facilitate. Using this DBT skill and free association method, this client was able to emotions and triggers and challenging the resulting NAT with logic as she changed her perspective in session. Furthermore this shows that even using different methods, teaching and facilitating cognitive restructuring is still accomplished. This will be a session that I will remember for a long time and was a huge moment in development my professional identity in the work.

    Reply

    • Cassie McGrath
      Jun 20, 2019 @ 15:07:23

      Louis,

      I really enjoyed reading about your experience in building your professional identity. I think that there is something to be said about your experience at Assumption and the way in which you have viewed the experience and its impact on the real world. I do think that there is a connection between the two. Second, I really like what you said about practicing what we preach. I do think it is important that we are doing that. I would not want to encourage my client to do something that I have simply heard is effective. It is definitely better as a therapist to say to our clients that we are confident in our approaches. I know for me, feeling confident in the practice is really important to me so I completely understand where you are coming from.

      Reply

    • Allexys Burbo
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 13:25:16

      Louis,

      I enjoyed reading your perspective regarding the potential barriers that can work to deter the therapeutic process. Identifying the challenges associated with restructuring a negative thought in real time rather than following an event is important for us as the therapist working with clients who are caught in the cycle of their own negative thinking. From this perspective, it then becomes easier for us to genuinely and empathically meet our clients where they are in the therapeutic process by understanding the barriers to their success in this way. By practicing the skills, our insight is further strengthened and we may be better equipped to adapt therapeutic techniques to fit the unique needs of our clients – particularly those who encounter this dilemma.

      Reply

    • Matt Collin
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 19:28:08

      Louis,
      I also find it hard to get good and descriptive reference from former employers. It all has to do with their HR policies. For instance, at Trader Joes (I know I talk too much about this) is that they can’t say anything else other than my attendance and if they believed if I was a good or bad employee. That leaves a lot of descriptive aspects of me that would make me good therapist. It’s important to specifically tell them, and maybe even sign an agreement, that the company you work for can have a “full release” of information on you. This gives you the opportunity to allow you references to give their genuine interpretation of you.

      Reply

  3. Matthew Collin
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 13:45:44

    1.) There have been a few people throughout my academic tenure in undergrad, and graduate school that have developed my professional identity. My first was watching an infamous therapy video with a woman named Gloria as the patient. This was in my Psych 101 class at community college. The three therapists that used their modalities of therapy on her was Carl Rogers, Fitz Perlz, and the greatest of them all, Albert Ellis. I became fascinated by him. He was harsh, and sometimes and asshole. I enjoyed the way he did therapy, and I wanted to learn more about it. From Albert Ellis, I got to Aaron Beck, and the rest has been history. To this day I still go over some techniques that are in RET. Philosophically, I align with Albert Ellis and the stoic philosophers that came before him. Others have been Dr. Volungis. This isn’t me attempting to get brownie points, but I’m sure we all had him in our ear when doing our internship if we weren’t handing out homework the second session – it felt like we may have not been doing anything. I found this beneficial, because he always made me think of “what more can I do?” to help my client. The final person is Dr. Doerfler. I learned to stick to my guns when it came to ethical values, and when I thought something wasn’t right, I should speak up about it.
    2.) As a CBT therapist, I constantly try to imbed the skills I’ve learned and inject them into my own personal dilemmas or problems in my life. I think that we always must be practicing them. We have to practice what we preach. If I have a problem, I must fix it, and/or find the best outcome I can to get it. Learning CBT has allowed me to do this in my everyday life.
    3.) As a lot of us do, I struggle with self-esteem (or self-efficacy) in almost every area of my life. CBT skills such as thought records, and examining the evidence for those thoughts have really prevented me from doing and saying some very idiotic and vain things. I give credit to CBT for most of my emotional development.

