A2 mental health professionals offer support to others dealing with high mental health care demands
The need for mental health care in the Ann Arbor area and across the country continues to increase due to the many challenges in our world today.
WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Ann Arbor psychologist Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg about "The Resourced Therapist," a collaboration with Carryn Lund providing an online platform that helps therapists and other helping professionals feel more effective, supported, and nourished in their work especially during these challenging times.
Lisa Barry: The demand for mental health care is at an unprecedented high fueled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, politics, racial and social injustice, and many other challenges. This is Lisa Barry, and in the Ann Arbor area, there are a lot of different mental health professionals offering services to help people. But what some people may not realize is that they need help and support as well. So, my question is who's helping the helpers? Joining us to talk about that right now is Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg, an Ann Arbor psychologist and co-creator of The Resourced Therapist. Thanks for talking to us.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: My pleasure.
Lisa Barry: As a local mental health provider, let's start there. Have you experienced an increase in mental health challenges over the past year or so?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Absolutely. Families and individuals are struggling so much more. There's so much anxiety living in these uncertain times and uncharted territory. So, anxiety is up. Depression is up. People feel more isolated. You know, families have more demands on them, as it's been harder sometimes to have access to child care. And, you know, we know there's been increases in domestic violence and substance abuse. These are really challenging times, and people are feeling it.
Lisa Barry: According to the National Institute for Mental Health, those symptoms of basically doubled since the start of the pandemic, and you can back that up with what you're experiencing?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: I can. And, you know, therapists talk about among themselves, like their just phones are ringing off the hook. But there is often more demand than they can meet that people are calling for help, and people are finding it hard. You know, in psychiatric units, it's been really hard to find beds for kids. You know, there's sometimes in the ER for a number of days before they can find beds somewhere around the state and even on an outpatient level. There's been more need than therapists feel they can keep up with.
Lisa Barry: And I think one thing a lot of people may not realize is that psychotherapists themselves contend with many of the same threats and challenges. So what kind of support is looking for them?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Right, that's what we've also been hearing from therapists. You know, I was the co-creator of The Resourced Therapist along with Carryn Lund, and we both we have our own psychotherapy practices. And then, within those, we both see clients, and we do a lot of consultation to other therapists and training for them. And, you know, they are telling us that they are overwhelmed, you know, in the beginning of the pandemic, especially, it was, all of a sudden, all their clients were more anxious and more anxious about a lot of the things that they were anxious about themselves. And then it would be the same anxieties hour after hour. We're used to more practicing. You know, many of us have variety in our caseload. People come with different issues, and they're often different than our own issues. And so, therapists have been feeling while they were trying also to scramble to figure out how to offer online services to the people they were working with were in more distress, resonating with their own distress. And as they were trying, their own families were in more distress too.
Lisa Barry: Right. So, tell me more about The Resourced Therapist.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: The Resourced Therapist. You know, Carryn and I began as actually learning from each other. In 2014, Carryn took a class from me where I was with two other therapists teaching about how to bring emotional resonance into therapy. And I then learned that she was a yoga teacher, and I went to one of her yoga classes, which I found was my best therapy ever. So, we started out this friendship. There's there's almost 30 years difference in age between us, but we're both kind of old souls and very nourishing, nurturing people. And I came back from a conference a couple of years after that where I'd heard about the toll of vicarious trauma on therapists, how when they hear about trauma from other people, they themselves can develop symptoms of PTSD. And I came to Carryn's yoga class one night and I was like, "Carryn, we got to do something about this." One of the messages of that conference was that this is inevitable. It's not about you're not doing enough self-care or you had too much of your own trauma growing up. It said it's inevitable. You know, like firefighters are exposed to smoke, they're going to get smoke inhalation, and therapists exposed to human suffering are going to feel it. So, I said we got to do something and combine this kind of nourishment we enjoyed between ourselves to share with other therapists. So, we began first by offering live therapists self-care classes in Ann Arbor on a Friday afternoon. People would come, and we would offer a mix of gentle movement of some yoga and breathwork of guided meditation to bring people together to say, "You need nourishing too. You need a way to let go of the stress in your body. You need to feel a sense of community." And it grew from there. We developed meditations that we put on our website designed for therapists and healers specifically to use before their day starts in between sessions after their day is over to leave their day behind. And it just kept growing from there that our mission is to support therapists and allied healers as they're taking care of other people. You know, we realized it takes a village--therapists and other healers, you know, health care people, educators, clergy, people. They need other people taking care of them, and we believe people need to be resourced that we're both take a somatic approach to therapy. They need to be able to relieve stress from their bodies. They need inspiration and ideas and skills to nourish their minds. They need things to help with their spirit, to know that their work is recognized and it's meaningful and it's purposeful and they need community. We need to know there's other people there and kind of layers of people taking care of people, and that's what The Resource Therapist is all about.
