262 episodes

The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide: Where Therapists Live, Breathe, and Practice as Human Beings

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when clinicians must develop a personal brand to market their private practices, and are connecting over social media, engaging in social activism, pushing back against mental health stigma, and facing a whole new style of entrepreneurship.

To support you as a whole person, a business owner, and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

The Modern Therapist's Survival Guide with Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy Curt Widhalm, LMFT and Katie Vernoy, LMFT

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.5 • 6 Ratings

The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide: Where Therapists Live, Breathe, and Practice as Human Beings

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when clinicians must develop a personal brand to market their private practices, and are connecting over social media, engaging in social activism, pushing back against mental health stigma, and facing a whole new style of entrepreneurship.

To support you as a whole person, a business owner, and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

    Should Therapists Correct Clients?

    Should Therapists Correct Clients?

    Should Therapists Correct Clients? Curt and Katie chat about whether therapists should correct clients who use offensive language. We look at what we should consider when addressing what clients say (including treatment goals and the relationship), how therapists can take care of themselves to be able to treat clients who hold a different worldview, and how (and when) therapists can address problematic language appropriately.
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    In this podcast episode we talk about whether therapists should call out their clients on words they find inappropriate We decided to address the language that clients use in session and what to do when we find the language offensive or harmful.
    Should therapists correct clients when they use language we find offensive or harmful? Blank slate or “join your clients” approaches Whether the language should be addressed when it doesn’t align with a client’s stated treatment goals Showing up as a human and addressing the therapeutic relationship Judgment or shaming that can happen with clients What should therapists consider when addressing what clients say? The relationship between the therapist and client Relevance to clinical goals The impact on trust in the therapeutic alliance The importance of using the client’s language to affirm their experience The power differential between therapist and client How can therapists show up with clients who see the world differently than they do? Addressing objectification of therapist’s identities Assessing when therapists are centering their own experience versus responding to what is in the room Using the relationship to process client’s perspective “I feel like just living in the client's world without honoring my own experience at all doesn't feel quite right. But centering my experience feels wrong.” – Katie Vernoy
    What can therapists do to appropriately address problematic language with their clients? Process what is being said before correcting specific words Address within the relationship and within the treatment goals Using our own coping skills to be able to navigate what our clients bring to session “I'm very worried that therapists don't have enough of their own coping skills to deal with these things coming up in sessions. Where they feel that they have to shut these clients down for the protection of themselves. You know, their only coping mechanism seems to be – I need to escape working with clients that don't already agree with my worldview.” – Curt Widhalm
    Where social justice plays a role (and maybe shouldn’t) Education and supporting the client’s whole development Assessing the impact of these interventions (both positive and negative) Assessing the harm in not pointing out bias or harmful language  
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    OOTify OOTify. "OOT" or "uth" (उठ) means "lift up" in the Hindi language. OOTify is a digital health solu

    • 37 min
    Is the Counseling Compact Good for Therapists?

    Is the Counseling Compact Good for Therapists?

