Every month a different clinician gives readers a glimpse into how he or she works and lives. They share everything from what it’s like to conduct therapy to how they cope with stress. They also reveal the biggest myths about therapy, what they wish their clients knew and their best advice for leading a meaningful life.
This month we’re pleased to feature Casey Radle, M.Ed., LPC, a therapist who specializes in working with individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, grief, and trauma. Radle practices at Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, Texas. She values self-expression, honesty, and respect in the counseling process and is dedicated to facilitating each person’s own exploration in a supportive and affirming environment.
1. What’s surprised you the most about being a therapist?
Every day, I am humbled by how much my clients teach me. I’m beyond grateful for the lessons in compassion, survival, courage, strength, vulnerability, integrity, forgiveness, and acceptance that I have learned.
I knew I would be constantly challenged in this profession (an appealing aspect of this career), but I am surprised by how my clients have helped me grow and heal. I don’t think they will ever fully know just how much they’ve changed my life for the better.
2. What’s the latest and greatest book you’ve read related to mental health, psychology or psychotherapy?
Oh, do I have to pick just one? While this probably doesn’t fall into the “latest” category, as it was published many years ago, I really like Get Me Out of Here by Rachel Reiland. This personal account of one woman’s struggle with and recovery from borderline personality disorder and her four years in treatment serves as a powerful tale of hope.
I also recommend The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, and certain chapters from Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (warning: Hyperbole and a Half contains salty language and caters to those with wacky senses of humor).
Finally, I love the website www.brainpickings.org. It features enlightening and educational readings from multiple disciplines, including psychology.
3. What’s the biggest myth about therapy?
That seeking help is something about which to be ashamed. It frustrates and saddens me that our society stigmatizes mental illness, which in turn can deter people from seeking help. Life is hard. It just is, and that means that sometimes we need support.
Talking with a therapist or taking medication does not make you weak. Would you consider someone who has a broken leg wearing a cast to be weak? If that person engages in physical therapy does he or she deserve our harsh judgment and stigmatization? Should we shame people for having asthma and needing to use an inhaler?
Of course not. Wounds can be physical, mental, and emotional. Those of us who need to heal deserve to seek the help we need without feeling ashamed for doing so.
4. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for clients in therapy?
I think it can be incredibly scary for some clients to face certain truths about their past, their families, their partners, their bodies, their minds, etc. It’s also hard for people to be really honest with themselves, about themselves and their own emotions.
Therapy can be painful at times — just like training really hard at a gym — sometimes we have to endure pain and discomfort in order to make change happen. I understand that therapy can be difficult, and I hope I make my clients realize that they are not alone, that I am in this with them for however long they need my support. I’m stubborn like that: I will never give up on anyone.
5. What’s the most challenging part about being a therapist?
Given how present and engaged I am in session, I tend to become very invested in my clients’ well-being. Therefore, it’s hard for me to see clients do things that are not in their best interest.
I encourage them to engage in healthy behaviors and good self-care, but I am not in a position to force anyone to do anything he or she does not want to do. That’s all part of the counseling process though: maintaining healthy professional boundaries and allowing clients to progress at their own pace.
6. What do you love about being a therapist?
I genuinely love learning more about people, what their lives are like, and how they make sense of the world in which they live. I find most people and their ways of thinking to be fascinating.
The most rewarding aspect of being a therapist is seeing my clients’ “aha” moments when they gain clarity about something (or someone). They truly look lighter. I’ve been privileged enough to bear witness to people’s burdens being lifted. My favorite part of my job is hearing my clients’ laughter. It’s such a sweet sound, such a gift.
7. What’s the best advice you can offer to readers on leading a meaningful life?
“Meaningful” is a subjective concept with countless definitions; therefore, my suggestion would be to dedicate some time and energy toward figuring out what constitutes a meaningful life for you, per your own individual definition.
Or, you might need to engage in meaning-making, which would allow you to shift your perspective on certain aspects of your life. Life is so very short — too short — so I wish more people had more of what they need (approval, permission, courage, means, freedom, confidence, etc.) to pursue a life that more closely aligns with their values.
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 definitely would choose the same career. I simply wish I had pursued it a little bit earlier in my life.
9. If there’s one thing you wished your clients or patients knew about treatment or mental illness, what would it be?
Making progress takes time. I would encourage clients to be more patient both with themselves and with the counseling process because they are worth the investment of time, money, and energy. If I had to boil it down to one statement, I would tell everyone, “You matter.”
10. What personally do you do to cope with stress in your life?
I must admit that I do get stressed pretty easily and quite often, so I try to engage in activities that help me relax and put a smile on my face, like exercising and listening to fun music with a good beat. I love to read and watch comedies: To me, laughter is practically as vital to my existence as oxygen.
I also volunteer at an animal shelter, which serves as a source of joy and fulfillment in my life. I’ve also learned to reach out to friends and family members when I need support. I used to keep everything to myself, but I’ve learned that that is neither a sustainable nor a successful method of handling stress.
Spending time with supportive people helps me manage my stress level. Overall, I try to opt for self-care instead of self-destructive behaviors.