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Life Lessons

6 Reasons Why Online Therapy Will Work for You

by Christina Pettinato, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Scenario 1: Jump in the car after work. Fight Traffic. Skip dinner. Arrive at the therapist’s office. Sit in a cramped, stodgy waiting room with your stomach rumbling. Wait a week for your next appointment. Rinse. Repeat.

Scenario 2: Look for a sitter. Can’t find a sitter. Cancel therapy this week.

Scenario 3: It’s snowing, again. Roads are horrible. Cancel therapy.

Scenario 4: “I feel overwhelmed, and I’m really anxious. I’m struggling with my thoughts and feelings.” Your next available appointment is in three weeks? Really?!

Scenario 5: “My insurance deductible is $5,000 and you’re not even sure if therapy is covered?”

Does this sound familiar? These are just a few practical criticisms levied against traditional therapy. As technology, costs and schedules change, having the option to talk to your therapist online is becoming a popular choice for a number of reasons.

At eTalkTherapy we provide convenience, affordability, but, above all professional help and care all from the privacy and comfort of your home. In most cases, you will be able to schedule and meet with a therapist within a day or two.

Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing eTalkTherapy:

  1. You can tackle your issues today:If you are seeking support for anxiety or stress-related issues, and feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to schedule and attend an in-office appointment, then the online option could be the best one for you. This is your health and wellness, and it has to suit your needs. Anxiety, depression and stress are not viruses, and they just don’t go away on their own. Addressing your issues and using proven techniques such as a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and traditional talk therapy will likely help you feel as though your life is not out of control and that you are making gains toward a better, mindful life.
  2. You can have both privacy and comfort:At eTalkTherapy, you can meet live online with your therapist from the comfort and privacy of your own home. All you need is a computer or tablet. Maybe you’re struggling with transportation or a long commute, maybe you can’t get childcare, maybe the weather forecast is not looking favorable, maybe your insurance co-pay or deductible is too high, or maybe you are away from home at college. For whatever reason, if having your session on live video chat works for you, then it works for you.
  3. You can keep your sessions while traveling:We offer you the flexibility of having your sessions online. You might be traveling for work, going on an extended vacation, or leaving for college. Whatever the reason, eTalkTherapy gives you a convenient and affordable alternative to a traditional office visit.
  4. You can schedule to suit your needs:Your time is important. The online option gives you back the time you’d spend commuting without delaying or interrupting your therapeutic work.
  5. You meet with our therapists live online: We value the therapeutic relationship and understand that texting, email correspondence or phoning a therapist will not replace being able to see someone face to face. We provide a HIPPA secure and professional online experience for every client we meet.
  6. You don’t have to worry about insurance co-pays or deductibles: In fact, some mental health issues are not even covered by insurance. Your information remains private between you and your therapist. Our affordable rates give you the flexibility and financial comfort you may have been seeking from your therapy experience.

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session with Christina.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

Avanti,
Christina

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Life Lessons

Becoming a Therapist

by Christina Pettinato, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

When I walked into my first professional counseling course, I held my head up high, pulled my shoulders back, and thought, “Yes, I belong here.”  For the first time in my mental health career I felt as if I was headed in the right direction, and I was eager to begin my journey.

My mind was prepared to soak in all the knowledge that was going to be bestowed upon me, and it was then that I realized becoming a therapist was going to be a intimidating endeavor. As the professor began his lecture, I quickly learned that I needed to conquer some inner-demons in addition to fostering a connection to the core concepts of psychotherapy and counseling.

Who me? This is about me? I didn’t think I would be the one sitting in the client’s chair.  At first, I didn’t grasp the significance or meaning behind this moment.  I thought to myself, “Where do I even begin?” No map. No compass. No clue. I’m screwed, and I hadn’t even written my first note yet! Navigating the dark crevices of my mind was going to be a lot more vexing than venturing into someone else’s. My anxiety was through the roof, and my fear was real. Could I ever truly find a sense of peace and beauty within this chaos?