    Is the Counseling Compact Good for Therapists? Curt and Katie chat about the brand-new Counseling Compact and what therapists may not know or understand about these interstate agreements. We explore the proposed benefits as well as the potential risks and complications like regulatory discrepancies and a lack of consumer protections. We also look at how big tech can benefit while individual clinicians may be left unable to compete in a larger market.
    In this podcast episode we talk about the new Counseling Compact and Psypact The counselors got their 10th state and officially have Counseling Compact to practice in other states. We thought it would be a good idea to talk about what that means (and what we might want to pay attention to).
    What is the Counseling Compact? Opportunities for practicing privileges (not licensure) in other states The complexity of putting together these interstate compacts Implementation and regulation hurdles Scope of practice discrepancies and concerns Law and Ethics practices across states Benefits of Interstate Compacts for Mental Health Providers Continuity of care Ease of meeting with clients who are moving around the country Bringing clinicians to areas where there is a workforce shortage Potential Problems with the Counseling Compact “This very much goes against, according to the FBI, any sort of patient protection – that any of these licensing boards are put into place in the first place: to protect consumers.” – Curt Widhalm
    Not bringing more clinicians, if only states with workforce shortages join Doesn’t solve the infrastructure problems (i.e., stable Wi-Fi) for rural areas that typically don’t have local therapists The people who most benefit: the big tech companies like Better Help The FBI is opposing this legislation due to lack of federal background checks Lack of consumer protection or consistency in what consumers can expect from their therapist Costs for the therapists to get practicing privileges Large gigantic group practices and tech solutions will contract with insurance and leave smaller practices unable to compete and required to be private pay Solving the Problems with the Counseling Compact “It may actually delay [a national license], because it's a band aid where people can go practice in other states. So why would I get a national license, if I can practice in a couple other states and not worry about taking another test, getting another background check…?” – Katie Vernoy
    Overarching regulation and expectations at a national level Federal bodies to oversee background checks and consumer protections Expensive, time-intensive We don’t have universal healthcare, so insurance parity will need to be addressed (and not just by big tech) Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide: OOTify OOTify. "OOT" or "uth" (उठ) means "lift up" in the Hindi language. OOTify is a digital health solution that acts as an evidence-based hub to unify relevant mental health resources. Community, Connection, and Collaboration are critical to OOTIFY.  As they lift the mental healthcare system, they ensure providers are part of the process. OOTIFY is a platform for providers, built by providers, and owned by providers. OOTIFY is the process of lifting up mental healthcare, while lifting each other up.
    We need to talk about our mental health. We need to make our mental health stronger so we can withstand the things that happen in our life. We're going to go through trials and tribulations. But if we can work on our mental health, proactively, our wellness, we can handle all that as a community and come together. People are more open to talk about these stories and say, “Hey, listen, I'm going through this too.” Do be you want to be a part of the solution by joining a new web three community focused on mental health and wellness? Join the OOTify community as an investor or mental health provider by visiting

    • 37 min
    Clinical Considerations When Working with Asian Immigrants, Refugees, and Dreamers: An Interview with Soo Jin Lee

    Clinical Considerations When Working with Asian Immigrants, Refugees, and Dreamers: An Interview with Soo Jin Lee

    Clinical Considerations When Working with Asian Immigrants, Refugees, and Dreamers: An Interview with Soo Jin Lee Curt and Katie interview Soo Jin Lee, LMFT on the clinical implications of working with Asian American immigrants, refugees, and dreamers. We explore how best to assess these clients, specific clinical considerations related to the immigration experience (and legal status in the country), and ideas for working with these clients clinically. We also talk about the impact of societal views, media portrayals, and representation on AAPI clients.
    An Interview with Soo Jin Lee, LMFT Soo Jin Lee is a co-director of Yellow Chair Collective and co-founder of Entwine Community. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist in CA and has a special focus on training and consulting on Asian mental health related issues. She is passionate about assisting individuals find a sense of belonging and identity through reckoning of intersectional identity work and those that are navigating through difficult life changes.
     
    In this podcast episode, we talk about what therapists should know about Asian American immigrants, refugees, and dreamers In preparation for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month, we wanted to dig more deeply into specific issues relevant to the AAPI community that are often not discussed in grad school or therapist training programs.
    What assessment questions should be included for AAPI immigrant clients? How to assess and ask about the immigration story (including about whether someone is documented or undocumented) The assumption of citizenship status during the assessment Exploration of cultural values and family dynamics The definitions for refugee, asylum seekers, immigrant, undocumented immigrant, dreamer Looking at reasons behind coming to the United States as well as legal status in the country  
    What is the impact of societal views and media portrayals of Asians on AAPI clients? The common stereotypes and the gap in the representation in the Asian diaspora The typical portrayal of undocumented immigrants from Latin America, Mexico, etc. Lack of representation in the media of the broad experience of being an undocumented immigrant or refugee The misrepresentation of families being all documented or undocumented (it’s actually a mix of statuses) Language, cultural and values differences between the generations  
    What are the unique clinical issues for refugees and undocumented immigrants? “We call ourselves dreamers, but at the same time the dreams tend to be a lot smaller or not attainable because there are also educational barriers and there are financial barriers as well.” – Soo Jin Lee, LMFT
    The uncertainty of staying in the country The hidden traumas and the fear of being kicked out The lack of planning for the future Education and financial barriers to pursuing the future Trauma and PTSD are key elements, but sharing the story means that their survival is at risk  
    How do therapists more effectively work with refugees and undocumented immigrants in therapy? “Provide a safe enough space and perhaps a more creative space, so that the story, the entirety of their journey, does not have to be nitpicked and talked about in a verbal manner. Are there modalities that you can adapt as a therapist, that they can go through in their mind, in a story book, in an art format, or any other way… that they can tell their story without being asked and interrogated about their story?” – Soo Jin Lee, LMFT
    The fear and risk involved in disclosure and the challenge of talking about identity Exploring their story creatively, without nitpicking or having to interrogate or make them verbalize their story The importance of building trust and building a safe space within therapy Bringing the mainstream media into the session Addressing fear and decision-making Soo Jin Lee’s healing journey to become a therapist and advice for other dreamers  
    Our Generous Sponsors for t

