So you’ve decided to take the step of going to see a therapist. That’s wonderful and good that you’re taking care of your mental health. Whatever your reason for seeking help, you will feel more at ease and get better results if you know what to expect.
In your first session, the therapist will ask questions about you and your life. This information helps her make an initial assessment of your situation. Questions might include the following:
Why you sought therapy. The therapist has to understand your surface problem(s) before she can get to the deeper issues.
Your personal history and current situation. She will ask you a series of questions about your life. She’ll also ask about your family history and current family situation.
Your current symptoms. Other than knowing the reason you sought therapy, the therapist will attempt to find out if you’re suffering from other symptoms of your problem. For example, are you having difficulties at work.
She will ask these questions to get to know you and understand your situation so you and she can come up with the best plan for your treatment.
Remember therapy is a team effort and you should take an an active part in the session or you won’t find the counseling experience valuable. Here are some things you can do to make your first session successful.
Be open. It’s important to answer questions openly and honestly.
Ask questions. The more you understand the counseling experience or how counseling works, the more comfortable you’ll be. Feel free to ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the therapist to repeat anything you don’t understand.
Be open and honest about your feelings. Many thoughts will be going throughyour head during the session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the therapist.
Remember therapy is not a quick fix for your problem, rather it is a process and it will take time to resolve your problems. The most important part of the process is feeling comfortable with your therapist and feeling that she is truly trying to help you.
As a Black woman sometimes it’s hard for us to remember the importance of taking care of ourselves. We’re always giving and taking care of everyone else that we forget about ourselves. Remember self care is an act of self preservation. Here are some tips to help you to take care of yourself as much as you take care of everyone else.
Evaluate your current level of self-care by looking at how often you drink water, eat healthy foods, and move your body. Don’t forget about your emotional and mental health either. Ask yourself how you handle stress. Do you keep going when you know you need to take a break? Do you express your feelings or do you hold everything inside? Do you turn to unhealthy coping strategies or do you reach out for help when you need it? Also remember to identify the people in your life who make your problems worse versus the people who listen to you without judgement?
Try to dedicate one day out of the week as “self-care day.” Saturdays and Sundays usually work best but any day where you can take care of yourself is fine. If you can’t dedicate the entire day to self care, dedicate a few hours.
Make a list of all of the things that feed your spirit and put it in your calendar to do them at least once per month.
Schedule joy breaks throughout your day. Try practicing deep breathing for 2 minutes, listen to a guided meditation for 5 minutes, color in an adult coloring book or dance to your favorite songs.
Learn to say No. Make it a priority to say “no” to requests to your time, energy and resources twice as much as you say yes.
Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup and we need breaks too.
Being a Black woman at work often means dealing with microaggressions from other co workers. This is a list of common ones and how to deal with them.
1- When White people think you’re the help- This happens often because people often don’t except Black women to be in corporate or professional positions. While we should never believe we’re above people in service positions always be assertive in telling people who you are when they assume you’re the waiter, waitress or bus person..
2-When your presence disturbs them- For some reason many people are afraid of Black women especially if we raise our voice or seem assertive. Don’t make yourself smaller to please anyone, always stand tall and speak your truth.
3-When your hair seems to be the talk of the office- Why do they always want to touch our hair? If you’re not comfortable with anyone touching your hair say please don’t touch my hair, I’ve done this before, they will get the message.
4-Your voice is heard but not acknowledged- You say something then your White co worker says the same thing and somehow they’re acknowledged. This is extremely frustrating. Speak up and make your voice heard.
5- When you’re stereotyped- Have you ever had a White woman co worker run to management crying because you corrected her? I had this happen with an intern I was supervising and I was told to be nicer to her. The tears can be annoying but remember they often cry because they don’t want to stand up to you and are afraid of your greatness.
It gets frustrating dealing with this stuff but no matter what remember you’re fabulous.
Black women are often portrayed as fighters with sharp tongues who are ready to fight and cuss a man out at all times. Sojourner Truth stated, “plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head us.” Black women are rarely portrayed as soft and gentle and kind and in need of help. This myth that we have to always be strong has been detrimental to our physical and emotional well being. We often neglect our health because we feel we have to take care of everyone else and always be strong. Black women are disproportionately affected by diabetes and hypertension and depression but the idea that we must always be strong keeps many of us from getting the help we need to take care of ourselves. We never get rest because we feel we have to be strong. Our strength also often goes hand in hand with us being perceived as mean, harsh and unfeminine. Black women are often not treated the same way as other women because we are often viewed as unlovable. Unlike other women we’re not often seen as multifaceted, when was the last time you heard the term “Strong White woman” or “Strong Asian Woman”.
It isn’t Black women’s responsibility to end this stereotype however we need to do more to take care of ourselves. Take the time to make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, getting to the doctor and also a therapist if needed. Don’t put everything off until tomorrow because you have to take care of everyone. You can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. Don’t believe the myth that being a strong Black woman means you don’t deserve to get help and you need to be a work horse for everyone.
