Girl POWER!!!

What do you get when you have a room full of ten powerful, strong, vulnerable and willing Black and Latina women? YOU GET GIRL POWER! This past Monday I had the honor of facilitating group work with 10 dynamic women. As with any new group, there was little said in the beginning. As anxious eyes looked around, as an individual therapist to several of these women, I wanted to check in one on one. But…I couldn’t. Group work world is a whole other universe where you have to be mindful about how every single action and interaction effects everyone else in the room. It’s kind of like having more than one slightly jealous husband or overly involved mother in the same room at the same time. But despite that i have to say I LOVE IT! Because besides having to maintain this delicate balance there is the real work that must take place. This was the initial phase of getting to know each other, questioning and becoming comfortable. But just a few weeks, or in this groups case, minutes in- you have a different set up. People hearing each others voices, sharing, empathizing, connecting. This is where foundations are laid for the work that will get them, and me as their facilitator, to a whole new place of strength and understanding. I enjoy the journey!

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The 5 BIGGEST MISTAKES you can make when starting with a new therapist

Between family life, having children, working or finding a career, and balancing friendships, most people find themselves needing help with their problems at some point in life. I have had many encounters with clients eager to get to the root of their problems and progress very quickly. They come into my office with the expectation that at the end of the session, all of their answers will be there and the problem will be solved.  But it doesn’t usually work that way. There are a few other common issues that come up for a newbie client that you will want to avoid.

So here are the 5 BIGGEST MISTAKES you can make starting with a new therapist:

  1. Believing that within the first session or two you will be cured, corrected, or fixed. Reality is that it takes about 3 sessions for your therapist to fully get what’s going on with you. They may have a strong sense about the issues, they may have useful homework activities or other assignments for you to do between sessions, but most therapists would agree that it takes a few sessions to begin to really get what’s going on. And depending on the issue or you, it may take substantially longer. Remember that’s just for them to get it. After that comes creating the plan on tackling it with you and helping you utilize your plan. After all that you generally see results.
  2. Thinking that your therapist knows what you’re thinking without you saying anything. If you want the work to be done (your problem to be solved), then you have to express your thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the problem. Don’t assume that your new therapist, or even your old therapist, if you have been working together for some time, knows what you’re thinking and feeling. Sure there will be times your hesitant pause holds clear meaning to each of you. But that’s usually after working together for a while and that can also be misconstrued. That brings us to the next mistake to avoid.
  3. Not speaking up to collaborate and co-create your therapy plan. Why is this a bad thing and why shouldn’t you want your therapist to come up with a plan without your input? Because only you are you. Your individual plan will involve details about you, your life, beliefs, strengths and limits that are only yours. There isn’t a cookie cutter approach to therapy, even when using a specific therapeutic technique. The details matter and co-creating a plan with you that works for you is the best way to make sure the goals and steps fit you and are things you can and will actually do. That’s how we make progress.
  4. Comparing your progress to a friends or spouses. Don’t expect your results to mimic anyone elses results. It can take you longer to heal from something painful than it took your sister. You are different people and have had a lifetime of different experiences. This is okay. Comparing your results will most likely lead to frustration.
  5. Only expecting things to get easier. Sometimes when you start therapy, you are diving into something that you haven’t before. There may be feelings about it you haven’t uncovered or expressed. If they are difficult, you might struggle a bit before you begin to feel better.

If you’re currently looking for a therapist, contact me, Amira, at amiracrawfordtherapist.com or 347-687-7417.

Why the blog?

So those of you who have read my blog for  while are pretty familiar with who I am and why I blog. Feel free to skip this introduction,  it’s for newer readers who may not be so familiar. I started a private psychotherapy practice in the fall of 2011 and wanted to find a way to speak to current and potential clients. I found that many of my clients deal with similar struggles around issues relating to communication, parenthood,  intimate relationships, mood issues like depression and anxiety, issues of race and racism. I wanted to create a venue where I could discuss and normalize some of the issues impacting so many. I also blog for potential clients.  Those wanting to get a feel for who I am as their potential new therapist. I am open to blogging about topics multiple clients request specific information on. I have also found blogging to be a bit of a creative and expressive outlet for me.

Besides a blogger and a therapist, I am also a program director with a very large, well established non profit agency in NYC. I am a mother of two young men. My blogs are often colored by the perspective I have as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, and a wife. I was born and raised in the Bronx, NYC (not Riverdale 😉) my approach to blogging and life is also impacted by my ethnic and economic experience.

For more about my practice check my website at AmiraCrawfordTherapist.Com

The teen-aged years!

