What to Look for in a Good Therapist

Finding a therapist can be one of the most daunting tasks after deciding you want to start your therapeutic journey. Between referrals from friends, Psychology Today profiles, and insurance network requirements, you can get lost in the lists of names, specialties, and areas of so called “expertise”. Speaking from personal experience, I didn’t know where to start to find a therapist that seemed like a good fit for me (yes, therapists have therapists). Even after checking off little boxes of preferences to “filter results”, I was still left with a laundry list of therapists in my area that supposedly had all the qualities I was looking for.

So here are my suggestions for finding a therapist that fits your specific needs…

desk laptop1. Look into the Therapist’s Preferences

This may sound like the opposite of what you should be doing to find a therapist, but it is often the best indicator of if they’ll be the best fit. Exploring a therapist’s website, Instagram, and business profiles will often show you what population the therapist prefers working with.

For example, I love working with minority couples and interracial couples in the early stages of their relationships. Although I work with all types of couples at various stages of their relationships as well as individuals and families, this specific population I just find the most fun and really find it rewarding to work with. Being in a therapist’s preferred population usually leads to building rapport faster, meeting goals quicker, and an overall stronger therapeutic relationship. It also pretty much guarantees that your therapist has more experience with that specific population.

2. Base Your Search on Your Values

It is often beneficial to share similar values with your therapist (unless you are questioning your values, in which case it may be beneficial to choose a therapist with opposite beliefs, so as they will hopefully challenge those beliefs). Having similar values means a mutual understanding of what is important to you, and what aspects of your beliefs may be a strength or barrier in a therapeutic setting.

For example, for a LGBTQ couple it would be very important to find a therapist that is open to discussing and well versed in LGBTQ issues. This may mean finding a therapist that identifies as being a part of the LGBTQ community, or just finding someone who is a LGBTQ ally. I’ll let you in on a secret though, checking off “Gay”, “Lesbian”, or “Bisexual” under the sexuality preference on Psychology Today, is not going to necessarily find you a therapist that identifies as “Gay”, “Lesbian”, or “Bisexual”. Therapists often use this indicator to show that they are open to working with the LGBTQ+ community or that they specialize in LGBTQ+ issues. Finding a therapist that specializes in trauma, eating disorders, relational issues, or whatever issue you are facing doesn’t necessarily also require them to be experts in sexual orientations, as that may not be relevant to the issue at hand. Which brings me to…

3. Do Your Research on Evidenced-Based Theories

Most, if not all, therapists have a theory that they follow that structures how they proceed through the therapeutic process with you. Depending on the issue you are hoping to work through in therapy, there are various theoretical approaches that may work best or at least better than others. Some of the most common Evidence Based Theory include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (all of these are often used with trauma issues), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, or Emotion-Focused Therapy among others.

In my work with clients, I use a combination of Narrative Therapy and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy to create a space where the client is the expert in the room and ultimately knows how to use goal setting and exploring solutions to help them “re-write” their personal story. Therapists often use a combination of theoretical approaches to best fit the needs of their clients. So asking a therapist which theoretical approach they are most familiar with or use the most often can give you some insight into the type of therapeutic setting you’ll be stepping into.

4. Be Okay with Shopping Around

One of the single best ways to decide if a therapist is a good fit for your specific needs is to sit in session with them. If a therapist offers a FREE initial consultation either by phone or in person, I would definitely take it! This person will be the one that you share some of your deepest emotional concerns and biggest secrets with, so make sure it is someone you feel that you can trust. Although not all therapists offer free consultations, even if you pay for a first session, don’t hesitate to let the therapist know that the relationship isn’t clicking and you will be continuing your search for the therapist that is best for you. Any decent therapist will respect this decision, and it is more common than you think. Don’t settle in just because you’ve started the process with them. Therapy is something that you have to make a long term commitment to, so make sure it is a relationship you are willing to invest your time and money into.


Overall, therapy is a unique journey for each individual person. Do your research and take your time finding someone to start that journey with.

