My Approach to Helping
Hi. My name is Rick Baumgartle. I am Licensed Professional Counselor and I want to help you take charge of your life's direction.
Ever hear anyone say “The one thing in in life I really enjoy is struggling with my anxiety depression low self-esteem trauma, etc…” Of course not, that would be silly. But that’s what many people do, just that, struggle, fight and put their time and energy into focusing on something that they would swear to anyone who would listen that they don’t like in the first place. You deserve to get unstuck, move forward, or past things that have been taking up far more time and space in your life then you want. I believe in working with people to help them focus their energy on the things that matter most.
I have been in the counseling profession for over 15 years. I specialize in addiction, trauma, and helping people deal with worries anxieties and fears in a judgment free environment.
More Info About My Practice
My sessions are judgment free zones. People are not defined by their choices, mistakes, or even their diagnosis'. I work with people to help them move forward by being in the present and focusing on the things in life that that are truly important.
How Psychotherapy Can Help
A lot of times we tend to go to our friends and family when we are dealing with stuff in life. Friends and family are great and can be a great source of support. Friends and family are however emotionally connected to the outcomes of our decisions and can at times feel the need to "fix" the things we are going through or may not want to say things they think might hurt us. As a therapist I think it is important to connect with the people I am working with while at the same time being objective. Objectivity is being able to say things or suggest things without having the emotional attachment to a person's decision. That doesn't mean to say that therapist will purposely say things that are hurtful, but they can point out things that they observe in the process of working with people. Working through issues can be uncomfortable and therapy allows a person to work through things with a person that can be objective. There are also times when the things a person wants to talk about, they know might upset people close to them and so it is helpful to have someone who isn't going to judge or become overwhelmed when a person talks about what is going on with them. Lastly, sometimes people just need a sounding board. The process of talking things out, out loud to another human being that doesn't need the thoughts filtered can be immensely helpful. I can't tell you how many times clients through just the process of talking things out in a judgment free environment have been able to develop a better understanding of what they are struggling with.
My View on the Purpose of Psychotherapy
I believe the purpose of therapy is to help people discover the tools, strategies, and skills to better deal with the things they are struggling with. A lot of the things people do to deal with their issues, but aren't making things better, are the tools they know how to use. It takes a bit to get used to using new tools, but I think through therapy people can learn new ones. I also have often found that people already had the skill they just weren't aware how to apply it to other areas of their lives.
What I Love about Being a Psychotherapist
I was the only person I know of who wanted to work in a psychiatric hospital as a kid. Maybe other therapist had the same thought growing up, but I knew from a young age this is what I eventually wanted to do. Being a therapist, like other jobs, has things that are stressful. But that is far outweighed by the rewards that come in working with people to help them live their best lives ever.
My Role as a Therapist
I believe my role as a therapist is to walk beside you on your journey of healing. Not to lead or follow, but to walk beside you. There are most certainly things that I know and have been trained in that are hopefully going to be helpful to the people that I work with. But in the end the person who is the expert on you is you.
My Therapy Focus
I work in a couple of different modalities or types of therapy. The first is Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) which has become more popular as of late with books like The Happiness Trap. ACT is about helping people live a values centered lifestyle while changing their approach to the issues that brought them to therapy. I also work in Informed Cognitive Therapy which uses parts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with some of the theories of Evolutionary Psychology.
What I Usually Need to Know to Help
We will get into it more in depth is sessions, but what is most important to me is finding out what things people truly value. I am big values therapist and I believe that when people's actions in life are connected to their values, that they will be much more content and better able to engage in life. People can spend a lot of energy on things that aren't important or worse violate their own values for others. There is no more sure-fire way to be miserable then to take on values that aren't yours or go against the ones that are.
On the Fence About Going to Therapy?
For some people the idea of going to therapy can be anxiety causing. People may also have been raised with the idea that they need to be self sufficient and asking for help is akin to weakness. I often hear "I don't really talk about my feelings." My reply is usually along the lines of "and how is that working out for ya?" If you are looking for a therapist because things in life have become too much the answer is probably not as well as you'd like. Overcoming worries about doing something like therapy is a lot like standing on the edge of a high dive at a pool. You already managed to get yourself up there, now all you have to do is take that leap. There is a phrase I use with clients called "courageous vulnerability." It means being afraid and doing it anyway. Going to therapy for the first time when part of you is doubtful takes courageous vulnerability.
Had a Negative Therapy Experience?
Therapy ,like a lot of things in life, is a not a one size fits all deal. Some people work with well with some therapist better than others. I think it's important for people to identify what did or didn't work in previous therapy. Did you feel like you had to do all the talking and wanted something more directive? Did you feel like your therapist was working on something you didn't feel was the real issue. It can be any number of reasons why therapy did not work out. What's important is you don't give up. Therapy is a relationship of a type. You can't get to really know someone and if they vibe with you right away. Don't let a bad experience or therapy didn't fit be your reason for not trying again. You deserve help just as much as anyone.