    • 40 min
    Reflections on Content Creation and the Therapy Profession

    Reflections on Content Creation and the Therapy Profession

    Reflections on Content Creation and the Therapy Profession Curt and Katie chat about our principles and philosophies as they relate to the work we do, including podcast creation. We also reflect on the feedback we’ve received on episodes with large listenership as well as other typical responses we get to the work we do. Considering content creation as part of your business? This isn’t a how-to, but it certainly can give you things to consider before you dive in.
    In this podcast episode we talk about how we put together the podcast We’ve received a lot of feedback recently about our episodes and we wanted to talk about how we make decisions on what we talk about, who we interview, whether we call folks out on the podcast, and how we edit the episodes.
    Our Philosophy and Principles for creating content for the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide “We can talk about how to navigate the career, but at some point, we become complicit in a broken system. And so, we've been talking about how to balance: how do we give the tools to navigate what is, and then also give the empowerment and/or the validation that advocacy needs to happen.” – Katie Vernoy
    How to navigate the career as is (tools and strategies to survive in this field) The importance of advocacy in moving forward with our field How to strategically time advocacy for best effect How we take in feedback and respond Responding to Feedback from our Audience on our “What’s New in the DSM-5-TR?” Episode The concern about the Autism diagnosis changes Whether we should have called out Dr. Michael B. First and the impressions of what was said Grappling with the tension between protecting our audience and getting our guests on record and/or advocating for change in the larger systems How people can impact what becomes DSM 6 (and the efforts we are advocating for) The feedback we received and how we sort through it and improve The limits of our capacity Our plans for additional interviews to address the changes “It's been my experience in advocacy, that large systems end up ignoring those individual voices. Those individual voices are incredibly powerful when they're used in the right place at the right time.” – Curt Widhalm
    A Broader View of the Feedback We Receive on the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Podcast The depth of the conversation and our ability to deepen conversations with additional episodes Audience members anchoring on the title or episode artwork and not looking at the whole episode when pieces of the content resonate in a different way Our Plan Going Forward with the Podcast Advocacy, information, and focus on the profession Not as much of a focus on business building, money mindset, and side hustles Real conversations about the realities of working in this profession Working to leave the profession better than we find it  
    Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide: Thrizer Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month, with no extra work on your end. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the client's insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by check, confusion around benefits, and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in completement with EHR systems. Their team is super helpful and responsive, and the founder is actually a lo

    • 35 min
    What is Eco Anxiety? An Interview with Dr. Thomas Doherty

    What is Eco Anxiety? An Interview with Dr. Thomas Doherty

    What is Eco Anxiety? An Interview with Dr. Thomas Doherty Curt and Katie interview Dr. Thomas Doherty about Eco Anxiety. We look at the history of eco anxiety, what therapists should know about the environment, the concept of environmental identity, and how we can support clients with Eco Anxiety in therapy. We look at ways to bring these topics up with our clients as well as empower them to take action.
    An Interview with Dr. Thomas J. Doherty Thomas is a clinical and environmental psychologist based in Portland, Oregon, USA. His multiple publications on nature and mental health include the groundbreaking paper “The Psychological Impacts of Global Climate Change,” co-authored by Susan Clayton, cited over 700 times. Thomas is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Past President of the Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology, and Founding Editor of the academic journal Ecopsychology. Thomas was a member of the APA’s first Task Force on Global Climate Change and founded one of the first environmentally-focused certificate programs for mental health counselors in the US at Lewis & Clark Graduate School. Thomas is originally from Buffalo, New York.
    In this podcast episode we talk about what therapists should know about Eco Anxiety In preparation for Earth Day, we wanted to understand more about Eco Anxiety and what therapists can do to support our clients and the planet.
    What is Eco Anxiety? The history of Eco Anxiety, including worry about the use of chemicals, climate change The importance of words, personal experiences, how the client sees the world The diagnoses that align with this area, the types of impacts on clients What Should Therapists Know About the Environment? Resources related to climate change How to explore Environmental Identity Understand our own Environmental Identity The 3 basic psychological impacts from the environment (disaster, chronic, or ambient) The benefits of nature and how people in all environments can access them What is your Environmental Identity? “Our environmental identity is really all of our values and experiences regarding nature, in the natural world.” – Dr. Thomas Doherty
    Relationship to the natural world Significant experiences in the outdoors The nuance of bringing these ideas up in Urban areas What “nature” means to each of us “One of the things I tell people is that, around the world, there's millions of people that are working on climate change issues, and all these different areas, and people are studying things, and they're building things. And it's really inspiring to be around some of this stuff. So that's an important message to get out to people it. Yes, it's a big issue. But there's a ton of people working on this, think of all the people even in the Los Angeles area that are going to work every day, on climate and public health.” - Dr. Thomas Doherty
    How Can We Support Clients with Eco Anxiety in Therapy? Understanding the basics on the environment and climate change Building capacity to be with these issues Reeling in the anxiety, imagination Understanding the waves of emotions and completing the anxiety cycle Giving clients permission to talk about the environment and how to open up the conversations Coping strategies specific to Eco Anxiety Suggestions for activism and what clients can do to improve the environment Helping clients to identify if they are doing enough Where to find resources on environmental efforts How therapists can employ climate awareness in their practices Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide: Thrizer Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially sav