If you are interested in working with a culturally-competent, solution focused therapist in the San Diego area…contact me at 619-363-3127 or request an appointment here. I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your story!

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Fatherhood: What’s It Like to Be a Minority Dad?

I know I often discuss what it is like to be a mother (especially a black mother) in today’s age, but what about being a father? Why are there so many so called “mom blogs”, but not as many “dad blogs”? Maybe it is because of how fatherhood is portrayed in society.

The role of “father” in society and media is often portrayed as someone who supports the family financially, is a workaholic, doesn’t know what’s going on with the kids, maybe enforces the discipline, maybe completely ignores discipline, or (more frequently in portrayals of minority fathers) is just straight up absent from the household. Hmm…this list is sounding very negative.

Why is being a father associated with negative/disengaged behavior? What would it be like to see a positive image of what a father is?

That is why I wanted to interview a [minority] father that plays a big role in his family and displays as close to perfect (in my image) of what a dad should be. Ernesto Camacho, full-time father, full-time therapist, and a full-time spouse (my spouse specifically). How does he do it all? I’m not quite sure. So let’s ask him!

Ernesto Camacho & Family

Q: How are you so successful in every role you play in your life??

A: There are two main reasons why I believe I am successful…I invest in my relationships with others and I pay attention to the minute details. So, I think of the roles you described, as all relationships in which the worth of those relationships or the success of those relationships are dependent upon my deposits. By deposits, I’m referring to those check-ins to see how the other person is doing, by educating myself when I don’t know something, by being aware of my shortcomings and by constantly improving on them, and having open communication with the people I’m in relationships with.

Q: What’s it like being a minority father in your community? Are there any extra pressures?

A: I think there are extra pressures on myself because there were no good role models. Like you mentioned, there are negative representations of a father when you look at movies or media in general, you see “abusive fathers” or the “deadbeat dad”. You also see the polar opposite of this in the “workhorse father” who provides financially, but is never around. It was hard in the beginning trying to figure out what type of father I wanted to be, but once I figured it out, it was easy.

Q: Out of the various roles you play, which is your favorite?

A: Being a dad. It’s the most emotionally fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had. No offense.

Q: What was on your mind when you found out you were going to be a father…truthfully?

A: Ah, sh*t. Thinking of finances, what kind of father I wanted to be, and how I was going to manage a full time job, being a full time student, and a full time family. When I found out it was a girl, I started crying. I remember that. I wanted to make sure she knew how a man should treat her and the fact that she shouldn’t feel less than in this world. I knew I would play a role in how she viewed herself in society. I was really honored and appreciative to play that role.

“It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.”

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your first year of fatherhood?

A: How quickly your child learns from you. I’ve taught her many things like how to brush her teeth, and I wasn’t sure how quickly she would pick it up, but now she says, “brush teeth”. It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.

Q: What has been the biggest reward of becoming a father?

A: It’s gonna sound cheesy, but just being her dad. I’m really happy to be her dad and be the person she plays with and hugs and kisses. She is very glued to me and looks for me all the time. It’s a lot of unconditional love.

Q: How do you practice #SimpleSelfCare as a dad?

A: I practice it often. Having a developing toddler you definitely need to. Some of my go-to’s are asking [mom] for a break from the kiddo. Having hobbies. Coffee. And exercising. And not skipping meals because parents do that all the time. Feed yourself first then feed your kids.

Q: What’s your advice to new mothers on how to support their “baby daddies”?

A: Let him know what your expectations are because a lot of times we get lost. We want to help, but we just don’t know in what way we can. New moms should also practice #SimpleSelfCare so it can lower the overall stress at home. And don’t criticize them if they are doing something wrong. It might take more time now to teach the things like how to swaddle or bathe the child or change a diaper. But in the long run you’re making deposits to your relationship and increasing the value and connection.

Q: Would you recommend therapy for soon-to-be dads or new fathers? Or even couples who are expecting?

A: I think it would be unfair to just single out the fathers and it would also be unfair to the relationship because both partners could learn about each other’s parenting styles during therapy. Therapy can provide soon to be parents with a safe space to communicate their concerns, explore their parenting values, and prepare them for the new and difficult transition.

