Episode 2

Published on:

1st Nov 2022

Welcoming Lori Gottlieb for Q&A: When Therapy Feels "Meh," Is It Still Worth Going?

Today we enlist psychotherapist and NY Times best-selling author of "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" Lori Gottlieb to help answer a listener question: if you’ve finally found a therapist, but things feel pretty mediocre, should you still hang in there and keep trying? In a surprisingly moving conversation about people-pleasing, the courage to face awkwardness, and truly showing up through your fear, Lori and Dr. Andrea get real about the situation that-- in this age of every therapist seeming to be overbooked-- all too many people find themselves dealing with. 

For more information on Lori Gottlieb, check out her Instagram and Twitter.

Follow Baggage Check on Instagram @baggagecheckpodcast and send us your questions!



Cover art by Danielle Merity

Music by Jordan Cooper


Dr. Andrea Bonior: Therapists are overbooked, availability is hard to find. Insurance never seems to COVID enough. If you find a therapy situation that feels okay but not quite great, is it better than nothing? Today we're having a conversation with Lori Godley, one of the most well known therapists in the US. And author of the beautiful New York Times bestseller maybe You Should Talk to Someone. And we'll try to answer the question that I received from an audience member that honestly can be uncomfortable for two therapists to talk about. When therapy is meh, is it truly better than no therapy at all? Welcome. I'm Dr. Andrea Bonjour, and this is Baggage Check, mental health talk and advice. With new episodes every Tuesday and Friday, Baggage Check is not a show about luggage or travel incidentally. Baggage Check is also not a show about antique earhorns.

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Lori Gottlieb a Psychotherapist and the New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, which has sold over a million copies. Holy cow. And is currently being adapted as a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she is cohost of the popular Deer Therapists podcast produced by Katie Couric, and she writes the Atlantic's weekly Deer Therapist advice column. She's a soughtafter expert in media such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN and NPR's Fresh Air. And her recent TED Talk was one of the most watched of the year. And now, Maybe You Should Talk To Someone has a brand new workbook, a toolkit for editing your story and changing your life. You can learn more about Lori at, uh, lorigottlieb.com or by following her on Instagram or Twitter. Lori has been a wonderful support to my book, Detox Your Thoughts. Her name actually appears on the COVID and in a sort of strange twist, she helped me kick off my virtual book tour at the very beginning of the pandemic, when my book tour went in a heartbeat, from being a bunch of inperson events to being a pixelated cornucopia of tech issues. But it was wonderful. She was there for the night that we launched the book tour, and I've just been grateful to her ever since. So let's listen to the question we'll be answering together. Now, this question was sent from a reader of my other work, but we wanted it to be read out loud by someone who was not me. So thank you to the listener who has read it out loud. If you ever want your voice to be featured reading a listener letter, it need not be your letter. Reach out to me on the Baggage Check podcast Instagram page and to send a question of your own in voice memo form so that it's your voice or as a letter or email. Check us out@baggagecheckpodcast.com. Okay, let's get to that letter.

