4 therapy on the fly…

Cheap Treats: Caring for the recession of our minds January 3, 2010


Are you analyzing me? Is the first thing people say when they find out I am a Psychotherapist. Its crazy. We could be having a conversation about politics, high fashion, the last episode of True Blood or house hunters on HGTV and somehow it comes up that I am a psychotherapist and boom! This is what they ask me. I’m talented but not enough to be discussing these topics and secretly analyzing you at the same time. To all non-therapists, asking a therapist if they are analyzing you is the quickest way to get a therapist to analyze you.

If you are interested in therapy I am your girl. I am funny, skilled, easily approachable and strong. Sounds a little like a personal add doesn’t it? But shouldn’t it? It is probably one of the most personal services you will ever seek . This is a time during which people really need therapy. But it is of course a time during which they cannot afford it. So I have decided to write a series of articles that cover the therapeutic issues that come up in my practice that you might find helpful.

So today’s topic is cheap treats, how to treat your mind to the respite it needs for little to no money. Lets start with little money first. If you are interested in counseling/ psychotherapy, many psychotherapists in private practice, including myself, work on what is called a sliding fee scale. They slide their fee down according to income and need. Another option is to go to an agency such as The Mezzoni Center, The Women’s Therapy Center, The Council for relationships or any religious agency, such as Catholic Social Services, which offer non-secular counseling. The advantage to seeking counseling at an agency is that they are usually able to slide their fees much lower. The disadvantage is that they often have a long waiting list and you are assigned a therapist rather than being able to pick the person that you work with.

Many yoga studios such as Yoga Child, Wake Up Yoga and Studio 34 offer donation classes. The way this works is that you make a donation for the class, usually no lower than 5 or 10$. Classes usually cost between 15-18$.

So now for the free stuff. Here is a list of completely free actions you can take to calm your mind during these stressful times. I will give specific directions on how to utilize all of these suggestions but remember these tools are best used in a way that most benefits you.

  1. Journal for at least 5 minutes. The goal is to get the stuff out of your head and on to paper. Some guidelines: don’t pay attention to grammar or your handwriting, write on an as needed basis. Many people feel pressure to write for a long time or every day. Remember this is for you, you do this in a way that works for you.
  2. Do a round of Yogic breathing every day or as needed. You will gain the most benefit by doing 5-10 breaths in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. Breathing is the only element besides drugs that regulates your nervous system’s response to stress. The less you react to stress when it occurs, the less tired and overwhelmed you feel. The easiest breathing technique is one in which you do 5-10 breaths. Your inhale and exhale equal one full breath. Breath in and out of your nose. Count your inhale and then double whatever your count is on your exhale. If you count your inhale at 4 then your exhale should be 8. You may be forcing your breath at the end of your exhale but that is fine because you are trying to lengthen your breath because the shortness of your breath signals the nervous system that you are stressed.
  3. Take a break from Reality TV shows, the gossip rags. In small increments these pastimes offer great escape but sometimes spending to much time in other people’s reality makes it harder to find the peace or good in your own.
  4. Take a break from any kind of trauma media; CSI, Law and Order, horror flicks, the news. You can experience what is called vicarious trauma, which means secondary trauma. When this happens your mind absorbs the elements of a show or news that are traumatic and reacts as if it is happening to you. This can cause unnecessary stress or ultimately lead to burn out especially if you have have previously experienced trauma.
  5. Google calming exercises such as different sequences of Yoga, Chi Gong, Tai Chi. These practices offer the benefits of a moving meditation. They link your breath with each movement. Especially for people who experience a great deal of anxiety, or are very active the combination of meditation with physical exercise can make it easier to calm down.
  6. Spend 5 minutes upside down. This can calm your brain, relieve stress, alleviate mild depression and help with sleep disturbances(for more info search the anatomy of inversions). In Yogic speak the term is inversion. You don’t actually have to be upside down. The key is to have your feet over your head. Legs up the wall is the easiest inversion. Scoot your butt up to a wall, your upper body lying on the ground. Gently move your legs over your hips to rest flush with the wall. Arms can be down by your sides, over your head or wherever they feel comfortable. It is helpful to combine your breathing from #2.
  7. Read a great book, fantasy, romance, autobiography. A book that offers you hope, inspiration or gives you a break from your own reality.
  8. Start your day with a page or a line from that very hip boutique Zen book that was given to you on your birthday 5 yrs ago. Spend some time thinking about how it applies to your life. I use The Tao of Inner peace, a concise little book that breaks down the Tao Te Ching into small increments making it easier to apply to your own life. Stop staring at it and read it! Who has ever heard of Zen by osmosis.
  9. Get into nature and move. Take your canine friend or a human will do in a pinch and move, move, move. Get your blood flowing, release some endorphins. Especially when the sun is shining we can all benefit form sunlight.
  10. Let go of spending a lot of time with people who are difficult. Times are difficult enough. Get together with people who are easy to be around and who make you laugh. So cheesy is the line, “Laughter is the best medicine.”, but when was the last time you “belly laughed”. For me it was with my youngest niece. First she tried to pass me the “Pinto Grigiot”. Then we were with our friends who had just had a baby and she yelled out, “It is painful to have a baby!” We were all impressed with her level of empathy at such a young age. Then she followed up, in her Karen from Will&Grace voice, “No I mean it’s painful to my ears when they cry!” We cracked up.