What I began to learn is that life, my life, is based on the perception of my own processes – both the mental and physical perception of experience and how much it influences my daily understanding of the world around me.  Understanding how I perceive the world, which would ultimately impact my future therapeutic relationships, evolved into a consuming endeavor within my therapeutic journey and career.

Exploring my psyche and how it works only reinforces this notion of perception and how each of us can discover a unique pathway to the mind. What was interesting to me was, not only did I develop a heightened sense of awareness of self, but for others, too.  I became highly interested in perception and being-in the-world (to borrow a term from philosopher Martin Heidegger).  Everyone is uniquely human, no two realities are perceived the exactly in the same context. I began to see an uneasy marriage between that which is measurable by science (cognitive processes) and all the mystery of philosophy and art. Things began to gel, take form, make sense, and a fog was lifting.  For me, this exploration was, and still remains, the doorway to understanding another person’s perspective.

With all of my new found inspiration, I knew I needed some guidance. It wasn’t long until my seedlings of thought found purchase in existential psychotherapy.  It is an approach that emphasizes an understanding of your client’s worldview because you are not separated from it. You are human, so is the client. You are forever grounded in a common bond that cannot be quantified or measured. As the French philosopher Jean Paul Sarte said, existence precedes essence. This idea is at the root of our search for meaning. As therapists, counselors and clinicians, we cannot separate ourselves from the living world or our humanness. Understanding, compassion and connection, these are the best tools we have to offer our clients.

My journey then and now can be compared to staring at a painting. At first, I tilt my head in curiosity and uncertainty as the canvas appears unconnected, unruly and unclear. Yet, as I take my time to gaze a little deeper, it becomes easier to see the painting’s intricacies, its inner-struggle, and its beauty. The world opens and things appear as they are – flowing in richness, emotion and connectivity. Meaning is found.  Like the artwork, I began to connect the pieces of my life into theory and produced a strong approach to the helping relationship.

My journey is far from over and there is still so much for me to explore, but for those of you taking that first step, keep looking at the canvas. Don’t give up just yet.

Avanti,
Christina

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Life Lessons

Meet Therapist Christina Pettinato

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Photo by Mike McKenna

Join us in welcoming the newest member of our eTalkTherapy family, Christina Pettinato, who brings with her a wealth of clinical experience and a refreshing take on the importance and application of meaning in the therapeutic relationship. Get to know more about Christina in today’s blog post.

What does therapy mean to you?

It’s a complex question, but I believe it is the conscious act of two or more people engaging in purposeful and honest conversation with the intention of gaining insight, meaning and trust.

What makes therapy successful?

What I believe makes therapy successful is the devotion to the therapeutic relationship. There is nothing more important to therapy than the connection between two people. This unique connection lays a secure foundation that in turn creates a space for exploration, meaning, mindfulness and self-reflection.

How has existentialism shaped your role as a therapist?

Existentialism shaped my role as a therapist the day I walked into my first class called Existential Psychotherapy. Right then and there I knew I had been craving for something different; a new way of thinking and a desire to travel deep within myself so that I could help others. I now have a new perspective on life, meaning, and finding purpose. It has been a liberating journey and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.

What is your life philosophy?

What I would consider my life’s philosophy is the act of understanding how I choose to devote my life’s energy to maintaining a life in the here and now. I value the act of creating meaning, helping others and making choices with purposeful action and gaining great comfort in the acts of learning and helping.

Describe yourself in three words?

Passionate. Inspired. Intuitive.

What was the last book you read? Your thoughts on it? 

Therapy with Children An Existential Perspective,” by Chris Scalzo. I really enjoyed it because as you read his words, you can really gain a sense of the author’s feelings of care and understanding related to children. This book provided me with an existential view on how to work with children while breaking the barrier that existentialism is a practice solely meant for adults. His rich words, research and ideas on the subject intrigued me, as this work is written with simplicity and taught by connecting theory with real world application. That approach is sadly lacking in many books and articles written on the subject of existential psychotherapy and counseling.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be AND why?