Important Factors for Choosing a Therapist
A few things go into that decision.
1. Are you looking for in person or telehealth? Both forms can be helpful to people but is all about what you feel more comfortable with.
2. What are the things you want to work on? Therapists tend to specialize or have more experience in some areas more than others. So, picking one who has the training or experience to help you with your issues is important.
3. Payment for services. A lot of therapists take insurance and the insurance they take varies depends on who they are credentialled with. If you are using insurance, make sure the therapist you want to see takes it.
4. Other factors. You want to find a therapist you are comfortable working with. After all you are going to be discussing with them very private, sometimes painful things. So being comfortable with them is important. Sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs and other things all may factor in your decision. Having a preference says nothing more about you then being a person who has a preference. It's your life and your therapy. Go with what you feel like will work best for you. That being said having to many preferences may start to narrow down the amount of people available to you. So, make sure you prioritize your preferences before looking.
How My Own Struggles Made Me a Better Therapist
I am a person in recovery. I say that without fear of opinions of others. However, that being said, my being in recovery for the past 21 years means I also dealt with issues that needed to be recovered from. So, I know what it is like to deal with the stigma surrounding having issues that can be easily judged as a moral failing, lack of willpower, laziness, or general lack of caring. I found out and work with my clients on the idea that the only way out is through. Issues in life are not going to magically disappear unless a person is willing to due the work. A famous quote said "I never said this would be easy. I said it would be worthwhile."
What I Say to People Concerned about the Therapy Process
Some people picture therapy like laying on a couch and talking about their childhood to man in a chair, who strokes his beard and says "interesting, tell me more." Most therapist, including myself, take a more engaged approach with our clients. People can also be afraid that they are not ready to talk about the things that are causing them pain. I will say that all change, even positive change, is uncomfortable. However, I work with clients to understand how our own minds can sometimes actively fight us on trying make positive change and how to deal with that. There is a paradox in therapy andor recovery that says, "You can't do this on your own, but all the work will be done by you." Therapy and making positive change can take a lot of effort but that doesn't mean you need to do it alone or without support.
Why Going to Therapy Does Not Mean You are Weak or Flawed
My grandmother whom I loved very much (may she rest in peace) had depression. It was an issue she refused to look at. She would take medication for blood pressure and other medical issues as she got older, but any mention of the depression was either ignored or glossed over. My grandmother was of the mindset that people just "needed to be happy." The idea that people just "need to be happy" was big with her. The huge flaw in that logic is that if people were able to feel however they want on cue everyone would wander around in joyous bliss all day because that is how most everyone would choose to feel. Having worries anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, guilt, grief, etc...does not make you weak or flawed. It makes you human. In therapy I work with my clients to approach those uncomfortable experiences in a different way so they can lead a much more content life.
Importance of the Client-Therapist Alliance
It's hard to make progress on issues when working with a therapist if that "therapeutic alliance" isn't there. The truth is not every therapist is going to be a good fit for everyone. A number of things including just personality of the people doing and receiving the therapy can make a difference. All of us have people we feel more comfortable around than others. There is nothing wrong with questioning whether or not a therapist is a good fit for you. You can even have that conversation in therapy. Any therapist worth their license is not going to take personal offense at someone questioning if things are working. It gives them the opportunity to evaluate it themselves and work with the client to make a decision that is in the client's best interest. So, don't be afraid to speak up if you feel it isn't a good fit. Therapists know other therapist so if they are feeling hurt about it they have a lot of people they can talk to also.
My View on the Nature of 'Disorders'
I think people having an accurate diagnosis is helpful for a lot of reasons including identifying what medications might be helpful and what types of therapy might be more beneficial than others. The problem with diagnoses is when people allow those diagnoses to define them as a person. "I am a depressed person," as opposed to "I am a person who has depression, but that is only part of what makes up me as a whole." You are not your diagnosis or disorder no matter how much it may feel like that sometimes. There are times when the issues we are struggling with connected to a diagnosis are front and center due to their intensity, but that is a temporary situation and does not have to be a permanent way of life.
The Duration and Frequency of Therapy
This is very dependent on the person. Generally speaking, I meet with clients more frequently in the beginning and then begin to lengthen the time between sessions as people make progress. What that looks like is different for everyone. But if things are going well, and someone is using the coping strategies they have to continue to move forward, they don't need to see their therapist every week to let them know things are going great or to tell them all the great things happening. That's what friends and family are for, and they don't charge a fee.