Today we’re talking with Stacey Younge, LCSW, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in depression, anxiety and trauma using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She is the owner of Sixth Street Wellness, a private practice based out of NYC. In addition she provides mental health services for Justice-Involved individuals through her non-profit work.
Listen in closely, Stacey is dropping gems y’all!
In this episode, we’ll talk about:
Why you are NOT weak or “broken” if you go to therapy
The dozens of therapy styles, and finding the one that’s best for you
The signs that tell us “maybe I need to see a therapist soon”
Common misconceptions like “therapy is only for white people”, and why they aren’t true
The qualities of a good therapist and how to know if you’ve found the right one (it can take a few tries)
& The two things you can do TODAY to improve your mental health
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Our podcast is released every week. In each episode, we cover tips and tricks for making lifelong sustainable healthy living changes to upgrade your diet and health. We also interview leading experts in the field of health and nutrition. We hope you enjoyed this episode, and we’ll catch you next time!
Speaker 1: The following podcast is a Dear Media Production.
Wendy Lopez: Hey, it’s Wendy.
Jessica Jones: And it’s Jess, and you’re listening to The Food Heaven podcast.
Wendy Lopez: Your online resource for delicious and nutritious living. Hey, hey everyone. What is going on? Welcome to another episode of The Food Heaven podcast. Today we are very lucky to have our friend Stacey Younge on with us. And she is a licensed clinical social worker. She specializes in depression, anxiety and trauma using cognitive behavioral therapy. She is the owner of Sixth Street Wellness, a private practice based out of New York City. In addition, she provides mental health services for justice involved individuals through her non-profit work.
Jessica Jones: I’m so excited to have Stacey on the podcast today because Stacey’s not just like a friend in my head or friend online she’s actually one of my closest friends IRL, in real life. We were college roommates our first year. That’s how we met and Stacey thought I hated her. I don’t know how you could ever think that.
Stacey Younge: We’ll get to that.
Jessica Jones: We’ll get to that story but then we are really good friends and yeah she happens to be a therapist, which I’m like, “How have we not had her on the podcast yet?” And she’s really kicking butt in the mental health field, especially working particularly with people of color with black women and she has a ton of workshops in New York to find out what type of therapy you need. Because I know at least for before I started working with therapists I didn’t know what CBT was or DBT or CTBI and who knows. Stacey’s here to talk about all of those things. So welcome to the podcast Stacey.
Stacey Younge: Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be on.
Wendy Lopez: We’re so excited to have you. Let’s kick things off by you telling us why you think Jess hated you.
Stacey Younge: That story. We’re moving into the dorms and they’re these little tiny little things so there’s not much space in them. But she basically comes in with her sister and drops off her stuff and immediately says, “Okay, bye,” and walks out. I was like, “Well, nice to meet you too.” I was like, “Oh great.” I think that you’re just so worried when you first moved in and you have so much anxiety about who your roommates going to be and what it’s going to be. That was our first and I was like, “Oh God, she hates me already.”
Jessica Jones: Oh my God.
Stacey Younge: That of course turned out to be very untrue. Because here we are a whole lot of years later.
Jessica Jones: I think fifteen, I don’t even want to say how many. I don’t even know. Anyway, but okay I didn’t-
Stacey Younge: A lot, a lot.
Jessica Jones: Here’s the deal. I was so nervous and I was clinging onto my family and I made them get a hotel because I was just so scared to go away to college that I was just being nervous. I was not being like stink or anything at all so I’m sorry. And the next day I think I stayed the night with my family in the hotel, and then the next day I came back. And then it was all good and then we had fun and I was like, “Okay I’m going to be okay.”
Stacey Younge: No and I think that’s funny as we say that now. It’s like I’m so glad we didn’t let our anxieties get the best of us.
Jessica Jones: Exactly.
Stacey Younge: Because that could’ve really gotten in the way of what has been an amazing friendship. But yes, no definitely once we got to know each other and figure it out, it was all figured out. Because yeah I forgot about that part because you were just like gone. And I was like, “Well I don’t know. She just didn’t come back.”
Jessica Jones: I was so nervous that’s all.
Wendy Lopez: Well we’ve all come a long way. I think that that’s a really great bridge to talk about your journey into becoming a therapist. Tell us about why you became interested in mental health and kind of like how you’ve gotten to where you are now.