Lisa Barry: For a minute, I got caught up there thinking, "Yes, we all need that." But that's really--".
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Yes.
Lisa Barry: This moment we're talking about therapists who help other people and how they need it as well.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: That's right. That's right. These are human needs.
Lisa Barry: Yes, human needs.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: But Carryn and I really feel that the helpers and the healers who are doing that for others need to be kind of replenishing their own cup as well. I know that they're not alone.
Lisa Barry: Because at the end of the day, we're all humans, right?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: We are all humans. That's right. Even those of us who are professional helpers during the day, we're still humans, and we need care.
Lisa Barry: When you train to be social worker or a therapist, are you not taught how to care for yourself in that process? Is that not part of what you're instructed on?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: It is what you're instructed on, and that's very helpful. And yet, Carryn and I feel that too much instruction on this is up to you to do your self-care.
Lisa Barry: Ah.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: There's a little bit of a a not fair message, or that if yes, we all need to do our own self-care, we need to take good care of ourselves to do this work. But I think we also need a community or a village to do it sometimes, and we need ways to be able to do it during our day, as well as this idea that, you know, we can go home at the end of the day and have time to, you know, go to the gym and do yoga and meditation. We don't want it to just be an individual responsibility. You know, we want healers to know they deserve to take in nurturance from other people, whether that's from The Resourced Therapist or their people they turn to for peer supervision or support or the organizations that they work for. We really want to give the message that, yes, self-care is a responsibility, but it's not yours alone.
Lisa Barry: The Resourced Therapist is based in Ann Arbor, but are you serving people all around the world as well?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: We are. At least North America. You know, we started out in a little studio on Main Street renting space there for our refresh classes--our therapist self-care classes--and the pandemic brought the unexpected gift of us moving online, which meant that we could reach people all over. We have almost now 2,000 people a week receiving our nourishing email of wisdom and loving kindness that we send out on Monday mornings to help therapists and healers start their week feeling supported. And people are on that mailing list and come to our workshops and classes from the West Coast, the East Coast, the Midwest, from Canada. It's really been wonderful, especially in some of those really isolated days and the pandemic to get online for a class and see therapists all over the country. I'm from Canada doing the same thing, coming together and really taking that time to take care of themselves and to receive nurturance. It's really helped us during these hard times to know that we can help people and that we can do something purposeful and meaningful to help and something creative. And I think it probably helps that we do do it as a team. I don't think either Carryn or I could do it alone, because we need each other to resource each other so we can resource other therapists
Lisa Barry: 2,000 a week. That seems like a lot of need.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Yes, and we know there's more need out there, but we're really grateful to be able to reach that community of that size.
Lisa Barry: Do you see this continuing to evolve and grow and change?
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Absolutely. Absolutely. We have been growing and changing all the time as part of the creativity that we both love and the synergy between us. We recently rebranded. We were for most of our time called Therapist Refresh and just recently changed our name to The Resourced Therapist to capture all these different levels on which we want to resource therapists and other healers. We are proud that we've been able to respond to the contemporary needs, so a lot of our weekly emails would be about what was going on, you know, in response to Black Lives Matter kind of stuff and response to therapists trying to decide, "Should we go back to the office and see people in person? Do we stay online? How do we when we are online, how do we figure out how to support our bodies as we're on Zoom all day?" We've really tried to stay quite contemporary because we're sending out something new each week. So, in that way, it keeps going to as we learn about more needs, we are trying to meet them.
Lisa Barry: Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg, an Ann Arbor psychologist. Thank you for all you do along those lines and co-creator of The Resourced Therapist. I'm sure your input is very welcome and appreciated, and we'll add a link to that website with this interview on our website, WEMU dot org. But thanks for talking to us.
Dr. Sharon Gold-Steinberg: Thank you so much, Lisa. I appreciate it.
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