Many parents come to therapy seeking help for their teen-age children. Some are tearful, some angry, some incredibly worried and there are those that express all of the above. The teen-aged years (adolecence) is a period of transition; a time where youth are working to create a separate identity from their parent and family. A teens job is to explore, to take chances, and to figure out what and who they will become. It’s easy to write this in short and simple sentences, but what isn’t easy is the actual experience itself. I mean that for the teen, the parent and anyone attempting to help them work together better! Both as a mental health professional and as a mother I have experienced first hand how challenging it can really be to help someone navigate though this period. I get parents who come into my office and complain that their child isn’t listening the same way they used to, or is trying new things. These are often things the parent would never have done at their age. There are a few common concerns I have run into when working with parents and their adolescent children. I list them below along with some things to keep in mind while you’re trying to figure out a solution to their behavior.

1) My teen has started breaking curfew and coming home later.

They push limits to see how far you will let them stray, this is part of becoming independent and making up their own mind. Know your limits  and be very clear about them in this area, but try to be flexible when you can.

2) My teen does not want to spend time with me and the family doing the activities we used to enjoy together.

They want to develop an identity of  outside you and the family they are used to.

3) My teen wants to spend less time at home, and more time with his friends. It seems like his friends matter more than anyone else.

Developing a social identity is incredibly important to an adolescent. For your teen, this is a big part of becoming someone separate from you.

4) My teen reacts emotionally and often overreacts to things that seem trivial to me.

Your teen-aged child’s brain and body is full of hormones and consistently changing. He doesn’t feel the same mellow feelings that you do because of this. Things are often magnified because of these physical changes.

5) This is so frustrating and she is already 17 years old. When will it stop?

Generally speaking, somewhere between 18 and 25 years of age, your child’s hormones and adult brain development will be where it needs to be for them to behave more like you may want them to. No two people are exactly alike, so there is an age range here.

Amira R. Crawford is a licensed therapist and can be reached at amiracrawfordtherapist.com

What’s new?

14367334155631716466643Over the last few months I have been working pretty hard to expand my services. I accept multiple insurances at this point and now have two practice locations and am available multiple evenings during the week as well as weekends. I practice at locations in both Bedford-Stuyvesant,  Brooklyn, NY, and Ossining,  NY in Westchester County.  Both locations offer complete privacy. Also in creation is a monthly newsletter which will provide resources and information for clients as well as professional social workers and therapists. Stay tuned. And enjoy your summer!

Women’s Health Week Challenge

Did you know that May 10th – May 16th is National Women’s Health week? We all either know them or are them; women who take so much time and energy caring for others, whether its a spouse, child, or parent who needs the help, often its a sister, daughter or wife who provides it.Coinciding well with Mother’s Day, May 10th is the beginning of National Women’s Health week. I challenge all women to do something to take care of themselves, and I challenge all men, and others who don’t identify their gender traditionally, to support them.

So here is the challenge for the week, select at least one of the following to do:

1) Take time to prepare a healthy and balanced meal for yourself, don’t rush through it, enjoy it, and hold onto each moment that you are taking care of yourself by doing this, then do the same as you enjoy the meal.

2) Schedule that appointment you have been skipping out on, whether its a medical appt for your doctor or gynecologist, dental appt, or an appt to see a therapist or counselor.

3) Schedule that other appt you have missed out on for either a pedicure, a manicure, or to get your hair washed and done.

4) Buy yourself flowers and place them where you will be able to enjoy the site and scent, mine are by my bed so I can fall asleep and wake up to fresh flowers.

5) Get some exercise, if you have a regular workout schedule stick with it, if not, go for a long walk or a hike where you can enjoy nature.

6) Buy some seeds and plant them, tend to your seeds and watch them bloom and grow over the next several weeks.

Whatever you decide to do, get started by or before the week of May 10th. Good emotional and physical health depends on taking time to truly care for your emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs. Take stock and take the challenge!

Catching up

The last several months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for me. I haven’t put focus or effort into my blog. This past May, I married the guy who had the biggest crush on me in middle school (I only frame his introduction this way to tease him as he reads my blog 😉 ). I was the guest speaker at an undergraduate event hosted by the Social Work Department at Lehman College , where I was once an undergraduate. I had the honor of talking about my professional and personal accomplishments and struggles since finishing school. I aimed to give a realistic but also motivational speech and I am hopeful that it turned out that way. I covered a couple of classes for an NYU professor over her vacation time. I am excited about an upcoming event with Mary Pender Greene and Company where I will facilitate group and individual therapy with mothers impacted by loss this coming August. I am also planning to facilitate a group workshop and relaxation and visualization exercises with another group of parents through work with Mrs. Kat Harrison and The Tommy Foundation NYC Chapter. The Tommy Foundation NYC (https://www.facebook.com/TheTommyFoundationNycChapter/info)  works to help individuals and families impacted by autism. And I have fully re-committed to making the strongest and most positive professional impact I possibly can through my day to day work in the non profit world. All of that while continuing to navigate the brave new land of parenting an 18 year old and managing my private practice. It’s been an extremely busy spring and summer! On an even more positive note, I feel like I am coming down from all of these changes, and able to get back into the day to day work that I do with a renewed focus and sense of strength and optimism. I am looking forward to sharing more of my professional endeavors routinely through my blog. Happy Summer everyone!!!