Listener: I've been stuck for a while, just sort of in a life rut. I'm 25, don't love my job and had not the best upbringing, though nothing too serious or any abuse or anything. But my dad was and is kind of a jerk, and I think it's affected the way I view bosses and even some men I date. I have some habits that my roommates might call quirks, but to me I think are problematic. Like, I tend to eat a lot of junk when I'm stressed and I don't sleep well. I think I've struggled with anxiety all my life, really, but on the surface I get by. I function okay. I have parts of my life that are really good, like my friends and some hobbies. I love rock climbing and painting. I don't have the greatest health insurance. And I set out looking for a therapist a few months ago just to kind of get myself in order and figure things out. At this point in my life, I figured I could use some extra ways to battle my anxiety and stress and also to better understand the impact that my dad has had on my life. It took forever to find a therapist. No one had availability, no one seemed to take my insurance, and scheduling was a problem. I did eventually find one, and we've been meeting for about six weeks. I like her. She seems like a very nice person, but I'm not really feeling like we're doing much. She's supportive and all and definitely empathetic, but I feel like I'm sort of spinning my wheels. I know you might tell me to bring this up with her, and I'll be honest, that would just be so awkward that I probably wouldn't do it. But finding another therapist just doesn't seem realistic either. I mean, I just went through this I know the hurdles I was just dealing with a couple of months ago. It's not that suddenly there is some new supply of excellent therapists and really, I don't think that my therapist is bad. But I'm also not sure she's particularly sparking real change in me. It's all pretty meant and makes me want to quit. But then I start to think I shouldn't quit, that it's still useful to see someone. But I guess it all boils down to is mediocre therapy better than nothing? Should I stick with it or should I give up a therapy that's meant really better than no therapy at all?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: So I'm m thrilled to talk with Lori Gottlieb about this issue because I think so many people struggle with this very question of I can't get ideal therapy right now. Maybe it's availability. I can't find somebody who will take my insurance. And I think it really begs the question of what makes good therapy and how do you know when it's sufficient? And is there a point at which taking a pause on therapy in the hopes of finding something better is actually the wiser choice? So welcome, Lori. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Lori Gottlieb: Oh, thanks so much, Andrea. It's great to be here and be able to kind of think about this question together.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Thank you. Thank you. So I know, first and foremost, the truth is everyone is struggling to find somebody. Everybody is really seeming to have a hard time. Availability is so low. I think it's really hard in particular for folks looking for child psychologists and child therapists. But I also hear it all the time with adults that just they're on a waiting list. To get on a waiting list. Are you saying that too?

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. I mean, there are so many issues with access to therapy, and part of it has to do with, um, just availability. Like you said, I think during the pandemic, people who maybe didn't think about going to therapy before suddenly realize, hey, maybe this would be useful. And because everything was on Zoom, you didn't have to find someone who was local to you. And so lots of therapists, uh, it seems like there would be so much more availability. But in fact, because of the demand, many, um, therapists very quickly did not have any slots available. And so there's that as a barrier to entry. But there's also the issues of who's on your insurance panel and how much does it cost, and can I afford this? Because it's a weekly generally, it's a weekly endeavor. Um, and so all of those factors play into it. Now at least we don't have to think, can I leave work and drive to this place? Because you can do Zoom therapy.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yeah, that does make a huge difference, I think, in terms of, hey, I don't have to commute anymore, and maybe I could squeeze in a, uh, therapy session on my lunch hour. But unfortunately, it also still leaves this idea of cost and commitment, and does my insurance cover this? And I think part of the problem is, too, people don't know necessarily what they're truly looking for. Do you find that? I mean, I work with people all the time who are like, I didn't even know if I needed a psychiatrist or a therapist or what's the difference between somebody who does CBT versus somebody who does other kinds of therapy? And I think in our culture, we really don't endow people with the information that they need to be empowered consumers.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. And I think the other thing is a lot of people just don't know what therapy is because there are so many misconceptions. A lot of people think you go to therapy and you talk about your childhood every week, and you never leave, which is not at all what good therapy is. Therapy is a very active, dynamic process. We're very focused on your present circumstances. And sure, how the past may inform them, but with an eye toward the future, the present and the future. Um, and I think another misconception about therapy is that you're going to come in, you're going to download the problem of the week. You're going to leave, you're going to come back, you're going to download the next problem of the week, He said this, She said this. My mother said this. My boss said this. My partner said this. My friend said this. Right? Ah. And that's not what it is either. We always like to say that insight is the Booby Prize of therapy, meaning you can have all the insight in the world, but if you don't make changes out in the world, the insight is useless. So, in my view, a lot of therapy takes place outside the therapy room Between sessions, like, oh, I got into that fight with my partner again. Okay, great. You understand why it happened, but did you do something different?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes. That's such a great point, and I love that in your book, to the idea of insight being the Booby Prize of Therapy because it's not enough. It's insufficient. I work with people all the time who have known their challenge for five years, uh, and it hasn't been able to be translated into actual change. And I think sometimes therapists can kind of, if they're not careful, enable this. You know, the client who's talkative, who tells the story about their week, who feels better, untangling some stuff and then leaves, like you said, sort of week to week. But I think we all need to be mindful of the fact that even though that feels comforting and that feels like you're leaving each session feeling better than you were before, that can also turn into spinning your wheels sometimes where, like you said, you're sort of going in, here's what happened, let's untangle it. Okay, next time. You know, I think it's really important to think about the larger path, the larger goal, the deeper insights that are coming from stringing all those anecdotes together and saying, here's how things are going to be different. Here's how our insight is actually going to make us handle the situation differently next time, rather than just developing these mini insights each time that we're just going to repeat week after week.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. Our role isn't actually there to comfort people. Our role is to help people to see something about themselves and the way they move through the world that's keeping them stuck or not working for them. Or not serving them. And then how do you make those changes out in the world? It's like, if you just want to be comforted, call your friend and, um. They’ll give you we talk about a lot, this idea. I talk about it, and maybe you should talk to someone, and I talk about it on your therapist podcast a lot. This idea of the difference between idiot compassion and wise compassion and idiot compassion is what our friends do. You know, we call up and we say, listen to what happened. Your friend will comfort you. Yeah, they're right, you're wrong. You know, here you go, girl. And what you get in therapy is, you get wise, compassion, where we hold up a mirror to you and help you to see something about yourself that maybe you haven't been willing or able to see.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes.