Stacey Younge: I think in some sense I always wanted to be a therapist. While going through some files a few years ago, I came across an old live journal, which I actually didn’t know existed. Google yourself friends. And when I was reading back on some old posts before I deleted it from the internet, I talked about when I wrote this when I was about 16, 17 years old and I talked about wanting to be a therapist. I don’t think actually at that time I really knew what that was. I just knew it was someone who talked to people. Growing up people just tended to talk to me about their problems and stuff so I think I just had that in my head.
Stacey Younge: Also, too, my mom is a social worker and my aunt was a social worker as well. My aunt actually had a private practice in the Bay area in Berkeley, which is where Sixth Street gets its name from. She had it on Sixth Street in Berkeley. And so I started off by going to Grad school and I fell in love working with adolescent population and I thought, “Okay, this is where I want to be.” My first job out of Grad school was working with adolescents who were involved in the justice system. Kids who were on probation and their families doing substance abuse counseling and in home therapy. I did that for about six years and I just really fell in love with the work, I really fell in love with what I was doing. Fell in love with my families. I worked for a really great organization.
Stacey Younge: Had a lot of really positive supervisors who were able to provide a lot of training and I think really set up my foundation and help me discover the type of therapist I was going to be. I just felt really confident in the work. And like what happens with non-profits, the programs move on and it actually moved over into another program where we started working at a mental health clinic. I was part of a start up mental health clinic, which was a cool process. And then I worked there for three years providing individual therapy to families, to adults and to adolescents as well. I was able to continue that work.
Stacey Younge: And through that process I was really, really, really able to see like, “Wow, therapy really touches a lot of people. It really helps a lot of people especially in really tough situations.” And the work itself was just really tough and really started to wear on me. At this point I had been in the game about 10 years and so when I finally got to that point where I was like, “Okay, I need to shake things up and do things a bit differently,” and at the same time I had 10 weddings scheduled up in a 12 month period. So I was like, “Okay, I got to shift things up a little bit.” I really wanted to secure my finances and just also wanting to change the way my brain was working.
Stacey Younge: I started my private practice. And really reflecting and thinking upon the work that my mom did and that my aunt did, Sixth Street Wellness was born. And so I moved into the private practice arena, which has been really, really great. And I very much describe it as something that called me because also, I was doing private practice work and working at the clinic at the same time. I just kept getting requests from all these women looking for therapists of color, looking for black women therapists or they were very new to therapy and it was just the only space where they felt comfortable. And I felt bad because I kept having to say, “No, no, no, no, no,” but I thought, “What happens if I said yes?” And it turns out that if I said yes enough times it would become something that was sustainable and so I took the leap. And here we are now.
Jessica Jones: That’s amazing. We were just talking about people putting in the work to really learn your craft and really respecting that. I think you’re my only friend who hasn’t had a career change. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but I just really respect how you knew this was what you wanted to do, you put in the work to get where you are and now you are doing exactly what you’re called to do and you’re really successful at it and helping so many people. I think that’s awesome.
Jessica Jones: And I just wanted to kind of follow up with this idea. I feel like, I don’t know if it’s into the black community or what or just in general but the idea of going to therapy is such a negative thing or that you’re weak or that therapy can’t help with anything or that we don’t air our dirty laundry out there. Where does this come from? I know what I think the answer is but talk about therapy not being something that makes you a weaker person and yeah like that kind of thing.
Stacey Younge: And I’ll start that off by saying I think that people who go to therapy are actually very brave of in there is a sense of bravery it takes to be vulnerable with someone, especially a stranger. I’ll get back to that. But also too, I think historically one it’s just something that hasn’t been a part of just culturally part of what we do in the formal therapist mental health sense. We get therapy from the different ancestors and guidance from them. We get guidance from our church, in all of these sorts of spaces, which our grandmothers, our family members, our mothers, our family, that’s just where they sought that. Because that’s also too where they felt safe.
Stacey Younge: And so I think just thinking about everything that they grew up with and everything that was going on this idea that you just go and find someone to go tell all your problems to probably felt really foreign and really just like, “That doesn’t sound like a good thing.” You said, we don’t put our sheets in the business. We don’t put our sheets out there like that. And also to the whole strong black women complex like, “Handle this on your own, manage it yourself.” You don’t have time for all of that. All of that definitely plays into just historically just how just what our views are about therapy. And then also too I think we don’t want to think we need it. It’s like, “I can handle this by myself,” or, “I have all these other things that I do that really helps me get to therapy.”