Q: What is your advice to new fathers or soon-to-be fathers?

A: It will be alright. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s going to be stressful, but it will be worth it. Make sure to take care of yourself and lean into the discomfort.


Lots of take-a-ways for you dads out there (and moms). You learn some new things when you interview your spouse. Here’s your homework for this week, ask some of these questions to YOUR “baby daddy” or modify them and ask them to your “baby mama” and maybe you’ll learn something new about how you interact as parents.

All the thanks to Mr. Ernesto Camacho, IMF #100564 for cooperating with me, and for really speaking from the heart! I couldn’t appreciate you more for all the hard work you put into being a fantastic father and spouse! Love you!

And Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! May this be a special one!

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You are Not SuperMom. SuperMom is You.

How many “Mom Blogs” do you follow on Instagram/Pinterest/Tumblr/[Insert other Social Media site]? Be honest. 2?  10? 25? More?? They all perfectly curate a page  of inspirational pictures and stories to show how amazing their kids, home, and overall life is. Even the pictures meant to show how messy life is or  how “real” they are, have been perfectly staged and professionally photographed.

This is all bulls**t. Excuse my French.

As a fellow mom, I know how hard we can be on ourselves, and these ideas of what a mom “should” be really don’t help. They make us feel like we should be doing more. Spending more. Committing more. Giving more. But how much more can you really give? Just the fact that you had 5 minutes to stop and scroll through Instagram is a miracle! When screaming toddlers and angst-y teens are a part of your everyday life there is no time for figuring out how to be SuperMom.

Women are naturally super human. We literally create life within us. Yet we live in a society where the act of CREATING LIFE isn’t enough. We are suppose to create life, tend to the house, bring home the bacon, and please the spouse. We let society put all these expectations on us, but what are we expecting of ourselves? Why are we listening to society??

Today I want to remind you of 4 reasons to stop trying to be SuperMom..

1. It’s impossible to do it ALL.

tired mom

Have you ever heard that multitasking is just doing multiple things badly? Well it’s true. Research shows time and time again that as we increase the quantity of things we do at once, we also decrease the quality of all of those things.

Have you ever tried cooking, dinner, helping a child with homework, doing laundry, and feeding an infant? You probably burned at least one part of dinner, the child ended up more confused about how to do long division, the laundry smelled moldy after being in the washer too long, and the infant got more food on the floor than in their mouth. Wow. Isn’t multitasking great? *Rolls eyes* What if you just cooked dinner, and asked the child to feed their younger sibling. The infant might have gotten fed (and spent some quality time with their older sibling). The dinner would have been cooked and stove turned off in a reasonable amount of time, leaving time to help the oldest child with their long division. And maybe you even got in a load of laundry done while they finished up their homework. Viola! This is how you get things done.

2. It is overrated.

Being the best of the best is overrated for sure. So what if you get every chore done in record time. What do you get for that? Pretty much nothing other than being really tired and unwilling to play with your kids (who have now holed themselves up in their rooms while you finished cleaning). No one is passing out trophies for doing it all. Things do need to get done, but some things can wait so that you can stop and smell the roses. Enjoying time with those precious humans you created is the biggest reward for being a mom.

If you must do the vacuuming, dusting, dishes, etc. though…here’s a hack. Have the kids do it with you. Turn on their favorite music, and assign them all chores. I know even my one year old likes to “help” me push the vacuum around. Dance and vacuum like no one is watching, and collapse on the couch with the kiddos when you’re done. Make spending time together the #1 thing on your to do list.

3. You lose yourself.

mother hiking

Being SuperMom means tending to one or more kids, tending to your spouse, and tending to the life that you were meant to live (not tend to). It makes you lose the very essence of yourself. What were your interests before the spouse or children came along? When was the last time you did something that remotely resembled that interest? Does SuperMom get the chance to tend to her own needs ever? No. Because SuperMom’s life does not have time for herself.