Lori Gottlieb: And once you see that, to understand the impact that it's having in your interactions out in the world, not just why is this happening, but what is happening in these interactions, and what can you do differently? And then what happens in your life when you do things differently?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Exactly. And sometimes that's inherently uncomfortable. And I think that's why this whole, uh, you know, OOH, I feel comfortable in therapy is sometimes a real red herring. We want to feel comfortable and safe. We want to feel like the person can bear witness and that we trust them, that the therapist really has that ability to make us feel heard and understood. But we don't want to feel so comfortable where we're not being challenged, where we're not being pressed on how to really make changes. Because I think comfort is something that all too often can keep bad patterns going over and over again. It's inertia. Right. It's that self perpetuating cycle, because it's a lot easier to stay comfortable than it is to make changes that might be uncomfortable.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. I always say that a first therapy session is a consultation. And a lot of people don't understand that. They think, okay, I'm going to go to therapy. I found this therapist who meets whatever criteria on my insurance plan, location, something about their website that I liked. Whatever it is, and the outcome they think is either, okay, I'm going to be in therapy with this person, or if I don't like it, then I'm just going to leave, and I'm not going to go to therapy. And really, you have to find the right fit. So study after study shows that the most important factor in the quote unquote success of your therapy is your relationship with your therapist. It matters more than their theoretical orientation, the modality they use, the number of years of experience they have. All of that matters. Don't get me wrong. Those things matter. But that one factor matters more than the others. What is your relationship with your therapist? And so this idea that when you go in for a first session, I always say to people, after you leave that session, ask yourself two questions. One, did I feel basically understood by this person? As much as someone can understand you in a first meeting? But the second question is, did this person say something that made me think about something in my life differently than I had before I walked in? And we're not going to challenge people too much in a first session because we're just getting to know them. We want them to feel safe. We want to understand more about them. But it might be something small like, oh, and what happened when you did that, right. Or what would happen if you did that instead? Have you ever said no? Right. Just something that made you say, like, oh, you know, people are like, wait, I can do that. So this idea of, um, did they just ask something or say something? Would be probably, you know, very small. In that first session, that made me think about something that I'm still thinking about after I left the session. Mhm, that's really sticking with me. Oh, I want to go back because I want to be challenged in therapy. I want my therapist to challenge me, to help me to think about things in a way that I haven't been able to yet. Because obviously, whatever I'm doing now is not working in the way that I want it to.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Exactly. To really hold up that light, to illuminate some of the distortions, some of the cognitive patterns, or the behavioral habits that just haven't been working. And not only to hold up that light, but to show a path towards being able to change those. I think it's so important. And so we have this letter writer, and I know you and I both had the same reaction when I shared this with you, which is, this is really tough. This is not one of those questions where we say, oh, okay, here it goes. And you and I both have really long histories as advice columnist. And I think sometimes there are the questions that we know are not going to have easy answers, but we also know these really represent something that we see fairly often. So we've got someone. She's in her 20s. She seems like she's insightful into some bad habits that she's developed, and she sees them as bad. I'm not trying to put judgment on them myself, but she sees that they get into her way. She's had some patterns with her father in the past that may cause some residual issues with relationships, but she's had, like, a lot of people, as we talked about in the pandemic, she's had a really difficult time finding a therapist. And so she's in this new therapy relationship. It feels nice in a way, but, you know, she used the word meh, but does it really feel like enough? And I'm wondering, what were your first instincts reading this just right off the bat?