Stacey Younge: It’s not something that we typically and historically wanted to invest in. Whether it’s our financial resources or whether it’s our time. It just hasn’t been something that was on the highest priority list. But I have to say that the more that we have been able to have more open conversations, that it’s like there’s some things that just really, really need a more mental health perspective as we’re being more honest about what depression looks like as we’re being more honest about what just trauma, especially trauma. We talk about generational trauma and just all those things that we carry with us and that we need other places besides our family members, besides our church, besides our friends to really process these things.
Stacey Younge: That it just needs a different type of space. If you’re really, really, really going to get at the bear root of what’s going on. And be able to process it in a healthy way. I think we’re finally having conversations about that. We’re finally opening up to spaces. Finally thinking like, “Okay, maybe this is a valuable way to spend my time and resources.” Like I said, that was one of my hesitancies with starting up a practice. I was like, “Well, who’s going to call? Who’s going to do this?” And just Vroom. A lot of people that give in this space and so I think it’s definitely picking up.
Wendy Lopez: I think it’s also there’s just so many different styles of therapy and it can make it very overwhelming where people just don’t know where to start. Jess was saying the CBT, the DBT, the MSG, the CBD, you know what I mean? It’s too much. It’s like, “Okay how do I even know?” Talk to us about the different styles of therapy and how do you know what the best fit is for you?
Stacey Younge: Therapy it is a really, really confusing and really different space to navigate especially if it’s something that you don’t really have guidance on. And so definitely have to acknowledge that and fortunately there are tools out now that are making it a bit easier. But if you’re starting out, one of the first things that you can do is that you just have to start gathering a list of names of people that you can just call. And normally therapists offer at least a 15 minute free consultation so that you can at least talk to them about what it is, there style and what it is that they do so that you can get a feel for who they are.
Stacey Younge: One, I suggest first you have to figure out are you going to use insurance? Are you able to pay out of pocket? And that’s going to be one of the biggest things to help you start your search because if you are in insurance it’s only worth spending your time speaking to people work with your insurance. And you can search on that on Psychology Today, Therapy for Black Girls, there’s all these resource directories. You normally have an insurance filter or you can call your insurance company directly. If you’re doing out-of-pocket then that will pretty much any therapist that’s out there. So, that’s one of the first things you want to decide.
Stacey Younge: And then it’s really just about looking for people and finding them and calling them up and asking them. It’s kind of hard to know the modalities until you get in it so it’s like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a really here and now sense of therapy where we just talk about how our thoughts affect our behaviors and our actions. And so that’s some things, that’s one way. If you identify that you have trauma, looking for a therapist that focuses on trauma. If you have anxiety, looking for a therapist who works with anxiety. Really just trying to think like, “Okay, these are some of the things that are going on,” and actually speaking to them and telling them your symptoms and then they can tell you, “Okay, yes this is something that I work with or this is something that I can help you navigate whether it’s a life change.”
Stacey Younge: Sometimes people just want to go to therapy because they’re just having a life change and they just want to talk it out with someone. Especially if people are thinking about switching careers or maybe going off to school or getting married or are just at a point in their life where they feel stuck and want to figure out some sort of movement. There are a lot of therapists that focuses on that want to make professional changes. So I really recommend starting off with speaking to them and talking about what it is that is bringing you and spiking your interest in therapy and just having a conversation with therapists. You can grab a glass of wine, you can grab a cup of tea or some coffee. Just pick a name and start making those phone calls.
Jessica Jones: I have a question that comes up a lot with therapists that has even come up with myself. If you do not connect with someone immediately, is that a sign that that’s not the therapist for you? Is that a sign that you don’t need therapy and therapy won’t work? How many sessions should you give someone before you decide they’re not a good fit and what makes someone a good fit or not a good fit?
Stacey Younge: I usually recommend the rule of three. Unless it’s something that feels very wrong, unless it’s something like if you leave a bad first date. You’re like, “Something felt real wrong about that.” Then okay, a red flags a red flag. But there they spent the whole time talking or there just seemed to be some kind of shady business going on or they just seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing. That’s very different. Maybe that’s just not a good fit. But if you meet someone and your first session doesn’t necessarily feel like, “Okay I walked out of this life changing situation,” give it three sessions to really feel like, “All right this feels like a good fit or not. This is something I can continue with.”