Know that you are doing the best that you can and the rest is out of your control. Most of all try to be kind and gentle with yourself and the people around you. As times get tougher often our natural inclination is to be tougher on ourselves and the people around us. Instead commit to doing the opposite.

Psychobabble4u, signing off

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

(c) Cori Grachek,: January, 2009

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


New Years Resolutions: Getting them done January 1, 2010

Hi Everyone,

This is Cori from Psychobabble4u.  Today is about creating resolutions you can actually keep.   Make them doable by underestimating what you are capable of doing.  I know that is puzzling.  Here is an example.  I was out to dinner with a couple of friends the other night.  And my partner said “Ok everyone let’s go around the table so each of us can make a resolution for the new year…”   Everyone kind of groaned but we all agreed.  My friend Mary who is a ferocious dog walker, not towards the dogs but towards her own work ethic, groaned the most.  Mary never takes a day off.  So she piped in and said “perhaps I can take a day off, maybe Sundays’. We all exclaimed at the same time…me with beaucoup skepticism.  “Really!!??”  ” “Well not really..”,  she replied, “I don’t think I can , but maybe I will try.”  “Seriously Mary”,I said, “that does not seem very realistic, and it definitely doesn’t sound as if your going to take any time off.”  She shrugged and smiled.  “OK Mary”,  ” How about I get all therapeutic on you and make this actually doable. What if you take one Sunday off a month?”  “Ohhh.”, she said and  smiled, “I can do that.  Or maybe just one day off a month period.” “Ooooh…” everyone excalimed being  mucho impressed  by my therapeutic skills, considering  they never get to see me work,  all the confidentiality gets in the way.    Mary came up with a doable goal by underestimating what she was expecting herself to do.  In terms of Mary do I think that she will actually take off a day a month.  Probably not.  But will an option that is actually doable for her at least be in her mind.  Yes.

 You are doing this because you want to.  So here are some helpful hints.

1.  Make a few goals, 1 is great, 10 at the most, rather than so many that you can’t  remember all of them.

2. Make each goal very specific,  ie: which gym will you go to, how will you pay for it, how often will you go.  The more specific you are, the more you flesh out how you will attain this goal, the easier it will be to complete it.

3. Underestimate rather than overestimate. Ie: Rather than saying I am going to the gym 5 times a week and getting burnt out or not even starting because you are so intimidated by the goal itself. Say instead that you will go 2 times a week or even once a week.  This is a goal that is realistically achievable. 

4.  Pay attention to yourself, set your goal accordingly.  There will always be Expert information on whatever subject your goal has to do with: Ending  a bad relationship, losing weight.  Expert information is important but no one knows you better than you.  Talk to that ex of yours once a month if that is what you think will work for you rather than going “cold turkey”.  Go walking twice a week rather than the 3times that is purported by the experts.  You are the only expert on yourself.

5. Write your goals down  in  large handwriting and place it where them will be visible to you on a daily basis. Make it your screensaver on your phone, computer.