Stop to recharge yourself. Sometimes you need to take off the cape, so you can remember your true identity and live YOUR life. You can’t pour from an empty glass. You have to give yourself the space and time to get yourself in order, so that you have the patience and energy to give to these other valuable relationships. Just like you rather spend 5 minutes with a relaxed, happy spouse than an hour with someone who is grumpy and tired…imagine which version of yourself would your family prefer to spend time with?

 

4. Your kids already think you are SuperMom.

black mom and daughter

We spend so much time trying to be this fictional person. When in reality this fictional person was based on a real life you! You are already enough. You are already doing enough. Just the effort you put in is more than enough. You ARE SuperMom! Your kids see it. Your spouse sees it. Now it is time for YOU to see it. Trust me. Your kids think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They may not say it (or show it), but they know it. No child is going to school and asking their friends, “Did your mom get all the chores done yesterday? Because mine sure did!” That’s not happening. Trust me. The only one comparing you is you. All your kids know is without you their world would fall apart. You are literally holding their world together. Isn’t that super human?

 

The point of this all is to remind you that no matter how much or how little you get accomplished, what’s important is that you are putting in some effort. You are trying to be the best version of yourself, not the best version of the woman on your timeline. Here’s to you, Mom! Thank you for being a super version of you!

 

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How to Tell the Kids about Your “Conscious Uncoupling”

Ever heard of giving your kids “the Birds & the Bees” discussion? Well you’ve probably never heard of “the Conscious Uncoupling” discussion. Yes it is just a fancy name for “divorce”, but it exemplifies how you should approach discussing this topic with your children. Being conscious to the fact that this decision affects them just as much as (if not more than) it affects you, and being conscious to the fact that they deserve input to this process where it is appropriate.

When you and your partner decide that the relationship is no longer healthy for either/both of you, it feels like a very personal and individual decision. However, it has a rippling affect on the people closest to you, most importantly the children closest to you. There are multiple ways however to cushion the blow when announcing a separation to children.kids and dog

Be Open and Upfront

You may think that you’re doing a great job of hiding any negative feelings between your spouse and yourself, but the kids know. Children have a “sixth sense” when it comes to problems between their parents. They know when things are going well and they definitely know when things are not. Make your kids a priority in the situation and prepare them for this change. The only reason to postpone telling your kids is if you aren’t sure if it is actually going to happen. No need to jump the gun on this difficult conversation.

Continue Showing a United Front

This is extremely important. In your children’s eyes you are a package deal. Whether you are separating, divorcing, or “consciously uncoupling”, you are both still a parent to your children. They still need the same things from you that they needed when you were together. That means being able to respect one another and (at least pretend to) be as friendly as possible. Although you can decide to stop being in a relationship, you can not decide to stop being a parent.

Spare Them the Details

Telling your kids that their parents are no longer in love is hard enough. Do NOT add on top of that all the reasons you think the other parent is [insert bad words that children should not hear]. Your decision to separate is about your relationship with your partner, not your child’s relationship with their parent. Trying to damage that relationship is not your place and is just plain old cruel. Children will grow into adults and decide for themselves what they think of their parents and what type of relationship they want to have with them. Do not try to make those decisions for them.

Emphasize Your Relationship with Your Child Instead of with Your Partner

Spend this time explaining to your kids your love for them, and how that does not change. Children are very self-centered. It is just how they are at this stage of development. Honestly, your kids don’t care that you are no longer going to be together. They care about whether you and them are going to stay together. This is most likely the first time they are being introduced to the idea that two people can stop loving one another. This makes them fear a change in their relationship with you. Your job is to reinforce that your relationship with them is not going to change. This is also a good time to mention that the separation/divorce is not their fault. Be very clear that it has nothing to do with how much you love them.