Lori Gottlieb: Well, the first thing that stood out for me in the letter was just how much she justifies and accommodates situations that don't work for her. So she said, oh, I had this tough childhood, but it wasn't abusive or anything. It's like, let's qualify that, let's downplay that minimize it. Um, my father, he was tough, but it's okay. There was just a lot of, here are the things that I see that are problematic, and that here's why it's not that bad, or here's how I kind of rationalize and justify it. And I think she's kind of doing the same thing with the therapy. Mhm, it's like this therapist is really nice. She's probably a good therapist, but I don't know, you know, as opposed to. And she predicted what we would say, rightly, so which was maybe bring that up in the therapy because it doesn't sound like she really brings things up when she feels like she's not getting her niece met.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes, and that was so much my first impression here is that she almost knows part of the answer of this is talking with the therapist. And it could be that the therapist isn't the best person for her to be seen. And we'll certainly get to that in a moment. But I also feel like by her kind of owning the fact that she knows this about herself, that she is unlikely to speak up even though she knows there could be a benefit in that. That's kind of the crux of what we're dealing with right here, is she willing to get out of her comfort zone and have the hard conversation. And we can almost get meta here in the sense that that's got to be part of the therapy experience for her. And that's probably going to apply to any therapy experience. Even if she finds some spectacular fit that feels better, in a way, she's going to need to bring up difficult things. She's going to need to bring herself to be challenged and to have the conversations that feel aversive, maybe because they're awkward, maybe because they make her feel guilty or she doesn't want to be upsetting, someone. She's got to be able to challenge that. So that was my first reaction too, is like, here's somebody who she probably in a way, doesn't want to have the difficulty of what if the therapist doesn't like me if I say this? What if I disappoint the therapist by not being a good enough happy client? That's problem number one, as I see it.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah, I think that when we look at her pattern from the letter and it's really I just want to say that it's a letter. So if we were talking to her, we'd have a lot more information. But even in that letter, you can tell that she's made several accommodations, which makes me think that her way of moving through the world is as a people pleaser. And I always say that when people are people pleasers, I want to ask them the question of, uh, who taught you that their needs were more important than yours when you were younger? And it sounds like she could probably answer that question. Yeah, that she did learn that that other people's needs are more important than mine. And so the way that I'm going to cope is I am going to kind of push mine down because that just makes things run more smoothly. But the thing is, she's not a child anymore. And I think that what happens to us is when we accommodate in that way, we grow up, and we forget that we're free now. We forget that we actually can do whatever we want in terms of sharing our feelings in a respectful way, in a reasonable way. And so when you talked about being meta before, I think that a lot of people maybe don't know this about therapy, but it's kind of like whatever you do in the therapy room with your therapist is something that you probably do out there. But the therapy room is the safest space in the world to experiment with making those changes, with doing something different, because maybe out there, it would be really scary to bring up to a friend or a partner or family member, hey, this is how I'm feeling. And knowing that they might not have the greatest reaction, your therapist not only is okay with it, your therapist encourages this, is wanting this. I remember I put something recently up on social media, like things your therapist wants you to say, right. Or wants you to do. Right. And it's like, we want you to tell us if, uh, you don't feel like you're getting your needs met in here. And so just the experience, even if this isn't the right therapist for her, like you were saying, just the experience of saying, I don't know, it sounded like she didn't have a lot of experience in therapy, so she might not know, what is it supposed to be like, or what does it feel like? And she's only had six sessions.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Exactly.

