Imposter Syndrome is a term that is often used to describe personal feelings and experiences of inadequacy and failure. Individuals who are affected by Imposter Syndrome often come from families who have high expectations, and as a result, are unable to recognize their success and accomplishments. Instead, success might be minimized or attributed to luck rather than competency, leaving an individual with an underlying fear that others around them will soon find out that they are a fraud. Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone at any stage of their life, especially when transitioning into a new role such as a parenthood, a student, or beginning a new career. Individuals affected by Imposter Syndrome often suffer alone with unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and self-worth.
As a second-year graduate student, I can relate to many of the unpleasant symptoms of imposter syndrome. The biggest challenge I have had to overcome was to acknowledge that not everyone around me knows more than I do, and that it is okay to not be an expert because I am still learning. By engaging in therapy and seeking support from my peers, I have learned that I am not the only one who experiences these feelings. This has helped me to combat negative thinking patterns and gain confidence in my professional life.
If you are experiencing feelings of fraudulence and inadequacy in your personal life, know that you are not alone. There are many ways to combat these negative thinking patterns to help you feel more confident in your everyday life:
Sarah VanRoboys, BA
Student Social Worker, Summer 2021
When the snow begins to fall, and holiday lights go up, some start feeling excitement, others do not. The winter months can be a hard time for many people for a number of reasons. There are some signs you might identify with that increase the possibility of holiday depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or a general low mood.
1. Having lost someone.
This time of year is hard for people who have lost someone. This can be loss in many forms including those who are no longer with us, and some who are no longer in our lives because of breakups or other unfortunate experiences. Maybe a significant romantic relationship or friendship ended this time of year in the past. Any loss causes us to grieve. This can be challenging to heal from. If you find yourself missing someone terribly, you may find yourself feeling lower than usual.
2. You are way too busy
For many people the holidays are a whirlwind of get-togethers, gatherings, dinners, presents, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, you name it, it’s happening. When we put ourselves into over drive, we forget to take time for self-care. Many people say they don’t have time, but those are the priorities that will put your health on the back burner. Taking 5-20 minutes for yourself once a day to rest, read, journal, listen to music, or shower for example, are some ways we can practice some self-care and compassion.
3. You don’t want to say no
Another insight on being too busy is that we find it hard to say no. Having healthy boundaries, especially with family members, will reduce the risk of burn out. It is okay to let someone else host a holiday dinner. If we worry about people not liking us or avoid conflict for saying no, then maybe we need to rethink our relationship with that person. A negative reaction to setting a boundary is all the more reason why the boundary was needed in the first place. Our mental health is important.
4. You have no desire to do anything
Some of the classic signs of depression are low mood, lack of motivation, low energy, restlessness, irritability, and over sleeping or lack of sleeping. If you find you don’t want to do much, or don’t have the energy to things, you might want to find some support with a mental health professional. Or at least, talk to a trusted friend, family member, or your medical doctor.
5. You’re asking yourself what would it be like if I weren’t here
Some people have thoughts of ending their life that come and go. Some are seriously considering ending their life. Whether you have fleeting thoughts of harming yourself, or plans to end your life, know there is help for both and all the in-between. A mental health professional can help. Reaching out to trusted family and friends is a good place to start, and then talking to a therapist will get you the tools you need to turn these thoughts around.
There are all types of depression and not everyone’s moods will look the same. The most important thing we can do is ask for help. Find someone who you feel comfortable sharing what you are going through. If you or someone you know is feeling this way, please reach out. Therapy is a non-judgemental, confidential space. There is always someone who is willing to help, you just need to be willing to ask.
Article by: Dr. Ashley Spinney, DSW, MSW, RCSW
Owner and psychotherapist at Mindhous Wellness
Many new clients ask the question: Is there anything I need to do or to bring to my first therapy session? My hope for this post is to reduce some anxiety, and to foster a sense of safety, trust and comfort for new clients in the future attending their first sessions.
The point of view from my chair is that you the client has reached out to me for help and guidance. You are coming to me for a service that you believe may suite your needs. You already have all the information and materials you need - your body and brain. Since you have a pretty good idea why you called me in the first place, there is not much else you need to do to prepare for therapy. At times I will ask clients to do some homework after the first session, but not much is expected at the initial meet and greet. If you are someone who really needs to prepare, reading a therapist's website, company Facebook page, etc., will be helpful for you to gain an idea as to their style and approach to therapy. Every therapist has their own unique style, but the modalities (types of therapies) or interventions may be similar. For example, CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a common modality of treatment. If your therapist reports to be trained in CBT and uses this treatment in their practice, you may want to do some light reading on what this therapy entails. However this is not necessary. I personally love when my clients are educated on the types of treatment I offer. Not that you have to have read a textbook on each type, but just a general overview is helpful. This is especially true for clients who may benefits from EMDR - Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.
Other than some light research if you choose, showing up on time or 5 minutes early is important. A first session is always a session of getting to know one another. You are welcome to ask the therapist questions about what to expect, their training, or any other questions you may wonder about. The therapist's main job in the first session is to build a relationship with the client. You need to feel you are heard and and you need to feel you are safe. The therapist will listen for cues to guide their assessment of what is going on for you. You may also discuss a treatment plan and duration of therapy. Sometimes a plan will be clear, sometimes it may take a few sessions to understand the client's needs if they are more complex.
I like to look at my first sessions as - getting to know each other in a relaxing environment while also having some fun. I always say, if we're not laughing, I'm not doing my job. So take a breath, relax your body as best as you can, and have a seat on my comfy couch!
Why Should I See A Therapist?
There is still such a stigma and negative connotation about going to therapy and seeing a "professional". I can tell you even therapists receive their own therapy because it's something healthy people do. We all know we thrive when we exercise our bodies, 30-60 minutes a day or 10,000 steps, so why not take just as good care of your mind? I could argue that our minds are even more important to "workout" because without a healthy mind we may not be able to take good care of our bodies - the mind-body connection.
You might say, "I'm fine, I don't need to talk to a therapist", but our lives contain so much information, stress, relationships, work and so on, that it can be helpful to come in for a session to process. Many people enjoy going for a massage, chiropractic adjustment Or keep up with yearly physicals at the doctor, dental check-ups, or other self-care activities. Therapy can be the same. The reality is everyone needs someone to talk to, to process thoughts and feelings in order to maintain good mental health.
I can say that therapy is one reason why I can do my job so well. Please join me in reducing the stigma of therapy and mental health conversations. Spread the information to loved ones and others who may be struggling with their mental health or someone who may like to add this self care activity to their lives. Book a session for yourself, for you and your partner, offer information to a family member or a friend about services they can access. It may seem like difficult subject to approach but it doesn't have to be. Open with a gentle "hey have you ever thought how good it might feel to talk to a therapist?". We all need support and it's okay to ask for it!
Dr. Ashley Spinney