What was one of the most challenging experiences during your training to become a therapist? How did you overcome the challenge, and what did you learn from it?
So many therapists I meet describe themselves as empaths and deep feelers. That just isn’t me and has never been me. I grew up believing you can just think yourself positively out of anything. That didn’t translate well when I first started training as a therapist. Probably one of the most influential pieces of feedback I received from a supervisor was that I needed to start responding less from my head and more from my heart. Over the years, I have noticed a deepening in my ability as a therapist to hear, see, feel and honor emotion both from others and from within myself. And in my couples work, it has greatly enabled me to help partners who struggle with emotions tap into them and connect on a more emotional level with their partners.
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
Ever since childhood, I have been fascinated by what makes relationships work or not work. I grew up in a divorced and blended family with diverse worldviews and its fair share of challenges. In seeing my family overcome many of these obstacles, I developed a strong desire to help couples and families struggling through their own sets of relational challenges. I also simply liked the idea that I could do this work into old age and continually have new experiences and skills to learn. And I’ve never been a big fan of small talk. Give me a deep conversation at a coffee shop or out in the woods any day.
Is there an example from your daily life where you practice what you preach?
Many of the couples I work with have young children or are in the process of growing a family. They are also often on the brink of divorce or hoping to heal from a betrayal or infidelity. One of the major assumptions underlying my work is that each partner makes a meaningful contribution to the challenges and problems in the relationship. As a spouse and parent who has her own share of human moments in daily life, I make it a point to explore my own role in the daily challenges I face with my husband and children. Am I overspent? Have I avoided directly expressing my needs, feelings, or emotional state to my husband? Am I responding the way I have been conditioned to respond rather than the way my child needs me to at this moment? I remind myself that in any relationship, my locus of control lies within myself.
Visit Courtney Shen DeShetler’s website: www.socalcouplestherapy.com
Short Term (Solution-focused, etc.)
Ideal for those who are coming in with a specific problem they’d like to address and gain clarity on. Typically, short term therapies are present focused and do not dive deep into your past.
Structured therapies are goal and progress oriented. Therapists may incorporate psychoeducation and a specific “curriculum.” In order to stay on track, therapists may provide worksheets and homework.
Insight-oriented (Psychodynamic, Existential, etc.)
Exploring the past and making connections to present issues can help clients gain insight. Getting to the root of the issue and finding deeper self-awareness can help with long-term change.
Non-directive (Humanistic, Person-centered, etc.)
Going with the flow and seeing where it leads.
Behavioral (CBT, DBT, etc.)
Focuses on changing potentially unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors by addressing problematic thought patterns and specific providing coping skills.
Trauma Focused (EMDR, TF-CBT, etc.)
Recognizing the connection between trauma experiences and your emotional and behavioral responses, trauma focused therapy seeks to help you heal from traumas.