Lori Gottlieb: So she might not know. And so it might be that we're you to bring this up with a therapist to say, hey, I haven't done therapy before. I don't have a lot of experience with it. I don't feel like I'm really being challenged in here. I don't know whether that's me, whether this isn't the right fit for me. And I wanted to bring it up because it's here with me every time. And sometimes I feel like I don't. Even want to come to therapy or I want to quit. Well, as a therapist, you so want to hear that and have that conversation, because that's going to help this client. That's going to help this young woman. Um, even if, through the discussion, the two of you start to discover, hey, you know what? Maybe you should try someone else, and I'm still here for you, right?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yeah.

Lori Gottlieb: So maybe if you want maybe a great idea would be try going to someone else. Let's see what that's like for you if you decide, hey, you know what? I want to come back here. My door is open, and that's great, and we can pick up here, and we have so much to talk about because of this little experiment that's going on.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes, I love that. And in particular, I think that people assume that if they bring up something difficult or that might make it seem that it's not the right fit. That it's, okay, well, bye bye. And that's not the way that it has to be or whatever be a skilled therapist is waiting for this to happen and is there to pick up the pieces no matter what happens and can help with transitions. I have helped clients find new therapists because they moved or because now they've got something that I don't specialize in for all kinds of reasons. And it's not like our relationship ends the second that we know that maybe we're not working together as an end all be all relationship. And I think so many people and if she's listening, the writer, so many people assume that they're going to sort of push the therapist away or that they have somehow unclicked a box of being the client still. But I think it's absolutely right that if she were to maybe try to pursue seeing somebody else, the therapist could still help with that transition. But I hope if she's listening now, that she understands that the very act of speaking up, as you said, is so important. It's so much part of the process that has so much growth to offer in and of itself for her, especially with her potential people pleasing tendencies, that she can do that as part of treatment, even if it feels icky, or I should say, especially because it feels icky. But speaking of feeling icky, I think something for me as a therapist is coming up against this hard truth that sometimes availability seems so tough that my idea of finding a better fit and telling somebody, hey, that doesn't sound quite right. Go and find another fit. It's not happening for them. I think in this case, she spelled out, look, I know what's out there because I've just been out there trying to find and my insurance doesn't cover that much, and I try to do this. So I don't want to be overly optimistic that, oh, yeah, you just go and find the better fit. And the truth is, we don't talk about it a lot, but not all therapists are particularly skilled or experienced or particularly warm or particularly able to really meet a client where they are. And I think that's the sad truth. Therapy is a profession like anything else, and sometimes the pickens feel really, really slim right now when everybody is so overbooked. So if it turns out that she has this conversation, it still feels like it's not necessarily the right fit, but she's pushed herself to have this conversation, and that's great. And the therapist was receptive, and they had some growth from it, but she still feels like she needs somebody. Maybe it's going to be a little bit more active or maybe who has a little bit more experience in parentchild relationships or whatever it might be. Maybe somebody who has a little bit different of an approach. Is it worth trying to sort of get on, wait lists and trying to start from scratch and try to COVID all your bases again, even if she feels exhausted or can she take the tag, well, I'm getting something out of this therapy, so maybe I just stick with that for a while and maybe if I improve a bit for now, that's okay.

