289 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 • 176 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.

    How Can Therapists Help Couples Recover from Infidelity?: An Interview with Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem

    How Can Therapists Help Couples Recover from Infidelity?: An Interview with Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem

    How Can Therapists Help Couples Recover from Infidelity?: An Interview with Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem Curt and Katie interview Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, Psy.D, LMFT about System Affair Recovery Treatment (SART) and how therapists can better address infidelity in treatment. We discuss what therapists usually get wrong when working with infidelity, the difference between typical couples counseling and affair recovery, and why infidelity happens. We also look at the SART Model as well as tactics and treatment teaming.
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    An Interview with Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, PsyD, LMFT Award-winning marriage counselor and researcher, Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem is recognized as a leading expert in the field of infidelity counseling. He is the author of the acclaimed book, Infidelity: The Best Worst Thing that Could Happen to Your Marriage, and the founder of the Infidelity Counseling Center. His research interests and clinical work are focused on identifying the causes of infidelity and providing the best treatment for recovery from its impact. He developed Systematic Affair Recovery Therapy (SART) ™, a method of infidelity counseling that has helped hundreds of couples navigate the challenges of the healing journey from affairs. Dr. Alsaleem is an international lecturer and speaker. His engaging talks have helped many counselors broaden their understanding of infidelity and gain the necessary clinical tools to help their clients recover from affairs. Learn more at TalalAlsaleem.com.
    In this podcast episode, we talk about Infidelity We explore with Dr. Talal Alsaleem what good infidelity counseling can look like and what therapists often get wrong when approaching this type of therapy.  
    What do therapists get wrong when working with infidelity? “Infidelity is really one of the most prevalent issues that couples face and it's one of the most damaging, but it's mind boggling to me that in this day and age as trained professionals, were so ill equipped to deal with it.” – Dr. Talal Alsaleem
    Not understanding the goal of infidelity counseling Lack of clear clinical expectations Getting too focused on the emotional expression Bias and lack of knowledge Lack of adequate training in graduate programs and internship sites Lack of understanding the etiology of the affair What is different between couples counseling and affair recovery? Strategy Length of session Importance of each intervention Why does infidelity happen? Can be either individual or relationship factors Unhappiness within the relationship is not the only reason Individual mental health issues, including personality disorders Addiction including hypersexuality Environmental factors, including jobs, gender ratios Differentiating polyamory from infidelity Social contracts and understanding and honoring the relationship What is the Systemic Affair Recovery Treatment (SART) Model? “So in their quest to understand why the infidelity happened, we have to accept that the unfaithful is 100% responsible for the decision that they make for being unfaithful. So even in the worst case scenario, whether there was a huge relationship deficit, and you have the worst partner in the universe, that doesn't give you permission to cheat, you can take them to counseling, you can end the relationship before you cross those lines.” – Dr. Talal Alsaleem
    Seven milestones with clinical objectives and interventions Setting the stage for healing Getting the narrative of the affair Acknowledging the impact of the affair Choosing a path of recovery (individual or within the relationship) Creating an action plan Implementation Sustainability Infidelity can be the “best worst thing” that happens because you directly address what has happened What are some of the tactics for healing infidelity and rebuilding a relationship? “I don't think that transparency is only needed when somebody discovers infidelity. I really think in a healt

    • 38 min
    Why Aren’t Men Becoming Therapists Anymore?

    Why Aren’t Men Becoming Therapists Anymore?

