In our regular interview series, we feature different therapists every month, asking them all sorts of questions about their professional and personal lives. We delve into what they love about working with clients and what they find to be the most challenging part about being a clinician. We talk about the biggest obstacles for clients and the biggest myth about therapy.
We talk about how each therapist copes with stress and whether they’d take the same professional path today. We also explore the one thing they wish their clients knew and their suggestions for leading a meaningful life — and much, much more.
This month we’re pleased to talk to Anna Osborn, LMFT, the owner of My Happy Couple. Osborn focuses her work on reconnecting couples and inspiring individuals. She works with couples and individuals on improving communication, deepening intimacy and changing negative patterns of disconnection in their love relationships.
As a licensed psychotherapist and relationship specialist, Osborn provides therapy and relationship workshops; and hosts speaking events that help individuals create and grow the love they want.
Visit www.myhappycouple.com for more information on Osborn and her work in the Sacramento community.
1. What’s surprised you the most about being a therapist?
As cliché as it may sound, I’m continually surprised by people’s reactions when you tell them what you do. It’s not uncommon for them to tell you very intimate details about their lives after a brief “hello.” It happens from the grocery stores to dinner parties. Before I became really comfortable in my role as a therapist, I used to tell people I was a hairdresser to avoid this. But now I’m used to it and it doesn’t phase me a bit.
2. What’s the latest and greatest book you’ve read related to mental health, psychology or psychotherapy?
It’s actually been a few months since I’ve read a psychology book as I enjoy reading more business and entrepreneurial books lately. Graduate schools teach therapists many great things, but not much on building and running a business. The last book I read was The One Thing and loved it. It’s all about how to focus on what matters most to you professionally and personally.
3. What’s the biggest myth about therapy?
I think the biggest myth about therapy is that you have to be in extreme crisis or distress before you reach out for help. Therapy should be a great tool that we turn to often in our lives when we’re stuck or needing additional insight and support. You don’t need to wait until things are so terribly bad before asking for help.
4. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for clients in therapy?
I think the biggest obstacle for clients in therapy is an incongruency between thoughts and actions. Often time clients can clearly articulate what they want to change, but struggle with following through on the work needed to make that change a reality. A big part of therapy is not so much clarifying a client’s goals but removing obstacles they may unknowingly be putting in their own way.
5. What’s the most challenging part about being a therapist?
The most challenging part is when you see your clients headed down a dark or risky path and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. You’ve done all the work that you can together and you still know the crash from their decision-making is going to catch up to them. It’s heartbreaking because you don’t want to see them hurting, especially when it seems avoidable.
6. What do you love about being a therapist?
I love that every day is different. I love that I’m constantly challenged and get to use my creative mind all the time. And I love working with the most amazing, vulnerable, courageous, bravest people you’ve ever met.
7. What’s the best advice you can offer to readers on leading a meaningful life?
Be authentic and continually offer yourself grace. As humans, we’re far from perfect, and the less we shame and criticize ourselves and the more we stay true to our morals and values, the more meaningful our life will be.
8. If you had your schooling and career choice to do all over again, would you choose the same professional path? If not, what would you do differently and why?
I’d absolutely do it all over again. I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I love that this job allows me the freedom to shift and meet my growth as an individual. I used to supervise new therapists and teach graduate students while also working in my private practice.
Over the last few years, I now work purely in private practice, run couples weekend intensives and am launching a relationship podcast in the new year. Being a therapist is an extremely diverse field, and it’s a great place for creativity and personal growth.
9. If there’s one thing you wished your clients knew about treatment or mental illness, what would it be?
I wish all the clients that I work with knew how strong they are. I think most of them do, as it’s something that we talk about often, but I really wish each one knew in their hearts how amazing they are and what a blessing it is to work with them.
10. What personally do you do to cope with stress in your life?
I’ve been doing this work since 2004 and have learned how to create a balance between my personal and professional life so I always have enough to give to my family and my clients. I exercise regularly and try to eat healthy. I make sure I laugh as much as possible… I’m not afraid to use humor with my clients too.
I also offer myself grace when I need to get more rest, say no or just insulate myself a bit. I try to limit my contact with news and current events as I’ve learned over the years how quickly that can saturate me. I would rather be present with my clients than make sure I’m up to date with tragedies in the news.
I work hard to surround myself with the good deeds people are doing in the world because when you look for it, you’ll find lots of it.