    Reply

    • Teresa DiTommaso
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 17:21:03

      Matt,

      An important point that you brought up in your discussion of professional identity development is the idea of philosophy, which I hadn’t really thought of before in the way in which you described it. Although philosophies can be seen as similar to our therapeutic orientations, I feel as if they differ enough that an individual needs to be aware of the philosophy in which he or she approaches being a therapy. Philosophies can be a basis for us to return to when trying to determine how to react, which decisions to make next, and how to respond to a difficult situation within therapy. Like I said, although orientations and the skills that they teach us are important, your introduction of the idea of philosophies into this discussion of professional identity development has been invaluable.

      Reply

    • Louis D’Angelo
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 17:57:13

      Hi Matt,

      I think you had a lot of great things to say about professional identity and what specifically has influenced your own. I do remember the Gloria videos from undergrad as well. Interesting, as it did introduce me to the notorious Albert Ellis, it also introduced me to Carol Rogers, who had personally influenced my own professional identity as I dug into humanistic/existential approaches and teachings. I think it is fantastic that we have both had a great education to shape our professional identities. I also find it incredibly interesting how one intervention of teaching has resulted in different influences on different students.

      Reply

    • Matthew Lubomirski
      Jun 24, 2019 @ 01:17:04

      Matt,

      I agree with a lot of the points you made here. It seems like we hold a lot of similar views on this topic. I especially agree with how inspiring you have found Dr. Doerfler and Dr. Volungis to be. I have certainly learned a lot from them and many of the other professors here in our program. What I found really interesting was how inspired you were by the psychologist of the past. I have taken every opportunity to learn from the people around me in the present but never thought to really draw from those that came before me. I think it says a lot that you really pay attention to them and it has certainly made me think twice about going back and seeing what I can learn for myself.

      Reply

  4. Stephanie Mourad
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 14:33:58

    1.One factor that has influenced my professional identity is the education that I have received from the graduate program. I had no knowledge of what CBT was prior to attending the program and had zero experience with psychology in the work field. The graduate program helped me develop skills and knowledge of different disorders, interventions, and techniques to use on clients. The other factor that helped me was my practicum and internship experience. Learning CBT skills is one thing but actually applying that knowledge in the field is another. The internship experienced helped me become more comfortable as a future mental health counselor. The internship experience also helped me with interventions. We learn about thought records, daily activity scheduling, or exposure therapy but it’s different when you finally apply it with a client. Having this experience made me learn from mistakes and actually understand how to use these techniques. My supervisor helped shaped my professional identity because she was able to guide me with clients that I needed help with. She also helped me with properly filling out paperwork and what information to look for when doing an intake.
    2.I think as therapists we should practice CBT on ourselves just to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and sort of see what its like to complete certain skills/techniques. I personally practice CBT on myself when experiencing anxiety. We know the skills, we were taught the skills, and we practiced the skills so why not use them on ourselves? If a skills/technique benefited our clients then why not let it benefit us? Coping skills are particularly beneficial when we experience any stress, anxiety, or worry. If we’re experiencing a bad thought or event then why not come up with an alternative explanation? I don’t think we should be diagnosing ourselves but being aware of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and applying what we learned in the program on ourselves can help improve our anxiety or stress.
    3.A technique/exercise that particularly helps me is the thought record for negative automatic thoughts. This helped me with my anxiety and it let me organize my thoughts and emotions. It also lets me identify any patterns of thinking that are unhelpful in the situation. It lets me know what thoughts are driving my emotions and affecting my behaviors. Activity scheduling is also one that provided insight. I’m nearing the end of the program here but I’m still juggling work, school, and personal life. Activity scheduling can help me with self-care and making sure I do some activities in the week that will give me some sort of pleasure or happiness.

    Reply

    • Matthew Lubomirski
      Jun 24, 2019 @ 01:28:49

      Stephanie,

      I certainly agree with you point here that the graduate program has played a huge part in changing my professional identity. While many parts are still the same others have been changed completely and some things are new entirely. Such as the parts of have a therapeutic specialty. I certainly share the experience that my practicum really helped me take all the theory and skills we are taught and map them on to the real world. I think beyond just learning how to perform our therapeutic skills in the real world my supervisor really taught me how to carry myself as a professional in that setting. Oddly enough I think most importantly he taught me when it was okay to relax a little bit, and when it was time to get serious.

