Note From Louisa
In this month's featured article, Pamela helps answer some of the questions that we often hear from people considering therapy. The process of mental health treatment, and what happens in a session, can feel mystifying. As these are very personal experiences, it can be hard to ask others about their relationship with their therapist, or what might transpire in that hour every week.
In the Midwest, we still maintain a cultural stigma about the need for professional mental health support, believing that these are resources reserved for "crazy people". Yet, in the increasingly complex world that we live in, the added resource of an unbiased, trained professional can mean the difference between a successful navigation of that complexity, or unnecessary struggle.
For many of us, we lack easy access to the skill building or compassionate objectivity that a professional can provide. We may struggle to discern our own values and feel isolated as we move through life's challenges.
Pamela poses some of these questions and provides answers geared toward de- stigmatizing the process. If you've been wondering about therapy, perhaps you'll see your questions among those Pamela answers. If you don't, please reach out to us. We are committed to help you find the resources you need to help you live your best life.
With compassion,
Ongoing Contemplative Practices  (No Charge) 

Workshop: Sitting Meditation Groups
Workshop: Mindfulness Study Group (see below)

Workshops & Events
Hosted at The Center for
 Mindful Living
Ongoing Offerings
Mindfulness Study Group
Facilitated by Laura Crosby
First and Third Sunday of the month from 4pm to 6pm
Join us as we begin A Path with HeartA Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield. Considered an essential classic that many return to again and again as part of their mindfulness practice, A Path With Heart offers inspiration and teachings for living mindfully, intentionally, authentically and compassionately - or as one reviewer put it, with "full-tilt compassion."
The Group will read together, so there is no pre-reading or homework involved.  We will read, discuss and practice mindfulness meditation based on the teachings of the book.  Copies of the book are available for use in the study session or to check-out.    

This Mindfulness Study Group is freely offered. There is no charge to participate. Drop-ins welcome at any time. While this selection is based on Buddhist mindfulness teachings, the Study Group as a whole is not religiously affiliated.
Featured Article

Transparency in the Work
By Pamela Mueggenberg LMHP, MA
A few weeks ago I heard a polite bellow from our waiting room.
"Hello? Your food is here!" 
"Oh, thank you! Here, let me just sign this..."
The deliveryman shifted his weight. "What do you all do here?"
"Well we do meditation and therapy. I'm an art therapist."
"Oh!" he laughed, "I tell all my friends I'm crazy! Maybe I should come here!  If you think you can handle me!"
This short interaction is fairly common for anyone who works in mental health.  There is a discomfort, a feeling of vulnerability or alienation, which sometimes arises when a person who is unfamiliar with the work of therapy is unexpectedly introduced to it. There is a curiosity about something new, but so often it is paired with fear.
"Can you tell what's wrong with me if I draw something for you?"
"Are you diagnosing me right now?"
"Oh no, I shouldn't have told you that!"
To me, these kinds of comments illuminate just how urgent the need for transparency is in mental health. Working one on one in a soundproof room, discussing intimate details of ones experience - and the necessary confidentiality of those conversations - makes it more difficult to openly describe what therapy looks like. 
Within that private space we as clinicians are using evidence-based, reasonable, concrete exercises, interventions, and ideas to help people better understand themselves and navigate their world. Unfortunately, if you don't know that, you may assume (as many do) that therapy is something more nebulous or spooky.
One of my biggest priorities when working with my clients is to be transparent in the work. I want to make sure that everyone who comes to see me knows exactly what they're getting into and, as informed and empowered consumers, they are able to make their own decisions regarding their care. In that spirit, I would answer a few questions I've been asked about therapists and the therapeutic process.
Q: Why is my therapist checking the clock? Is she bored?
A: No! As you are talking, your therapist is listening intently to your words and coming up with ideas, questions, or interventions that might help you. If there is a question that could open up a bigger topic, she wants to make sure you both have enough time to get through it. 
It wouldn't be fair if she asked a big question five minutes before you have to go.  As with any deep conversation, we need to plan for a transition from that depth, to you walking out the door. It feels weird to walk about of therapy without getting yourself ready for the outside world.
Q: Why do we have to meet so often?
A: Thinking of therapy as a medical or emotional intervention can often lead to frustration about scheduling. Therapy is not a doctor's visit. Therapy is more akin to physical therapy, where you are exercising muscles to heal from an injury, or a class where you are learning a new skill. 
Therapy can also be seen as regular part of your overall well-being, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. While some sessions can lead to dramatic bursts of insight or compassion, most of the work is done one small step at a time, as your brain and body reorient themselves.
Q: What if I scare my therapist?  How can I trust that he will be able to handle what I have to say?
A: There is a common pop culture trope of the villain going to a well meaning, but incompetent therapist and promptly blowing their minds with thoughts of death, despair, or audaciousness. While your therapist hasn't heard your exact story, he'll be okay. 
Most therapists have built a team of support around them to help them process the pain they hear in a day. Supervision, integrated loving relationships, supportive colleagues, and of course their own therapist are all integral to helping him stay grounded. A professor of mine once remarked "anybody can be a therapist, you just have to care. You come to school to learn how to be a therapist and not go crazy." 
Therapeutic ethics, boundaries, and professional support are all in place to make sure that you can speak to your full experience, and trust that your therapist can hear you and help you.
If you are interested in therapy, or have questions about your current therapy, please don't hesitate to ask! We love talking about our profession, and sharing just how awesome this work can be. 
The Center for Mindful Living is a space for healing that hosts independent practitioners and educators coming together to create an Urban Sanctuary in the middle of the city.