6. Fake it till you make it.  Be consciously positive about your goal.  Fight (really hard) the negative tapes and i-tune downloads of the past.  Words are important they change the way we feel about ourselves.  Think about how much the words, thank you, can affect you.  Every time you say, “Oh I don’t think I can do this say..”, instead say, “Yes I can!” 

And most of all in this new year, be gentle.  Be gentle with yourself about your resolutions and celebrate every teensy, tinsy victory.  When you sign up for the gym or decide not to take his call today or even think about taking a Sunday off a month, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.  Be gentle to this world that lovingly supports us.  Be gentle to the people you love and especially the ones that you don’t.  And then most importantly be gentle with yourself which makes all the other”gentles” possible.  We are living in hard times and being hard on ourselves does not make them easier.  I was reminded while watching the ball drop last night and listening to Kathy Griffin completely overpower and befuddle Anderson Cooper, how connected our world is.  Watching the celebration of the new year in Hong Kong, Germany, Russia, London, how close we are.  All of us happy all over the world cheering over the same thing, a new year, a new decade and a new time.

Happy New Year… now that’s a resolution worth keeping.

any questions about this blog please feel free to email me at:

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off…

(c) Cori Grachek,: January, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


PSYCHOBABBLE: Everything you ever wanted to know about therapy but were afraid to ask April 7, 2008

“ Are you analyzing me right now?’. “Ooh I better watch what I say!”. This is the reaction I often receive when I tell people I am a psychotherapist.  I reassure them that analyzing them on my time off is not something that I have any desire to do. I feel very privileged to work with the people who have chosen to work with me and blessed to be able to do work that I enjoy. But I am not about to do it for free with every person I meet. The quickest way to get a therapist to analyze you is to say those magic words. My first thought upon hearing them is “ Hmmmm…I wonder what that person is scared of…?”
I know that unless you have been in therapy yourself therapists can seem somewhat mystical and sometimes even maniacal. As if we can see through you. Which sometimes is true. But any good therapist does not offer feedback unless asked to do so, and perhaps not even then. Truly it is not a mystical process. Unless you consider the amazing strength of the human spirit and the will to live and heal, mystical. Which I do. Regardless of the number of times I see people come back from pain and horrible circumstances that they have sometimes begun this life with, I never fail to be floored by the process. In a literal sense there isn’t any Voo Doo, potions or actual head shrinking involved. The latter always brings to mind the image of cannibals. No ,just a lot of thought, theory, intuition, skill, knowledge, experience and a great big heart. Other therapists might disagree with the last ingredient. I believe, however, that you cannot truly help someone change by visiting with them their darkest of places, if you do not truly care about them. It is a unique type of love relationship. It is one-sided which is essential. That does not mean I do not learn from the people that I work with. I do. Every single session. It is a wonderful byproduct of the process. However, the focus of the process is you. For one hour out of every week on you and your growth. How often does that occur in your life?
Well you might say to yourself is that a reason to begin therapy? Just to spend an hour on myself? And I would say yes. If you have a willingness to work and something that you would like to work on then maybe therapy is the right path for you. People come in for all kinds of reasons: relationship issues, career/ life direction issues, family of origin, communication, shyness, anxiety, coming out, depression, writer’s/artist’s block, childhood sexual/physical/emotional abuse, etc. Only you can make the decision for yourself, because it is not a decision that you make once. It is a decision that you make over and over. And believe me, if you are not doing this for yourself, you will not make the decision to participate over and over again for someone else.
It is essential that you feel safe with your therapist. I do not use the word comfortable because therapy is often uncomfortable. You don’t go to feel comfortable, just to talk or even just to feel good. Essentially you are coming in to work on freeing yourself from whatever you feel holds you back. I have even heard other therapists say, “Oh, if a therapist is technically good the client doesn’t have to like them.” I think that is Bubbkus! How are you going to offer up your innermost feelings, the things that perhaps you have never told anyone else, examine and learn from them, if you don’t like the person you are working with. It is kind of like looking for an apartment or a house. Sometimes it is the first space you walk into sometimes it is the fifth, but either way the space feels good, inside of it you can see laughter and tears and a future. That is what you are looking for in a therapist. The same kind of feeling. That under their care and through working with them you can foresee a better future for yourself, even if it is just a glimpse.
Sometimes, you may have to see more than one therapist to find a match. I would suggest that you give yourself at least two sessions to see how you feel with them. The first session can be intense because is about the reasons you are seeking therapy. It can feel like a relief but it can also bring up a lot of feelings. This may be the first time you are talking about these issues. It can also feel awkward to be expressing these private thoughts and feelings to someone you do not even know. This can feel overwhelming. It may make you hesitant to return to this therapist. This could be the therapy working for you. I suggest returning for sat lest one more session to share your feelings with the therapist.
I think it is important for your therapist to have a sense of humor. It is a quality that can help you navigate the darkness. Humor can give perspective and a feeling that you are not alone, or crazy. Learning to find humor in the things that hurt you the most can make them feel all the more conquerable.

