FAQs

Here are some common questions I get, but definitely not a complete list. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

 

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What are Perinatal Mood Disorders?

Having a baby is an exciting, amazing time, but it is also stressful, scary and unpredictable. Often times new moms feel waves of emotions. Up to 15-20% of women will experience more extreme mood changes. Irritability, intense sadness, excessive tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness or unworthiness, increased anxiety and panic attacks, difficulty bonding with your baby, changes in sleep and/or appetite can all be symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder. You should know that you are definitely not alone, although it can feel like no one would understand how you could feel this way. You are not a bad mom, you CAN do this, and your baby and family DO need you! It is so important for you to take care of yourself and reach out for help.

What is Trauma? I’m not “traumatized,” am I?

Trauma can be different things to different people, but in a nutshell, it’s any event (or events) that cause emotional distress to someone. Most often we think of childhood abuse or neglect as being the “Big T”. But it could also be a natural disaster, a car accident, military service and combat, even going through a physical illness and medical treatments can be traumatic. Losing a loved one suddenly, or a big life change (such as a breakup or move to a new place) can be traumatic too. These events can shape the way we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us. If not dealt with, these beliefs can become unhelpful and dysfunctional, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, strained relationships with others, codependency, drug and alcohol abuse and more. A lot of people avoid dealing with traumatic memories because it brings up a lot of pain for them to talk about it. Sweeping them under the rug usually causes more harm than good. Sooner or later, those traumas will bubble to the surface and cause even more distress. Counseling helps bring these past issues to the surface in a safe, controlled way, in order to reduce distress and create more helpful, functional beliefs and coping strategies.

I’m used to handling things on my own. Does going to therapy mean I’m weak?

Not at all. You are incredibly brave and strong to recognize that maybe it’s time to talk to someone. I understand the challenges of talking to a stranger about personal stuff, that’s why I create a safe, nonjudgmental place for you to feel more comfortable to open up and get the most out of your sessions.

What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?

The difference is a therapist can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, help you see situations from a different perspective, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Also, counseling is confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, talking about certain situations can bring up a great deal of negative emotion, and if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life. I’m trained to help contain that negative emotion and energy in the counseling session so you or your loved ones don’t have to carry it around with you.

How do I get started? What should I expect?

The first step is for us to talk briefly (about 15 minutes) over the phone to see if we’re a good fit. This is a free consultation! Therapy is most effective when the therapist and client are a good match for each other. I’ll ask some questions about the reason you’re seeking counseling, and explain more details about me, my practice, and the process of getting started. If I determine that we’d be a good match, we’ll schedule our first session. I will send a link to your email to complete some paperwork via your Client Portal, which you’ll be able to sign into, complete assessment questionnaires, sign the usual forms (like you would at a doctor’s office), so that when you come in for our first face-to-face session we’re ready to hit the ground running.

I barely have time to shower, how am I going to make it to therapy?

There’s an app for that! Seriously though, I am now able to offer online counseling for those who live in Oregon or California (due to licensing/legal stuff I must verify that you are in Oregon or California for me to provide services online). I remember when I was home with a newborn, getting out of the house to go grocery shopping was a challenge, and making the commitment to go to therapy was even more challenging. I hope that by offering sessions online that we can break down that barrier. Please note: I do not offer EMDR therapy online.

How does therapy work? What do I have to do in sessions?

Therapy is whatever you need it to be. Sometimes people feel better just being able to vent and get things off their chest, others feel they benefit most from learning and practicing coping strategies that they can use to manage day to day stress. I use EMDR with the majority of my clients to dig a little deeper into the underlying causes of emotional distress.

What the heck is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues are a lot like trees. You usually just see the trunk and branches of the tree above ground. What we see on our surface is our pain, isolation, insomnia, lack of motivation, irritability and relationship struggles. Underneath the ground, a maze of roots grows deep into the earth, giving the tree a strong base from which it grows. Our roots are past events that have created pathways in our brains that affect the way we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us. EMDR helps us get under the ground to untangle some of those roots, and to create more positive pathways in the brain.  It is an amazing therapy that helps your brain process life events differently, so that memories of your past do not cause as much distress. People report quick results and a decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more after participating in EMDR therapy. See www.emdria.org for more information.

How long will it take?

Everyone is unique and the length of time counseling can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek counseling in the first place. A lot of people start to feel better after just a few sessions, but often it takes more to get to the core of why you came to therapy in the first place and to develop long-lasting changes. I recommend starting out coming at least once per week, then as you make progress we can decrease the number of sessions to every other week, sometimes even monthly for ongoing maintenance. I always tell my clients that the door for counseling is always open. After “graduating” from therapy, it’s always okay to come back for a refresher if you feel you need it. Again, that does not mean that you are weak. It means you’re human, and experiencing setbacks and new stressors is part of the human experience.

I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?

Consistency is key! Therapy can be hard, and it’s not always the most fun part of your day, but coming consistently and working hard in and outside of sessions will help you reach your goals faster and help you maintain those positive changes. Sometimes I assign “homework” to practice coping strategies or check out another resource outside of our sessions. If you try it and it’s not helping, just let me know! There’s no offense taken here, we’ll work together to figure something else out that will work for you. I just ask that you make an honest effort to try something different.

 

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12555 SW 1st Street,
Beaverton, OR 97005

erin@blackbirdcounseling.com
(503) 389-5894

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