Try to Create Routines and Consistency Between Two Households

Kids thrive when they are able to predict what will happen next. Divorce is a big shock, but it doesn’t have to unravel their sense of security. Creating consistency between two households can be difficult, but it will make all the difference in making the transition smooth. Don’t make a custody schedule based off of your needs. Make it based on what works best for your children. If your kids are old enough to give input, please give them that courtesy. Consistency looks like…

  • Keeping some of their favorite things at both homes (favorite toys, snacks, etc.)
  • Sticking to the house rules they have always had (bed time, amount of TV, etc.)
  • Having both parents at family activities (birthdays, school events, etc.)
  • Not changing plans at the last minute (who’s weekend it is, who’s picking them up from school, etc.)

 

When finding it difficult to have these discussions or finding that co-parenting isn’t going as smoothly as you would like, consider family therapy. It gives a safe place for kids to have their voices heard and for parents to practice helpful tools in the process of creating a new family dynamic.

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Are You Having a “Quarter Life Crisis”?

Your mid-twenties. You expected to be done with school, working in a great career, be engaged (maybe even married), and possibly buying your first home. In reality, you are probably in grad school or contemplating going back because you barely get paid a living wage at your job and your parents keep asking when you are going to find a spouse and move out. What a f**king surprise…

This is not how you imagined adulthood. Good news is, you aren’t the only one feeling this way. Bad news is, there are A LOT of twenty-something year olds feeling this way.

So what do you do about your situation? Go to therapy. Why? Let me tell you the top 5 reasons to attend therapy in your twenties…

 

  1. To Find Supportfriends

    Your support system changes a lot in your twenties. This is the time when your friend group goes through a major overhaul (because let’s be honest, you’re lucky if 2 of your friends from high school are actually still your friends). Your parents slowly start seeing you less like a child and more like a fellow adult. And you actually have to have professional relationships at work (instead of goofing off during your shift at American Eagle). Knowing who to go to when you are having an off day becomes more difficult to decipher. Therapy can help you work through the relationships in your life to discover which are challenging you to be better and which are holding you down. While figuring out who in your life is supportive of your growth, you establish a relationship with your therapist, who’s sole job is to support you on your journey to your goal.

     

  2. To Reduce Your Anxieties

    Twenty year olds are full of anxiety for all sorts of reasons. Anxiety about finishing school. Anxiety about paying for school. Anxiety about finding a job. Anxiety about finding a mate. Anxiety about how to cook dinner or do your own laundry. Literally everything is new and harder than you thought it would be. A good therapist will be able to meet these anxieties with tools you can use to cope with and reduce these anxious feelings. Reducing the anxiety around these issues is the first step to being able to make sound decisions about how you want to approach each circumstance.

  3. To Build Your Self Confidencegirl guitar

    Millennials have taken a lot of blows to their self esteem. Whether it is an article saying “how lazy this generation is” or parents reminding you how much they had accomplished at your age or just social media filling your timeline with perfect looking people and their perfect looking lives (Note: none of those people are actually perfect). Being twenty-something in today’s age sometimes makes you feel like sh*t. Going to a therapist should make you feel the opposite of that. Therapy hands you an open, non-judgmental person to guide you to the realization about all you have to offer. Therapy has helped many people come to realizations about what self worth looks like and how they can find the confidence to go after their personal goals. Which brings me to reason 4 to attend therapy in your twenties…

  4. To Challenge Society’s Norms

    A lot of the issues that present themselves in this time of your life have to do with the influence of society. Society says what you should be doing, how you should be doing it, and gives no explanation for why. Therapy can be a place where you can deconstruct these societal norms, and re-establish for yourself what “normal” is. Questions are the core of therapy, and questioning what society tells you is right can be an incredible jumping off point for major progress in therapy.

  5. To Discover Your Unique Pathmap

     

    Last, but not least, your twenties are all about discovering what works for you. Once you find the support, reduce the anxiety, build the confidence, and challenge society, you are ready to make decisions about how you want to live your life and how you are going to accomplish your goals. Figuring these things out with a therapist in tow helps keep you on track and holds you accountable to using the skills you’ve learned along the way.

Therapy has everything to do with growth and this is the time of your life that you arguably doing the most growth. Not only are you growing intellectually, but also socially and spiritually. Making time for therapy means making time to slow down in this hectic world and reflect on who you are and who you want to be. How could you benefit from therapy?

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