It is important that you feel respect for your therapist. There are places that they will need to push you that you will not want to go. Times when you disagree with them and will need to confront them as you are learning to confront people in your life outside of therapy. It is equally important for therapists to respect their clients. I certainly do not like or agree with everything that my clients do, but I always enjoy, genuinely care for and respect them. This is the context in which therapy works.

Which leads us to the question: What type of therapist is going to be a match for you? Old, young, a peer, same ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation. How much experience would you like your therapist to have? All of these details are important . And this is not the time to be PC. You really have to ask yourself these questions and hear the answer from your gut. Make this about you and your needs not about how it might look or about pleasing others. When I think about matches for people I know. I go with my first thought which usually matches with my gut. You could try that and see what happens.

To accept insurance or not to accept insurance. I personally do not accept insurance. I have had bad experiences in which the involvement of an insurance company has added substantial and unnecessary stress to the client’s experience during a time of healing. There are some really great people working for insurance companies. I just haven’t run across them often. My sense is that they pay out as little as possible. People are making therapeutic decisions based on monetary issues: How many sessions should a particular diagnosis take to improve…etc. Often the people making these therapeutic decisions do not have any mental health training. Now that is not true for all insurance companies. Many companies do employ staff psychotherapists. I know quality therapists who do choose to accept insurance directly, working “in Network” with various insurance companies. I choose instead to work with clients who have insurance by having them pay directly. I provide them with a bill to send into the insurance company for reimbursement. This way they are able to use their insurance that they pay so dearly for and not have the insurance become directly involved in the therapeutic process.

Feedback is fundamental for a successful therapeutic relationship. Of course your therapist is supposed to give you feedback. It is also really important for you to give your therapist feedback about them, the process, things you like and were helpful. That you didn’t like and but were still helpful. Things you just did not like period. Things you might like more of such as: homework, choices of what to work on in the session, time at the end of session to regroup before leaving the office, summary at the end of or beginning of each session, etc. Therapist does not know all. I choose to practice from the Feminist Paradigm which says that the therapist is the expert on therapy and the client is the expert on themselves. The therapeutic relationship is comprised of both pieces. Gone are the days of the couch, lying down, the man, adding the occasional “Hmm, hmm” staring down his beard at you. At least in my office.

So there you have it. This about as much as I can tell you about therapy without you being in it. In my opinion we have always had therapists of a sort. They were the shamans, spirit guides, matchmakers, chiefs, grandfathers, grandmothers, great aunts, the consigliore. All of these people were in the role of providing counsel to others. As people within these communities gained distance both emotional and physical from each other, many of these roles that were integral to those communities became obsolete or nonexistent. Hence the rise of The Therapist, a person’s counsel you can seek within your present community.

We live in a world where there is great pain and great beauty. In therapy you learn to accept the pain as a part of the process of change. Change which inevitably leads to opportunity and then to some sort of beauty. Feeling more comfortable with change because of your increasing knowledge of it’s process. Finding joy and success. Setting your own pace in an urgent culture that would like to set it for you. Finding out what makes you sing and smile. Discovering your needs, which can be met by you and which need to be met by others. How to trust. How to like and love yourself. But ultimately, I think the most common denominators of healing are acknowledgement, acceptance, kindness and action. First with yourself and then with others.

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: January, 2008

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy