Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Choosing a Therapist

I do not know how many people are currently searching for a therapist, but being one, I know that the process is not easy, especially if you have never been in therapy before.

When prospective clients call me they want to know everything about me. Where did I go to school? What therapy do I practice? What is my experience? What clients do I like working with the best? The questions are endless.

These questions might be interesting to chat about at a cocktail party when two people are trying to get to know each other but if you are in pain in your life, knowing everything about me does not help you. What will help you to find the therapist who can help you is to ask them one question: Do you treat ______________ and then mention your situation.

In other words, the question would be something like this:

Do you treat gay men just coming out?
Do you treat couples suffering from infidelity?
Do you work with individuals needing to find more passion in life?
Do you work with clients grieving from the loss of a parent?

See how specific that is?

Clients ask me all the time whether I would be willing to work with them using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skills. Well -- okay -- sure. But when I tell them I haven't seen them yet so I do not give treatment before the problem -- they get frustrated. Someone told them they need CBT and so that is what they want.

No mental or medical health practitioner should ever treat before a diagnosis. It makes no sense. How could I tell you that I like your soup, if I haven't tasted it?

So, my best tip for anyone looking for a therapist is: define your problem into one sentence and know what you want. For example,

I don't know how to communicate with my weed-smoking 16 year-old daughter. I want a therapist who can help me with a parent/teen problem around drugs and communication.

Sometimes screening a therapist can take many phone calls to many therapists but it will be worth it when you find someone who can work with your issue, no matter what school they went to.

Jan Marquart LCSW

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Relationships

Are you in the 'market' for a new relationship? Well you can't go and buy one like you do a blouse at your favorite store. Do you act as if that is what you are doing when you select someone to date? Most of us buy clothes with more discernment than we start a relationship. For instance, do you take the time to find out who he or she really is before you take off your clothes or spill out your entire life in one sitting? It isn't as easy as taking home that perfect blouse.

Relationships, contrary to the quick click computer life we seem to be living these days, takes time. Time! I understand that the beginning of a relationships can be anxiety provoking and make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious and the eagerness to 'get started' can override slowing things down. Rushing can seem easier than allowing yourself to feel your emotions but you need these emotions. They are normal and may be important warning signs.

Slow down, take your time, ask the difficult questions, meet his or her friends/family. Learn how others interact with him/her and how she/he interacts with them. What kind of activities do you do with this person? Will this person do the activities you like too? Do you just 'hang out' when you really want to 'go out'?

If you are choosing a mate for the rest of your life, isn't the rest of your life worth a good slow start to making sure this is the right person? Find out how this person resolves problems or does he/she just ruminate on the problem then dump it in your lap? What happens when this person gets angry? Depressed? Anxious? How does this person handle money? Are they neat or a total slob not caring about her/his environment?

Relationships are complicated and complex. Take your time. Be authentic. Don't try to make yourself someone you are not. Are you willing to not be yourself at any price?

Before having sex make sure to ask if your new partner has any STDs. How often do they have unprotected sex. If they don't want you to use protection does that mean he/she is willing to become a parent?

Ask the difficult questions. Remember, one date can turn into a nightmare or a really great start to forever.



Sunday, March 17, 2019


How many times you have made yourself busy just to avoid being alone? How many times have you engaged in activities you didn't like because you feared facing a Saturday night without a date or social activity?

Do you understand what you are really afraid of? Do you understand what you would be feeling about yourself or what emotion would take over if you allowed yourself to sit by yourself? Being alone and sitting in solitude are not the same thing. In aloneness you feel the absence of another, in solitude you feel the presence of yourself.

These alone moments are important in order to develop self-understanding, wisdom, values, and interests that can take you deeper into activities. They teach personal strength and help you stretch your identity. These moments build the self. They encourage hobbies and new paths for your life.