    Why Aren’t Men Becoming Therapists Anymore? Curt and Katie chat about the lack of male therapists and the decreasing number of male students in the profession. We look at current statistics and reported experiences of men in the field. We also dig into what needs to change to balance gender representation and increase the number of men becoming therapists.    
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    In this podcast episode we talk about male therapists Continuing forward within men’s health month, we are looking at the state of the profession for male therapists.  
    Statistics on men in the mental health profession Depending on license type, mental health professionals are between 60-90% female Men and women have fairly equal parity on compensation (especially when looking at similar roles) Men are less likely to seek out these jobs as the wages stagnate, the requirements become more onerous, and due to a lack of male representation and role models What needs to change to balance gender representation within the mental health field? “Men typically have privilege in other spaces… And yet I recognize in our field, that's not the case. And so, it's this weird, complex understanding of societal privilege, but not privilege within the field.” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT
    Understanding the difference between societal privilege versus professional privilege Identifying why the number of men is dramatically decreasing within graduate programs and all stages of licensure The impact of feminism on the conversations about the impact of white men on the field The perception of “male bashing” and the need to nurture male voices within the profession The challenge of identifying when men are being ignored or “soloed out” The problem of stereotyping, ignoring, or isolating male therapists and students Men being automatically pushed into leadership due to mentorship by male faculty and bias toward men as leaders How do we get more men into the mental health profession? “If we're identifying that men need to go and get mental health treatment, and there's no men to get it from, this then has the potential for reaching critical failure as a profession in being able to provide services.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT
    Reaching critical failure in trying to provide services to men (if men no longer enter the profession) Recruitment strategies for graduate programs Making the profession sustainable for all individuals Pushing back against wage stagnation due to feminization of the profession Looking at retention and commitment for male therapists The importance of representation across the mental health profession Our Generous Sponsor 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 long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don't need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3% payment processing fee!
    Thrizer lets you

    • 37 min
    Why Men Don’t Stay in Therapy

    Why Men Don’t Stay in Therapy

    Why Men Don’t Stay in Therapy Curt and Katie chat about men’s mental health. We look at why men typically go to therapy, their experiences while in therapy, what therapists get wrong when working with men, and how therapists better support the needs of men seeking mental health treatment.    
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    In this podcast episode we talk about men seeking therapy For Men’s Health Awareness month, we want to explore men seeking mental health services.
    Why do men typically go to therapy? Others telling men to go to therapy Career or relationship issues Depression, which looks like irritability and hostility (externalized behaviors) What is the experience of men in therapy? “Some of this research [on men accessing mental healthcare] shows that while men are increasing in the numbers presenting for mental health treatment, they tend to drop out earlier than women and they tend to drop out at a lot faster rate than women. So that to me says that we as a field are doing something wrong, that we are not able to meet the needs of men. All of that great advice out of ‘hey, go and seek mental health treatment,’ is falling on people who are trying it out and finding bad experiences with it. “– Curt Widhalm, LMFT
    Therapy seems to try to get men to emote like women Invalidating masculine presentations and behaviors Equating masculinity with toxic masculinity Not feeling safe to express emotions beyond confidence, neutrality, or anger How can therapists better serve men seeking therapy? Understanding and honoring a range of masculinities (even within the same client) Helping men to broaden their range of emotional expression Problem-solving, solution-focused can be helpful for men who want to have a clearly defined goal to work toward Collaboratively creating treatment goals Identity work that supports self-definition of masculinity What can therapists get wrong when working with men in therapy? “There is such a broad array of understandings at this point of what masculinity and what ‘real men do’ that I think we need to be aware that whether it's traditional gender roles, or more current… there's some need for an understanding of where your client sits.” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT
    Framing masculinity and toxic masculinity solely as “bad” Not digging more deeply into individual development around masculinity Taking offense at their client’s gender identity or ignoring their own bias around “traditional gender roles” How therapists characterize men’s presenting problems (assigning blame, like depression being seen as anger or hostility, men being described as violent rather than traumatized) Our Generous Sponsor 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 long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don't need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3%