Lori Gottlieb: I think the way that she can get something out of this therapy is to really bring herself into the room. It sounds, um, like she can bring herself into a letter. And I wish that she could say to her therapist what she said to us in that letter, because a lot of people think that the therapist is really leading the therapy, but it's really the person coming to therapy who needs to bring their full selves into that room. And so we're here as a witness, as a guide, as someone who I like to say that therapy is like getting a really good second opinion on your life from someone who's not already in your life. And I think that we can only do that if we know what you're bringing to us. If she's going in there every week and just telling whatever story she's telling and the therapist is empathizing but not really moving it forward, the therapist maybe you're right, maybe doesn't have a lot of experience. Um, but also, to be fair to the therapist, maybe isn't getting enough information. You don't know what the person is holding back. And so you can try to hint at that again, they're still relatively new in this process together. That's part of it. I think. I just want to go back to that other comment too, about this idea of endings. Because I feel like the reason that people don't want to bring up something about the relationship with the therapist is because their experience has been that endings have not gone so well. Right. So in the world, like ending a friendship, ending a relationship, breakups in general, leaving a job, whatever it is, um, maybe they haven't really gone well. A lot of us don't have the experience of having a really positive ending to a situation that either we are leaving involuntarily or voluntarily. But either way, and this is an opportunity where she doesn't really know whether it's going to end. The point is, she's bringing it up. If she were in a relationship and she was saying, I'm thinking things aren't I'm not really sure about certain things in my relationship, but I don't want to bring them up to my partner. So should I just leave or should I or should I just stick it out? Well, neither. You should bring it up to your partner and say, hey, uh, this is how I'm feeling in the relationship and I want to talk with you about it. And maybe that will bring up really important stuff in the relationship and bring you closer and make the relationship something that you want it. To be. Or maybe it will show you more clearly that it's not the right relationship, but you'll have a positive ending because you were honest and forthright and you brought your truth right there to the relationship. And maybe it'll still be painful because endings can be painful.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Mhm.

Lori Gottlieb: But it will feel good, it will feel positive, it will help you grow and move forward. And that's our hope for this letter writer, that she can bring this up and say and even start with, I am so uncomfortable with what I want to say today. I don't even know if I can do it. I've written it down. I feel like I want to hand you this letter because I don't even think I could say it out loud. But I feel like it's the only way to move forward here. And I'm really scared that you're going to read the letter and then kick me out as a client. And I don't want that to happen because I feel like there might be something here that I can really grow from, but I just don't know yet. And I want to talk about it with you. And I'm terrified. Can you read this letter? And I'm really hoping that I won't get abandoned here because that's my biggest fear.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: It's such beautiful vulnerability to be able to do that, but it's so meaningful and it leads to such growth. And I've seen technology help with that. Ironically, I've seen clients who say, hey, I'm writing this in an email first so that I can't chicken out and decide not to say it. I haven't talked about this awful thing that's happened because it's been too hard. But if I write something a little bit about it beforehand, then I know that you're going to at least know it and I know you won't absolutely force me, but it's going to be on the radar and I'll feel a little bit more accountable and starting off the conversation. I think this is even good for non therapy conversations to be able to say, this is really hard for me to say, or I'm feeling so uncomfortable here, or I don't even know how to put this into words. I think so many times difficult conversations go well or at least go better because we own those feelings off the bat and we show our vulnerability. And again, vulnerability can be so meaningful. It doesn't have to be the enemy. But I think for a lot of us, it is the enemy. And I can imagine for this letter writer that whatever went on with her father growing up, at some point she had to not be vulnerable. Or if she was vulnerable, it was punished, or she felt like any kind of weakness was just going to hurt her or she didn't have a safe space to express her feelings. And so you can imagine all of those patterns. But there's so much hope for her to grow. There really is. I'm actually really, really hopeful for this person. And if you're out there listening, I hope you know that whatever path you end up taking from a therapy process, from a therapy viewpoint, your ownership of your feelings is going to be a key part of that. And your ability to harness your own voice and have it be heard is going to be an important, important aspect of that.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. And I also think that when she has this conversation with her therapist, again, if she wants to hand her the letter as a way to start the conversation, but really just leading with her fear. Sometimes we just don't talk about things with other people, even outside of the therapy room, because we can't even get past the fact that we have this fear, where we are ashamed of the fact that we have the fear. So we won't even get to the thing that we want to talk about, which is, you know, these are the needs that are not getting met. We don't even say, hey, I have so much fear around even just talking about this that can diffuse so much and that can create so much connection, because usually when you say that to someone, they will come toward you. They will say, hey, okay, I'm here.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Let's talk about this.

Lori Gottlieb: But they want to help you to feel more comfortable. That's just a normal human reaction so because I'm really scared to talk about this, we want to make them comfortable so that they can talk to us. Nobody wants a relationship where your partner, your child, your coworker in therapy, your client is afraid to talk to you about something.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yeah, I would say, especially a therapist, that's what we're there for is being able to bear witness to people's fear and being able to say, it is safe here, actually, to be afraid that we can be in the room with you, and we're neither going to run nor make you even more afraid. We're here to bear witness. We're here to have empathy, and we're here to listen and help you gain insight. So, yes, I feel like there are so many ways that this client really has a lot of exciting growth ahead of her, if she's willing. She already has so much insight into herself. That much is clear. She's just got to nudge herself a little bit.

