I recently had the extreme pleasure of getting to speak with Dr. Lisa Herman, a licensed clinical psychologist whose company, Synergy eTherapy, helps bring therapy to people via convenient online sessions. We had a great conversation about the importance of therapy, who can benefit from therapy, and how getting help has never been easier due to amazing technological advances in therapeutic care. Check out our conversation below!
Dr. Ben Cohen: Good morning, Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to go over the importance of therapy and how you and the other therapists with Synergy are shaping the therapy playing field and helping your patients. Please, tell me a little bit about your background.
Dr. Lisa Herman: It’s so great to speak with you! A little bit about myself—I’m a licensed clinical psychologist with a license in both Minnesota and New York and have worked in several clinical settings, including day treatment, hospital clinics, substance abuse programs, and school programs. I’ve always loved working with teens and families by improving their family bonds and relationships.
BC: That’s great. So, how did you make the shift into eTherapy? It seems so different from the typical approach to a therapy session?
LH: Well, once I moved back to MN from NY, I realized that I could use the advances in technology to increase access to mental health care. A lot of people don’t see their psychologist or therapist solely because it is inconvenient or takes too much time out of their busy day to get away. I figured this would be a great way for someone to get the care they need in a comfortable and relaxed environment.
BC: It is amazing that you’re now able to reach such a vast number of patients and people in need while maintaining one of the most important features: convenience. Tell me a little about therapy and some of the best ways to find the right therapist.
LH: Psychotherapy, or mental health therapy, takes place when a client seeks out a professionally trained, licensed masters or doctorate clinician to help them work through difficulties in their emotional, relational, or physical world. Finding a trusted, empathic, skilled professional can be a process for some people. It’s important to find the best fit for your personality and comfort. A therapist will get to know what you are struggling with at that time and help you learn ways to understand your thoughts, feelings, and help you implement healthier behaviors. Not all therapists are trained in the same therapeutic techniques.
BC: I think that is such an important point you made—the process of finding the right therapist for you. Whenever I talk to someone about chiropractic care, I stress the importance of getting regular chiropractic adjustments. If I’m the right doctor for you, then great! But, if I’m not, that is completely fine as long as you keep shopping and find the one who is right for you. You mentioned that there are different types of therapeutic techniques—which techniques do you implement with your patients?
LH: I focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness skill building (which includes relaxation and mindful meditation) to help gain clarity, focus, and to calm our minds and bodies. We all have the tools inside of us to improve our life. Sometimes they are hidden and need an objective ‘teacher’ to help bring them out.
BC: That’s incredible, and goes hand-in-hand with our Mindfulness Block we’ve been focusing on this month with EXCEL90. Are there certain patients who benefit more from the techniques you use? Who is your ideal client?
LH: Therapy is important for anyone who feels their functioning is impaired by a problem, be it from anxiety, depression, or attention issues. Learning what is “outside of the norm” through an assessment and implementing an appropriate treatment plan can improve your quality of life. In terms of age, I work with anyone 6+ with my wisest client being in their 80’s! You are never too young or too old for therapy.
BC: Unfortunately, there seems to be a stigma associated with therapy and that you must be “broken” to seek therapy or psychological counseling. Is this accurate?
LH: Thankfully, the stigma is lifting with more and more celebrities and well-known folk coming out and speaking about their mental health problems, such as PTSD and depression. However, our mental health system was set up to highlight what is impaired in our emotional world or “broken”–so to speak. Think of it, the manual for diagnosing all mental and psychological conditions, the DSM-V (our bible for diagnoses), talks about impairment, deficiency, problems, etc. It really is set up to be negative in connotation. However, we are all on a continuum with our mental health daily! If we are tired, we may be crankier. If we didn’t grow up in an emotionally rich environment, our dynamic inside of relationships may be more distressed. What I stress and want my clients to know is that they are already amazing just as they are…AND there is always room to learn, grow and improve to make the quality of their mental well-being healthier.
BC: Do you think the use of the DSM-V is hurting how we treat our mental health?
LH: Since the DSM-V is based on diagnosing an issue or condition, it gives an instant impression that something must be wrong with the person. In the medical world, you might have diabetes or high cholesterol. In the mental world, you may have depression or ADHD—something impairing your functioning. But, what if you just want to work through something that is annoying but not impairing? It is still diagnosed as “adjustment.” The entire mental health system is set up so doctors can speak with one another about the problem and how to fix it. However, there is a problem in society with being labeled on medical records that causes issues as well.
BC: Speaking about diagnoses and labels, can someone who is “asymptomatic” still benefit from therapy?
LH: For someone who is not in distress or having significant impairment, therapy can be a wonderful place to learn more about YOU. A therapist can help you explore your childhood, parents, family life, relationship style and communication style. There is so much that a trained clinician can “see” that will help someone gain even more insight and improve their overall well-being. The more we know about ourselves, the more we can be mindful of our thoughts and behaviors. This will drive empathy not only towards others, but also towards ourselves. The world could use a little more empathy.
BC: This has been amazing, Lisa. Last, but not least, I’m sure people may be hesitant about seeking therapy due to finances. Are there affordable options as well so people can get the care they need?
LH: Aside from using insurance, which many have large deductibles and co-pays and the private pay option (many private pay companies should have a sliding scale available), there are not-for-profit clinics that are FREE in certain cities. Most college campuses have free counseling centers, and many large non-profit clinics should have financial aid.
Therapy and your mental health is an investment. You don’t need to continue therapy your entire life; many come in and out of therapy several times throughout their life as things come up and cause interference. Gaining an outside trained perspective can be helpful in getting “unstuck” and feeling a bit more in control. Family and friendship supports are amazing, but they may not be enough to help everyone all the time for every issue. Licensed therapists are trained to hear you differently and help you become your best self, whatever that looks like to you.
BC: That is so true! Therapy should always be used when the tools at hand just aren’t enough to solve the problem. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this important topic with me!
LH: It was my pleasure! Thank you so much for having me to discuss therapy and the importance of mindfulness with our audiences. This was great!
Remember, our mental health affects our physical health and can cause interference in our nervous system. It is important that we focus on correcting all issues in our lives that are causing nerve interference, both physically and mentally. This is why therapy and psychological counseling is an amazing way to take care of yourself along with your regular chiropractic care!
Want to get a hold of Dr. Lisa Herman? Check out her company, Synergy eTherapy, at www.SynergyEtherapy.com. Although she can only help patients residing in MN or NY, they will be able to help point you in the right direction, regardless of where you are!