Finding A Therapist Shouldn't Be Hard - Start Here:

  1. How to find a therapist: check out a few different websites designed to showcase the therapists in your area:

  2. What to look for in a therapist

    • State license and a minimum of a Master’s Degree

    • Specialization or training in your specific concern

    • Personality that makes you feel comfortable

  3. Contacting a therapist  

    • Send an email or call

    • Here are some great questions to ask during your first contact: 

      Have you worked with someone like me before?

      How would you start helping me with this issue?

      Do you take insurance or what are your fees?

      How often do you expect clients to see you and for how long?

      Is there anything I should know about your style of therapy?

      What times is your office open?

  4. Preparing for the first appointment

    • Ask the clinician if there is any paperwork to complete before the first session and how to find the office.

    • Confirm what payment is accepted or confirm your mental health benefits with your insurance company.

    • Arrive on time. No need to bring anything or make any plans for the session.

  5. Scheduling a second appointment

    • If you feel comfortable, go ahead and schedule that next appointment! How you feel with the therapist is the most important component of therapy.

Getting help doesn’t have to be scary. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Helping Children Cope with Natural Disasters

The Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura County and the Camp Fire in Northern California ravaged California this past week. There have been 59 victims across all fires so far, many people still unaccounted for, and over 280,000 acres have burned combined and still counting, Over 150,000 people were forced to evacuate from their homes in Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Simi Valley, Calabasas and more.

You can learn more about the impacts of natural disasters and strategies to help you cope with natural disasters on my other post, Recovering After A Natural Disaster.

Children require a little extra support during this time.

  1. Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Let them know they are not responsible for what has happened.

  2. Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let your children know it’s ok to share their own feelings.

  3. Include your children in plans for the future.

  4. Try to get back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. This provides a sense of security.

  5. If you don’t see an improvement in 4 weeks, or you’re concerned seek professional help (earlier if needed).

If you were affected by the fires in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are in need of extra support and a safe space to process the recent natural disasters, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Recovering from a Natural Disaster

The Woolsey Fire, The Hill Fire, and The Griffith Park Fire all hit Los Angeles and Ventura County at once. Over 150,000 people were forced to evacuate from their homes in Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Simi Valley, Calabasas and more.

Natural disasters like brushfires, floods, hurricanes and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Some people will be able to manage the stress but for others it may be difficult to cope. Most people eventually heal and recover and go on to rebuild their lives.

Impacts of Natural Disasters

  • Feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted or confused

  • Feeling sad, overwhelmed or angry

  • Shock, feeling ‘numb’

  • Uncertainty about the future

  • Feeling lonely, isolated or withdrawn

  • Feeling unwell – headaches, difficulty sleeping, eating, weight loss/gain

  • Resentment or blaming others

  • Increased substance use

  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Strategies to Help you Cope with a Natural Disaster

Recovery takes time. It is important to allow yourself time to process your circumstances and regain a sense of normalcy. There are things you can do to heal and rebuild.

  1. Recognize when it’s getting too much - watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when things become overwhelming. Allow yourself extra time to get things done.

  2. Talk - release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust or a therapist. This can help put things into perspective. It’s likely others in your community are experiencing similar feelings so this gives everyone an opportunity to release negative feelings and discuss practical ways to deal with the situation.

  3. Develop an action plan - decide who’s going to do what and when. Summarize your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate stress of any financial concerns. Having a plan will help you feel you are making progress.

  4. Take care of yourself - eat well, exercise and sleep. Try to get back to your normal routine when you feel ready. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing.

  5. Get help - lean on family and friends. Strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Explain your needs and tell them exactly how they can help. Make a list of places to go to for help e.g. financial assistance, emotional support, your GP a helpline Like Lifeline.

  6. Consider professional help - If you don’t feel some return to normal after four weeks, seek professional help (earlier if needed).

If you were affected by the fires in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are in need of extra support and a safe space to process the recent natural disasters, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Unpacking Emotional Baggage

When dealing with emotional baggage, you are constantly struggling under the weight of baggage, bad filters, and triggers. In any situation, nothing that is said is evaluated objectively. Everything is going through a filter that distorts the original message. It stops being about the content of the message, and instead becomes about our perceptions of the sender, and more importantly, about us. We have let ourselves get to the point where we're not really hearing anymore, we're just judging. If you've reached this point with someone, it's time to unpack your baggage.

Here are a few things that contribute to the problem and understanding them is important tp changing the situation:

  • Your brain processes most information using primitive filters looking only for the most basic information about threats that should be attended to.

  • Attention errors make it likely that you'll pay more attention and give weight to information that confirms your original point of view.

  • You don’t get to hear the intent of people’s messages; you only to get hear how their words come out and to feel how the message impacts you. The disconnect between intent and impact is at the heart of many strained relationships.

Start with a Positive Assumption

The next time you react to something someone else says, turn the situation on its head. Start with a positive assumption, rather than a negative one. Instead of assuming that a person is attacking you, start by assuming they are adding value.