If I could meet someone living or dead? I would love to meet my great, great, great, great, great (I believe it is that many “greats”) grandmother, the matriarch of my family and our name. I listened to her story being told many times by my older relatives as I grew up, and I have had the honor and privilege to visit and walk the streets she was known to have walked in our home country of Italy. Words could not describe how that moment would feel or what it would mean to me.

Share something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

I believe that others would be surprised to learn that I have been a co-host of a podcast (and soon a new podcast called Existential GPS). I say this because if you would have asked or known me before I dove head first into this adventure I probably would have said “No way, I can’t do that!

Complete this sentence “The quality I most value in a friend”

The quality I most value in a friend is trustworthiness. Period.

Complete this sentence “The quality I most value in myself”

The quality I most value in myself is my integrity. Period.


If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video-chat counseling session with Christina.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online
Life Lessons

Finding Your Meaning

by Christina Pettinato, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Ask anyone on the street what his or her greatest wish is, and you’ll probably hear some variation about winning the lottery, going on a dream vacation or owning a new home.  A person on a diet might wish for a guilt-free sundae; a prisoner might wish to be home again; someone with a terminally illness might long for improved health and more time. All very real and very valid things (security, safety, freedom, comfort), and having any of these might make someone happy.  And everyone wants to be happy, right?

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist, and curator of all things steeped in “meaning” wrote: “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in his life.

Meaning drives us out of bed and into the world, and it looks different for everyone.  Each of us has meaning.  Everyone has purpose, and it is innately buried in a person’s psyche to fulfill that purpose. And therein lies the challenge, “Who am I?” and “What brings meaning to my life?”

These questions, because they are so entwined with the human psyche, are not easy to understand.  How do we find meaning in our lives? Will finding meaning always bring us happiness, and are meaning and happiness the same thing?

Well, no.

A (very loose) example from a friend of mine: “Christina, before my husband and I had children, we would spend entire weekends loafing around our apartment. We worked hard during the week, and we’d get things done on weekends, but for the most part, we just sat on our futon in the living room and even slept there. Sounds heavenly, right? It certainly did to me, but five years later I am the parent of two kids and absolutely no downtime in sight.  But the truth is, I found those days to be so unsatisfying. Instead of feeling wonderful, I felt tired. Relaxation led to a certain kind of laziness, headaches and a deep sense of ennui. Believe me; I’d love a day with no responsibilities. But I also wouldn’t want those huge stretches of time back where I did nothing. It was an illusion of comfort and happiness. Those days were filled with empty minutes, time which I sadly wasted. I was unfulfilled.

Happiness does not always equate meaning, and meaning doesn’t always equate happiness, but when we find our meaning and work toward its fulfillment, we open opportunities to find joy.

But…how?

The first step is to ask what is it that I want? Meditation is wonderful for this: it clears our minds, enabling us to dig deep and foster a healthy inner-dialogue. An app that helps that meditation and relaxation is called Calm, which uses guided meditation as well as ambient noise to provide an environment conducive to meditation.

The second step is to reach out and locate your tribe. Like-minded people are relatively easy to find on the web. Using apps like Meetup to discover others who are engaged in activities that give their lives purpose is a great way to ensure that you will be able to do so, too.

The third step is to promote physical and emotional well-being. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (eating right, exercising, meditation, and good sex) can make it easier for your body, mind and soul to find balance. This includes good mental health; seeking help for issues that hold us back can help you find your way through the fog of uncertainty and lead you to a place of clarity and action.

Finding meaning and purpose in your life may feel overwhelming at times, but what journey doesn’t have an occasional shortcoming? Meaning is within us all. It is a call that only you can uniquely answer, and the world can be much a better place because of your contributions!

Avanti,
Christina