In addition to seeing clients in my office, I also offer online video therapy through a secure HIPAA compliant video platform. When I think about why clients choose online therapy, the first answer that comes to my mind is about convenience: the comfort of being in your own office or home, no travel necessary, the time saved, and the time of sessions is usually more flexible. I admit I was skeptical about doing online therapy but when I decided to begin offering it in my practice and I read about it, I realized that it is something I wanted to do in addition to seeing clients in a traditional office setting. I have been providing online video therapy for awhile now and I think it’s a great addition to traditional in office therapy, in the future I hope to only offer online therapy.
When I’ve asked clients how they feel about seeing me via video rather than in an office, they’ve stated that they feel comfortable working this way and it’s more convenient for them since they do not have to go to an office. During a snow storm I was able to see 7 clients online, I would not have been able to do this in an office because it would have been very difficult for me or my clients to get to the office.
Another reason some people chose online therapy is that it gives an added layer of confidentiality. With online therapy, no one else has to know that you’re going to therapy unless you chose to tell them. I don’t feel as comfortable doing telephone therapy as I prefer to see my clients when we’re speaking however telephone counseling is also an option if video is not available. I do not offer texting therapy.
Some clients would not benefit from online therapy and do need to be seen in an office. Clients who are actively psychotic would not be good candidates for online therapy. Also clients who have recent suicidal attempts would benefit from in office therapy until they are more stable.
I have found the outcomes for my clients to be just as good whether I see them online or in my office and I’m so glad I’m able to offer online therapy.
Narcissistic Personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance as well as an intense preoccupation with themselves.
Children of Narcissists:
Generally, Narcissistic Parents are possessively close to their children when they are small because their children are a source of self-esteem. When their children grow to become more independent, the narcissistic parent may feel envious of the child.
While there are many ways in which a narcissistic parent abuses his or her child, there are times that a narcissistic parent is kind. This makes the abuse harder to handle for children of Narcissistic Parents – the child knows that the underlying tension means that one wrong move means that things will go wrong and the narcissistic parent may fly into a rage.
Children of narcissistic parents often feel they must adhere to the agenda of the the parent for their lives to be stable. Asserting their feelings, their rights, or their thoughts can lead to much bigger problems. This causes the children to learn that their feelings are invalid, unimportant, and inconsequential. They will often stifle all feelings to keep the peace in the house.
Types of Narcissistic Parents
1) Engulfing Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who see no boundaries between themselves and their children. Children are seen as extension of the parent – not as another person. For babies and toddlers, this is okay – small children don’t often see themselves as separate from their parents anyway. This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages. .
2) Ignoring Parents: are narcissistic parents who don’t actually care much about their children. Unlike engulfing parents, an ignoring parent sees the boundary between themselves and their child, and has little interest in their child.
Sibling Dynamics In Narcissistic Parent Households:
If there are several children in a narcissistic household, the dynamic may be one of the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat, which can cause major friction and jealousy between the children.
The Golden Child, seen as an extension of the narcissistic parent, can do no wrong, and even the most minor of achievements are cause for celebration, admiration, and rewards.
The Scapegoat Child is to blame for all of the family woes. While the Golden Child can do no wrong, the Scapegoat Child can do no right. All achievements are dismissed.
Traits of Narcissistic Parents:
While these traits may not match all Narcissistic Parents, what follows are some common traits of Narcissistic Parents:
1) A Narcissistic Parent has difficulty understanding the emotions of empathy and how to create meaningful connections. As the personal needs of Narcissistic Parents dominate, these parents have little room for the needs of anyone else.
2) A Narcissistic Parent owns the successes of his or her children. In a Narcissistic Parents mind, he or she has been sacrificing everything for his or her child – the child must retaliate by performing at or above expectations. These childhood achievements are then owned by the Narcissistic Parent as their own.
3) Narcissistic Parents must be in control. No matter what. A Narcissistic Parent controls his or her children by dictating how these children should feel, should act, and the decisions to be made. This can lead to adult children of Narcissistic Parents being unsure of what they, themselves, like and want out of life. These Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents never learn to be autonomous and make his or her own decisions.
4) Narcissistic Parents emotionally blackmail their children. A Narcissistic Parent often is indulgent, kind, and sweet if a child is behaving in the way their Narcissistic Parent wants. However, the moment a child is disobedient, a Narcissistic Parent becomes enraged and cruel. This show of “I love you, go away,” creates insecurity and dependency among children of Narcissistic Parents.
How Do Narcissistic Parents Control Their Children?
There are a few ways that a Narcissistic Parent controls his or her young children. These control mechanisms include:
1) Codependent Control:“I need you. I can’t live without you.” This prevents children of Narcissistic Parents from having any autonomy, from living their own lives.