I hear too many people afraid of themselves in alone moments. They get anxious or depressed. They can't sit still without having a panic attack. They say they don't like themselves yet they do nothing to learn how much they can like themselves if they spent time staying in touch with who they really are - not what they compare themselves to when they look into the world.

People want to feel better about themselves but do nothing to learn the process of how to do that. Sit in stillness. Pay attention to what makes you happy, what doesn't, what you would like to do and what you would like to stop doing. Feel the life inside you. Try something new. Develop some interests. Learn to like yourself and what you would like in your future, then -- go there.



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Every Day

A as a psychotherapist, the work I do gets misunderstood all the time. People have commented to me about how they could never do the work I do. They ask me how I could listen to problems all day long. Coming from their perspective, I can understand why they have the opinion that they do.

I do not see my work as listening to problems for that is not what clients bring to my office. Are they suffering? Yes! Do they want to tell their narrative of their suffering? Yes! But what they truly bring to me despite all that talk of their pain is the hope and faith that there is a way to turn things around. I have had only a few clients in 40 years that just liked to complain. I quickly sent them to someone else. Listening to their gossip and becoming an accomplish in their victimhood is not my job.

Most people want to know how to live better. They want the suffering to stop. They want to enjoy the rising sun, feel loved, enjoy the food they eat, know they are worth taking care of.

Start every day with a poem and a prayer. Watch your self-talk. Write out what you want to think and do for yourself. Talk to the people in your life about what you want to change, not just what you don't like. Go from there!

Wishing you the light of the stars and the warmth of the sun.

Jan Marquart LCSW, Author

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Take Ten

How many times do you put effort into making something happen but when it doesn't you try a little harder? How many times do you think, just one more effort, just ten more minutes, just a little more, just a little more effort? Sometimes a little more effort works so we think this is always the best path, right? A little more effort might work when you are trying to pull up something heavy out of the washing machine versus needling someone to do what you want them to do.

And I am not talking about finishing a college course in which you have to push to the defined end to get accomplished in something. I am speaking to something you want to happen that is probably not fully in your control that you push and push thinking you can make something happen that clearly you aren't able to bring to fruition with force, nagging, bartering, crying or the like. Stop! Take ten minutes.

Walk around the block, walk around the living room, walk around your desk. Take ten.

Rest is important. Realize this lack of success is not your failure, it is a message that you are not fully in control or isn't meant to be. I understand that letting go might feel like you have given up. What's wrong with that if you realize your efforts are being wasted and not producing the desired results? Implementing your wisdom is a good thing. Take ten. Take another ten if you have to and rethink the matter. If you hear that little voice in your head said all your efforts are not worth it, then let it go. If you can't seem to let it go forever, let it go for now. Take ten!


Monday, July 9, 2018

Write Your Way to Sleep

Want a good night sleep and awake refreshed? Try this. Before you turn out the lights write out a list of situations in your life for which you are grateful and appreciative.

This writing exercise will put you in a positive and relaxed state of mind and allow your nervous system to relax. You are now in a much better state to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Focusing on problems when you climb into bed is not a good state of mind and tenses your nervous system. Remember, if you give your mind a problem, it will stay up to try and help you resolve it. That's what our mind does: it solves problems.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Protecting All Life

In the 70s people protested against the increased use of plastic because it was being dumped into the oceans. And now we have a serious problem with plastic in our oceans.

We must remember that to save our planet there must be a higher purpose to whether we use these products or not. A few states are going to reverse the plastic bag use at the supermarket. Please do not use these bags. Please use reusable bags. Use the kind of bags you can throw in the washing machine  so if juices spill on them they can be properly cleaned.

Please be aware of what using plastic bags does to the oceans. For those of you who like to eat fish, it impacts fish. For those of you who like to swim and enjoy the water you will be swimming with plastic all around you. Just because you don't see a plastic bag float by does not mean it hasn't decomposed and its fibers are floating right next to you.

Please be aware of how we take care of our world. The products we use and toss in the garbage have to go somewhere and will have an impact on our ocean, air and water.