Stacey Younge: Some of the things you want to note is, “Do I feel like this person is listening to me? Do I feel that they can really hear and really process and be empathetic to what it is that I’m saying? Do I like their style? Do they talk too much? Do they not talk enough? Do I walk out of those sessions feeling okay?” I think of therapy a lot of like going to the gym and not the spa. So it’s not this thing that going to be done to you and you’re going to walk out with one session being like, “ahhh.” But it’s just a progressive piece of work. So it’s like when you leave the gym, you may not necessarily see a physical change or necessarily feel incredibly different but you can at least leave feeling like, “Okay, I did something today. I feel good about what it is that I did.”
Stacey Younge: And that’s what leaving therapy should feel like, like “Okay I did something today. I see the direction that we’re going in and I feel safe. I feel comfortable. I feel like this is truly a non-judgmental environment.” Being able to be open and honest with your therapist is really, really, really important. If you’re finding yourself hiding things back or you feel like you’re not able to say something, then you really want to reflect on that and figure out why. If there’s areas that you feel you can’t go then you aren’t going to get the best benefit out of the time that you have with them.
Wendy Lopez: And how long do you think that people should be in therapy for? Because I know just from my own personal experience, I’ve been to a bunch of therapists and I’ll start and then I’m like, “Okay, great I feel like I resolved my issues.” And then I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to stop going.” But then of course issues always come back and I’m like, “It probably would’ve been a good idea to stay.” But I don’t know. I’m sure it’s different for everyone. So how do you go about deciding that?
Stacey Younge: And again, it’s kind of one of those things where it really depends on the person and what it is they want to use it for. Some people are there for a very specific issue and for a very specific thing. And once they feel like that issue is resolved, that they’re okay. I recommend a minimum of 12 to 16 sessions so that’s three to four months of continuous weekly sessions. Especially if it’s your first time in therapy. If you get past the three sessions, you feel good, you feel comfortable, you feel safe, you feel like the sessions are being productive and that you’re getting somewhere then I would go the full 12, somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks without stopping.
Stacey Younge: Even after that you can decide. Just because you do want to see the arc and you do want to not just stop when things are going well. Because one of the things that I like to do especially when we see a lot of progress with clients is really process what’s making things go well? What’s in their life in this moment that’s supporting them going well? It’s not just that we talk about things when things are going wrong, but when things are also going right. Like let’s take some time to really reflect and what systems and what things are in place that are making you feel good and that are making you make these healthy choices that are really supporting whatever tools and tactics and coping mechanisms that you’ve put in place to be successful in this. Just sit with that for a minute.
Jessica Jones: I think it’s similar to nutrition in my private practice and only working with people for at least three months ideally at least six months. Because I think it’s easy to get in the groove and for it to be like, “Oh, it’s going so well. Okay I’m good.” But what I have found is that you want to allow time for when stuff happens that’s going to make you potentially feel like you fall off or it’s not going well or you have a challenge or whatever and so that you’re still in this space where you can process that and move forward. But if you just do something for three times or even like two months, it’s not enough time. I feel like it’s similar to therapy.
Stacey Younge: Exactly. And some people too they like the method of just being able to process what’s going on in their life.
Jessica Jones: Exactly.
Stacey Younge: I had this point I’ve had some clients for about two years and we always have goals. We always have this stated goal with what it is we’re working on so if one goal gets resolved and they’re like, “No I still want to process.” We figure out, “Okay, what are new goals so that we have something that we are working towards.” And sometimes they just like to process like, “Okay this thing happened. I just want to process, how it is I made those choices? What was my thinking behind it or I acted in a way that I’m not really satisfied with.”
Wendy Lopez: I think also just building that trust is important. Because yeah, it takes a lot, especially for people that have been through trauma it takes awhile for them to actually open up and trust the therapist. That sounds like a very reasonable timeframe to really just get comfortable in sharing really personal, delicate information.
Stacey Younge: That is and I think too, I think black people and I think that women of color, it is not our intuition to trust somebody off that. That is not just because the world hasn’t presented us with that, “Oh yeah, everything is safe for you to dive on into.” So we always kind of tip toe when we’re not necessarily a culture that just jumps in and is like, “All right. Let’s just go do this.” We want to know. We want to feel safe. We want to feel secure that what you’re saying is actually true. Like Wendy was saying it can take some time to really get to the point where you are willing to be your absolute most vulnerable.
Jessica Jones: I was going to say that I work with a lot of eating disorders with the therapist. Sometimes I’ll get a new patient and they will be coming in and be like, “Oh, I have this eating problem,” or whatever and the therapist… I’ll go to the therapist, I’ll notice that they’ve been meeting with them for three years and then I’ll be like, “Oh can you tell me if you have any insight or anything that’s helpful for me to know about their eating disorder?” And they’re like, “Oh, they literally just told me about it last week.”