Lori Gottlieb: Yeah. I like what she said about the whole reason that she feels like the therapy is kind of me is because she doesn't feel like she's growing. I feel like there's something else that should be happening here, so she wants to grow, which is great. She wants to do it. She knows what she has to do to grow. It's kind of just getting over that hump. And I hope that some of the ideas that we gave her about starting with the fear, owning the fear, um, if she has to hand the letter to her hand a letter to her, um, talk about, this is what I'm afraid is going to happen if I do hand the letter to you. All of those things just to kind of help her to get over that edge. There's always that edge that we look at with clients, which is there's that readiness, and then there's just a little bit ahead of where they are, and we want them to go not so much ahead of where they are, that it's just too much. It's overwhelming. They feel flooded, and they can't handle that. It's just a little bit. And I feel like she's right on that edge right now. She said everything in that letter that. She needed to say to indicate, like, you're right there. You just need someone to take your hand and walk across the threshold with you.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: That's gorgeous. That's so true. That's how I see it, too. And there's a part of me. From a more behavioral standpoint. Too. That thinks if she wants really specific accountability and actionable techniques about the sleep or the eating. To speak up about that too. And maybe that's part of what she's looking for in terms of growth. That, hey, I've had this relationship with junk food for ten years. And I want to start making daily. Small changes on it and being held accountable. And that's just another example of something that she can really articulate and speak up with. So, yeah, I hope that you're out there. I hope that you're able to have heard this letter read or heard your letter read. And Lori, it's been such a pleasure talking with you. I really love how we were able to collaborate on this one. It was just a true joy to be able to speak with you again. And I know that a lot of my listeners are fans of yours, too.

Lori Gottlieb: I think that when you say, I hope she's out there, I think everybody listening. Is this person in some way meaning we're all afraid to bring things up sometimes. We're all wondering, how do I talk about this? How do I think about this? M am I too much if I bring this up? Um, what if the other person isn't happy with what I have to say? We've all been in those situations. So I love talking about this with you. Um, I think that so many of the letters that both of us get are universal, and that's why I think it's so important to have these conversations.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes. And that's why it's such a privilege. So. Thank you again, Lori.

Lori Gottlieb: Oh, my pleasure.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Thank you for joining m me today. Once again, I'm Dr. Andrea Bonior, and this has been Baggage Check with new episodes every Tuesday and Friday. Submit your voice memos at baggagecheckpodcast.com, and if you have that quirky friend who likes podcasts about thought provoking issues, please let them know where to find us. Our original music is by Jordan Cooper. Cover art by Danielle Meredith and my studio security is provided by Buster the Dog. Until next time. Take good care.

Show artwork for Baggage Check: Mental Health Talk and Advice

About the Podcast

Baggage Check: Mental Health Talk and Advice
with Dr. Andrea Bonior
We've all got baggage. But what do we choose to do with it?
Every other Friday, licensed clinical psychologist, best-selling author and popular psychology professor Dr. Andrea Bonior takes your mental health questions, and makes you part of the conversation. Join her and other voices as they translate research into real life, and talk about relationships, emotions, health, psychological disorders, stress, finding meaning, work, and occasionally-- just occasionally-- the most obscure dance crazes of 1997.
All are welcome, and nothing is off limits. With science, compassion, and humor, she's here to help.

About your host

Profile picture for Andrea Bonior

Andrea Bonior

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, speaker, and the best-selling author of “Detox Your Thoughts." She was the longtime mental health advice columnist for The Washington Post, and appears regularly in national media, including CNN and NPR, with several popular courses on the LinkedIn Learning platform. Dr. Bonior’s blog for Psychology Today has been read more than 25 million times. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University, where she recently won the national Excellence in Teaching award, given by the American Psychological Association.