      Reply

  5. Cassie McGrath
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 15:24:08

    1) I often think about what has influenced my professional identity. I have a very great interest in working with trauma and building that as a part of my professional identity. I came from a family where service is just in our genes. My family is comprised of ex law enforcement, military service, teachers, and nurses. Sure, there is the mixed in business man, but the family members that I am closest with have had a career of service. Specifically, I think my grandfather has had the greatest influence on my professional identity. My grandfather was in the U.S. Army, then he was a police officer. He has always pushed me to help others and encouraged me to do more. Due to this, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice as well as Psychology. I completed an undergraduate internship at a CBAT program, I did some ride-alongs with a detective, and then I began working in the psych field. At the end of my undergraduate degree, I had to consider what was next for me. I considered both a Masters in psychology, as well as a Law degree. Both contained aspects that I really enjoyed and challenged me professionally. I think that the experience that I had in college and the individuals around me, helped me to make the decision and has led me to find the population that I enjoy.

    2) I do think that practicing the techniques that you are asking your clients to use is really important. I do not think that it is strictly focused in CBT however. If I am telling my client that meditation is a really great way to relax, I should know that it actually is. I think practice also includes research, I can only use my experience to validate the techniques that I am asking my client to use. I would really like to be able to not only confidently feel I am suggesting that something works based on my experience but also based on research. I also think that practicing what we are recommending or asking our clients to complete or participate in also just makes it so that we are more competent in explaining the activity or technique.

    3) Through my experience at Assumption, I think the activity that did the most for me was the Automatic though record, primarily because it just made me more aware of the different thoughts that I am having at any given time. I think this awareness has helped me in regards to not only my negative automatic thoughts but also when I am drifting away from a conversation. If I am so caught up in my own thoughts I miss the important parts. A none CBT exercise that I found helpful or made me very aware is something that I did at my internship with the Singing Bowls. Using this technique made me have to focus on my grounding in a way that other exercises were not able to make me do.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Mourad
      Jun 21, 2019 @ 13:14:48

      Hi Cassie,
      I like that you mention your grandfather helped create your professional identity. Looking back at it now, I can say that my father did the same thing. He came to the United States as an immigrant with less than $500 in his pocket to create a better life for himself and his future family. Over the years he’s accomplished himself as a hard worker. I think he had an influence on my professional identity because he taught my siblings and me the exact meaning of a dollar. He taught us about professionalism and the principle of hard work.

      Reply

    • Louis D’Angelo
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 18:03:08

      Cassie,

      I think great that you have a personal relationship that has meant so much to you and has also influenced your professional identity in a profound way. I also enjoyed hearing more about it during class this past week. I find it interesting and special, that although he comes from a different line of work and profession, he has still influenced you so much in the challenging work that you do now. He sounds like a great guy.

      Reply

  6. Allexys Burbo
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 17:14:26

    When I consider my professional identity, I often contemplate this within the context of my identity as a whole. Whatever my professional identity is, I strive to attain that which aligns with who I am as an individual across contexts. The most influential factors that I have considered are those that keep me centered, grounded and open to experience. I think as I begin to develop and explore these components of self, I have gained a better understanding of what is important to me as a professional. When considering the application of skills, I am inspired by what can be offered within the scope of CBT – that it requires the collaborative exchange of the therapeutic alliance which both informs and drives treatment. In practice, I am driven to implement creative and innovative techniques that are unique to the qualities of my clients. From this perspective, the very structure of CBT guarantees the practice of effective intervention (for the benefit of my clients) while allowing me as the therapist to tap into a creativity that stimulates my work. I am inspired by other professionals – clinicians who I have observed in practice – who demonstrate the ability to exercise their scope of knowledge and skills while maintaining their own identity – and that identity does not have to be compartmentalized but rather integrated. Through these professionals, I have been fortunate to see how theory and practice can be adapted to align with the strengths of both client and clinician. Furthermore, my peers have helped guide this process, offering various perspectives and alternatives to conceptualizing and implementing skills in practice – which has greatly influenced me as I continue to develop my professional identity.

