Where I started
I always knew I wanted to be a therapist, I was lucky in that way. I was the 13 year-old taking personality quizzes on the (very new) internet in the 90’s. But when I finally got to graduate school, and started my practicum, I felt woefully under-prepared.
It wasn’t my program’s fault, they were meeting all the basic requirements of a counseling program. But given the basics, I knew I should sit in the room with my client, nod, paraphrase, summarize, empathize and validate. And when all else fails, be curious.
Oh boy, that was it? That’s all there was to therapy? When I got my first job, I was fortunate to end up in a training program that was going to give me a years-worth of training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I not only got tools, I got full programs.
Fast-forward 10 years and I’ve undertaken training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and EMDR. So I’ve got a toolbox, it’s organized with options for a wide variety of clients who could walk through my door. And for some reason, I finally after all this time, don’t feel like a complete impostor (though ask me tomorrow and you may get a different answer).
Where I got stuck
But, I still get stuck. Doesn’t everyone, I wondered? That’s why we consult and keep up with our continuing education and simply Never. Stop. Learning. But I started to realize there were some tools in my toolbox that I favored. And they were well-worn and comfortable. They seemed second-nature to me, but then again, my colleagues had tools they felt the same way about, yet I knew nothing of them.
So I started wondering if there was a venue to share our favorite tools, outside of our consultation groups and full clinical trainings. I thought about the stacks of books next to my bed – the ones I started and never finished, and picked up the next because I couldn’t wait! (Someday I’ll finish those books…). Sometimes I’d get stuck with a client, unsure what I was missing and feeling out of creative energy. I’d learn a technique or perspective from a colleague, bring it into session, and just like that, we’d find movement again.
Books, day-long trainings, hour-long webinars, research articles, consultation groups – these were the main arenas I turned to in order to gain more tools. But what about those interventions my colleague would share in a 10-minute time span that provided a missing puzzle piece? They were valuable and concise. And often led me to future reading and training that I might not have otherwise considered. Weren’t those worth sharing too?
What I did
What I remember most is how scared I felt when the idea came to me. I had recently listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic,” and she discussed the concept of ideas finding their host. And in doing so, you have a choice to walk away from an idea or bring it into fruition. But if you walk away, the idea will find a new host, until it meets the individual who will give it their time and attention to let it grow.
In February 2016, I had posted a video I made in a Facebook group in which I belonged. It was a project I had created to share helpful information with the public and I was looking for feedback from fellow therapists. But what I got instead was the spark for what would become an all-consuming idea, I frankly didn’t even want to find me.
It was just a comment from a therapist, asking how to use the content of the video in session. “But this is for the public,” I thought. “Do therapists want this information too? I thought most people must know this tool” – because you know, impostor syndrome, everyone must know at least what I know, but probably much more. Then it dawned on me – this was one of my favorite tools, but everyone’s got one of those. Can we share?
And what if we could watch and learn? As much as I enjoy reading, there’s something about witnessing and hearing my colleagues explain an intervention to me that can lose its magic, detail and excitement when translated to text. What if I could access the wisdom of my colleagues in between sessions? Or before I start my day?
“Uh oh,” I thought. I think this may change everything for me…
I went away that weekend with some friends and shared my idea with them. In a state of excitement, I drew up my idea with my friend’s toddler’s crayons and drawing paper (my drawing skills have always been this enviable).
Then I met with 15-20 therapists to interview them and find out if this project would be helpful or interesting or useful in their work. Honestly I had hoped to hear that it was a bad idea and they would provide me a comprehensive list of flaws and questions I hadn’t considered. You’ll probably have figured by now that’s not really what happened.
What I wanted to know was:
- How do we share tools out of context from their therapeutic approach?
- How can we give credit where credit is due?
- How do even begin to address the broad spectrum of topics, populations and therapies available?
The feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive and reinforcing. Other therapists wanted this and they had excellent ideas to address my concerns. So I figured I had to do it. I began this project in April 2016 and it has truly been a labor of love. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to building this website and creating the video content. It has afforded me the opportunity to meet with therapists all over the country and to learn from their expertise. We have worked to ensure that all the skills and tools we feature are powerful and able to be taken out of context of the therapeutic approaches from which they were developed.
Our clinicians have provided resources for viewers to follow along with or guidance on where to learn more about the intervention and therapy they are showcasing. And viewers are always encouraged to pursue full training opportunities in therapies that interest them. If you view our “How“ page, you’ll learn more about how we feel this resource addresses a very common problem in the world of mental health professionals – acquiring new tools, interventions and assessments.
I sincerely hope you find this resource helpful in your clinical work, that you grow clinically, feel more confident, creative and bold in your work, and ultimately change more lives. We’re so happy you’re here and we hope you enjoy being a part of this community!
~Ariel Friese, MC, LPC
Our community is built on the values that help our members thrive.
I treat my fellow clinicians with the same respect I easily offer my clients.
Every clinician has experience, expertise and skills worth sharing.
I vow to be honest when seeking answers and providing guidance.
This is a safe community environment. We are here to help each other blossom and grow for the benefit of our clients.
I strive to be concise, clear and professional in all communications.
I strive to be a valued member of this community, contribute my best, and listen to learn.
My resources can be trusted, credible and are reliable to the industry.
I want to be involved and give the community the value it deserves.
The Therapist Toolbox is innovative, provides a service “beyond” the chair and is a fantastic marketing and branding opportunity for therapists. Ariel was beyond accomdating, warm and welcoming when I filmed my video about how I explain attachment needs to clients. I had some video experience but I have to say, I needed Ariel’s extra support in doing something new and for my fellow colleagues’ eyes. Working with Ariel was easy, it was a swift proceess and a great mission to be a part of. As an LMFT and sex therapist, I encourage therapists to get your message to the masses — a strong business and innovative marketing will provide a platform to create a greater impact.
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