    • 42 min
    Therapists Are Not Robots: How We Can Show Humanity in the Room

    Therapists Are Not Robots: How We Can Show Humanity in the Room

    Therapists Are Not Robots: How We Can Show Humanity in the Room Curt and Katie discuss how big life events (a big diagnosis, a huge personal loss, injuries and medical conditions) can show up in the room. We explore how much humanity is okay to share with our clients. How do we decide what we tell our clients (and how do we manage their reactions)? We also look at how we take care of ourselves while also taking care of our clients. Therapists aren't robots, but we certainly need to be aware of our clients when life happens. 
    In this podcast episode we talk about appropriate self-disclosure practices for modern therapists going through life events As therapists it’s important that we hold a professional exterior during therapy. But can it be helpful to share with clients the big moments in our lives? How can we be human in the room?
    What are some considerations for therapists when deciding to self-disclose? Showing your humanity can help bond a client with the therapist. Self-disclosure may be different for planned or unplanned life events and whether they come into the room or private/hidden and in the background of your life Deciding when and whether to tell clients Clients often will use the therapist as an example on how to handle big life events. Not all settings are appropriate for therapist disclosure. Clients do not have the same confidentiality requirements as therapists; if you self-disclose to a client, it could be known by others or other treatment team members. In self-disclosing, the therapist will need to process the disclosure with the client. Processing difficult personal material with multiple clients could be difficult for the therapist. How much you disclose will depend on the client, but you might share more with a long-term client than a newer client. “In evaluating both the psychotherapy relationship and the actual relationship you have; I’d guess you’d probably be looking at some of the clients and how long you working with them as a part of the decision-making process. If it’s a brand-new client, it’s probably not a great thing to say ‘hey I’m going through this super emotional and vulnerable thing on my own right now.’  It’s a lot different if this is a long-term client you’ve been with for several years”
    - Curt Widhalm
    Are there ethical considerations for therapists sharing about our lives? There are no BBS outlined ethical considerations for sharing personal disclosures in therapy. The therapeutic environment should encourage a client to question the therapist. The therapeutic environment should encourage clients to participate in self-advocacy. Remember that certain self-disclosures might be triggering for clients; be mindful of what you share with who. Document all ruptures in relationships in your note and what you did to help heal the rupture. Be mindful - clients could be retraumatized or try to care take after a therapist’s disclosure. Not all clients need to know everything; know your population. “We harm the client if we don’t acknowledge, we don’t apologize, we don’t repair. If we try to pretend something didn’t happen, that’s where we can get into trouble and that’s when we get in trouble.” – Katie Vernoy
    What should new counselors and therapists know? Therapists are human! Life will continue to affect you even while working. It is important for therapists to take time off when they need it. Ruptures in the therapeutic relationship will happen; it’s all about how you handle it. New counselors often want hard rules for how to act, but it gets easier with experience. The most damage happens from not acknowledging or apologizing for ruptures. When ruptures occur, be honest and accountable to your clients. Sharing our human moments with clients can create a deeper and richer relationship. Don’t forget you don’t have to do this alone – always consult if unsure on disclosures! Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Mo

    • 35 min

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