    As a therapist in training, I am generally comfortable practicing CBT skills/techniques on myself (and typically do). My belief – one I am sure many of my peers share with me – is that practicing components of CBT can help provide us with an insight that is both informative and arguably necessary for us as developing therapists. Participating in the use of CBT derived skills can offer us (as training counselors) perspective – which could help us in developing a deeper understanding and empathy for our clients who may encounter challenges in their own integration of these tools. By intentionally engaging in the practice of CBT by using the skills in our own lives, I believe we also demonstrate a conscious appreciation and respect for the practice that as a result aids in the development of these techniques.

    In my own experience, the practice of cognitive restructuring has offered me the most insight about myself on both a personal and professional level. By recognizing the unhelpful thinking patterns that had become habitual to my cognitive process, I was able to develop a greater understanding of what has contributed to some significant reoccurring conflicts in my personal life. By engaging in the practice of restructuring my thoughts, I developed a deeper appreciation for the affect my thoughts have on my emotions and behavior. Additionally, I have become empowered by acknowledging that I have control over the outcome of my life through this process – by simply altering my thoughts and generating a change in perspective. I believe it is through this practice that I have experienced the most growth. Through this, I have gained a greater awareness of the effect that the content of my thoughts – and the way this is expressed – has on both myself and those around (and closest to) me.

    Reply

  7. Matthew Lubomirski
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 17:25:58

    I feel like I started making my professional identity once I hit college. Once I got into college my teachers become professors and the relationship with them changed. The expectation that they wouldn’t baby me and I had to hold myself accountable really shifted how I saw them. I started really observing the way they spoke, and carried themselves. I figured the reason that person was my professor today was because they had accomplished many of the things I may very well want to achieve for myself in the future. So took mental notes with those observations began building my own professional identity. With each new person I work alongside, work for, or learn from I pay close attention to what they do, how they do it, why they do. Their thoughts, their opinions, how they interact with others and how others interact with them. I hold a deep respect for those around and what they have achieved. As such see them as people I can learn from to better myself and further refine who I am as a professional.
    I have actually put a lot of thought into using CBT skills on myself. On the one hand I think it’s a great way to practice some of those skills. Using skills on oneself can be a great way to further understand how those skills work and maybe even see the challenges clients face when they have to try to use them. It can be somewhat eye opening and humbling to go through having to use those skills. Despite how much more we know about CBT sometimes using these techniques can be difficult so it helps to put perspective around how hard it can be for a client who often knows less than us. I also find them to be helpful for my general well being. Afterall we hope that after CBT therapy our clients will be mini therapists for themselves. In our case we have those tools already. Of course it’s always helpful to see another therapist. But I think it’s beneficial for us to be able to use our skills on ourselves to work out any problems we may run into.
    For me a combination of thought records and just really thinking about CBT theory has helped me learn a lot about myself. These two things got me into the habit of tracking my reactions to things and really sitting down and making sure I was evaluating what was going on correctly. I found that I am the type of person who would jump to the negative a lot, and always anticipated or thought of the worst possible outcome. Often times I would worry about things needlessly. Since learning about CBT I was able to really evaluate that part of myself and start doing something about it.

    Reply

    • Allexys Burbo
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 13:53:30

      Matt,

      Your comments about the development of your professional identity are extremely relatable. I appreciate and connect with your thought that there is much to be gained from those who enter our lives and provide a new perspective. At each phase of this journey, I believe that on a personal, professional and academic level my own professional identity has been influenced significantly. The capacity to observe, learn and adapt in each of these phases has been a tremendous experience that has, at its root, begun with absorbing the knowledge and skills offered by those who I hold in the highest regard – who I identify as admirable for their work and effort as professionals. I think much can be gained from being open to the experiences of others and as we continue to develop our professional identities, this will continue to be at the foundation of my own growth.