  • Instead of having your normal reaction to what is said, really think about it. Repeat what they said in your head before responding. Think about the words, without reading between the lines or thinking about the back story. Hear the words coming out of someone else’s mouth—how do you interpret them now?

  • Pay attention to the positive, rather than the negative components of the message. Did the person start with a compliment and then share some constructive feedback? Focus on the compliment for a moment. Let it soak in.

  • Think about the possible positive intentions they might have had. How might the person have been trying to help? What were they trying to get at? What value are their comments adding?

If you start with a negative assumption, you waste all the value that others could be providing.  A positive assumption is the only thing that gives you a chance.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in understanding your emotional baggage and unpacking them, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Attachment Styles & The Effects on our Relationships

Many psychotherapists (including myself) believe that our adult personalities are unconsciously planted in our childhood experiences. And the way we relate to others, too, seems to be established in our very first relationships—typically with our parents. From the way our caregivers meet our emotional needs in early life, we develop social coping habits that collect into something called an “attachment style”—a pattern in the way we relate to others. A healthy attachment style might serve us well, fostering solid self-esteem and positive relationships, but an unstable one might hold us back from forming functional relationships.

Attachment theory isn’t talked about as often today. However, we all have something to learn from knowing our attachment style: The first step is knowing if you have an insecure attachment style, and, if so, what kind. The second—and this is the tough part—is changing it. Stepping into the unconscious mind isn’t intuitive or easy, but it’s not impossible—and it can reform the way you approach relationships going forward.

Here are a few examples:

You may have been single for some time and wonder why. Or you may be a serial dater who enters relationships falling hard in the first few months—only to cool down and lose interest. You may yearn for love but find yourself staying home binge-watching Game of Thrones. You may have found the perfect partner but get so in your head that it’s impossible to enjoy dinner with them. Perhaps you have been in a long-term relationship but feel unfulfilled, and no matter what they do, you can’t seem to trust your partner. If any of these scenarios apply to you, you may be mimicking feelings that were established when you were in diapers.

Do any of those sound familiar? Many of the fears, beliefs, and behavioral patterns you present as an adult are derived from how you felt in the first few years of life. Our thoughts and actions are shaped by the way you were attached to your primary caregivers.

Attachment theory is useful and relevant especially in identifying insecurities and detachments that affect our general well-being. There are three main types: anxious, avoidant, and secure. Of course, there’s a lot of individual variability, but most people tend to identify with one of these types.

Anxious

Anxiously attached people require a lot of attention. They never seem to be satisfied with the amount they are receiving and consistently want more, a need driven by the devastating fear that they are not good enough. They often compare themselves with others and strive for perfection.

It is almost impossible for an anxiously attached person to fully trust anyone, and so they make a mess of romance and friendships. They are often suspicious, scared of being betrayed, and predisposed to meddling in the affairs of others. If you don’t text them back within an hour or two, they tend to take it personally; they believe that something is wrong, feel annoyed, or worry they have offended you in some way.

People that are anxiously attached are waiting for the other shoe to drop. They may constantly be on the verge of breaking up with their partner or friends, but they don’t go through with it because they don’t want to be left alone. Does it remind you of anyone?

Avoidant

These people often seem indifferent and unaffected by even the most turbulent of relationships. They keep their emotions closed off and don’t engage too deeply in love.

It feels unsafe for avoidants to show who they are; they’re often dealing with self-doubt and uncertainty. They busy themselves with a wide array of useless tasks in order to place distance between themselves and others. They are often workaholics who have little time to socialize with friends, and they even have a tendency to neglect their spouses and children. Avoidants are masters of self-soothing, which often leads to reliance on unhealthy obsessive patterns around substances, exercise, and food.

People who are avoidant may yearn for a loving connection but find themselves running from scenarios where they are asked to commit—in the face of real intimacy, they become uncomfortable and tend to slip away when things get serious.

Avoidants are encased by an unconscious fear that they will be abandoned and rejected and therefore they do not allow themselves to get too close. Unfortunately, this can lead to loneliness, a sense of disconnection, and pessimism.

Secure

Those who are securely attached find the joy in friendships and intimate partners and are not afraid to let it all hang out. They have a balanced and healthy ego—for the most part—and believe in themselves and the vitality of companionship. They seek partners who are also healthy and have a low, well-balanced center of gravity, which allows them to take risks without the fear of failure.

When a securely attached person is paired with an anxious or avoidantly attached person, he/she can tell right away that something is amiss. This does not mean that relationships do not exist between these groups, but if they do, they are often short-lived and unfulfilled. Securely attached people sometimes have a blind spot that prevents them from understanding what people with insecure attachments are coping with. They are the fortunate ones who had parents who showed the correct amount of love for them. This is the primary difference: Avoidants and anxious types did not receive what they needed to feel fully safe.

What next?

We can’t go back and change the details of the first years of life, but there are a few things that can be done to heal these wounds. I encourage you to seek out the help of a therapist. Therapy can be immensely helpful in healing old wounds, shifting your perception of yourself and the people around you, and allowing you to feel safe.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!