Jessica Jones: And they’ve been working with them for three years so I think it’s real like the whole trust piece. And I’m not saying that they didn’t trust them, but there’s so much too. Because sometimes I’ll be working with a patient, like for me it’s very usually specific with their issues around nutrition but they may be working with a therapist on their sleep habits or their trauma or their anxiety. And sometimes it does relate but then sometimes there’s so much that that’s why I feel like you need that time.
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Jessica Jones: Now I want to talk about when do you know you need therapy because I’ll give this example. I used to work in this clinic and I was really close, still am with one of the therapists there. Sometimes she would get a little frustrated because the medical providers would have a patient who would start crying in the office and kind out freak out.
Jessica Jones: This used to be me too.
Wendy Lopez: This happened to me. I was in therapy and I was crying and the therapist was like, “I think we should consider medication.” I was like, “What the fuck.” Literally, you can’t handle emotion? It was a guy too so I automatically was just like, “Great, men automatically just like break down when they see a woman crying,” and it’s like, “Oh my God. You need like an emergency intervention.”
Jessica Jones: In this case the medical providers would always call the therapist like, “Oh my God. They’re depressed. They need therapy like now.” Even for me I would sometimes do that back then before I knew a little bit more and also was super comfortable. Now I’m very happy when people cry in session because it’s like obviously it’s helpful and therapeutic in some way or you’re getting to the core of something or making some kind of connection. It could be a great thing where you feel like you’ve purged emotion. How did you know the difference between when you’re having a bad day and you’re tearful versus you’re depressed and you need therapy?
Stacey Younge: And so that all goes for one what it is that you want and what you want to get out of therapy and what your therapy goals are. You don’t necessarily even have to be depressed or have experience a severe form of trauma to go to therapy. I recommend it for everyone at some point in their life just as a processing. Just to have someone because it’s really hard to see things from the inside. And so just to have some outside perspective and that can even be for a very short amount of time or through some kind of transition. But when we’re talking about like, “Okay when are you depressed versus just like oh I’m just having a bad couple days?”
Stacey Younge: Many times it’s the general rule that we as therapists and mental health providers follow is it impacting your life? Is it impacting your relationships? Is it impacting your work? Is it impacting your life at home? It’s more about what sort of impact is it making and also for most of the major diagnosis it’s about length of time. If you’re having a bad day and you’re tearful one or two days because there was an incident that happened and had cause for it, we’re not necessarily saying you’re depressed or even really overwhelmed and that you just finally let it out.
Stacey Younge: That doesn’t necessarily classify someone as depressed. But if this has been happening for two weeks or longer or if everyday you just cried and cried and cried and cried. If you just can’t quite figure out what’s wrong anymore or if you’re just feeling really hopeless. If you’re feeling really down and this has been going of for a couple weeks then it’s like okay this may be a time. Also, too one of the times is just a pattern of just reckless or really just not healthy behaviors. If you notice yourself just constantly feeling bad about the choices you made or you just don’t feel good about the choices you made or you just notice a pattern of just I’m not doing well in any of my relationships.
Stacey Younge: Not just romantic relationships but it could be friend relationships. It could be work relationships and you just notice that you’re having a hard time connecting with people. Then that might be just like, “Okay that’s a time where I just need to figure out what it is that’s going on.” Or if you just realized too that you just don’t feel like yourself. We call it the “depression mess”. If you go look in your apartment and everything’s just a mess, not organized. You haven’t done laundry in a month. Your place just doesn’t look like… It’s different from being a messy person but you just don’t find the motivation to really care for yourself in the way that maybe you have before. Then it’s like, “Okay that’s a sign that it might be depression.”
Stacey Younge: That’s more so than this is like a serious thing where you need it. But again the services for therapy also operate on a spectrum. Some people just want to come in and process what’s going on in their life and just check in. Just say I just want to check in with what’s going on and see how I’m doing.
Wendy Lopez: And I think that processing is so important. Just having that self reflection so that you can grow as a human being. And it just has so much value. Listening makes us smart and more connected people. It makes us better partners, parents and leaders. And there’s no better place to start listening than audible. Audible’s where so many inspiring voices and propelling stories open listeners up to new experiences and ways of thinking. Audible delivers best sellers, business, self-improvement, memoirs and more all professionally narrated by actors, authors and motivational speakers. And if you’re looking for a recommendation, I recently started Home Going which is a novel about race, history and ancestry love and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa across 300 years in Ghana and America.