    • 36 min
    What is Play Therapy?: An Interview with Ofra Obejas, LCSW

    What is Play Therapy?: An Interview with Ofra Obejas, LCSW

    What is Play Therapy?: An Interview with Ofra Obejas, LCSW Curt and Katie interview Ofra Obejas, LCSW, RPT-S, about working with children in therapy. We look at what therapists often get wrong, important factors to understand, specialized training required (including play therapy), and what you actually do in therapy session with children.  
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    An Interview with Ofra Obejas, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor Ofra Obejas, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor level, is a professional player. She works with elementary- to middle-school aged children. She’s been called by some of her clients a “kid grownup.” (That’s her rapper name.) She’s taught at the University of San Diego Play Therapy program and presents webinars and courses on clinical topics related to children’s issues.
    In this podcast episode, we talk about Play Therapy We reached out to our friend, Ofra Obejas to talk with us about how to work with kiddos and what additional training is needed to work effectively with children.
    What do therapists get wrong when working with children? Treating children like mini-adults Not understanding the skill involved in play therapy What are important factors for therapists to understand when working with children? “It’s more scary to the children when the adult is incongruent and not showing their true feelings. It's less scary to see somebody angry than it is to see somebody pretending that they're not angry, but they are.” – Ofra Obejas, LCSW
    Children have a different culture (i.e., the tooth fairy is real) The therapist’s role as translator for what children are saying Children will make you feel what they feel (e.g., powerlessness, never getting anything right) The importance of showing feelings to children as a therapist (versus remaining a blank slate) What do you do with children in therapy sessions? Psychodrama and re-enacting situations Therapists can use any theoretical orientation Ways to interact with the child Paying attention to transference and countertransference Case conceptualization, including family therapy and work with parents What specialized training is most effective for working with children? “So, what is the therapy on a bumper sticker? If you had to put it in three words, it's notice it, sit with it, and make meaning of it. Or in an experiential [play therapy] model, it's: you observe it, you name it, and then you model how to cope with it.” – Ofra Obejas, LCSW
    There are specialized protocols for working with children with many different orientations Identifying which orientation suits you How to understand what is being reenacted and how to respond: Notice it, sit with it, make meaning of it; Observe it, name it, model how to cope with it What boundaries should therapists set when working with children and families? Unit of treatment (family, individual, who was showing up to the session?) Treatment goals (what are we working on?) What children are allowed to do in the session Interactions with caregivers and the responsibilities caregivers have during sessions What does online therapy look like with children? The challenges with working with children online Online sand tray, online dollhouse, online puppet theater Creating a virtual play room New trainings for VR therapy for children Watching children play video games online How has the pandemic impacted children? This was dependent on how well parents were able to self-regulate and stay within the window of tolerance (was there someone who could help the child to regulate) Lack of socialization and difficulty in having conversations 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 c

    • 38 min
    How Therapists Can Really Help Kids Who Are Being Bullied

    How Therapists Can Really Help Kids Who Are Being Bullied

    How Therapists Can Really Help Kids Who Are Being Bullied Curt and Katie chat about how therapists can support the targets of bullying. We explore what bullying actually is as well as what can be problematic in how it is typically addressed. We also discuss individual therapy strategies for kids who have been bullied. Curt and Katie also debate about whether the targets of bullying should change what makes them different to avoid getting bullied.    
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    In this podcast episode we talk about how therapists can effectively treat bullying in therapy For Bullying Prevention month, we decided to dig into what bullying actually is and how therapists can treat bullying in therapy.
    What is bullying actually? The definition of bullying and how it is described currently (i.e., teasing versus bullying) Target and aggressor (versus victim and bully) as more appropriate language to describe participants Three essential elements of bullying: ongoing behavior, behavior is intended to be harmful, and there is a power differential between the aggressor and the target The relevance of impact versus intention of behavior Numerous types of power imbalances that can be present Types: physical, verbal, social or covert, cyber bullying What is problematic in how bullying is typically addressed? “Aggressors have a more robust set of social skills. And it's being able to adapt more quickly to things that are socially changing, even in the moment. This also plays a role in the reporting on the people teasing them because the more socially adept kids are then better able to convince the adults around them. Oh, no, we were just playing. We were teasing back and forth.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT
    Most bullying is not observed by adults Not moving past holding space Looking toward community interventions rather than individual Lack of understanding of what cyber bullying actually looks like (when you haven’t grown up as a digital native) Aggressors have a more robust set of social skills Strategies for kids who have been bullied “I think we also need to recognize that if we go too far in telling people not to be different, we are invalidating their identity. And if we don't go far enough, and we don't help them to be part of society, they may continue to get really harshly bullied, but either one is damaging.” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT
    Beyond ignoring (especially if there is an audience) Understanding what the target’s response means to the aggressor Not playing into what the aggressor is doing, escalating to forceful “stop,” seeking out a trusted adult (or multiple adults) Debate on whether a target should shift their behavior and change what makes them different Building confidence versus masking Safety now versus identity development Practicing responses to potential bullying statements in session Including targets in the planning process with adults The challenges with mediation within school settings (and the importance of follow up) Systemic or prevention programs that also address bystanders 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 t