2) Guilt-Driven Control:“I’ve given my life for you. I’ve sacrificed it all.” This method of control creates a feeling of obligation in children; that they “owe” their Narcissistic Parents and must behave in a certain way to make their parents happy.
3) Love Withdrawal Control: “You’re worthy of my love ONLY BECAUSE you behave the way I expect you to.” So long as their children are behaving properly, a Narcissistic Parent will be loving. That love disappears the moment a child doesn’t meet expectations.
4) Goal-Oriented Control:“We have to work together to achieve a goal.” These goals are generally the goals, dreams, and fantasies of a Narcissistic Parent. A Narcissistic Parent often lives vicariously through his or her children.
5) Explicit Control: “Obey me or I’ll punish you.” Children of Narcissistic Parents must do as they’re told or risk shame, guilt, anger, or even physical abuse.
6) Emotional Incest Control:“You’re my one true love, The One, the most important person to me.” An opposite-sex parent makes his or her child fulfill the unmet needs of the Narcissistic Parent.
How Do Narcissistic Parents Abuse Their Children?
Narcissistic Parents have many subtle – and some not-so-subtle- ways in which they abuse their children. These types of abuse include the following:
Compulsively lying to children
Ignores and/or overwhelms the children
Neglects needs of the child
Makes child feel as though he/she does not matter
Puts parental needs far above those of the children
Mold children to an “ideal” image
Promotes and fosters a dependent relationship between parent and child
Distorts the concept of “love”
Manipulation for pleasure
Says one thing one day, something else the next
Uses the child’s vulnerabilities to exploit the child
Subtly and not-subtly insults children
Ignores personal boundaries
Treats others as objects, not people
Makes child feel as though he or she is insane
Here are some guidelines for recovery for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents:
Begin working through the grieving process – allow yourself to grieve the parent you never had.
Acknowledge that you’ve never learned how to properly deal with feelings, and begin to start working through these feelings.
Work toward loving that little child inside you in the ways your Narcissistic Parent never did.
Stop hoping that your Narcissistic Parent will change.
Remind yourself every day that you need to take care of yourself – those needs for self-care are incredibly important.
Remember – you matter too.
You do not need to harm yourself or hate yourself. You’re a great person, worthy of love and devotion.
Stop being afraid of your Narcissistic Parent – you are an adult, you survived , and you need to reclaim your life as your own. Start by erasing that fear.
Get rid of that feeling of not fitting in or belonging. It was put there by your Narcissistic Parent and it’s got to go.
Find and connect with other Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
Find a therapist who specializes in treating Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
Remember you are in charge of your own life.
You are more than worthy. No matter what your Narcissistic Parent told you,
You do not need to feel guilty if you decide not to stay in touch with your Narcissistic Parent – it may be for your own good.
Remember that your needs are important. Don’t be afraid to make them known and ask for what you need.
Do I Stay In Contact With My Narcissistic Parent?
As an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent, you have two options:
1) Total Estrangement – no contact, nothing, with your Narcissistic Parent.
2) Measured Contact – contact, but limited interaction with Narcissistic Parent.
If you choose to keep measured contact with your Narcissistic Parent, be sure to follow some strict, clear guidelines with your parent. Growing up with a narcissistic parent is difficult but remember as an adult you can choose whether or not to have them in your life.
We get so busy sometimes that we forget to take care of ourselves. This happens to everyone but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to live your best life. Sometimes when we hear the word “self-care,” we think of going away for a weekend getaway or having an entire day of pampering with massages, facials, and beauty treatments. All these things are amazing but they are also very expensive. I’ve listed some simple and best of all free ways of pampering yourself and practicing good self care.
It’s important to remember that self-care also means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are five free ways you can practice self-care daily or at least a few days a week because you deserve to take time for yourself.
1. Meditation and yoga.
This doesn’t have to be long; even 10 or 15 minutes will help. This will bring you more calm and inner peace and it also helps you live in the moment and brings your mind, body, and spirit in harmony.
We all know there are the physical benefits, but other benefits of working out include improving your mood and reducing stress, promoting better sleep, and making you feel happier. You can work out at home or take a nice walk.
Reading is one of my favorite self-care practices. I enjoy reading fiction, inspirational memoirs and autobiographies/biographies. Reading often reduces stress and puts you in a better mood, and can improve your focus, and also can help to develop your creativity.
4. Spend some time in nature
Taking a walk in nature can often improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being. Walking outside can also helps you sleep better and gives you a break from technology.
5. Do something that makes you laugh and brings you joy.
In the middle of our busy day, it’s easy to forget to make time for things that make us happy. Think about what brings you joy, then make time to do at least one of those things daily.
Sometimes the best way to make daily self-care a habit is to schedule it. When you’re planning your day or week, write down the activity — or activities — you’ll do; writing them down will make you more likely to follow thru with them. Remember to always make time for you.