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Jessica Jones: I want to talk about some of the misconceptions about therapy because I’m just thinking I remember my mom she like, I don’t know how she ended up in a therapist office but I think her doctor referred her. And she went one time. She was like, “I’m never going back again that’s for crazy people. That therapist needs to see a therapist.” Just culturally from where my family’s from it’s just like very taboo. So what are some of the common misconceptions that you’ve come across or that you’ve heard about therapy?
Stacey Younge: And I think even for self I just have too is not every therapist is the best therapist. So those 15 minute consultations and allow yourself those first three sessions to make sure it’s a good fit. Because again it’s something where you have a bad experience or it just doesn’t feel good or it doesn’t feel right, it can turn into a really negative experience. We’re talking about you’re most vulnerable places so definitely feel free and feel empowered to where if it’s not an experience that feels good like you said with medication. If off the bat, if you’re not seeing a psychiatrist whose job it is to give you medication, if you’re seeing an LCSW or mental health counselor and the first thing they say is medication then it’s like okay. And that’s not something that you specifically came for or there’s not some sort of major thing, that’s when you want to say, “Okay let me think about this.”
Wendy Lopez: I also think that you just have to give it some time. Because I think also just like culturally medication for mental health conditions is something that we’re very closed off to as black people. So I think as therapists that’s something to be mindful of and how you’re introducing that. Even if someone might need the medication, it’s all about how you present it. Because, if you do it in a very abrasive way who’s going to be open to that? It’s all about how you communicate things.
Stacey Younge: There’s all kinds of just misinformation about what medication is, about what it does. “Is it helpful? Is it not? Is it used to control me?” All these sorts of things when it can be really, really, really helpful especially when I describe it as when we’re just having a really hard time getting towards baseline, which is basically measured at our normal way of functioning. But when we’re having a really hard time hitting that baseline, medication can be so helpful. Depression often feels like this 50, 60 pound rock just on your chest. Getting up just feels really, really difficult.
Stacey Younge: And the thoughts in your head are just running wild and it’s really hard to manage or even get control of your thoughts. Which is part of the basis of using Cognitive therapy is to be able to really gain some sense of control and management. But that just feels so impossible and so hard, medication can be really, really helpful with that. It is about talking about how it’s introduced and how it’s used and not thinking that you’re taking it because you’re crazy or you’re taking it because you’re damaged or there’s just something wrong. But it’s just another part of the therapy tool to be used.
Jessica Jones: I was going to say I’m glad you mentioned that because while a lot of us are like, “No I don’t want to take medication,” a lot of us actually need it and it’s going to improve your quality of life. And like you said it’s going to make you function better so it’s like looking at the pros and the cons. The pros of taking it and the cons of not taking it. Sometimes you might learn that it could be helpful so it’s individualized and finding that provider who’s going to listen to you and go based on what you want but also eventually hope you get the trust in them so that they do have any recommendations, you’re able to at least think that over.
Wendy Lopez: We should do a podcast episode because de stigmatizing medication. I think even like in a medical study.
Jessica Jones: Yes. I love that.
Wendy Lopez: When it comes to chronic conditions, mental health that would be a great episode.
Jessica Jones: That would be amazing. Because it’s just like it’s… Don’t even get me started. On the wellness influencers and just having these conditions that are literally, “All you need to do is take a little antibiotics sis and you’ll be fine.” But it’s like, “No I’m going to go to these extremes and I’m going to… Yeah, anyway. That’s a great idea.
Stacey Younge: Yeah. Yeah. Because there’s so much information and there’s so much to be talked about with it. I think that could be really helpful. And as far as other misconceptions go about some of it is and it really does go back to, “Why would I share my business with someone? How is talking about it going to help me?” And it really does. Just being able to hear yourself say something out loud to someone who has no connection to your outside world can be so powerful. And it just is that you hear yourself or when you hear someone reflect back something that you’re saying, you may hear it in a way that you just didn’t hear it before. So many times people say, “Wow, as I say that out loud now I’m really thinking about this,” or, “Wow, now that I’m talking about I feel this.”
Stacey Younge: Because now you have a chance to pay attention to it. I love my friends dearly and but there’s something very different about saying it to someone in a very sound sense or just hearing their feedback in a way that doesn’t hit the same way in a way a friend says it or someone who’s not necessarily invested in my life. I obviously care about my clients but they need to move, they need to move. If they need to do something for them, then that’s what they need to do. Whereas, as a friend, where if I’m like, “I’m moving back to California.” It may be like, “No, we don’t want to lose you.” All these things that are attached, emotions that are attached in various other relationships. Just the power of talking. The power of processing and how much you really, really can change a perspective and change your thoughts and how you think and how you look at things.
