Help, I'm Married to a Therapist
You can't say I didn't know this would happen. When I started dating her in college she was pursuing a psychology degree. I knew one day she would become a therapist, but I didn't fully understand what that entailed. Most weekends back then didn't include a "How does that make you feel?" while unwinding from a long week with a beer, but with every grad school class we inched closer and closer to our current reality. While Lauren does have stable long-term clients, none of them can compare to my therapy schedule. I've been seeing a therapist daily since 2010.
August 20th, 2016 - Lauren earned the 'Marriage' part of being a Marriage and Family Therapist
During my tenure, I've learned a few things about Psychology, counseling, dating, and now married life. I'm a mechanical engineer by trade so, of course, I've been taking notes. Lauren has asked me to be a guest blogger on her therapist blog for a change of pace. While I can't help your marriage, I can share some of things that I've learned over the years.
There are a Thousand Different Versions of Therapist
This one caught me by surprise. I studied Mechanical Engineering, called myself a mechanical engineer as I walked across the stage, and then took a job titled Mechanical Engineer (I). This is not how things work in the field of counseling. Just go to PsychologyToday.com and take a look at the titles at end of everyone's names. Some of these people have to be just making stuff up. On one page of therapists there will easily be 50 different acronyms that describe that therapist's combination education and therapy focus. Higher education's approach to a counseling degree is more of a choose-your-own-adventure than a strict degree plan. A lot of different degrees can be admitted into a masters program, and most professional licensing boards share a large core of classes and some specific focuses to sit for their licensing exams. Even within Ph.D programs there is a lot of variation. Here's some of the more established household brands:
LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor
LMFT - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LSSP - Licensed Specialist in School Psychology
Psychologist - Ph.D or Psy.D or Ed.D
Psychiatrist - M.D.
And my favorite:
Life Coach - No education required.
This isn't even getting into the intern vs associate vs supervisor status, certificates, religious alignments, or a whole slew of other ways to specialize. Its a daunting task trying to find the right therapist.
So if anyone is interested I can be your life coach for four sessions for the price of one session from the degree holding folks. Full disclosure, I will only be doing group therapy sessions on Fridays, at 5 P.M., at World of Beer. Wives, if you're having trouble getting your husband to sign up for couples therapy just drop him off with me at first to test the waters. I can't guarantee we will cover anything important (we won't), but at least he can empathize with someone whose been going to therapy for years. I also do extended sessions on the golf course.
Another thing that caught be by surprise was finding out:
There is No Such Thing as Normal
Lauren, fresh out of her undergrad classes discussing the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-quite the page turner), shares with me that there is no such thing as normal. This was hard for me to wrap my mind around. From where I stood, everyone outside of the engineering department was normal. It turns out both of us are correct. There is something wrong with engineers, and also 'normal' is an extremely hard-to-nail-down concept on an individual level. Everybody's got something, and furthermore every family has something as well. But don't get too worked up about it. That governing document of all the disorders modern medicine recognizes is chock full of every little minutiae and tick an individual could have. And they keep coming up with more ever year! (Hey, your professor's gotta get tenure somehow).
And finally my last big lesson learned by being married to a therapist is:
You Will Still Argue
For those out there who think been married to a therapist means there aren't arguments because 'settling disputes is in the job description' I would like to state that we are people too. Specifically, imperfect people who get impatient, angry, tired, frustrated, hungry, and over-worked. And furthermore, only one-half of this couple is a counselor so our expected arguing rate should only be reduced by half. Just the other day we got into a little tiff, I had a fleeting thought of 'Well, she should apologize first because....' and then realized we had just written a blog post about this. I immediately took some of my own advice, swallowed my slightly hurt pride, and apologized. We made it through that car ride okay and we are still married to this day.
The top five things married couples argue about are money, sex, extended family, chores, and parenting (or free time). That list of potential pitfalls doesn't change when respect to us, but I do feel like Lauren was scoping these issues out way before they were even on my radar. We really don't argue about much, and I think a lot of it has to do with tendency to readily communicate about anything and everything.
So all in all, I think I've learned a lot over my years about therapy. Enough to garner a fictional 'associates degree' in Psychology. 40 some-odd hours of street cred as I call it. Lauren on the other hand, has yet to pick up any credits in engineering. We're still working on that.
Taylor Barron is an unlicensed, unqualified, life coach who specializes in web development and marketing for his wife's website while also working as a mechanical engineer to pay the bills. If you would like to set up a tee time with Taylor, he has currently not played at Meadowbrook or Willow Fork Country Club but will accept any invite anywhere. Use Lauren's business line below to schedule an appointment today.
Lauren Barron is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-Associate specializing in working with engaged, newlywed, and married couples. If you would like to set up an appointment or consultation with her today, call her at (713)364-9748.