    • 45 min
    What Modern Therapists Should Know About Law Enforcement Mental Health: An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC

    What Modern Therapists Should Know About Law Enforcement Mental Health: An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC

    What Modern Therapists Should Know About Law Enforcement Mental Health: An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC Curt and Katie interview Cyndi Doyle on the mental health of law enforcement officers. We look at how being a cop impacts their mental health as well as specific incidents and the chronic desensitization. We also explore the feelings in law enforcement related to calls to defund the police and how society views the cops. Content warning: potentially traumatic incidents (violence, death)
    Transcripts for this episode will be available at mtsgpodcast.com!
    An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC Cyndi Doyle is a Licensed Professional Counselor, group practice co-owner, founder of Code4Couples®, podcaster, and author of Hold the Line: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Law Enforcement Relationship.  She has spoken nationally and internationally including at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conferences (IACP), the FBI National Academy Association (FBINAA) Conference, keynoted at police spouse conferences throughout the country, and at trained various police departments. While much of her work focuses on first responders, Cyndi’s stories of embracing and wrestling with living her own bold and authentic life have resulted in her being a sought-after speaker for other mental health professionals.  Her message of humanizing struggle, compassion, courage, and resilience has resulted in her speaking nationally and even keynoting at the 2020 Texas Counseling Association Professional Growth Conference.  That same year, the American Counseling Association awarded her the Samuel Gladding Unsung Heroes Award for her work with first responders and contribution to the field of counseling.
    In this podcast episode, we talk about Law Enforcement Mental Health We reached out to our friend, Cyndi Doyle to explore a population of folks who we typically don’t think about as our patients: Law Enforcement Officers (LEO).
    What should modern therapists know about the mental health of Law Enforcement Officers and their families? “[Law Enforcement Officers] don't feel safe, not just their physical safety, but emotional safety. Many times, they don't feel supported by their communities. They don't feel supported by their departments, by their administration. …Would you really want to go to a job every day where you were potentially hated?” – Cyndi Doyle, LPC
    Different dynamics than typical couples The definition of cynicism How training impacts the mental health of officers Misinterpretation of control versus abuse Over diagnosis of trauma The negative impacts on police officers of the heightened scrutiny and criticism Hypervigilance and the impact of cameras on police offers performing their jobs The lack of support from the community (or the legislators or even law enforcement leadership) for officers Lack of compassion satisfaction, considering quitting their job, PTSD The impact on Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) families Exploration of the calls to defund the police and fund other resources “You'll see the cellphone videos or the videos out there of officers playing basketball or playing football or engaging with the community. And that's what community policing is. Community policing is the idea of I know my community well enough to know who potentially has a mental health situation that I need to be aware of.” – Cyndi Doyle, LPC
    Looking at the law enforcement response to defunding the police Exploring community policing and how that could help decrease abuses The cultural shifts and education happening at police departments The potential for mental health resources being added to policing When staffing is down, there is less time to recuperate and be prepared for work Mental Health Concerns that bring law enforcement officers and their families into therapy “Sometimes we assume, I think, as clinicians that like oh, that would be traumatic for me to see. When in actuality [cops] have seen it

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
176 Ratings

176 Ratings

Seth15994267 ,

Amazing intro to the field

As someone currently in grad school for counseling, it has been so informative and helpful to hear Curt and Katie’s discussions about the things that often aren’t mentioned in the classroom. Thank you for galvanizing therapists-to-be with the knowledge required to keep improving this field!

Locolauren9190 ,

Always learning something

I'm not a therapist or in that world but I look forward to this podcast every Monday. Just like all media, I use it as one perspective - taking and leaving what I find helpful or interesting. Overall I enjoy that they make me think about subjects which I otherwise would not think on.

ChrisfromNC ,

Love this podcast!

I have been a long term listener and feel so connected with the energy Katie and Kurt bring. They bring up sometimes difficult and controversial topics with grace.
I also love how they have such a wide variety of guests and topics not found elsewhere. I even used the episode When Clients have to manage their Therapist as a teaching tool with my Supervisees. Thanx for all u do and I look forward to more amazing content!

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