Jessica Jones: You mention that not every therapist is the best therapist. I’m snapping to that. What makes someone a good therapist?
Stacey Younge: Someone who one, first and foremost you feel heard. That when you speak that they are really able to pay attention and process what it is that you are saying. And that they’re present and that they are there with you. Someone who is truly non-judgemental, which is how you are able to create the purest and safest space because you just again don’t want to get… People are people and we all have our thoughts and our own beliefs and our own experiences, which is also very important to have a therapist, that is really caring for themselves in their own way.
Stacey Younge: Because you’re still talking to another human but they should in no way be putting their stuff on you or their thoughts or their opinions about how some things should go. The goal is to be as neutral as humanly possible so that as you’re saying something to me, because I haven’t experienced every single thing. My clients are coming to speak about and that’s not necessary. I can’t have experienced everything every human being experiences. But we need to be able to process it. We need to be able to talk about it in a way that they feel okay and that they feel safe. And that they feel heard and understood and empathetic.
Wendy Lopez: And you mentioned caring for yourself so what does that look like for you. I’m curious to know as a therapist do you seek therapy? What wellness routine have you developed that really speaks to you feeling good about yourself and you looking out for yourself and making sure that you’re physically and mentally feeling great?
Stacey Younge: I had a co-worker who very, very early on in my career, was very much an advocate for every therapist needs to be in therapy. And again, not necessarily all the time. I don’t necessarily have needed a continuous 10 years of therapy but very much when you’re feeling like you’re having trouble processing or when you have other things going on in your life that you want to talk about. Then it’s really important for you to be a part of that. One, that you also engage in the process. But two, that you’re keeping your thoughts and your mental health in check. To make sure and check that you’re still in a good place to be able to process these things.
Stacey Younge: Because people process their trauma through me. People process their deepest vulnerabilities through me so it’s like I think of my head and my everything about me has to be good if that’s going to be successful and helpful. That’s really important. I am someone who I feel very relaxed in movement and my choice of movement is running. And so that’s something that I’m extremely and very active in. It’s also a huge part of my social life and just part of what I do and how I get my alone time to clear my thoughts in my head and to help myself feel really good.
Stacey Younge: And so that’s something that I make sure that I have time and space for. It’s also one of the things that really motivated me to be independent with. I feel like I wanted to have more control over my time and my space. Because that was something that just helped me feel confident and secure and like, “Okay. I can make choices in my life,” which is also really important for me to feel good and for me to feel well. Again, I work by myself a lot so I make sure that I connect with people in the best ways that I can. Because I think that that interaction is really important. Yes, so making time for my friends, making time for my community, making time and engaging things that make me feel really good.
Jessica Jones: I love it. For folks who want to just improve their mental health, what are two things that they can start with doing today or this week?
Stacey Younge: Really embracing deep breathing, I know it sounds super, super basic and people are like, “How is that… But just taking a moment to incorporate a deep breathing routine even like a five minute meditation, can be so incredibly helpful. One, in just creative positive in your day and just being able to recognize where you are, taking inventory of what’s happening. How you feel. “Is there something that I need right now?” There’s so many time where I’m like, “If I had water?” Sometimes when I’m feeling really thirsty it feels like anxiousness but it’s actually like I’m thirsty. I’m like, “Oh go get some water. You haven’t had any today.” And so just having those moments where I just stop and pause and take inventory and I do that new deep breathing just to really check in with myself just to see how I’m doing is really, really crucial.
Stacey Younge: And also the second thing, incorporating journaling I really specifically write into journaling into my day and into my moment. Especially when you’re not feeling great. Because what that does is it really just challenges the negative thoughts that are happening in your head and really turning the focus onto the more positive or the more helpful thoughts for what’s going on and just really trying to find it. Because sometimes finding something to be grateful for can be really, really, really hard especially if you’re just not in a good space. But if you can say, “If it’s warm weather outside and I’m going to be grateful for that in this moment or I’m looking forward to this meal that I’m going to go eat after work, again that’s something that I’m grateful for. The train was on time today.”
Stacey Younge: Because that really just helps shift your mind from focusing on the things that aren’t going well to, “Okay, I can focus on this other space and it just creates a different type of mindset.” Those are things you can do right now. And there’s tons of apps to really help with that process if something guided is better in developing a system of affirmations and guidance to do that.