      Reply

  8. Aleksa Golloshi
    Jun 20, 2019 @ 17:31:55

    1. This is such an interesting question that I haven’t given much thought to! Now that I reflect on my internship experience I realize that I tried incorporating aspects into my sessions that I observed from other sessions. There were skills and phrases that clinicians used at my internship that have stuck with me because I thought they were clever or useful. My internship supervisor would also be someone who has influenced my professional identity development; through supervision and through observing a few of her sessions I learned a tremendous amount. I remember during one session specifically, her client was not talking and so my supervisor decided to play a board game. After about five minutes of playing the game and asking questions about the game my supervisor tailored the questions to her client. The client answered them, which were the same ones she had asked earlier with no luck. The client didn’t seem to notice, as he continued to play the game while he simultaneously played the game. There have also been certain phrases that professors have used as an example when in class, and I’ve liked it so much that I incorporated it into my sessions. I had a four-year-old client that hugged me when I would enter the waiting room to take her back with me, and I remember a professor of ours saying she liked doing fist bumps instead of hugging. I thought this would be simple but effective to implement, and when I did use it my client reacted really well to it. Reflecting on all this has led me to conclude that almost all professionals I’ve encountered have shaped me in some way. They’ve introduced to me techniques that have worked for them and that I find interesting, and at times they’ve said things that have made me think, “hmmm, I don’t think I would do that as a therapist.” I’m extremely grateful to all the professionals that I’ve gotten to observe and learn from because they’ve been the ones shaping and influencing me.

    2. I believe practicing CBT skills/techniques on myself is great. I try being mindful and I’ve also tried deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. Every few weeks I experience performance anxiety when I’m presenting data at my job in front of my district manager and all of her bosses. During these times I recognize that my heart rate increases and I become a bit more sweaty. In the past, I’ve tried deep breathing along with positive self-talk before entering the room and this has been extremely helpful. I think clinicians should practice these skills and techniques on themselves so that they can understand them better. It’s one thing when you’re reading on how to implement a skill but it’s another thing if you’re physically going through the motions of that skill. A clinician may be able to experience feelings and thoughts that the textbook didn’t outline. I found it super helpful when we completed the handouts in PSY 705 because it became so apparent to see how useful they were; although they were challenging at times they were nonetheless beneficial to my understanding of why they should be incorporated.

    3. One skill that provided me with great insight as a person was identifying my core beliefs. It may sound extremely silly but I was naive and thought that everyone felt loved and everyone had supportive families, in one way or another. Of course I was aware that each family is different and has their downs but I was unaware of how a negative family environment can severely impact a child’s core beliefs. Exploring and understanding my core beliefs and who I am as a person has allowed me to be more confident in myself and my decisions. Core beliefs influence so much in our lives and therefore, I think it’s important for them to be identified and understood. I recognize that I am loved and I am supported, and these two beliefs alone provide me with so much happiness and comfort.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Mourad
      Jun 21, 2019 @ 13:22:14

      Hi Aleksa,
      I also agree that mindfulness is a good technique and skill to use for anxiety. I also get performance anxiety and deep breathing has helped me with calming down my nerves with this. Since meditation is something used frequently in therapy, I think that all therapists should try it. It can help give them some insight on what it feels like being the client and it can also help them be more mindful with themselves.

      Reply

    • Teresa DiTommaso
      Jun 22, 2019 @ 17:26:02

      Aleksa,

      I agree with you when you say that all of the professionals you have come into contact with have started to shape your professional identity. Although there are professionals that we may not have worked with for very long, we can quickly discover which techniques we would like to use, like the boardgame you mentioned, and also the techniques that we do not want to use and are sometimes avidly opposed to, whether it is what the therapist is doing or the way in which they are doing it. Regardless, your reflection on the continued influence from all of the professionals around you is one I can definitely relate to and also applaud you on because our willingness to learn new things and be open I think is one of the best qualities a new therapist can possess.

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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