Wendy Lopez: I love how you said the deep breathing because you don’t need anything but yourself to do that and it can literally just be five seconds where you pause and you take a deep breath and I’ve done that so many times and I just feel so much better when you just bring that mindfulness to your body, it really does wonders. Really appreciate you saying that. Where can people find out more about all the amazing work that you’re doing? Because I’m sure there’s a lot of listeners that want a great therapist to work with. It’s so hard. Let’s just talk about how hard it is to find a good therapist. It’s like, “Oh my God.”
Stacey Younge: It is tough. It is a tough process but that’s also because it’s such a personal journey. Like I said, it is worth just taking a list of people, setting up those 15 minute phone conversations and having the consultations until you find someone that you feel good about. It may take some time but and again you’ll run into wait list and people that are full but if they offer a wait list and you really like them, it’s totally worth getting on it. Because especially if you’re looking for something with a specialty or a person of color there just might be a wait list but it will open eventually but if you’re not on it, you can’t get on it, you can’t get in.
Jessica Jones: Do you have a wait list?
Stacey Younge: Yes.
Wendy Lopez: Tell us how people can get on there. Tell us your website, how people can learn more about you.
Stacey Younge: My website is SixthStreetWellness, that’s Sixth, S-I-X-T-H, streetwellness. And you can go on there and there’s just so much more information about what I do. I have a team of other clinicians that work with me as well. If I don’t have space, I have other clinicians as well. But also only if you’re in New York. You do have to work with a therapist that is within your licensed state. That it is even with Telehelp and all that. You do have to work with someone who is in your state.
Wendy Lopez: I love your website by the way. I’m on it right now. It looks so good.
Jessica Jones: Our person did it. Sam did it.
Wendy Lopez: Nice.
Stacey Younge: I was definitely like, “Oh Jess you have to give me your person.”
Wendy Lopez: This looks really good.
Jessica Jones: It’s great.
Wendy Lopez: I love it.
Stacey Younge: Thanks guys. Go on there and find out more information. If you’re looking for information on therapists in general, I recommend Therapy for Black Girls you can also find me there. Zen Care is a great place to look, Psychology Today. And also check too, check your job. They have employee assistance programs. Often times they offer free therapy sessions or referrals through there using your insurance so that’s also a great way. If you want to use your insurance to find therapists that you’re connected with as well.
Jessica Jones: Stacey this has been so amazing.
Wendy Lopez: This was great.
Jessica Jones: I learned a ton and I’ve never heard of Therapy for Black Girls, Zen Cast, any of those sites so-
Wendy Lopez: Isn’t that a podcast Stacey? Therapy for Black Girls?
Stacey Younge: Yes a podcast too. Really great. Dr. Joy, she’s awesome. Lot’s of really great conversations and topics that they discuss. There’s a whole bunch of episodes. Definitely worth taking a listen.
Jessica Jones: Nice. Well thank you so much for taking the time out to share all this wonderful information with our guests. I know that your wait list is going to get a little bit longer and we really appreciate it. Thank you so much Stacey. Have a great rest of your day.
Stacey Younge: No problem. Thanks guys.
Jessica Jones: Bye.
Wendy Lopez: Bye. Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode of The Food Heaven podcast. We learned so much and we hope you did too. Make sure you leave us a review. Leave us some stars. Give us a thumbs up. Listen up to this listener review by Meeka Mama. “Listening to your podcast helps me to really get into the self love I truly deserve. I’ve learned about intuitive eating, listening to my body and advocating for my health in a world filled with misinformation. Keep up the great work because you ladies are an inspiration to many. Speaking it into existence. I plan to meet you guys one day.” Apparently we have mutual friends. I wonder who those are.
Jessica Jones: I know. Send us a DM girl.
Wendy Lopez: Blessings on blessings on blessings.
Jessica Jones: Thank you for that wonderful review and if you like our podcast give your own review and subscribe so you never miss an episode. We release episodes every Wednesday and if you’re feeling social, you can also connect with us online. We are @foodheaven on Instagram where we’re most active. Also, make sure to subscribe to our podcast. It’s released every Wednesday. In each episode we cover tips and tricks for how to make life long changes that help you live a healthier, more balanced life.
Jessica Jones: We also interview leading experts in the field of health and nutrition to pick their brains on how to cultivate a healthy life that you love. We hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll catch you next time. Bye.
Wendy Lopez: Bye.